Family picture 2017:
Back row, l-r:  Front row:

Engagement party and staying calm behind the scenes

Saturday night was the official engagement party, and we feel so blessed to have been able to share our simcha with friends and family!

There wasn’t a lot of time to prepare but we wanted to have the engagement party while Amitai’s parents were here; they flew in from the US and are here for just a week.

My primary goal was to stay calm and keep our home environment relaxed. Too many times, when people are preparing for events, the spirit of the event gets totally lost in the stress and strain behind the scenes. I didn’t want to be that person yelling at my family to hurry up and do more – and then smooth a smile onto my face as if everything was wonderful all along when the guests arrived.

We made all the food ourselves; the older kids weren’t around much so there was a lot that I needed to do. When I finally had someone around to stay home with the younger kids so I could go out to do some needed party shopping, it was already Friday morning. This isn’t the kind of thing I would have usually pushed off until this point but you can only do what you can do!

Then with my loaded cart paid for and ready to get home, there were no taxis in the entire city available – and the dispatcher told me there would be no taxis anytime before Shabbos! It was a very unusual situation, one I’ve never experienced before, and I was kind of smiling to myself at the Heavenly opportunity I was being given to practice staying calm. My husband called a friend who came to my rescue and I got home after a 40 minute delay. By then it was 1 pm, with less than three hours to do the final party preparations as well as finish cooking for Shabbos.

My personal experience is that my thoughts are what create pressure, not the external events. For a long time I thought it was the other way around – I was pressured because I had so much to do – and I’ve been working on shifting in this area for quite a while.  It’s a good thing I’ve made this a conscious effort because otherwise there’s no way it would have been calm and pleasant for anyone behind the scenes!

I have to admit that for about 30 minutes after I got home, I felt a lot of pressure because there were so many things vying for my attention. I didn’t act on that feeling but the feeling was there. My mother and her husband arrived during that time (they came from the north to be here for the engagement party and spent Shabbos with us), the groceries needed to be unpacked and everyone needed to be directed to get involved and help, while I needed time to just figure out what to do next. And some others in the family who understood how much there was to do and how little time there was to do it were stressed.

The party was on Saturday night; everyone in our family who was able to pitched in and it all got done! Most importantly, I was able to enjoy the preparations and enjoy the party itself.

m engagement food 1

 

Dd22 baked this cake for her sister

The heart cake (along with a number of other baked goods) was made by dd22

Here’s an updated family photo with our wonderful new couple!

Family picture 2017: Back row, l-r: Front row:

Family picture 2017: back row, l-r: ds18, Amitai, dh, ds15, Michal, ds24, ddil1, dd22, me
Front row, l-r: ds10, ds11, ds8, ds5, ds11 months, dd17

(For those who are wondering what my abbreviations are, here you go! Dd stands for dear daughter, ds is dear son, and the number that follows is the age. Dh is dear husband. Ddil1 is dear daughter-in-law/love 1 – married to our first son.)

The feedback from my children was that the party was really nice – and both the older girls told me how relaxed it was. I heard one telling her friend on the phone, “It was so relaxed and that doesn’t even make any sense because there was so much to do!”

Very grateful to be busy for such a good reason!

Avivah

Dd21 is engaged!

I am so happy to share with you that our daughter Michal (referred to here as dd21) is now engaged to Amitai Zaroom from Brooklyn, NY!

Michal engagementAmitai’s parents flew in today from the US.  They met Michal and right afterward both sets of parents met.  Really lovely people – no surprise, since their son is such a wonderful guy!  The l’chaim took place soon afterward at our home!

We are so filled with gratitude to experience this continued expansion of our family!

The four Werner girls - (l to r): dd17, dil1, dd22, dd21

Our expanded Werner sister group at the l’chaim- (l to r): dd17, dil1, dd22, dd21

The engagement party will take place in RBS-A this Saturday night at the Bais Mordechai shul on Nachal Luz from 8 – 10 pm.  If you’re local, please consider yourself invited! I’d love to see you there!

