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5 Ways to Be a Better Parent

  1. Slide1Get More Sleep
  2. Eat Healthy Foods
  3. Remember to Ask Yourself What You Need and Want
  4. Schedule Social Time with Other Adults
  5. Include Personal Quiet Time in Your Schedule

“But wait a minute, Julia, this whole list is about me. I thought you were going to tell me how to be a better parent? Everything you mentioned is about taking care of me.”

Yes, yes it is. Because I believe you are exhausted, overwhelmed and starved for time loving and taking care of you. I believe you are already a great parent. I believe you love your children and know how to care for them in almost every situation, or that you can figure it out when you need to. I believe it can all be better, and I believe when you are more you, you will be a better parent. You will be a better person. You will be a better you. Your kids need YOU. (If you need more convincing that these steps will make you a better parent, I’ve got more on that.) Continue reading → 5 Ways to Be a Better Parent

Getting Your Whole Self On Board

We’re in our second week of school here. Going well – they like the teacher, they’ve made friends, but the first week enthusiasm has dwindled already. Last week they were up before me, dressed before breakfast, and early to the bus stop. This week the kiddos are dragging. They still like the teacher. They still have the friends, but the seeds of resentment are forming.

Essential SelfThey sense the intrusion. In the summer, even with some planned activities and the occasional week at soccer camp, my kids have a lot of time to CHOOSE, to choose what they want to do, to choose how long they want to do it, and, until the end of the day, to choose when to stop. Their essential selves, the part that is most clearly them, that is the most clear expression of their unique wonderfulness, have 10 weeks to really get down. There are still obligations and chores, but they are sprinkled throughout the day rather than this giant chunk that the school day imposes. Don’t get me wrong; there are lots of things that go on during the school day that I think my kids would choose to do if given the choice, but they are clear on the fact that if they wish to do well in school, the activity in question is not a choice and as such, they are in some ways, leaving their essential selves behind. They are obeying their social selves every time they learn a new rule at school. They are obeying their social selves every time they sit still when they are feeling oh so itchy and restless. They are obeying their social selves when they refrain from getting water during math and when they wait until recess to run. And they resent it. Continue reading → Getting Your Whole Self On Board

A Time for Change

school-bus-1431472I’m pretty sure I complained a few weeks ago when I had to take my kids shopping for school supplies. I imagine those of you who know me well would happily confirm that with enthusiasm. The lists of specific items kill me, but that’s a whole bugaboo that I don’t want to get into. The truth about school supplies is that I LOVE THEM. I love all of them. I love a freshly sharpened pencil. I love an empty composition book; a stack of lined paper is even better. A clean binder full of clean paper with a pen tucked in the pocket – bestill my low blood pressure driven but still definitely beating heart. Everything seems so fresh and new, so full of possibility, so ready for magical learning and change.

These moments happen often in life, when we really are ready for magical learning and change, but I don’t think they’re quite as clear as a fresh binder with clean paper and a pen. Sometimes we don’t recognize them when they arrive. Continue reading → A Time for Change

What Lies Beneath: A Garden Metaphor

IMG_4582I’ve had a rough year in the garden. That’s not quite accurate. I’ve actually had a run of bad years in my garden. Tomato stealing squirrels, tomato plant chewing deer, and disease-ridden cucumbers have been the story for a while now. In response, I’ve done what I can.

I’ve tried all kinds of things to keep the critters out of my fenced garden, and my efforts have helped to some degree. My trusty furry friend has also helped convince the interlopers that there is better and safer food to find elsewhere, but those darned cucumbers…

Looking at my plants would easily convince someone that they were sick, the leaves wilting and drying up one by one, working their way up the stem. With this apparent progression of some kind of virus, I applied all of the solutions to that problem that I could find over the last few years, to no avail. Cucumber plant after cucumber plant decimated.

What I’ve discovered recently is that the reason none of the things I’ve used to combat the virus worked is that my plants were not, in fact, sick at all. What? What I discovered, by just looking at the right leaf at the right time of day, was that my cucumbers were infested with bugs, squash bugs to be exact. The adults are easy enough to spot because they are brown and large – they stand out against the plant. But the juveniles are these little light colored things, that all sit on the back of a leaf and suck the life out of it. Drain it until it withers, wilts, and dies. Nice, right? Continue reading → What Lies Beneath: A Garden Metaphor

Dear Overworked, Overwhelmed Human

DearHumanI love you.
They love you.
We love your overdue library books.
We love your late to lunch.
We love your last minute projects.
We love your go cup.
We love your super stacked schedule.
We love your super full bag.
We love your near breathless “Hello” on the phone.
We love your determination.
We love your hustle bustle out the door.
We love your packaged snacks.
We love your chipped nail polish.
We love your unwalked dog.
We love your carry out dinner.
We love your motion.
We love your drive.
We love your painful heels.
We love your too hot jacket.
We love your sore feet.
We love your generosity.
We love your handshake.
We love your forgotten lunch.
We love your forgotten appointment.
We love your overdue haircut.
We love your smile.
We love your song that makes you move.
We love your unread signed forms.
We love your honking horn, your curse words, and your traffic jam.
We love your drink at the end of the day.
We love your slapdash dinner.
We love your dumb TV show.
We love your book on the nightstand.
We love all the balls you catch AND the ones you drop.
We love your dear sweet overburdened self.

