Returning to Normal

crutchesWith Lee just returning to work this week, and driving himself for the first time today, I’m attempting to catch back up on my life.  I want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who sent along well wishes, positive thoughts and healing energy.  It really worked!  Lee is recovering beautifully.

To my friends and family in the role of caregiver, I’d like to extend an apology.  I’m always preaching to you about self-care, but I now know that it’s way easier said than done.  On the other hand, I can also attest to the fact that I see now more than ever, how vitally important it is to take time for yourself.

Yesterday, I gave myself the gift of a long, quiet walk in the woods and then sat down with a cup of tea in front of my favorite program, Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday (I record it every week).  I’ve been so excited because her guest was the author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Gifts of Imperfection (I wrote a blog post about it here).  I could go on and on about Dr. Brene Brown and the research she’s done of shame and vulnerability, but I spent much of the morning at the local cafe enjoying a lovely conversation with a new friend and now the piles of untended dishes, laundry and bills are demanding my attention.  I did, however, want to share with you the amazing Parenting Manifesto Brene read from her new book, Daring Greatly on Oprah’s show.  I copied and pasted it down below, but the manifesto is available on Oprah’s website or you can download a beautiful poster format from Brene’s website.  I hope it resonates with you as much as it did me.

I think The Parenting Manifesto ties in nicely to the work in Renee Trudeau’s book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family.  I’m happy to announce that Jackie, who left the beautiful comment, “I would love to just be able to experience joy in everyday, without getting distracted by all of the should-haves and to do’s. I want to be able to breathe freely knowing that I am setting a good example for my son to be purely happy, not sensing my stress!” was chosen by Random.org as the giveaway winner.

I hope you all have a great week and I’ll look forward to checking in with you next week!

IAmDaring

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

(from Daring Greatly, by Dr. Brene Brown)

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and loveable.

You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.

You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both. 

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.  

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude. 

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life. 

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it. 

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

New Knee

Do you know anyone who has an upcoming surgery?  Perhaps my husband’s story will help…

Three days ago I was sitting in the hospital waiting room while my husband, Lee was having the ACL and meniscus in his knee repaired.

As you may know from my book or blog, I believe illness and injury, though an unwelcome guest, can be opportunities for personal growth.  It’s been amazing to follow Lee on his journey, as he’s gone from seeming incredibly vulnerable, to information gathering and eventually empowered and certain.  As much as I wanted to insert myself in his process, I had to repeatedly remind myself that this is his journey and for him to learn all his lessons, I could support him, but not do the work for him.  (If you have a child undergoing surgery, as a parent, you can do the following recommended exercises on your child’s behalf, as we did for our daughter.)

That being said, when we first learned he needed surgery, I left Peggy Huddleston’s book, Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster on his bedside table.  It was a few nights later when I found him already in bed half-way through Chapter One.  “You’re so subtle,” was all he said. I hid my smile behind my hand.

And my smile continued to grow as I watched and witnessed Lee accept and embrace the suggestions in Huddleston’s book as his surgery date approached.

He reached out to the people he works with, the guys he mountain bikes with, and all his ski racing buddies to create the suggested “support group.”  “Hey if you think of it,” he would say, “send some positive energy my way Monday morning at 7:30.”  Later, on our drive to the hospital he confessed that wasn’t easy for him.  “To put myself out there like that, to ask them to think of me, was really hard,” but after a moment he added, “But I’m so glad I did because it was very well received and they felt included in my process.”

The other big take-away from Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster was the healing statements.  These are intentions written out by the patient and read by someone in the operating room as the patient goes under and comes out of anesthesia.  Huddleston talks in her book about the research that has proven that even when a patient is anesthetized, he/she is still hearing what is said during surgery.  She sites examples from hospitals in Boston, New York, Atlanta and London who’ve all shown that “patients who had positive statements spoken to them during general anesthesia recovered more quickly with less pain and complications than the patients in the control group, who were not given the statements.”

In the pre-op room, Lee mustered up his courage to hand the sheet of loose leaf paper on which he’d written his statements to the anesthesiologist and ask that they be read during surgery.  I watched Lee relax into the bed when the anesthesiologist said, “Yeah, I’ve seen this several times now. Must be somethin’ going around.”

