Teaching Compassion To Children And Teens

I think we can all agree that the world needs more compassion and teaching our children to understand the need for it is a mission we as parents must take on! With growing social media platforms we can sometimes become desensitized to the things happening around us as much of the information about the world today is filtered in some way. Yes, we have all seen photos of suffering but is that enough to teach our children to feel compassion? I think compassion needs to be taught through hands-on learning, yes some of us immediately connect with news stories or seeing a bird with a broken wing but do we actually do anything about it?

I want to see my kids stand up and help, offer kindness to someone who is down on their luck, and know that compassion ALWAYS matters. I’ve created a list of ten ideas to try with your kids that have been successful with mine in our journey to create a more compassionate world.

Ten Compassion Building Ideas

Plant A Garden: Compassion doesn’t just extend to humans and animals but to plants as well. The trees provide us the essential oxygen we need to survive, some bare fruit and essential oils. We acquire vitamins and energy, as well as maintain our health through plant foods and pharmaceuticals that have plant derived ingredients. All of this giving and we so often fail to honour and recognize all that plants and trees do for us. By planting a garden, we teach our children how to show compassion to plants; from a tiny seed in our little one’s hand to the excitement they feel when they see a little sprout appear. Children become invested in their plants; they have a natural desire to nurture and care for new life. This creates compassion not only for the plants they personally grow but the plants and trees they encounter in the outside environment.

Volunteer At The Food Bank: Take your older children to volunteer at your local food bank, there is something interesting that happens to kids as they enter their older child to teen years; for a time many become a little ungrateful and a bit self-absorbed. This is totally normal! It’s hard to go through that tradition from child to teen, and they have a lot going on, but it’s still important for them to recognize the wellbeing of others. Volunteering at a food bank teaches your child that not everyone has the same luxuries you enjoy and many families can’t afford to put food on the table. Working with these families develops an understanding that even in our own communities a large number of families are struggling and could use the help. Even in donating a few hours of their time they can make a difference in the lives of others.

Adopt A Shelter Pet: We all get excited about baby animals but what we often fail to teach our children is that adult or senior pets are just waiting for someone to play with them too. Shelters are full of abandon, lost, or neglected animals and are often overrun with them. Two years ago we adopted a fifteen-year-old labrador who we named Deefer to teach our children about compassion. What they learnt was that even at fifteen and with his old man gray chin Deefer loved to play catch, go for walks, and run around. He lives for play time! Not only that, but he was also well trained, and we didn’t have to deal with any of the puppy drama. We often wonder what he was like as a young pup and the kids like to make up stories about him from his younger days. Of course, with shelter pets, you need to make sure they are a good fit for your family, that they are good with children, and that any health issues they may have are manageable. When we first added Deefer to our family, we were asked why we chose not to get a puppy, and the kids have no problem saying “Old dogs need love too!”.

Make Care Packages For Homeless People: Most people hurry their children away from homeless people as if hoping their children won’t notice them sitting there. I assure you, your child noticed! This is the perfect opportunity to teach your child about compassion and take it to an even higher level. Talking to your child about the homeless in a way that gives a life and story to the people they encounter turns them from someone who is begging to someone who came from somewhere just as they have. Everyone has parents, we all have a family even if some us don’t have a loving family, we didn’t just fall from the sky and become. A series of events has led us to where we are now, and unfortunately, some of us fall into hard times. This doesn’t mean we are any less worthy of compassion. A great way for children to understand compassion is by helping others, small care packages in zip lock bags are a wonderful way to support your local homeless community. Pack some essential items into the bags, like toothbrushes, mini toothpaste, snack items, hats and mittens, matches, etc. Small gestures can go a long way! Though I will say not everyone is going to want a care package, typically if given by a child they are very well received.

Sponsor A Child In Need: If you are able to, consider sponsoring a child in a third world country. Our family had a lovely sponsor child called Faith who lives in Uganda. We made the decision to sponsor through SOS Children’s Villages as after considerable research we found that this organization would make sure the majority of the money we send each month goes directly to Faith’s care and activities. We receive letters and photos from her, and our children love to write and draw pictures for her. It’s a lovely exchange and has sparked a curiosity in my children to learn more about the part of the world Faith lives and what an average day looks like for her.
http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org

Visit Seniors Homes: Caring for someone smaller and younger than ourselves seems to come naturally to most children, but age certainly doesn’t define the level of compassion we require. Visiting seniors homes is a great way for kids to connect with older souls and discover how similar we really are. Aside from learning from the people in the homes an incredible exchange happens, the children add a flair of fun and excitement in the day of the residents and in exchange they are usually given some gem of wisdom. For teens, it’s a wonderful way to make friends with a senior and form a more mature relationship or mentorship.

