Miss Misunderstood- an unpublished new story

The day had seemed long when Gabby opened the back door to the kitchen. It wasn’t that she felt sad, more like empty. Unsure of why she felt this way, she knew she felt like she needed a hug, a tight one, one that said, “You are all right the way you are.” Mom was already busy in the kitchen. Apparently she had school work because the computer was surrounded by a ton of books. Mom was attending college and that kept her very busy. There was something in the oven, and something on the stove, and Mom was racing around like she was in a big hurry to get somewhere. Obviously she had no time for Gabby tonight.

Mom turned her head when she heard the door close and called out, “Thank goodness you are home. I have a study group at the college tonight at 5:30 so I have to leave in an hour. I need you to finish getting dinner ready, set the table, and make some iced tea for your father.”

Gabby just stood there. So much for that hug she was thinking about. No time for Gabby at all.

“What’s that face for? I just asked for a little help and I get attitude from you?” Mom asked more as a statement of anger than a question.

“I don’t have an attitude.” Gabby replied.

“Yes, I think you do. I can see it on your face. You used to be so sweet and helpful and now all I get is attitude”, was Mom’s reply.

Gabby thought to herself, “Yeah. And you met me at the door with a smile and asked about my day and dinner was ready. You start college and it is me that changed.” But she kept silent.

The look on Mom’s face hurt Gabby to the core. She hadn’t doubted how her mother felt about her before, but she did now. She really felt alone.

“Gabby, why are you still standing there. Get started on the iced tea!” Mom yelled.

“I am,” she replied. Sometimes this type of conversation made Gabby very angry and she wanted to yell back, but this afternoon, she knew she was about to cry. In fact she could feel the tear coming down her face. She quickly wiped it away and got out the pitcher. She checked the oven and saw a lasagna from the supermarket had been recently put in. String beans were on the stove awaiting the stove to be turned on.

Gabby finished the iced tea and set the table for 3 since Mom wouldn’t be joining them, and took her backpack up to her room. She didn’t have the energy for homework right now and turned on some music, and put on her earphones. It was her way of blocking out all that noise she heard in her head. Sometimes she was angry. Sometimes she told her mother off in her head. Sometimes she told herself what she was sure everyone else was thinking. It was never good.

The door slammed open and Gabby jumped. Mom was standing there with her REALLY disgusted face on.

“That is why you didn’t hear me! Take those things out of your ears. Gabby you know I have to get out of here and get to school. Why did you leave me? I don’t have time chasing around after you”, said Mom, frustrated.

“I thought you were finished with me. I set the table and made the tea. The lasagna won’t be ready for 20 minutes. I needed some me time.” Gabby replied.

Mom looked like she was going to blow, but she took a deep breath, and then another. She came over and sat next to Gabby on the bed.

“You needed to get away from me, didn’t you?” Mom asked.

Gabby just shrugged her shoulders. “Mom, I am not trying to make anything harder for you. I am trying to do the chores you ask me to do. I know college is hard work for you. But I still need my mom sometimes and today was one of those days. I just needed a hug or a smile. That is all. Growing up is hard, too.”

Mom put her arms around Gabby. “My Loving Self was really far away. I was so wrapped up in my All About Me Self that I took it out on you. I know you are trying and should have been more appreciative.”

“That took a lot of love to express yourself so clearly and calmly. You are growing up and I am missing it. I am sorry, Gabby Gootz, I will do better at being a college student and a mom. I wasn’t thinking about how you were feeling. Here I thought you were being selfish and didn’t want to help. It was me that was being selfish. I will try to understand your feelings and not jump to conclusions. I know growing up is hard. I really don’t want to make it harder for you”, said Mom.

Mom hugged Gabby tighter and kissed her on the forehead. “I love you sweetheart”, she said with a smile.

Gabby smiled back as Mom got up and headed off to school. She sat for a few moments before heading down to check on the lasagna. Did Mom really think she was making annoyed faces at her?

She didn’t like being misunderstood. She wasn’t comfortable when her feelings didn’t seem important to anyone else. Mom was right. That did take courage to tell her the truth calmly. Gabby smiled to herself and then realized she was grateful that Mom listened. Gabby also realized that sometimes it was difficult explaining herself clearly because she didn’t always understand how she felt. The one thing she did know was that she wanted to feel good about herself, and pleasing others sometimes made that difficult.

Gabby continued down to the kitchen and remembered something Gram had told her.

“When nothing seems to be going right, take an account of all you have to be grateful for. Make a list. If you can’t think of anything, write down all your complaints then write BUT after them. Go back and read each sentence once more with the “but” there and fill in the blank. Once you have vented, you will have an easier time finding something good to complete the sentence,” Gram had said.