Avivah

loss of family

A sobering guided imagery exercise demonstrates the power of family

At the end of last week, my husband and I spent two very intense days at the mandatory foster care workshop that we were supposed to attend before bringing a child home. Obviously since Rafael has been with us nine months, that requirement was deferred but we made a commitment to complete the seminar before a year went by.

The room was filled with eleven couples who had passed the rest of the foster care screening process; attendance at this seminar was the final requirement before receiving approval to foster. Two of us already had children with us, nine didn’t. My husband and I were both impressed with the caliber of the couples there – really solid parents with good communication, stable families and a strong desire to give. In almost every couple, one spouse worked in the education or psychology fields.

The last seminar that was held took place the day before my son’s wedding, so attending that one wasn’t an option. I went to this because I had to, but I didn’t expect to learn much. Since this intended to prepare parents for fostering before bringing a child home, I thought it would be two very long and boring days of lectures about a topic that wasn’t really relevant to me anymore.

I was wrong. Although a lot of the content didn’t directly apply to our situation, I found the presentations very interesting and thought-provoking. Of course I love hearing about anything having to do with any aspect of child development! I made notes on a number of the activities they did but as much as I want to go through each one and share my thoughts with you on how it applies to parenting in general, I know I’m not going to have time so I’ll share just one!

This is the activity that I found the most powerful and it really deeply affected me. It was a guided imagery exercise. Sounds relaxing, right? It wasn’t.

As you read this, I suggest you imagine being in a deeply relaxed state and pause at each point that I say there was a pause, and consider the question being asked.

It went something like this:

“Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a place in your home that you love and feel relaxed.” I don’t remember if she said to imagine those you love around you or not, but I pictured myself in my garden, watching one of my children swinging. I felt very relaxed and peaceful.

(Abrupt sharp knocks on the door.) “I’m here because we’ve determined you can’t stay here anymore. There’s another family that very much wants a mother just like you and can’t wait until you come. They’re so excited that you’ll be coming! You need to get ready to leave now.”

She randomly called on people to answer, with their eyes still closed – I was the lucky first one to be called on – and asked: “How do you feel right now?”

You know how I felt? A huge pit in my stomach.

She continued. “You have thirty minutes to get your things packed up in this bag we’re going to give you. You can’t take anything big with you; it all has to fit in this bag. I don’t know when you’ll be able to come back here.” Pause.

Question to participants: “What would you take with you?”

Responses from every single person: “Photo albums, momentos to remember those I love.”

“You’re now in a car driving to your new family. As you drive, you notice the neighborhood you’re in is nicer and the homes are larger than your home.

Question: What are you thinking about right now?

Some answers: “How long it will be until I can go back to my family?” “What will the new family think of me/expect of me?”

“You get to your new home and the new family is so excited and happy to see you. Your home is beautiful and filled with many things you never had in your old home.”

Question: “How long do you think it will take you to adjust?”

Some answers: “I don’t want to adjust – I want to go back to my family.” “I’m never going to adjust.”

There were a couple more parts to the guided imagery, and then after a pause, everyone was brought back to their relaxing state, before being opening our eyes and ‘coming back’ to the room where we were.

My husband fell asleep in the middle, and as we opened our eyes, smiled at me and said, “Wow, that was great – I got a good rest!” I look at him with a pained expression and responded, “Oh, my gosh. That was a nightmare.” Feeling the loss of family, the dread, fear, loneliness, uncertainty, more fear..it was really intense.

During the discussion afterwards, we were reminded that however powerful what we experienced was, we are mature adults with a healthy self image and have had a lifetime to develop our emotional coping strategies. Young children don’t have that.

This exercise brought home to me in a deep way how much connection a child feels to his home, however imperfect and even painful it may be for him to live there.  As adults, we look at a new foster home and think how lucky the child from the troubled home is to now have a loving and stable family, a room of their own filled with toys, regular meals and clean clothes. The foster parent can understandably look at himself as saving this child, being a hero of a sort.  But for the child, it’s all frightening and unfamiliar, and often unwanted.