Consider A Plant-based Lifestyle: Plant-based lifestyles are compassion based, health-based and environmentally based. It’s very easy for us to disconnect the link between animals and food as most of us grow up eating animal products. When looking at a bigger picture it a pretty good assumption that the animals who are raised for meat would rather live, and the environmental effects of factory farming is doing a considerable amount of damage to our environment. Living a plant-based lifestyle means no longer purchasing or consuming products that are animal derived creating a more gentle way of life. Teaching your children compassion for animals through this type of lifestyle has not only health benefits but is also delicious! This doesn’t mean you have to make the change overnight, many people are making gradual changes toward a plant-based lifestyle, and that is a fantastic step to take!

Donate To A Local Cause: Hop online and check out Go Fund Me, you will be surprised at how many local causes you will find. From families that have encountered death, to injuries, and ailing family members, each of these local causes will have a story. When something happens in your life that is difficult or traumatic, community support is incredibly important. Share the stories of these people with your children and ask them how they think they can help.

Get Your Teens and Children Excited About Volunteer Work: Get your kids involved in volunteer work and helping others! The organization Change Gamers has developed an app that makes charity work and volunteering fun, with a great community they are making positive contributions to communities near you! Great online discussion and brainstorming add to the community lead by the Change Gamers Ambassadors who empower kids to change the world! Check them out at https://www.changegamers.com

Donate Gently Used Toys To Children: Have you ever walked into your child’s room, looked around and thought “Where did all of this stuff some from?!” I am with you! With six kids in our home we are at a surplus of barely used toys, and every year around the holidays we get our kids to go through their rooms and find the toys they no longer use. We always make sure these toys are clean and gently used and explain to our kids how happy another child will be to have them to play with. These toys can be dropped off at your local food bank for holiday hampers or to many various organizations such as The Women’s Shelter and the Salvation Army.

Many little things that can go a long way! Let me know in the comments what you have tried that worked for you. Of course, this goes without saying, safety is always the number one priority, I encourage my kids to be as compassionate as possible, but never at the expense of their personal safety. Unfortunately, not everyone is full of kindness, and this too is a lesson we should inform our kids about.

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Island Energy For The Empath

There is something magical about islands, it’s almost as if they are little vortexes of concentrated energy dotted all over the world. I’m not just talking about tropical islands but islands in general; I arrived in Maui for a writers workshop on Thursday and noticed immediately on my arrival that the energy of this incredible place was identical to the energy I feel when visiting Ireland and Vancouver Island.

I’ve always been incredibly sensitive to energy (here is where I go hippie on you, the site is called Hippie On The Grid… you were warned!), since childhood I’ve been able to sense the energies of other people, plants, animals, and the general energy of a place or situation. As a child this was incredibly confusing because I would automatically think I had angered someone if they were having a bad day as I was picking up on that unhappy energy, in reality, I had nothing to do with their mood, but because I could feel it, I assumed I caused it. It wasn’t until my twenties when my lovely friend Maartje taught me about empathic people. Those who carry this trait or ability often can’t identify it and live their lives constantly absorbing the energy put out by the world around them; this can be both confusing and stressful if you don’t know what you are dealing with.

We are all energy, everything around us is energy, so it makes sense that we can feel and absorb the energy around us. We all do this every day, but some of us are hypersensitive to it, and without the proper protections we can easily become heavily overwhelmed causing depression, anxiety, and avoidance.

There are a few things empathic people can do to alleviate this intake of energy, protecting themselves from the more negative or lower vibrating energy out there. One is to create what is called a psychic shield; this is simply a visualization of protective white and gold light covering your body bouncing the dark energy away. I do this every morning when I wake and often pause throughout my day to recharge this protective shield by repeating the visual. Another great tool for empathic people is the use of crystals; I truly believe they help and always have either my pockets or bra full of these precious gems. The three crystals I have found most helpful are hematite (reflects negative energy away), smokey quartz (protects and blocks negative energy), and rose quartz (inviting love in).

