Tanis

My extraordinary for today is my dear friend Tanis.

Heart HandsTanis describes herself and her work in her Twitter handle as; Humorous Spiritual Teacher, Healer, Mother and Friend. Attain spiritual and personal mastery thru energy awareness!

I spent 90 wonderful minutes with Tanis this afternoon and I just have to say…personal mastery through energy awareness really knocks my socks off!

Thank you Tanis. For your heart, your warmth, your love, your wisdom, your generosity and for holding me with such fierce tenderness.

For everything!

I love you! xo:)

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Glimmer of Hope

I’m pretty sure that I have intimated, sometimes not so subtly, that the relationship between my middle and youngest sons is almost unbearable to live with.  They argue constantly and cannot be in the same room for more than 60 seconds without serious conflict. And, on a day without the separation of school, it is not unheard of for Simon or I to break up at least fifteen or twenty major explosions between them. They simply cannot be within two feet of each other without a knock-down-drag-out fight.

One-on-one they are the sweetest and most delightful human beings and I absolutely adore them. I just cannot live with then together.

Divide and ConquerThe only solution that Simon and I have found over the years is what we fondly refer to as; divide and conquer. The problem with this practice is that we are essentially giving up on time together as a family. That, really, we can only be a family of three or a family of two. And, that we do not have the resource to figure out a way of dealing with this intolerable situation between our two youngest children.

Our trip to New York City last week had some great moments. And, it was also one of the hardest trips I have ever endured. Michael and Zachary fought the entire time; stepping on each others feet wherever we walked, arguing over who got to walk in front of the other, who got to take a picture with my camera, who got to push the elevator button in the hotel, who had to sit in the very back seat of the van. And when it came time for fun family pictures, there was no way they could be beside each other because it would turn into a pushing and shoving match.

I’m sure we looked like a really happy family in all those pictures I published last week. That’s what I wanted you to see. That’s what I wanted you to believe.

That’s what I want to believe.

Gas on the FloorWe do have some happy moments as a family but they are all-too-fleeting. And, even while I am enjoying the calm of the moment, I know that the next explosion is simmering just below the surface.

I call this simmering ‘gas on the floor’, which I wrote about a few months ago in a post called A Radical Rethink. Even when Michael and Zach are not fighting, I know it is just a matter of seconds before the next major conflagration.

I’m sure it is no surprise to hear that these eruptions are having a serious impact on my health. My stomach is always in knots, my hands shake, my heart pounds for no apparent reason (even when I am not around the boys) and my chest is so tight when they fight I sometimes struggle for breath. I reached a breaking point this summer and have spent considerable time away from my family (with the two boys divided).

Our trip last week pushed me over the cliffs of insanity and as soon as we got home I escaped to the quiet sanity of my parents’ place up north. Unfortunately, I can’t hide up there until all the kids go off to university so I have to figure out a way to cope.

Well, the Universe decided that enough is enough and the whole issue came to a head last night.

Simon left for the airport at 5:30 last night for a nine-day trip to England. And, at 6:30, Michael and Zachary had a knock-down-drag-out fight in front of our house while trying to play road hockey together.

And I completely and utterly snapped!

Elephant in the RoomThere is no need to go into detail on the snapping but let’s just say that the elephant that has been living in our family for ten years was finally named. And once that enormous weight was cleared off to the side, we had the opportunity to really talk to each other and to really listen. We sat in the kitchen and communicated in a way that we never have before. We talked about my health (both physical and emotional), their well-being and the kind of relationship they want to have. And I think for the first time, they actually had a chance to consider how they would like to be in relationship together.

We talked about discipline. We talked about the carrot and the stick. And they had the opportunity to tell me that the stick does not work for them and that they would like to try a new approach. And so, without any input from me, Michael and Zachary designed an alliance for the nine days that Simon is away. It is a very simple design and includes some significant incentives. And, because it is their plan, they are highly motivated to make it work.

I went to bed last night feeling exhausted and moderately skeptical as to whether the boys could actually go a day without fighting, let alone five or seven or nine days. But, I decided I wanted to lean into their alliance and support them in any way I could so I put the skepticism on the back burner.