Even in the most unstable homes, there is emotional attachment to parents or siblings, and the familiarity of what to expect.  What this two day workshop brought home to me was the depths of loss that a child experiences, and how extraordinarily difficult it is to fill that hole.

I spoke to a number of the parents during the seminar, and every person but one told me they are reconsidering if this is something that want to do or can do. They were all discouraged and hesitant about continuing the process. The illusion of being a savior was definitely smashed and the difficulties were made very clear.

At some point during the second day, it was feeling very heavy and discouraging.  I spoke up in the middle of a session and shared my belief that the point in understanding the loss is to not to get stuck in it, but to ask how the loss can be mediated, how the hole can be filled. Yes, holes can be filled.

It doesn’t mean that the loss didn’t happen and you may not be able to completely ever fill that hole, but there’s a lot that a parent can do to create a positive and supportive environment for the child experiencing loss. Later a number of parents told us that they were very encouraged by that.

Another thing this seminar brought home to me is how extraordinarily difficult it is for anyone else to do what you do as a parent every day for your child – even these very wonderful parents who are the cream of the crop.  The power of the attachment you and your child feel for one another is so deeply significant and can’t be understated. Especially in a field in which children are constantly losing their attachment figures, the importance of those figures is so clear.

I’ve been asked a number of questions about foster care in Israel by parents considering beginning the process; if you ask your questions in the comments below, I’ll try to respond to them!

Avivah

 

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Lentil Rice Mushroom Loaf – recipe

Several readers requested the following recipe. Here you go!

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Lentil Rice Mushroom Loaf

  • 1 c. cooked rice
  • 1 c. cooked brown/green lentils
  • 1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 c. chopped mushrooms (I used canned sliced mushrooms and don’t chop them)
  • 1/3 c. shredded carrots
  • 1/4 c. broth (I use chicken broth)
  • 1 c. quick oats
  • 1 t. parsley
  • 1/2 t. basil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 2 eggs

Saute the onion, mushrooms and carrots.  Mix in the remaining ingredients.  The spices are just a suggestion, add whatever you like in the quantities you like.

At this point I like to pulse the mixture with a immersion blender so that it holds together well when it bakes. Pour into a pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes.

Eat and enjoy!

Avivah

Pictures from our oldest son’s wedding!

Can you believe it’s been five months since my oldest son got married?!?

I hope it’s not too late for you to enjoy these wedding photos!

I expected to have some official photos to share with you quite a while ago, but there was a delay in the discs getting to us. We got them a couple of days ago, and as I promised right after the wedding, here are some of the pictures!

Our beautiful daughter in love!

Our wonderful daugher-in-law

Our oldest son on his wedding day

Our oldest son on his wedding day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family photo (Rafael wasn't feeling well)

Family photo

All of our children (except Rafael, who wasn't feeling well)

All of our children (except Rafael, who wasn’t feeling well)

The oldest seven boys

The oldest seven boys

Ds23 with ds18 at chassan tish before wedding ceremony

Ds23 with ds18 at chassan tish before wedding ceremony

Dh and ds23

Ds23 with the best father in the world at chassan tish :)

Ds15 helping ds23 put on kittel before bedeken

Ds15 helping ds23 put on kittel before bedeken

Bedeken ceremony

Bedeken ceremony

Bedeken ceremony

Bedeken ceremony

Dh and I walking ds to chupa

Dh and I preparing to walk ds to chupa

Dh and I with ds at chupa waiting for bride to arrive

At chupa waiting for the bride

Sharing a smile under the chupa

Sharing a smile under the chupa

Immediately after wedding ceremony - my son, the married man - so emotional

Immediately after wedding ceremony – my son, the married man – so emotional

Dh and I with our lovely new couple!

Dh and I with our lovely new couple!

Our full family photo with our newest addition!

Our full family photo with our newest addition!

It’s so nice to share these family milestone events with my blog readers, who after so many years together here are almost like extended family!

Avivah

Keeping thoughts positive about our upcoming meeting with Dept of Ed.

My husband was feeling under the weather this week and took a day off of work to stay home and rest.