Let’s talk about island energy; islands are grounding places for empaths, it’s as if the surrounding water acts as a buffer from the mainland chaos. The term “island time” is often thrown about jokingly due to the slower pace and more relaxed disposition of the inhabitants. Island energy is almost like being caught in a time warp for an empathic person, our heart rate slows, we become more connected to our environment, and we are more easily able to repel those invasive type energies.

Islands are usually dense in vegetation, and because plants and trees are incredibly healing and raise the energetic vibration of the land, they create an energy cleanse. If you consider the mainland which is often highly populated with much of the vegetation cut away to create infrastructure; the energetic vibration will be lower allowing those unpleasant energies to thrive.

Even with an arsenal of tools to help alleviate the symptoms known to visit empathic people, we all need a break from the constant demand on our consciousness to sort out what feelings are ours and what is just energy put off by others. Islands are the perfect place to reset and recharge ourselves quickly when we have taken on too much.

I try to take some kind of island holiday once a year to clear my system and feel grounded again. It wasn’t until this past week in Maui that I realized the connection between the islands I’ve visited and the healing effect it has had for me. I have always naturally been drawn to islands, and I think I’ve finally figured out why. Our subconscious is incredible and knows exactly what it needs to thrive, guiding us in its gentle manner to our greatest potential if we would only listen and follow along.

Holly

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Yuan Fen: A Divine Connection

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There was once a man who found a beautiful woman who he fell deeply in love with, their relationship was one of constant bliss and peace. As the relationship progressed the couple decided that they would marry as they had this deep loving connection neither could deny. As the wedding date approached the woman suddenly pulled away, disconnected, and told her fiancee that she had decided to marry another man.

Shocked and deeply confused the man could not understand what could have happened to his beloved to have ended their perfect relationship. He fell into a deep depression and collapsed in tears in a public garden one afternoon; soon a monk passed through the garden and spotted him. The monk asked the man “Why are you so upset?” as he placed his hand on the mans shoulder and sat beside him in the garden. “My beloved has left me suddenly to be with another man!” The monk nodded and said “Yuan Fen”. “What is Yuan Fen?” asked the man “Let me tell you a story” responded the monk.

“Once, hundreds of years ago there was a lovely woman who sadly died alone and naked on the beach. Many people passed by her lifeless body and would shake their heads in silent sadness and pity for the poor woman. A few passers by even said a little prayer for the woman and pressed their hands into the sand around her body so her soul would know she was not alone and that someone cared.

A young man was walking on the beach that day and spotted the beautiful dead woman laying naked in the sand. He instantly felt that she should be covered to preserve her dignity and privacy in this intimate moment. He removed his clothing and dressed the woman in his pants and shirt, he brushed the hair from her brow and straightened her body so she looked less pitiful in her death. Once he was satisfied he had restored her dignity he said a prayer, wished her soul well and left the beach never forgetting the woman.

Some time later another man came across the woman, he immediately dropped to his knees in sadness and scooped up the woman’s body in his arms and held her. He sang a soft tune his mother sang to him when he was afraid as a child and then he picked her up and carried her to a beautiful field he knew of a short distance away. In the field he dug a grave for the woman, he lined it with wild flowers and delicately lay her body in the flower filled grave. He began to cover her with earth as he wept, he was overcome with how short and tragic life could be. How unfair he thought, he wish he had had the chance to know her. Once she was buried he placed a flower on her grave and vowed to visit her there often.” recited the monk and the man nodded.

“Now lets move forward to present day, we all have had past lives and these lives deeply connect to our future incarnations. There is a divine force that connects us all and the relationships we are meant to have. Every day we pass people in the street who smile at us, when you were with your beloved those people who would smile at her were those who saw her on the beach that day and felt the sadness of her situation and said a little prayer for her.

You were on the beach that day as well, for it was you who selflessly dressed the woman to preserve her dignity because you cared. It was your beloved who lay on the beach that day, you were meant to share some time with her in this life because of the connection you made on the beach that day. What you must come to realize is that there was another man on the beach that day, the man who held her body and buried her. He was the one who was meant to be her one true beloved in this life, her departure from you was only sudden because the power of their connection was meant to be and once in a lifetime .