Tea in BedI awakened this morning to an entirely different family. Michael and Zachary had been up together for two hours before coming to awaken me. Usually when they are up together in the morning and I am not, I am roused from sleep by yelling and arguing. Not this morning. Not only did they get through the early morning without arguing, they awakened me with smiles on their faces and light in their eyes. They brought me tea in bed, emptied the dishwasher without being asked, stripped their beds so I could wash their sheets and stopped playing together on the X-Box when they felt conflict building.

I am thrilled to report that it is 7:00 in the evening and we have had the best day I can remember in a very long time. We got through a day of back-to-school shopping with nary a cross word. We laughed, we talked and we had fun together. There is absolutely no tension in the house and I already feel like a new woman.

Both boys have remarked to me how good it feels to not be fighting and how much they love the carrot. They are feeling in control of their own relationship and the wonderful impact of a great day. It will be so interesting to watch the days ahead of us unfold. Regardless of what happens, however, I am utterly relieved to feel a glimmer of hope where Michael and Zachary are concerned.

I’d say that’s a pretty extraordinary day! 🙂Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other December

I awakened this morning feeling a distinct dearth of energy. Yes, we had two very late nights this weekend, but there was more. It is just not like me to struggle out of bed in the morning. Sleepy

I pushed my way through our morning routine and bullied myself to attend my Monday morning weight class. As I was hefting and hauling my weights like a little trooper, I looked around and realized that I was not the only one struggling. The energy in the entire class felt distinctly low.

It was not just the spring in my step that was missing, it was the spring everyone else’s as well.

And that’s when it dawned on me…it’s June!

June is the month that I call ‘the other December‘ because there are parties, graduations, trip forms, picnics in the park, celebrations, field trips, exams, teacher presents, and the mounting hysteria as kids of all ages careen toward the last day of school.

Usually, by the time my birthday hits on the 5th of June, my business starts to wind down for the summer. As a sole proprietor business owner, that fact has its ups and its downs. From a financial perspective, a slow three months can be a hard hit. From a family perspective, however, it means I am way more available for kids going here, there and everywhere.

Especially in June.

I am thrilled to report that my business is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down until early August. That is a great-big-high-five and I am thrilled!

It’s just that I have to get through these next eleven days with that many more balls in the air. And between now and then, I really need more like a month to do it!

I am WOMAN! 🙂I am Woman

 

A Radical Rethink?

Michael and Zachary were born sixteen months apart and have spent the past decade perfecting the art of getting under each other’s skin. All it takes is the slightest provocation; one sideways glance or slightly huffy breath and they are ready to ‘drop the gloves‘ and go at it.

FightingI find it absolutely exhausting. It’s like we are always just one moment from the next explosion.

I call their relationship ‘gas on the floor‘ because the way I feel around them reminds me of watching a movie where I know that there is a gas leak but the main character doesn’t. Sitting in my seat in the darkened movie theatre I am so tense I want to shout out; ‘don’t light that match, don’t light that burner…‘ because I know that as soon as they do, it is game over.

With Michael and Zachary there is always gas on the floor and I dread the tiny little spark that will ignite the latest conflagration!

For some reason, they seem to be the most flammable over breakfast on weekday mornings. I always get a ball of tension in my gut that starts to simmer around 7:00am in anticipation of the fun and games ahead. I have to admit that I love mornings when I leave for work at 6:00am because I get to just walk out of the house with nary a backward glance and leave the whole messy business in Simon’s lap!

Running LateSimon left for work at 5:00 this morning so, despite the fact that I was heading into Toronto for a meeting directly after dropping Zachary at school, I was on tap. After doing my morning juicing, I was running behind schedule and wasn’t quite sure how I was going to manage to make the kids their breakfast and still be on time.

I had already done the dishwasher and lunches but breakfast for four people had the potential to throw me way off schedule.

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to the running of the kitchen. I am somewhat of a control freak. I would rather do the work myself than have all three kids trying to cook their own breakfast and making a colossal mess in the process. So what that means is that I have designed it so that I do all the work (and then, ironically, complain that nobody helps me!!!!)

Scrambled EggsWell, this morning, Zachary decided to take matters into his own hands and informed me that he was going to make his own breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast. At that point I was only halfway through getting dressed so I told him to go for it while also crossing my fingers that the kitchen would not look like a bomb hit it when I got downstairs.

When I arrived on the scene about fifteen minutes later, I was absolutely stunned!

