Happy New Year! Happy Lunar New Year! 2017 - you are here.
Choose Love, Choose Love, Choose Love.
Welcome to Choose Love Parenting and my first post. My name is Thanna. As you might already know, I am an Aha! Parenting certified peaceful parent coach and educator. You can learn more about me at Choose Love Parenting.
When I heard the mantra Choose Love, I fell in love with its directness and simplicity. Choose Love. It seems so very simple. Every choice we make and action we take comes down to love or fear. My hunch is that 2017 will provide many opportunities to use the mantra, as a person and as a parent. My desire is to Choose Love in every moment. However, it isn’t always easy.
Easy was spending the last 10 days of 2016 visiting family in a winter wonderland. We spent lots of time being active in the snow and just being together - making family dinners, talking and laughing. Then, we (my husband, son Hugo and pup Desmond) had a two-day drive home. We filled the hours singing songs, making up stories and games. We watched the landscape and the clouds change outside our windows. Yes, we got a little stir crazy – but we also had fun being together.
Before we knew it, we were back home in Los Angeles and it was GREEN! It was raining! It was fabulous. A wonderful time for an unexpected lesson about Choosing Love... As we made New Year’s plans, Hugo started getting a fever. Three days into this new year - and day three of my own 101 degree fever, my husband comes down the stairs and tells me that I am making a terrible face and he misses my smile. It is true, I could have laughed at myself sitting in my well worn pajamas, unbrushed hair, whilst buried under a blanket with the chills and head pounding. I could have heard him saying that he was sorry I was sick and he wished I felt better (he swears that's what he meant!).
Well... I didn’t. Oops, I did not choose love in that moment. Instead, I succumbed to feeling defensive and unattractive. With very little graciousness and a large dose of sarcasm, I snapped an apology for being sick and having a headache. Terrific modeling - I had only just told Hugo that we can feel terrible and still be kind to each other. Just terrific.
As I continued my sojourn, sitting on the sofa, I remembered one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given. I was in a pre-natal yoga class. The teacher told us to practice putting a smile on our “resting” face because, “You will be a grandma one day and you would rather have a smile than a scowl.”
As I reflected, the more important I realized it is to practice having a default smile. Smiling sends a message to our parasympathetic nervous system that we are safe – that there is no emergency. It physiologically helps to calm our minds and our hearts, and is a great way to help ourselves when we begin to feel triggered. I thought of Tara Brach's guided meditations. She speaks of allowing the corners of the eyes and mouth to smile. She encourages us to feel the curve of a smile in the heart, not in a way that covers up or masks what needs to be felt, but in a way that allows more space for the feelings to be.
As this new year begins, there is more uncertainty in our lives than I remember in my lifetime. The world is anxious these days. Children feel our anxiety. They are so sensitive to our emotions. When we are stressed in any way, our children feel it. When they cannot process it, they feel disconnected and “act out.” Ever felt rushed and stressed about getting out of the house - and suddenly, your child cannot put on his own socks and shoes? You're not alone!
The only thing that seems to quell my free-floating anxiety is the combination of taking action, meditation, exercise and humor. So, in this time of New Year Resolutions, I thought it would be helpful to again remember what we are grateful for in our everyday lives.
I also wanted to offer some ideas of actions we can take with our children. Little things that will make our lives and the world a better place.
Ideas for Actions that Choose Love and Practice Mindfulness with Your Children:
Plant something together – whether you have space to have a garden, a big pot on your patio or a tiny pot on your windowsill – Have your child plant an herb or some peas, with intention. Ask them what they would like to have more of in their lives in the coming year – maybe laughter, joy, friendships, healthy choices – and to empower the seed as they plant it. Then, water the pot and watch the plant and their intention sprout up and grow.
Go for a hike or walk in your neighborhood or in nature. Bring along a bag and pick up trash that you see, to take care of our earth.
Stop and close your eyes and just listen. What do you hear? Open your eyes and look out around you. What is the most beautiful thing you see – the sky, the clouds, a tree, each other?
Make care packages that you keep in your car or backpack, to give to homeless people that you pass by.
Begin a dinner ritual of sharing what you are grateful for, or the favorite part of your day, or something you appreciate about each family member.
There are so many things that I am very excited about as 2017 begins. My loves - my husband and my son and our pooch. My meditation practice. My friends. New babies. The Love Birds, my children's book that is ready to look for a publisher. Good health. Our preschool community. My new website that is finally up and running – Thank You Bill and Cameron! My first blog! Working with families and seeing love grow. I look forward to the opportunity to Choose Love in each moment and I look forward to helping You do the same.
My next post will be about one of my very favorite subjects – Welcoming Emotions!
We are all in this life together, so let’s Choose Love. xo
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