If We were Having Dessert, Now is the Time We Would Have it

I do not remember thinking meals in our house were anything spectacular during childhood.  We ate chicken a lot, always vegetables and usually a salad.  Weekends were pot roast and vegetables and very occasionally a steak.  Mother was good at casseroles as well.  Dessert was rare.  After all, on shopping day a pack of Oreos or Lorna Doones and some vanilla ice cream were purchased to last the week,  for the whole  family. If there happened to be company of any kind, my father would amuse himself and announce, “If we were having dessert, now is the time we would have it!” The grin on his face and the twinkle in his eye is probably why I remember this so fondly.

So when did sugar become a food group for me? Those healthy meals of childhood are the ones I appreciate now, but somewhere in the middle of living, I realized I had missed out on pastas, breads and desserts and gifted myself with their consumption.

For the two weeks before my cancer diagnosis, I was on a sugar binge, running an errand daily to the pharmacy for a candy bar.   (The fact that the entire length of the check out counter in a pharmacy is all candy and gum could be another blog, don’t you think?) I thought I was controlling it by not bringing bags of candy into the house and limiting it to one a day.  But now I look back on the early days at home when candy was at Easter, Halloween and Christmas, and a pack of cookies and a half gallon of ice cream was sufficient for the family for a week.   Sugar was not a food group back then.

A dear friend mentioned last night that his mother always said. “Everything in moderation.”  I remember that saying,  too bad it disappeared.  Breakfast anymore can be an entire meal of dessert with sugary cereals, and French toast, or pancakes that are more extravagant than coveted strawberry shortcake during the first week of June in my youth.

I blame advertising, knowing as I am doing it that it isn’t fair, but someone needs to be responsible.  Maybe the food shows are responsible.  It couldn’t be me!  How am I supposed to make good choices with a Dunkin donuts on the corner, two ice cream stands in a mile spread and a supermarket with everything I see on the television?  “Everything in moderation”.

I am thinking that pertains to amounts as well. When was the last time I asked for a small of anything? Whether it is an ice cream cone, or a salad, it doesn’t have to be HUGE.  Sugars and worse yet in my book, artificial sweeteners are in everything.

It has finally sunk in so you get to hear the wisdom that eluded me for so long.  Not caring for yourself by indulging in unhealthy over advertised food is harmful.  It weakens the immune system and leads to other diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes as well as in my case,  cancer.  Even scarier is that this overload on children will take its toll much sooner.  Deep down do parents believe as I did,  that they were in some way deprived of the treats they saw others eating and think they are gifting their children??

Observing those around me as I now refrain, I have things I want to share.  Food should not be your choice of self love.  Enjoy life and eat for nourishment.   Drink water!  IF you must have a soda when away from home, order a small and a water as well.  Drink water until your thirst is quenched, then sip soda and water throughout the meal.  Eat salads at home and get your taste buds accustomed to enjoying the taste of the vegetables. You can use dressing but use a little.  Train yourself to enjoy the FOOD, not the high salt, high sugar dressing.  AND don’t use low calorie so you can use more!  Eat real – in moderation.  Then when you are out, you can order a salad and only use a small portion of the dressing that you told them to put on the side.  A glass of wine while dining out is 5 oz. , it can be the same at home.  Here is a tip I just learned.  Wine glasses in restaurant have a way of measuring either in the position of the lettering or with an engraved dot or square to guide bartenders.  You can do it at home. Measure 5 oz. and pour into your favorite glass.  Mark a dot on the outside of the glass.  You won’t have to measure again and you are controlling your sugar intake!

Time to get back to the olde days of not having so much sugar around. Time to spend less time in fast food and when you need to, choose wisely.  Time to shop real and not packaged.  Time to skip sugared breakfast, lunch and dinner and instead think in the words of my dad, ” IF we were having dessert, now is the time we would have it.”

 

Model What You Want Them To Be

Today I am borrowing from a much wiser and well known writer to help convey an important parenting concept.  If like me, you grew up hearing “Do as I say not as I do,”  and tried that as a way of parenting, you probably have already discovered that it doesn’t work.  Integrity is a much better basket to put your eggs in.  Kids today see through anything less.  Being the role model you want for them, empowers you as well.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Wayne’s Weekly Wisdom “If you model self-pride and self-worth for your children, they will in turn leave the nest with an absence of stress and turmoil for all concerned.”

I have the following saved on my desktop because it profoundly demonstrates the importance of our awareness of our own behavior.  I notice too much explosive behavior, loss of control, and spewed anger that is justified with ridiculous excuses that make perfect sense to the person explaining them.   Is society becoming numb to inexcusable behavior? Parents and other relatives of children are their role models and need to be cognizant of their actions at all times.

This was Wayne’s last Facebook post.

I was preparing to speak at an I Can Do It conference and I decided to bring an orange on stage with me as a prop for my lecture. I opened a conversation with a bright young fellow of about twelve who was sitting in the front row.

“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” I asked him.

He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.”

“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”

“No!” he laughed.

“What about grapefruit juice?”

“No!”

“What would come out of it?”

“Orange juice, of course.”

“Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?”

He may have been getting a little exasperated with me at this point.

“Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.”

I nodded.

“Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”

It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezingyour mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.

When someone puts the pressure on you and out of you comes anything other than love, it’s because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. Once you take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love, you’ll find yourself living a highly functioning life.