When the divine connection is made it becomes undeniable, I know it is hard right now but you must believe that there is a truer beloved for you just waiting to connect with you. Don’t allow your heart to close, allow it instead to be free and open so that when you cross her path you will know by the warmth and light in your soul. Do not hold any ill will toward your beloved but send love and happiness to her and to her true love.” said the monk.

“But I hurt so deeply” the man said “and so you shall for a time, but it is only the growing pains of your soul” the monk replied. “Yuan Fen; it is what connects us to who we are destined to meet and be with, it is the most divine and the truest of all connections, you experienced it with your beloved but you were not meant to share this entire incarnation with her but only a piece. Do not be sad, you have served her well and in her heart she will always hold a space just for you that no one can destroy” with that the monk rose, he smiled at the man; a smile that made the man feel hopeful.

The End

 

A dear friend and one of my Yuan Fen connections told me of this concept on a snowy Christmas Eve in 2011. He suggested that since I loved to write that I should take the concept and the brief story he had told me and asked that I write it in more depth. I’m not sure what took me so long or why suddenly today I remembered his request but I felt deeply compelled to find the short message he sent me those years ago and breathe life into this ancient story.

I truly believe in Yuan Fen and hope that you too will find your truest connections.

Holly 🙂

Finding More In Less

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“Less is more” a saying I’m sure we’ve all heard that can be related to so many areas in our daily lives. I remember rolling my eyes at 16 as I started to explore the world of make-up, every day my Mom would look at me and say “You’re such a beautiful girl, you don’t need all of that make-up. Less is always more when it comes to make-up”. I just assumed she was trying to hinder my growing up and found the saying annoying!

Now as adult and mother of five girls I can completely understand where she was coming from. That saying echoes in my head daily and has become a kind of quest for happiness. In our world today it is so easy to become lost in trying to keep up with the latest technology, newest fashion trends, newest car models, newest everything! So many of us feel like we aren’t succeeding in this life if we can’t keep up with those around us. I have fallen into that trap myself more than once, but in the end you can’t take it with you right?

Two years ago myself, my husband, and five children were living in a lovely two bedroom condo that was once Marks bachelor pad. It made sense at the time for us to stay there as the mortgage was low and aside from sleeping we really didn’t spend much time at home due to the central location in the city to parks and beaches. Yes it was cozy, but we were happy and we felt it was a stepping stone that would allow us to save some money for something bigger.

After about a year and a half we found out we were expecting another baby and knew it was time to upgrade to a house. Up the condo went on the market and we set off to search for our new home. We both had it in our heads that we wanted something newer as we weren’t very good at dyi home improvements and really didn’t have the extra cash or time to throw into renovations. Finally we found a beautiful home that was in one of the best neighbourhoods in town that was in the middle of construction that seemed perfect for us!

The price was a bit more than we has intended to spend but we knew we could make it work, after all we were pretty lucky to have bound a new home in that area of town. Moving day came and we all buzzed with excitement as we unpacked, the kids were eager to get out and explore the neighbourhood. I can remember how nice to was on the first night to cuddle up and our couch and listen to the sounds of the forest rather than city traffic. We thought we had hit the lifestyle jackpot!

As time passed I noticed a shift in myself and Mark, all we did was work to pay the bills and keep the house clean. The blissful enjoyment was replaced with stress over bills and our lack of time together was really getting to us. Numerous times he would throw up his hands and say “We should have never bought this stupid house!” But we had made the decision and now had to live with it.

The biggest mistake we made was the we got sucked into the illusion that if we had the new big fancy house in the nice neighbourhood then we would be happy. Wrong! All we had succeeded in doing was making ourselves more unhappy as we had taken away the time together and the freedom of the smaller mortgage. It was too late by the time we realized that material things wouldn’t make us happier.

That was where the quest began, the quest for less! We both started craving less, all of the “stuff” around us only reminded us of the payments we had to make to keep it. All we wanted was time together without that new smart phone interupting. We actively started working on a three year plan to get out of the house and into something more modest with perhaps more land to enjoy. We didn’t want the entertainment room in the basement, we wanted fresh air and wild flowers.