WeLoveYouWhat feelings and thoughts would you have room for if you set aside all the judgments?

Would you notice how awesome you were even though things didn’t go perfectly?

Would you notice how much of your day you spend doing something you hate? What would noticing that do to you?

Would you have to admit that you’re exhausted and you’re afraid it will never change?

Would you have to admit that adulting is nothing like what you expected? Would you have to admit that you have some control over that?

What would you have time to notice if you stopped noticing every chipped nail, every bumbled interchange, every moment of imperfection?

We love you. You are safe. What’s in there?




“No” and “Help”

I’ve been having some really vivid dreams lately. Last night’s was particularly so, and is still fresh on my mind. I was being attacked. The details were unclear, but the threat was not. I have had similar dreams off and on throughout the years. But last night’s was decidedly different.

In the past when I had this kind of dream, I would try to yell at my attacker, but the words came out slow and garbled, as though I had taken a triple dose of Benadryl, completely unintelligible. Another version of the dream featured me having no ability to make sound at all. I could open my mouth and try as hard as I liked, but no sound came out. Really horrifying. My dear husband usually woke me up from these as, unlike the dream, I was making quite a lot of very horrible and scary noises.

Slide2In last night’s dream, for the first time in my adult life, when faced with the threat of attack, I yelled at my attacker with a clear assertive “No!” And I didn’t stop there. I added a sentence or two clearly defining my space and the need for him to stay out of it. And then, in further unprecedented steps, as I moved away from the attacker, who was seemingly stunned by my verbal superpowers, I called out clearly and loudly for help. I had never even tried to call for help in the old version of this dream. Continue reading → “No” and “Help”

Be Soft On Yourself

It’s always interesting when you find yourself having the same conversation with multiple people in your life, particularly when those people seem, on the surface to have nothing in common with one another. Seems there’s an important idea in there.

Slide1The specifics of the conversation are not particularly important, but the thrust of it was that these folks were seriously tired. Like super duper getting in the way of other things tired. As we talked, it became clear to me that while being tired was a problem, the bigger problem was what being tired meant to them. They each interpreted their tiredness in different ways, but both saw the fatigue as being indicative of some combination of personal flaw and bad behavior. I share this example with you because it is the perfect example of the way that our thoughts can take a simple biological fact and hold us hostage. Continue reading → Be Soft On Yourself

The Holiness of Wholeness

130d961c3cd745dd492e2dbedd949fd0I’ve just had the most amazing week. During this amazing week, I heard a lot of great music, saw my children grow and stretch in ways I’ve only dreamed about, spent precious time with my parents, and I learned so so much. And yet in all of the amazing things I heard and thought about this week, one phrase keeps coming back to me. One little phrase keeps pushing its way through the rest and demanding my attention: “the holiness of wholeness.” Wow.

Okay, first of all if the whole “holiness” thing makes you a little uncomfortable, hang with me please. If you’re here reading this to begin with, maybe you could use a dose of holy in your wholeness just like I can. Somehow that sounds a little dirty. And I have now revealed myself fully as a questionable guide, but I beg your indulgence. Continue reading → The Holiness of Wholeness

The Journey

IMG_4405-1“It’s about the journey, not the destination.”


This sentence has annoyed me so many times in my life, not the least of which was during a particularly arduous drive to an annual trip with family. Our trip is supposed to take about 6 hours. Known quantity. It is not a new trip. For whatever reason, when I plugged the same old info into the GPS, we got a route that claimed we would be arriving in 4 and one half hours… After I checked to be sure that I had plugged in the right destination, I rejoiced internally, celebrated technology, and began heading down the road on the charted course.

We calculated that the first big turn in the route would coincide with a time when it would make sense to grab some lunch, fill the tank before the drive through the hills, and exchange the morning’s tea and coffee for some water. Perfect. We were on our way. And then we realized, that turn in the road was a turn we’d made before. That sense grew that we were about to repeat an error that we had made in the past, but that promise of the shorter trip proved too tempting to pass up. Continue reading → The Journey

Forgiveness for the Beginner

Slide1Yesterday I had to have some blood drawn. OK, I had to have a lot of blood drawn for a variety of annoying tests. While I’m not a fan of needles, I am not phobic about the whole thing. I waited and was called back by an earnest young woman who indicated to me that she was a student and asked if it was okay if she drew my blood… Ugh.

I looked at her smiling, friendly face. I remembered being a student teacher. I thought about how hard it is to get practice with skills that require other humans and I agreed to let her draw my blood, against my reptilian brain’s firm belief that this was a terrible idea. She led me into a room and began to prepare the tools, hands shaking. I decided looking the other way would be the best approach. I certainly didn’t need to know her hands were shaking. Continue reading → Forgiveness for the Beginner