Thanks, my young friend, and here’s an orange for you!

I was impressed with Wayne’s understanding and explanation that negativity within is a choice.    Choose peace, calm, patience  and love and you and everyone around you benefits.

 

 

 

What Were You THINKING!?!

Making wise choices comes about from experiences and practice as well as maturation.  In any situation, children see what they are focusing on.  It is only with growth and lessons learned that they begin to realize that there are consequences to every action.  They are usually as surprised as anyone else when things don’t go the way they pictured them in their head.  Being allowed to make their own decisions in a risk free situations encourages them to expand on the possibilities.  My granddaughter has said more than once, “I didn’t see that one coming.”  In reality, adults don’t either sometimes.  Not doing it again in that exact way is a learned lesson.

Actions, whether judged to be good or bad are best handled with a true, calm, question about the process of their thinking.  What were the steps?  Did you think that it might not go as planned?  Was there a risk and was the outcome worth it?  Discussion with children builds their self esteem and courage, reducing stress with decision making.

Teach Kids How,  a website for parents,  lists activities for teaching children early about making choices.  It must be a continuous process for them to become confident.

 

But  too often, a child’s mistakes have an impact on the parent.  Their behavior or choice may be an embarrassment.  It may cause more effort or work when their plate was already full.  They look at the child incredulously and ask in a questioning voice, “What were you THINKING!?!” Although it may sound like a question it really isn’t.  The parent probably is not in the mood to hear the answer.  The question is really a statement that says to the child, “You were not thinking at all.”  It is not a question but a condemnation of self.  mental abuseMany parents heard something similar when they were growing up.  “Are you crazy??” or “What are you? Stupid?” come to mind.  Past generations were not immune to this kind of questioning.  Many were raised this way as well and only through self reflection as parents will they realize it did not have a positive impact on them, either.  Children develop a fear of making decisions when their choices are wrong.  It becomes easier to say, “I don’t know.”

Karen Stephens contributing writer to childhoodexchange.com in her article, ‘Parents Are Powerful role Models for Children“, says “Being a positive role model requires fore-thought and self control. Today we talk a lot about disciplining our children. We parents need to put an equal emphasis on disciplining ourselves.”

Parenting must come from the heart to raise children who are confident, caring and loving.  Teach them to love themselves by loving, respecting and caring for yourself.  “Do as I say, not as I do.” was resented by every child who ever heard it.  It won’t work on your child either.  Don’t raise your children as you were raised without forethought as to how it affected you.  Keep the best learning experiences and discover new ways to interact with your child where you  were not positively affected by the lesson.  Structure and discipline can always come from love.

 

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.

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!

Too Much Boredom!

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What parent likes to heart those infamous words, “I am bored!” None that I know of as it usually is the precursor to whining and complaining and a need to be entertained. Boredom comes with the belief that children always need to be doing something. Sayings like “An idle mind is the devil’s playground”, has lead us as a society to be doers. Yet, we are human beings, not human doings. And with the advancements in technology, we can be incredibly idle while doing something!

Teaching children to be at peace, and quiet their mind is a valuable tool. I wish my influence on my daughter and grandchildren had understood this when they were infants. I would give them time alone. Let them watch and interact with the mobile, play with their toes, find their fingers, make sounds and wonder where it came from, and laugh without interference. Quieting the mind is a skill most adults need to learn as well. There are so many sleep disorders, addictions and other problems caused by an inability to shut off the mind. We torture ourselves with our constant thoughts! Predicting the future, dwelling on the past, judging, criticizing, anticipating, all keep the mind active.

Kids are rarely born this way, we train them to be like us! They are asked, “Why aren’t you doing something? Find something to do!” I remember 40 years ago putting the container of legos in front of my stepson while he watched TV, thinking at least he would be using the creative side of his brain while he “wasted” time. Perhaps that is why those in their 20s and 30s are much better multi-taskers. However, that also leaves their brains even more active all the time.

Has the ability to “be” been lost? “The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion,[3] love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.” Time not doing is time for being, but it has to be taught, even if it was a skill with which we were born. Bored children need to learn to treasure down time to charge that personal energy, strength and connection to the source of light within and overcome doubts and fears. Constantly active kids need quiet time as well, because all children need the connection with self and God to reduce ego and build their loving self, becoming compassionate caring people with a sense of oneness with others. It is a package deal as they best learn from modeling you.  Meditation, or mindfulness doesn’t need to be done in a yoga pose. Sitting quietly   imagesNQ20XDWCFor families that have quiet reading time, guided meditation can easily be a next step. While teaching them to breathe deeply and focus, you are quieting your mind as well. “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

featured-thumb-curriculum-trainingMindfulness or self reflection is being taught in schools  now to help children lose the control their busy emotions have over them. With the help of Mindful Schools  in a San Fransisco school , a documentary was created called Room to Breathe. As the instructor begins, she tells a child, that she can’t expect to be entertained her whole life. Isn’t that what boredom is, the absence of entertainment? She also within the first few minutes, talked to them about finding their happiness through mindfulness. Is a lack of happiness part of boredom as well? Whether the term used is meditation, self reflection or mindfulness, children and the adults in their lives can benefit from the quiet mind that breeds happiness, contentment, compassion and love.