“I guess I can give that a try,” Gabby said out loud and went to find a pen and paper.

Fearlessly Free to Be You and Me

In the 90s as a middle school teacher, I assisted a bit in the production, free to beas much as my talents allowed, of the play version of Marlo Thomas and friends’, “Free to Be You and Me “. I remember that the kids really enjoyed it as did I. Listening to sound bites of the songs brought up thoughts of changes facing children today.

Still in the same school in 2001, but as a supervisor, we were faced with the terrorism that day that the plane flew into the World Trade Center. Not far from New York City, we had a number of parents working there and for several hours, spent time locating them for terrified children. Where outcomes were devastating all around us, all of our parents were located alive and well by the end of the day. For one reason or another, they had not made it into the city that morning. For our students, a day of miracles. But I think that was the beginning of fear based living that has quietly permeated some of our society. Certainly it has drawn other negative fearful incidences to everyday life and removed that freedom to be, that was gaining strength.

Be wary! Be careful! Isn’t that dangerous? Is that safe? The vocabulary of fear is here. Don’t run, you’ll fall! Be careful! Watch out! I don’t remember this as a child. We rode bikes along the road for miles and miles. We played outside without supervision for hours. I remember one scary episode around age 10 at the Jersey shore. I was playing in the surf by myself with a small blow up inner tube. Don’t remember what I was trying to do, but I got the tube stuck behind my head and back with my arms and shoulders trapped inside the hole just when a wave hit and knocked me down. I was powerless to help myself, face down in the water without arms. I couldn’t roll over because the tube blocked me. As terror began to fill me, I was yanked up to a standing position and the tube ripped off. There was my mother who had been watching me all the time. I learned many lessons that day, many of which I probably am consciously unaware. The lessons were mine to learn, and although it is not a pleasant memory, I believe it made me a better mother, teaching me to let them experience life while watching from a short distance unencumbered by the vocabulary of fear.

That lesson is especially important today as there is so much more negativity and fear than ever before. Remove those words of fear, let them explore within the boundaries that may be necessary. Keeping watch, ever mindful that the greatest parent and His winged staff are ever present awaiting your awareness. Fear or love? That is the choice- love of God, faith in His protection, belief that you and your children are always in His hands, and gratitude- so much gratitude for the safety that surrounds them.  Or you can choose fear.

The world is full of experiences- joyful, exhilarating opportunities to do and to be and so much is missed because of fear. Fear of injury or judgment prevents living life to its fullest. Isn’t it time to remove the vocabulary of fear, and once again teach children we are all “Free To Be You and Me”?

 

About the Author

11115609_10204369689187957_9074883143868021693_oBeth Hoffman has a master’s degree in education, and after more than thirty years as a teacher and administrator in New Jersey public schools, she is now retired, giving her time to pursue interests in angels, energy healing and living from the heart. She has studied Reiki, IET (integrated energy therapy), angel therapy, and Magnified Healing. She and her husband reside in the Lake Wallenpaupack area of the Poconos in Pennsylvania where they are blessed to spend time with their grandchildren, one of the inspirations for this book.

Yes, Virginia There Are Adult Bullies

Yes, Virginia there are adult bullies

Have you ever been targeted by the best person on earth? It is a strange situation because they are so enamored by everyone else that you begin to believe them as well. I have recently been reminded of a time I was the recipient of kind, loving constructivism that didn’t feel comfortable. I questioned myself, my actions, and not until later when discussing my self-doubt with a professional did it become clear to me, that it boiled down to intent, and only one of us could claim good intentions. Although my intentions were not self-serving, I readily believed in the failures being presented to me. They came to me, my mind accepted them as truth, and my self-talk played them over and over like a song played on a loop.

Self-talk is present all the time. We listen to it off and on all day long, sometimes well into the night, preventing down time for sleep. We are not always consciously aware of what our mind is repeating, but we do feel it. It is important to bring those thoughts- that self-talk to the front and give it attention. You may find out you are not as kind as you think you are. Don’t hide it, change it! Perhaps your thoughts make you feel hypocritical. Good! You now can address it before others realize it too. Then again the self-talk can belittle you, criticize you, and diminish your spirit, creating a lack of self-worth. Is that what you want to tell yourself? It doesn’t matter where those thoughts originated. It matters that they became your thoughts and through self-talk, you hear them over and over, believing them every time. By critically listening to your self-talk, you can recognize what is unreal and detrimental. You can stop being your own worst enemy, and create a shield that hurtful intentions can’t penetrate.