Prior to surgery, we learned that Lee had the choice to use one of his own tendons to replace his, or one from a donor.  Based on his age (46) it was repeatedly recommended he use the donor option.  It was about a week before surgery that it really hit home for Lee that his new tendon would be coming from someone whose life had been cut short.  The last of his healing statements reflects that.  With his permission, these are the statements he wrote:

  • I look forward to this procedure and wish for it to go smoothly, efficiently and as simply as possible in a safe and clean environment.
  • My immediate post-op recovery will be pain-free, and set the stage for a pain-free rehabilitation.
  • All medications from surgery will transfer easily out of my body.
  • My body’s response will be swift, thorough and strong.
  • I express deep gratitude to the donor of this tissue and intend that this tissue will be welcomed and accepted as a part of my body.

I can happily report that three days post-surgery, Lee is doing wonderfully well.  He’s off all pain meds, making good progress on his physical therapy and already making plans for next ski season!

In Need of Nurturing

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The first thing I always do when I pick up a new book is flip it over and read the back cover.  My latest was Renee Trudeau’s new book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family – 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life.

When I read the line…

“What would it feel like to experience more ease, harmony and flow in the midst of navigating homework, squabbles, mealtimes, commutes, and the other challenges of everyday life?”

…on the back cover, I thought of the all the demands and stress on our busy family and spoke right back to the book. “I have no idea,” I tried to disguise the desperation in my voice before begging, “Please, please, please tell me how.”

And it did.

In fact, I soon discovered that Renee Trudeau’s book is the guiding light I’ve been searching for since I began this wild and wonderful child-rearing journey.

In the early pages of the book, Renee asks, “Where did all the fun go?  I thought having a family was supposed to enhance my life, to offer opportunities for joy and delight!  When did things start becoming so tedious? So involved, so complex, so overwhelming? So darn hard?”

When I read that line, I thought maybe Renee had a hidden camera in my kitchen (or perhaps my car).  But then I thought of all the recent conversations I’ve had with so many friends, all with children of various ages, asking exactly those same questions. Where did all the fun go?  And more importantly, How do we get it back? and Is it even possible?

Well, here’s the good news.  I can honestly say that after reading (devouring) this book, I know it is possible.

There is so much I love about this book.  First of all, Renee doesn’t just offer a bunch of suggestions and send you off down the path alone. Instead, she walks side-by-side along with the reader, occasionally even reaching out to offer a hand when one is needed. And as she shares her own vulnerability in her personal stories of struggle and uncertainty, she assures us that she’s in the thick of it right along with us. I chuckled out loud when she called herself a “recovering perfectionist and control freak.”

At other times in the book, Renee is firm and clear, and offers much needed directives.  When she talked about self-care, it really hit home for me.  “Regardless of what we tell our children, we teach them about self-worth and how to honor oneself through our actions, not our words.”  Ok, so if my kids see me taking my daily walks, excusing myself for much needed naps, scheduling Reiki and massage appointments, as well as date nights with my hubby, they’ll learn to do the same?  Sounds like a win-win to me.  What about you?

Here’s the other thing. I’m a bargain shopper who loves a great deal.  This book is a great deal.  I’m not talking about the price, I’m talking about what’s between the front and back covers. Seriously, there are like hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of therapy and life-coaching wisdom packed into this book. As I read, I kept thinking, Holy Smokes, I’m getting all of this out of just one book!

By far, the coolest result so far from reading Nurturing the Soul of Your Family is the wonderful night we had as a family, meeting and discussing what we could do to bring more fun back into our lives.  We’ve tried family meetings before, but usually someone stomps out of the living room before we can make any progress. This time, however, inspired by the book, I called it a “Team Meeting” and declared we’d do it once a month and that we had to eat pancakes for dinner on Team Meeting Nights.  The kids loved it! We made a list of all the things the kids thought we could do together to bring more joy back into our lives – playing tag, going bowling, pancakes for dinner(!). The meeting also took on a more serious tone and became an opportunity for all of us (especially the kids) to share their worries and concerns and grievances and feel like they were really being heard.