At some point in the morning, he was doing a puzzle with a couple of the boys and looked up at me and said, “It’s such a beautiful environment here.  Thank you for all that you do – I know it doesn’t happen by itself.”

Often I look around at my home and family, and feel a deep sense of contentment: of being right where I’m meant to be, doing what I’m meant to to do, living my life every day with the people I love. I don’t ever take it for granted. It’s been a choice that I didn’t make one time, but many, many times.

It’s been a choice when feeling conflicted and pulled about finances, homeschooling, living in a different country.  But our decision to build our family in a given way has been a consistent. In our home there are a lot of people, a lot of personalities, a lot of things that are happening and moving parts in so many directions!

And now we come to a place of once again consciously making the choice to create this environment for our children.

We recently filed a new application that included Yirmi as he has reached the age for official homeschooling.  On Sunday morning we have an appointment – together with ds5, ds8, ds10 and ds11 -with a committee at the Department of Education regarding our homeschooling application.  I don’t find it appropriate for adults to question children about the educational decisions their parents have made for them, but no one has asked my opinion on how to run things in our government. :)

Yirmi, age 5- at day camp this summer

Yirmi, age 5- pic taken at summer day camp

I had a lot of anxiety about this process for a very long time – from the time Yirmi was an infant, actually.  I felt that submitting this application for a child with special needs would be voluntarily walking into the lions den. But as I’ve said before, making decisions from a place of fear isn’t a good place to be at.  If I’m feeling fearful I need to look at my thinking – and then I ask myself if I’m giving away my power to the officials at the Dept. of Education.

I can’t control what the people I will meet will say or do or think of me, but I do have a choice about the thoughts I allow into my mind!

  • I choose to picture a pleasant and positive meeting with all involved.
  • I choose to picture permission to homeschool all of our children, and particularly Yirmi, being granted quickly and easily.

I’m choosing to keep my thoughts focused on a positive outcome, rather than fearing our quality of life being threatened if permission is denied. I trust that the same One Who gave me these children to raise will help us through this process. That thought has helped me replace my anxiety with feeling empowerment instead. I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call about the meeting that I felt very calm – even after hearing the name of the person we’ll be meeting with (someone with a reputation for being very difficult to deal with).

I won’t write more than to say that this is a significant meeting, particularly since I’m not aware of any other child with Trisomy 21 being homeschooled in the entire country. So we’ll be blazing a new trail. :)

Another camp picture

Another camp picture :)

We’re looking forward to receiving our legal approval and to sharing our good news with you! We welcome all positive thoughts and prayers on our behalf as well!

Avivah

menu graphic

Weekly menu plan – nourishing, gluten free

After my last post when I shared some of my kitchen happenings, I got a good number of responses saying that readers miss my food posts.  I stopped sharing my menu plans when I moved to Israel, thinking they weren’t very interesting.  Interesting or not, it’s what we eat!

Here’s the plan for this week!

Sun: breakfast – homemade breakfast pizzas; l – black bean burgers, baked beets; d – chicken tamale pie

Mon – b- polenta; l – potato kugel, chicken soup; d – oriental rice (with cabbage and chicken)

Tues – b – morning rice; l – pumpkin smoothie bowls, d – chicken pot pie

Weds: b – oatmeal;  l – chicken pot pie; d – lentil meatloaf

Thurs: b – polenta; l – baked sweet potatoes, eggs; d – red lentil dal, rice

On Sundays I try to plan my menu for the week. I first check what I have in the fridge and freezer so I can integrate those foods. Today I defrosted chicken and a couple of frozen dishes that I’ll be using in the next 2 – 3 days. I also usually start the week by soaking at least two kinds of beans.

We make challah weekly and when there’s extra dough, we freeze it in smaller portions for use during the week.  This morning the boys defrosted homemade pizza dough for their own breakfast and each made his own version to eat.  My house smelled way too good for a Sunday morning! :)

Ds11 is preparing the black bean burgers for lunch as I write.  He didn’t mind making the recipe when I told him he didn’t have to chop the onions. :) Last week while I had the food processor already out, I decided to dice a bunch of onions at once and then popped them in the freezer in portion sized bags to make meal prep faster.  This morning I defrosted a one cup portion of the onions in anticipation of this recipe, so it was ready to be used by the time he began.