I have written about children and bullying, a topic that strikes a direct blow to my heart but now realize that there are vicious egotistical adults as well. Children are not the only ones that are victims. Although when adults are bullied, the attack is on their inner child as well. There are adults out there hiding behind fake kindness, religion and even service that are not heart based in their actions. Childhood bullies grown up have had many years of practice. If you are heart centered, they see an easy target.

It was recommended to me to ask my guardian angels for help. I know, some of you are thinking I did that when I was a kid, but I am grown up now. Well, your angels have been waiting for a long time for a signal from you that you want assistance. I asked for help and the answer seemed to make sense, exactly what I would think. That was because they were my thoughts. I stayed quiet for a while longer and waited. When it no longer sounded like me, I knew it was a message from my angels. I also recognized immediately it was a much better idea than I came up with on my own. It was not based in ego. Archangel Raguel can be called on to mediate conflicts and bring harmony to relationships as well. Free will blocks so many from angelic assistance. God created these spiritual supporters before humanity so we would never be alone. Give gratitude for them in your life and ask for help; whether you know what you need or not, they do.

There are different types of bullies, some “in your face” and some that hide it behind their goodness. I have read about standing up to them as the only way to stop it, but it my case, I know if I had, I would have given what was needed- a platform to show off their perfection and my perceived inability. Of course the other person is believed to be the kindest God fearing person on the planet. How could they be wrong in their actions? I chose to rise above it. I didn’t react.   Throughout the time we had to interact, I had professional support and recommend it highly. Being able to talk was immensely helpful because as I mentioned before no one would have believed me. Also, I was amazed at how easily I had believed the criticism. The professional suggestions were invaluable. In some cases people can walk away from bullies, but workplace bullying and similar other situations limit the options. Seek help.

Hold tightly to your self-esteem. Focus on their needs and their weaknesses as the cause of the conflict. Perhaps you can assist them with their needs without them attacking you. First and foremost, refuse to be diminished in your own eyes. Yes, listen to your self-talk. If your intentions are good, hold fast. If your intentions are from ego, self-serving, in any way diminishing others, then take the advice, even if it was judgmental in the presentation. Accept it as a gift if it returns you to your path. Accept self-talk as your inner barometer to peace.

10 Ways to Help Children Face Negative Emotions and Find Happiness

Worry, doubt, fear, sadness and poor self esteem don’t belong in children. Adults either. But we expect children to be happy and playful and full of joy. How do they take on so much negativity at such a young age? Although it is assumed that traumatic experiences are the cause, more often than not, it is something much smaller that can cause a personality to wither with no one the wiser.

During a study of key life influences, I remembered one such account when I was five or six. The den in my family home had a bay window and I had been told not to climb on it. However it was very tempting. It was my very own dance stage! I don’t remember anything in my way. Perhaps I didn’t see it as an obstacle, but the Victorian lamp that probably had been passed down through the family, hit the floor. My distraught mother cried and cried. Why couldn’t I listen? What was the matter with me? How often scenes like this happen in family life. Frustrated parents lose it and yell, something they wish they could take back. But the child gets over it and life goes on. All is well. But is it? My little self perceived an unbelievable fact that day. Lamps and other things are much more important than me. It was my first encounter with not being worthy. I began practicing playing small. My mother always thought that I had a hard time adjusting to school and that was why I became more quiet and subdued. She would have been devastated to know that her reaction to a broken lamp had that kind of impact.   I discovered this about myself in my sixties and have pondered the unknown affects I may have inadvertently caused for my children and grandchildren. But the reality is that what took place took place in my brain.

The brain chooses how it will react to situations, and that reaction becomes an emotion. Each human being has a multitude of interactions and experiences some of which trigger negative emotions while others do not. Protecting children from experiences is not possible, nor healthy. If they don’t learn to deal with small things, they will have no skills for dealing with larger ones. Research has shown that over protective parenting leaves children vulnerable when they grow and leave home. They are used to their parents as their life shield. They feel exposed and worried. Rather than hovering, or feeling guilty for our own emotions, adults can teach kids how to handle situations that have triggered negative emotions of fear, self -loathing, sadness, feeling unworthy or unloved. People expect children to “get over it” when many adults do not have that capacity either. They hold grudges, blame, show anger, or are willing to let go of relationships rather than deal with the emotions, or “get over it” themselves.   happiness

So how do we help kids deal with negative emotions in their life and be happy?