During the meeting, we all agreed that the technology in our home (3 laptops, 1 iPad, 1 iPhone, 1 blackberry, 2 Kindle Fires and 2 iPods) had become an issue.  So I proposed a one day a week, device-free day.  Sunday seemed to make the most sense.  The kids were pretty reluctant, but surprisingly my husband readily agreed, even pushing the kids.  “Come on guys, we can do anything for one day.”  When I cleared my throat and told him I meant all Sundays, his face fell for a moment before he regained his composure and tried to display his enthusiasm. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Either way, Renee Trudeau’s book has got me thinking and questioning and striving for a more conscious, peaceful and joyous family life and I could not be more grateful. And I know it will do the same for you.

I am delighted to announce that Renee’s wonderful publisher, New World Books, has graciously offered a free copy to one of you.  To be eligible to win, just leave a comment below and, as always, I’ll let Random.org do the choosing. (You know otherwise I’d choose every one of you!)

Not sure what to say in your comment?  Maybe you’d like to answer the question – “What would it feel like to experience more ease, harmony and flow in the midst of navigating homework, squabbles, mealtimes, commutes, and the other challenges of everyday life?”

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Eleven years ago when the fun was just beginning.

National Parents of Preemies Day

I wrote this a while back when my book just came out, but thought today was a perfect day to share it again.

10 Lessons from Having a Preemie (Hatherleigh Press, 2012)

1.) You didn’t do anything wrong.  It is completely normal to feel guilty, ashamed and terribly afraid after giving birth to a preemie, but It Is Not Your Fault. You might never know Why your baby arrived early and sometimes you have to let go of the Why in order to move forward.

2.) Not everyone is a “baby person” and nurturing is not automatic for every mother, even mothers of full term babies.  It’s ok if you feel this way; many women do, but don’t dare speak their feelings out loud.

3.) Speak your truth. Don’t let your fears and anxiety breed in the dark.  Bringing your deep felt emotions to light keeps them from growing and festering inside you.

4.) Motherhood can be lonely, even for mothers of full-term babies. Ask for help.  When others offer help, accept it.  By receiving with openness and grace, you are in fact giving in return. To show your vulnerability is to be at your greatest strength.

5.) Create a vision of your baby in the future and hold on to that vision.  Write a list of all your “some days” – walking on the beach, eating ice cream cones on a hot summer day, flying a kite, lying in the grass looking for shapes in the clouds…

6.) Don’t believe everything the doctors tell you!!!  Create your own expectations for your child and don’t allow your child’s potential to be limited by anyone else.  Use your voice.  Speak up for yourself and your baby.  You are your baby’s voice.

7.) Cover your baby’s isolet with a dark blanket.  If your NICU is too bright or too noisy, speak up.  Your baby will grow and heal best in a dark womb-like environment.  Post-NICU, explore alternative therapies to compliment traditional medical treatments, ie Reiki, energy healing, cranial sacral therapy, Brain Gym

8.) If you can’t shake your deep anxiety, it’s highly likely you’re suffering from PTSD.  Posttraumatic Stress is very common among preemie parents. (Resources to help – EMDR, Support groups, Peer to Peer support through Hand to Hold, therapy, writing)

9.) Take care of YOU.  Like the oxygen mask on an airplane, you have to breathe first before putting the mask on your child. It’s ok to take time for yourself and let someone else care for your baby.

10.) Choose love over fear.  It’s the hardest thing in the world to love when you’re so afraid you might lose, but our babies came here to be loved; to love and be loved.  And remember, no matter how bad things get, no matter how lonely you feel, You Are Not Alone.  Someone has walked this path before you and someday you’ll be on the other side sharing your story.

Happy Parents of Preemies Day. I send my deepest love and blessings to you all.
Andie

Musings from a New Hampshire Snow Day

Inspired by my post from a couple of weeks ago, my daughter asked to stop at our local nursery for some flower therapy.

She took lots of photos, but this one in particular blew me away.

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If only I were a painter!

This morning I picked up Eckhart Tolle’s book, Oneness With All Life, which contains selections from his book, A New Earth, and as I like to do, flipped it open to a random page.  Here’s what I read:

Seeing beauty in a flower can awaken you, however briefly, to the beauty  that is an essential part of your innermost being, your true nature.  Joy and love are intrinsically connected to that recognition.  Flowers can become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves.  Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal, and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerge, are like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless. They not only have a scent that is delicate and pleasing, but also bring a fragrance from the realm of spirit.”

Happy Friday and my this weekend bring you much rest and joy.