The first thing to go was cable TV, and you know what I started reading again. He gave up his fancy coffees in the morning and found that he had deeply missed the cheaper black tea that reminded him of his childhood in Ireland. It was little things here and there that may not have seemed like much but it was movement.

We committed to learning new skills that were useful in the days before modern technology like baking our own bread, growing our own food, canning and fermenting veggies to save for the winter. We both felt this deep desire to take it back to the times where people had survival skills, knew how to used nature to treat illness, and could mend a tear with out having to take a shirt to the tailor. Simple life skills!

When did we stop teaching these things to our children, how many of us don’t know how to cook a meal from scratch or grow some strawberries in the garden. Yes these things take time but are so worth the accomplishment you feel when you create something on your own. The less we shopped, the happier we were. The less we had, the happier we were. The further we took it back, again the happier we were.

The thing is we will never be able to keep up, ever, period! Something better is coming out everyday, something new is developed to take away our life skills. I used to count down the days until the newest iPhone came out and all I ended up with was a stack of old iPhones that worked perfectly fine just sitting there, how silly! We want and then we suffer because we can’t have it all right now!

We forget that people live in utter poverty and we feel sorry for ourselves when we can’t have the newest gizmo that we actually don’t need to make it through a day. I hate that the world has become that way, I hate that capitalism has taken over, and I hate that I fell for it just like everyone else!

So here we are two years after buying the house and living what anyone would say is the “North American Dream”. Yes, I should feel grateful and don’t get me wrong I am; but I realized that I don’t want it, I don’t want any of it. I would die to go back to the days when we lived in the cramped little condo and had less. In the little we had we had so much more of each other and that is what it important at the end of the day.

Have I found the golden answer to happiness? No, but I do believe I am on the right track. So our game plan is to when we are able, sell our North American Dream Lifestyle and go back to our beautiful, cozy, and loving life. Grow good food, bake good bread, teach our children how to survive the old school way. Teach them to cook, to care for our planet, to become self sufficient because who knows what the world will be like when they are all grown.

I shutter to think we will lose all of our survival skills, but I worry more that we will become so attached to technology that we forget how to have a simple conversation with each other in person. I no longer want more, in fact I run from it. I want simple, I want the tried and true hands on skills that once were. Without those skills we might not know how to survive one day.

Holly

A Little Story About Anger That Changed My Life

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Empath: Highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualize feelings. Intuition is the filter through which they experience the world. – Dr. Judith Orloff 

I have always been a very empathic person, so much so that I actually can feel the energy coming off of others be it happiness, sadness, or anger. The problem with being an Empath is that we so often take on the energy that others are putting out and take them on as our own.

So many times I can recall thinking a friend was angry with me and feeling horrible but unsure what I did to upset them. It wasn’t until I learnt about what it meant to be an Empath that everything made sense. I actually hadn’t done anything to upset anyone but was simply picking up on the energy that friend was putting off from their day or whatever was happening in their lives that the time.

Being in tune to the energy of others can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because what a gift it is to truly be able to relate and empathize with others. I find that it really causes Empaths to be very authentic and genuine people as they are very connected to their feelings. Empaths care deeply about others often finding themselves in situations where they are consoling a complete stranger who happened to cross their path. They then to be approachable and send out a compassionate energy that draw others to them.

The curse unfortunately comes from not knowing how to manage the constant flow and often overflow of emotion. I know for myself I have reached a point where I no longer can watch the evening news because the suffering of others is extremely upsetting for me. I absorb the energy of tragedy, suffering, and grief like a sponge and carry it with me. I can recall a time when I heard a story about a family who had lost a young child and I was so upset and could feel the pain of the loss, while my husband made a comment about it being a tragic story and then he carried on to talk about a rugby game score from earlier in the day. I remember being so angry at him! How could he just move on to sports in an instant and not feel the sharp and raw pain that came in the energy of this story of that sweet lost child.

One of the most helpful things I finally learnt after years of trying to navigate my life as an Empath was that the vast majority of people you will encounter can not relate to the level of emotion you pick up on. It certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t or can’t feel as deeply as you do on a regular basis. You just need to be aware to cut them some slack and not feel angry when they don’t understand exactly where you’re coming from.