  1. Appreciate having them in your life and teach them to love and value themselves.
  2. Acknowledge their feelings and give them an opportunity to talk often.
  3. Value their concerns and commend their efforts to deal with them.
  4. Assure them they are surrounded by God’s love and His protective angels; they are never alone.
  5. Teach them to communicate with God. Listening to the answers in their heart is just as important as talking.
  6.  Be grateful and practice daily gratitude with them.
  7. Guide with questions rather than tell them how to handle their emotions.
  8. Show them forgiveness and an ability to take responsibility for your own actions so they can model you. Children need to forgive themselves.
  9. Prove that joy can be found most anywhere (without medications, alcohol or drugs).
  10. Help them to choose happiness for what they have in the present.

All experiences in life offer choices. Kids need to learn that so they avoid feeling powerless. Imagine if you or I learned this as children!

Celebrations From Within the Heart

I love Father’s Day and Mother’s Day celebrations because it is a time we get together for a few hours over a nice meal and enjoy each other’s company.   Tradition in this country is for gifts and cards, too. (Well, come to think of it isn’t that our tradition for everything??) In many families I believe it is a time to remind children of all ages that it is someone’s special day and to be nice. Kids hear, “Don’t fight.” “Be nice.” “Say Happy Mother’s Day”, “Happy Birthday”, or whatever is celebrated. Some even get dressed up in their finest. There are many special celebrations!

I sit here wondering how these celebrations are different in families that practice living from their heart every day. I would love to see discussion on this page! My grandson is naturally a from- the- heart- kid. He enters the door and seeks both of us out for a hug and “I love you” before heading off to do something. He never leaves without a repeat. In between, he has his “Why can’t I…” “I want…”, “Why do I have to…????” , like many other kids, but he is respectful and caring every day. Celebrations are not necessary when every day is from the heart. The interesting thing is, those that live from their heart, look forward to celebrating others! They don’t resent it, it is a joy!

Each child has their own unique personality and reacts to living with the same upbringing in different ways. Some truly hold onto living from their heart more easily than others. Others become entrenched in serving themselves. This is one area where modeling doesn’t always work. (But don’t stop exhibiting through your words and actions how they should be!) Not all children learn to be loving from being treated lovingly. We cannot expect children to want to treat others the way they are treated because the truth is many receive the message that they are worthy to be treated that way. Reciprocation is not considered when it is they who are the deserving ones. Conundrum sometimes, isn’t it?

imagesDU8B6AI2Giving gratitude each day is a wonderful way for children to begin to learn to live from their heart. It can start with one thing, one general thing, one superficial thing, one selfish thing. And it doesn’t even matter if it is sincere in the beginning. Gratitude is a way of living that takes time for many, especially if they believe they are entitled. It is a small thing to do in your family. It can be done with each child, one at a time each day. Every day. Consistently. Why do I say one child at a time? Firstly what a special discussion time for you and your child every day! Secondly, kids are competitive. By talking with them alone, each has the opportunity to speak without feeling theirs wasn’t as good as a sibling. Janet Eltaktouk wrote an article in the Sun Sentinel entitled Five Ways to Create an Attitude of Gratitude in Children that continues this discussion. Every little bit of gratitude is a good thing!

After a few weeks, discuss gratitude about certain activities, abilities or people. What are you grateful for that happened in school today? What are you grateful to Grandpop for? Later, you can add things like, Do you think your teacher knows you are grateful for him or something he did? How could you let your sister know you appreciate her? Children who begin to recognize all the things in their lives they have to be grateful for, and give gratitude for them will increase living from their heart. The day will come when most days are days of celebration!

gratitude

Alike on the Inside

 

There are moments when I regret some of the teaching strategies that were used in the seventies in reading. As I look back I remember a lot of emphasis on compare and contrast, finding same and different, and although there is a component of importance I often wonder if it has also played a role in the comparisons people make with each other.

About 30 years ago, a moment in time that taught me a huge lesson about myself, I was walking out of McDonald’s with my 4 year old. In front of us was a mixed race couple with their young daughter. My daughter blurts out, “Mommy look!” and points at their child. Embarrassed, I shushed her, then leaned down and told her to be quiet and hurried her to the car. By the time we got there she was in tears. “Mommy”, she cried. “Why wouldn’t you look at that little girl’s Miss Piggy glass?”

I was shocked at myself. I noticed the different colors of the family members, 10360543_1398844150439652_6293205814907425549_nand worried because my daughter was drawing attention to them. My four year old noticed another little girl like her, who loved Miss Piggy.