Not only had Zachary made his own scrambled egg breakfast but he was also in the process of teaching Michael how make his own breakfast as well. And, he was doing an amazing job of it. He was teaching Michael what to do and then standing back patiently to let Michael do it himself (certainly not the model that I have taught him when it comes to the kitchen!!!)

A few minutes later, both boys sat down to eat their breakfast. There was absolutely no conflict and they even did their own dishes!

Hmmmmmm…time to rethink the running of the kitchen?

And here’s an even more Radical one to consider…how much does my controlling influence have to do with gas on the floor? I certainly cannot take credit for all the gas on the floor but I surely have a part to play.

Wow…that’s a biggie, huh?Wow

PA Day Blues

FrustratedIt is a PA Day for Michael and Zachary today. It is also a work day for both Simon and me so we are playing an awkward kind of parenting tag to get through the day.

I think my lowest point came when I got off a two-hour coaching call early this afternoon and just needed some time and space to process. Unfortunately for the kids, I was ‘it’ on the parenting tag and they were stuck with my impatient mothering. Just second to that was trying to rope the two boys into helping me with some weeding.

Oh dear!

Helping Michael with his two projects that are due Monday and not completely losing it has been the highlight.

I will not win any awards for my parenting today.

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow…!

 

 

The Extraordinary Ordinary

A nasty cold virus has been working its way through my family for the past ten days. By the time I went to bed last night I was beginning to feel that achy and heavy sensation that marks the beginning of a cold. I awakened this morning feeling much better than I thought I was going to and am now just feeling mildly crummy.

SilenceIf I had to, I could work my way through this touch-of-a-cold. I could push through and keep going. However, there is something calling me to be very quiet; to sit, to nurture, and to reflect.

As I was juicing a little while ago, I was reflecting on the day that I had yesterday and the blog post that was the result. I was thinking about the fact that every workshop I lead feels magnificent. I was reflecting on the gift of ending every day of work feeling profoundly fulfilled, in the flow, and on purpose. And I was thinking about the fact that every single group I encounter, whether it is large or small, is full of dynamic, loving, curious and passionate individuals.

So what, I wondered, is the common denominator?

Heart ConnectionAnd the answer is…connection.

Every workshop I lead gives me the opportunity to connect with people in a way that truly makes my heart sing. And, not only that, I have the profound privilege of bearing witness to people connecting with each other. And that is why, day after day, the fulfilment of the work that I have chosen just gets deeper.

And, interestingly, while the fulfillment gets deeper, the work gets easier.

I mean, really, to call it work feels almost silly.

Before I hit the stride that I am feeling now, it used to feel stressful to run workshops even though I loved front-of-the-room. It used to take me a while to connect with a new group and to find my flow state. I always felt a little shy and uncomfortable while I got my bearings, settled in, and created the safe learning environment that is so important to me.

FlowBut now, I feel that sense of connection and flow gaining momentum while I am travelling into Toronto in the early morning. And by the time I am kicking-off the workshop, I am so connected and so deep in the state of flow that it feels as natural as breathing. And that means that I can not only deliver the message that I have been hired to deliver, but can also take it to the next level with laughter, with fun, with play, with fierce coaching, and with deep connection.

I used to feel absolutely exhausted by the end of a work day. I used to feel depleted and drained. I would drag myself home and need hours to recover from the output of energy. The introvert in me still needs time alone to process. However, it is no longer from exhaustion. Now, it springs from the need to quietly celebrate and acknowledge the deep connection and the brilliance of the human experience that makes my heart feel so full it could almost burst.

My original intention with 365 Radical Acts was to celebrate and acknowledge the concept of the great, big, juicy, Radical Act. And I intended to do that by acknowledging something Radical or extraordinary in the ordinary of my every day to see where those would lead.

As this project continues to deepen, however, I am just coming to realize that the most Radical Act of all is to see the extraordinary in the ordinary of every day. These last 203 days have reminded me how easy it is to get caught up in the ordinary-ness of raising kids, grocery shopping, working, paying bills, making coffee, sleeping, cooking, healing, and fighting, and forget how extraordinary our lives really are!

And so, today, from my own little quiet and connected corner of the world,  I am sending out my deepest appreciation for this life that continues to unfold in all its extraordinary ordinary perfection.Love Life