Another issue that most Empaths have is that they feel like they have to accept emotion that is intended for them, thus at times taking on unwanted negativity. Of course in all of our lives there will be times when someone is less than happy with us, I mean we can’t please everyone all of the time right? But taking on unnecessary negativity or making more of the negative energy than was intended can really mess with our internal balance and harmony.

I really struggled with this and would often take what may have been intended as a small amount of frustration toward me and turn it into a massive amount of stress and worry. I would torture myself and carry the anger or frustration given to me making it bigger and bigger as I dwelled on it and allowed it to grow. The more I thought about it the worse I felt which is really only feeding the negativity until I would become physically ill. It’s amazing what stress can do to your body, it isn’t good!

I came across the most incredible little story that was honestly life changing for me! It doesn’t matter if you’re an Empath or not the lesson in this story is beyond helpful to everyone at some point in their lives. I love the message and found it extremely valuable which is exactly why I want to share the story with you. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

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The Gift

Long ago the Buddha spent much of his time traveling from community to community spreading his message and teaching anyone who would listen about the path to happiness and enlightenment. Great crowds would gather to listen to him speak and to be in his peaceful presence.

One day Buddha came to a small village he had never visited before. Many of the towns folk has heard from travellers of the Buddha and were eager to hear his message and learn his wisdom. A large group gathered to hear him speak creating quite a stir in the community.

One man, a passionate farmer came across the crowd and was upset by the large group that had formed. He could not see what the excitement was about and he felt angry that so many people had gathered to hear one man speak. What was so special about the Buddha anyway?

As Buddha began to speak the man started to shout and make a scene, telling the Buddha to stop talking and leave immediately. The group watch in wonder as Buddha simply allowed the man to carry on and make a scene.

Finally the Buddha spoke “Why are you so angry?” he asked, the man continued to shout and tell Buddha to leave ignoring the question. “Let me ask you one question” Buddha said to the man, finally the man was quiet and let Buddha speak, he asked “If you give me a gift and I reject it who’s gift does it then become?”. The man answered “Mine of course!”, Buddha nodded and then asked “Then, if you give me anger and I reject it who’s anger does it then become?”. The man was astounded as he realized that buddha had rejected his anger and maintained his peaceful state. It was only the man who was angry and he understood that he was in fact the only one who was affected by his anger.

The End

So you can see that you do not always have to accept the anger or any type of emotion that is presented to you. I had always taken the full brunt of any anger that came my way and in turn sometimes would try to give my own anger back only to make the situation far worse.

Sometime we need to remember that it isn’t our burden to carry the baggage of others even when as an Empath it may feel natural to do so. This was a very bad habit of mine that had caused me much grief over the years. There really was no need to put myself into that place but I didn’t understand until I heard that story.

The profound way in which that simple story has changed my life and my interaction with others had been life changing. I’ve even found it to be invaluable when dealing with my teenage daughter who is by nature at this point in her life confrontational. The unnecessary drama and fighting that could so easily be avoided if I had just defused the situation by not accepting the anger projected by her.

I have always been the type who liked to get the last word in and had ended up prolonging an argument for no good reason at all! Why do we do this to ourselves? What do we actually gain in the end? Nothing, other than negativity that will bring us down.

There are so many reasons to be happy!! Lets break the cycle shall we? We can work on rejecting negativity from others in our lives and in turn giving love, happiness, and peace.

In love and light Holly

 

 

 

 

Getting Lost in Motherhood, 10 Easy Ways Find Yourself Again

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Some days I feel utterly lost in motherhood, now don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother and would never trade my six amazing children for the world but its just so easy to get caught up in the every day robotic schedule. We often forget about what inspires us and makes us who we are. In the end after years go putting our hearts and souls into our babies we need to have something to keep us going after all of the stressful excitement raising our children has passed.

I know in the past I’ve fallen into the mom who’s let herself go mode and it’s very easy to find that place once we get pulled into that robot lifestyle . Day in and day out of cooking, cleaning, driving, for many of us working, homework, the bedtime chase, and then preparation for the next day leaves us feeling exhausted and sometimes pretty depressed. For me it was just like crawling to the finish line… or a glass of red wine in my case. Maybe if I was lucky I’d get an hour to sit with my husband and watch a show on Netflix before going to bed; that was the only reward I felt I had to look forward to.