Isn’t there too little of seeing the likenesses we share? After all, isn’t that how we choose with whom we spend our time? Or do we choose who we don’t want around because of their differences? There is so much negative energy everywhere! Children see it in facial expressions, and hear it in words. They pick up on sarcasm, and jokes and soon believe it is OK to react that way. They may try it themselves and be sternly corrected, but they don’t get the mixed message. There is always a conflict for kids when they are told one thing but something else is demonstrated when adults think they are not watching. They learn from watching and copying. tsa-usa.org

In the chapter titled God’s Specially Wrapped Gifts in My Loving Self and Me, I wrote about differences of all kinds and explained that God wraps us all differently so that we can tell each other apart, because unlike Him we don’t recognize us by our Loving Selves. In the story Gram tells the children, “God wants us to look at each other with the same excitement we feel whenever we receive presents. And we need to look for the present inside!” Our souls, true selves, authentic selves, higher selves, our loving selves, whatever you call it, have no skin color, hair color, eye color, height, weight, or anything else to be compared. Inside is love energy, in each one. Sometimes it is hard to find while with others it is right there for all to see and enjoy.

I read on PBS Parents, in a section called Inclusive communities several articles on this topic. One titled “The Power of Words”, wrote about “people first language” when speaking- a boy with red hair, the girl that uses a wheelchttps://mylovingselfandme.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php#titledivhair. The race, color, disability are secondary. In this article and another “Respecting Differences: Everyday Ways to Teach Children About Respect” the focus is on teaching kids to respect themselves and everyone else. My Loving Self and Me does too.

There are far more likenesses within us than differences. The likenesses are what connect us in oneness and yet too often there is disconnect, because the differences are the focus. Respect people as people first- all the descriptions are secondary. Children are born seeing the likenesses. They don’t need to be taught that differences are anything but a way for us to tell each other apart.

 

Kids Need to Learn to Be. Be What? At Peace With Themselves.

Gram looked up from her cup of tea. “There are many things to do! But you don’t have to always do something. You can just be.”

Gabby looked at her grandmother “Be what?” she asked.

“You don’t have to be something. Just be you! Bring your Loving Self as close as you can. Forget about all the outside things your ‘all about me’ self is involved with, and wants to do.” imagesQMP5XHRX

Gram took another sip of tea, “At first you might need to lie down, or close your eyes, or be in a quiet space. Then just be.

Kids need to learn to be at peace with themselves, to think by themselves, to love themselves. We all need to let go, breathe deeply and be one with quiet. As I sit here in the moment, I feel a breeze on my face, the rustle of leaves, a distant boat and many birds. I am grateful for all of it, but I had to learn to be.  In an article in the Huffington Post, this is also called mindfulness training.

In a world of TV, video games, email, Instagram and phones that do it all, sitting alone has changed. More and people are not participating in the events they go to, much less spend quiet time with their thoughts. It is an easy change, but takes some effort.

So why should kids (and you) learn to be at peace with yourself? My first thought is to find out who you are. Sure you know what you think you think but is that really you? Do you sound like your mother? Grandmother? Best friend? Discovering that many of “my” beliefs weren’t mine at all, was a huge surprise.  Here I am defending what I believe to be true and I never considered whether I really believe that. Think that is ludicrous? Try it! Analyze your strong beliefs. What do you defend to the nth degree? Any chance someone else’s points might be valid? You will never know if you don’t take time to think about it in the quiet and from your heart. Many of your beliefs were set while you were a young child. Many of those beliefs you have already passed on to your children and they aren’t even yours!

Prayer and meditation are valuable in connecting with God, your creator. Connection beyond one’s self helps children as well as adults stay centered and grounded and with that comes power- not over someone or something else, but from within, a feeling that all things are possible. One of the first affirmations I learned was from Tony Robbins, “All I need is within me now.” That is powerful!meditating 8yr old

During peace and quiet times, gratitude can flourish if children are taught to make it a part of their daily thoughts. It is a frame of mind that once learned reduces negativity, fear, judgment and criticism. Positivity becomes the primary thought process. With gratitude comes joy. With joy, their ‘all about me’ self, your ego diminishes bringing you and them closer to peace.

Children can also be taught to set intentions, like a to-do list for a way of being.   Rather than, ‘I will make my bed’, it might be, ‘I will be kind and helpful to my sister.’ Just being alone in quiet is a perfect time for this! They can call it their ‘to be” list!

Quiet time, just being time allows children to learn to appreciate themselves as well. Quiet alone time can be used for ‘What I love about me’. Gram told the children in the story “Just Being” that by loving themselves as God loves them, they are showing appreciation for the gifts He gave them. She also recommended that they thank Him for things they don’t quite believe are true yet because the more they think it and say it, the sooner they will believe in themselves.

Contentment comes with just being which leaves boredom out of their vocabulary. Now that is truly a gift!