I know I’ve hit points in my life where I have been completely frustrated and felt angry with my husband, the only problem is I didn’t know why I was actually angry with him… Maybe I wasn’t angry with him at all. He would ask me what was going on and I would say “I have no life!”.  I wanted to blame him for that isolation and for my feelings of monotony. I would tell him “I have so much more potential than to be stuck being a maid and chauffeur all day!” like he had put me in this place.

I think due to my own perception of gender roles I felt angry that I needed to be the one who dealt with everything at home. I became so resentful that I wasn’t even able to recognizing the things he did at home when he wasn’t working to financially support our family. The truth is he is a hard worker who does his share around the house. He was not the one who chose this life for me, we decided we wanted one of us to be home with our kids. We both didn’t have a preference who stayed home as we both felt that we are equally competent parents, it just so happened that he had a more fruitful career than I did so it made sense that I stay home. To be honest I want to stay home and raise my children, it’s just much harder than I imagined.

Lets rewind 14 years to the time before my first child was born. I was 18, a very young mother to be. I had always been very active in performing arts and writing, I also had a dream to join the airforce and become a fighter pilot. Big dreams!! At the time of my pregnancy I couldn’t see why I couldn’t still do those things one day. As the years passed and I added to my family it seemed my dreams were slipping away and the girl with big dreams and huge ambition was stuck in what I could best describe as a box with no exit. That was when I gave up…

Feeling defeated I felt like there was no point, I’d always just be a housewife. I gained a lot of weight which only made me feel worse about myself and looked for someone to blame for my misfortune. I can clearly recall sitting on my couch weighing 90lbs more than I do now with children fighting in the background and consciously deciding screw it! My life was just destine to be boring and suck.

It’s very sad to look back now because what I’ve learnt is that for one there is no such thing as “just a housewife”. We mothers are individuals and really super women who if we just allowed ourselves could not only be amazing parents to our children but incredibly loving to ourselves! This negative place I created was for the most part totally in my head, sure I’ve had road blocks as we all do but sometimes with a little improvising and compromising we can take back that ambitious woman hiding inside.

Knowing that there are so many women in the same position I was, I decided to share with you some of the things I did to find myself again. Here are a few easy steps to get you started with re-connecting to yourself and your passions. The best part is you can do all or most of this with little to no cost at all:

  1. Let go of the guilt! My number one cop-out excuse for not taking “me” time was always that even if I went out I’d feel guilty for leaving my husband with the chaos after his work day. This is a hard one to break, my husband knew I needed some me time and encouraged it but I’d leave and instantly feel bad and then come home and resent him for my feelings of guilt. Totally not his fault and not fair of me to throw on him when he was being wonderful and encouraging my freedom. It’s like they say,  “You can drink from an empty cup”. It’s time to stop the guilt and refill every now and then.
  2. Rekindle what you loved in your youth. So many of us were part of clubs in high school or had hobbies we enjoyed that we stopped doing once we had children. I always loved theatre but thought that my acting days were behind me due to time constraints. Plus what was the point I’d never be a famous actor so why bother right? Wrong! The joy I found in my life once I discovered community theatre was incredible, plus it worked with my schedule as most people involved had day time obligations. Maybe you loved to paint, or were a killer soccer player, perhaps you liked to debate in high school. You can always find an adult version of what you loved, with adult sports leagues, art lessons, toastmasters classes to brush up on your public speaking skills for a good debate. The opportunities are endless!
  3. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Be grateful! There is so much beauty in this world, all you have to do is look at your sleeping child to see that. Take it further, maybe you saw a rainbow or perhaps someone let you merge in heavy traffic. The little things add up in a big way! Keep a note pad on you or use the note pad on your phone and record the little and big things you have to be grateful for in your day. At the end of the day add your grateful notes to your Gratitude Journal. I love to physically write these grateful moments into my journal but there are also many stellar apps available as well that you could use.
  4. Join a women’s group. When women get together amazing and powerful things happen! In my time as a Counsellor, Life Coach and Women’s Healing Arts Teacher I have lead many groups for women. The bonds that form when women gather who have a common situation or interest are lasting. It is so important to have someone to relate to as a mother, there is so much pressure to be that TV mom we all see. Here’s a secret… she doesn’t exist! Nobody is perfect, not you and certainly not me and it is so important to be reminded that we are only human. We all have struggles and thats totally okay! We should be talking about these things and empowering each other because we all need support on this amazing journey through parenting.
  5. Cook for fun! Wait, is that an oxymoron? If you’re like me you are so so done with cooking!! Every meal there is always somebody who complains or cries. You work so hard to cook a good meal for your family and before you even have it on the table someone is turning their nose up. It is very frustrating, not to mention trying to come up with something new everyday so not to condemn your family to another day of pasta and tomato sauce. So my suggestion is let your partner chase the kids off to bed while you create something special. I put on some old school Jazz, I like my Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Pour a glass of wine and actually enjoy cooking again. It’s really a win/win you don’t have to put the kids to bed and your partner gets to enjoy a nice meal with a happier and more relaxed you.
  6. Learn something new. I’ve always been fascinated by ancient civilizations but never really knew much about any one particular topic so I decided to learn more. You’ll be amazing how fun learning can be when it’s something that interests you! I catch myself excitedly talking to people about the cool things I’ve learnt. My kids could tell you all about the ancient Celts and Mayan as sometimes they are the only ones around to share my knowledge with. Pick up an instrument and commit to learning to play it, learn a language for that trip you will one day be able to take! With so many instructional videos on YouTube there really isn’t much you can pick up and learn. Udemy is another great place to learn and take courses with so many free and cost friendly options! Knowledge is power and honestly just feels good!
  7. Take a wacky class. I took a holistic sauerkraut making class and let me tell you it was one of the most entertaining and fun classes I’ve every taken! Our instructor a holistic chef Scott had us singing to our cabbage as we massaged the salt into it. Yes, an odd class choice but I find that sometimes the most wacky and random classes you can take are the ones that fill your heart with joy and leave you inspired to make an obscene amount of sauerkraut! Another example would be a fantastic adult acting class I took which taught how to be part of an improve soap opera, silliness and over the top drama were encouraged and it was freeing! There is something beautiful about a bunch of people taking a class together where you are encouraged to be silly and have fun!
  8. Create! So you might not be an artist, so what! Besides art is subjective and always beautiful to someone. Get your hands dirty, paint a picture, build a sculpture. Sometimes taking your frustrations out by creating is very therapeutic. Creation doesn’t necessarily have to be art based either, why not create a garden or a new recipe? I love developing new recipes many which I will share with you on here in there future. Be inspired to create in any way you can! You have it in you, you’ve created children, a home, a life, now go create just for fun!
  9. For goodness sakes take a nap! You’ll remember people telling you to “Sleep when the baby sleeps”. Here’s your chance, even 20 minutes can make a world of difference in your day. If you’re like me and aren’t the best sleeper you will love this step because it not only will make you a nicer person to be around but you won’t feel as grouchy inside either. We are busy women! We need a recharge from time to time. If the kids are safe and supervised or sleeping then there is no reason not to catch a few minutes of rest. This becomes easier as your children get older and you have a teen who can care for their siblings but until then, there is no shame in asking Daddy or a trusted adult to watch the kids for 20 minutes while you catch some sleep.
  10. What do you love about yourself? Don’t you dare tell me you don’t love anything about yourself because that simply isn’t true. Yes, sometime we can forget those amazing things we love about ourselves but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. At my very lowest points I still knew I had pretty eyes and a nice singing voice and I loved that about myself even though I’d have denied it at the time. Go to a mirror and look at yourself, not just your reflection but also look at the person who has talents and accomplishments. Maybe you make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, or perhaps you can read an entire novel in one sitting. We all have something and more likely many things no matter how small! Make a list, keep it close and add to it as much as possible. When you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, open your heart, be kind to yourself, and read your list.

You are a super woman who needs to reconnect with herself! You completely deserve to enjoy your life as much as anyone else in this world. It doesn’t have to take up a ton of time to reconnect with who you are outside of being a mother. There is no reason why you should lose your identity! Plus just think of how inspiring you will be to your partner and children as a radiant, passionate, knowledgable person. It’s never too late to start something new or develop new habits and self love should be at the top of the list.

Warmest Thoughts and Wishes to you always!

Holly