My purchases last week are influencing my menu this week!

Last week I got a case of bananas on sale for 4 shekels a kilo and put a bunch in the freezer, frozen as single bananas, chocolate covered bananas (for a Shabbos treat) and 1 c. portions of mashed banana. In addition, the kids ate so many fresh bananas, plus I made a couple of huge pans of funky monkey baked oatmeal for Shabbos in two different flavors.  This week I’ll be using the frozen bananas for smoothies.

There was also a good sale on pumpkin (2.90 shekels a kilo) so I bought a lot.  I put all that was on the refrigerated shelf into my shopping cart and then asked the produce guy to open up another huge pumpkin and give me half of it.  He couldn’t believe I really wanted that much and asked me a couple of times if I was really going to use that – so I had to reassure him that I really knew what I was doing.  Obviously I don’t have the buying habits of a typical customer.  :)  I prepped that pumpkin together with the boys the day that we bought it and froze it in 4 cup portions, so all it’s my ready to be used.

Having my menu plan ready at the beginning of the week gives me a calm and relaxed feeling around food preparations.  When I don’t have it ready, I end up wasting time and feeling pressured while trying to figure out each day what I should make.

Avivah

 

 

brunswick stew

Brunswick Stew – recipe

Here’s the recipe for Brunswick stew for my readers who requested it!

This recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking.

Brunswick Stew (serves 8 – 10)

  • 5 pounds of chicken parts
  •  2 T. oil
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 3 c. fresh or frozen lima/cooked white beans
  • 1.5 – 2 c. chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
  • 1 c. barbeque sauce or unseasoned tomato sauce
  • 1 c. tomatoe puree
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1 T. minced garlic or 2 t. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 c. corn, fresh or frozen

Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken parts and saute the chicken in batches over a medium heat. Set aside.

Using the 2 T. of oil, saute the onions and celery until tender.  Add the chicken to the pot.  Add all remaining ingredients except for the corn, and bring to a boil over a high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken is almost tender, about 35 – 45 minutes.

Add the corn and simmer for another ten minutes.

This makes a nice large recipe and is frugal, filling and tasty!

Avivah

 

bulk freezer food

Why cooking in bulk will make your life easier

Have you ever felt like you’re constantly cooking and struggling to keep up with the meals that need to be served?  I have!

This year I have five boys ages 11 and down home all day, and not having any teenagers who are homeschooling means that there are fewer older children to delegate tasks to. That means that the younger boys are learning to step up and help more, which is good, and also that I do more.

Having meals ready on time makes our home run much more smoothly – there’s nothing like kids asking again and again for food and not having anything to serve them makes everyone irritable!  Nutrition is important to me but I can’t spend hours in the kitchen – I try to stay home as much as I can, but I still have homeschooling, shopping, regular therapy appointments and extracurricular activities for the boys to attend to. Not to mention my work – sessions with clients in the evenings and in a couple of weeks I’ll be adding workshops back in to my schedule.  Oh, and I try to get some sleep, too. :)

I make meals from scratch three times a day.  It’s rarely fancy – we have hot cereal or eggs for breakfast just about every day.  There’s nothing wrong with scrambled eggs and rice for lunch or dinner but when I get busy that becomes too frequent and it doesn’t feel like a meal to sit down together over!  Since having a sit down meal with our family is an important value for me, I try to make a satisfying dinner.

With all of the holidays, I had been caught up in the cycle of cooking, cooking, cooking but never getting ahead.  This week I’ve been able to get back into a cooking routine that makes my life much easier – cooking in bulk!

What I try to do is plan ahead so that I can double whatever I’m preparing for dinner.  I then can serve some for dinner and ‘feed the freezer’ a meal that I can pull out at a later time.

Here’s a list of dinner meals for the last few days:

Mon – black bean vegetable soup and rice

Tues – baked chicken, chickpeas with sauce, salad, baked sweet potatoes

Weds. – chicken tangine with chickpeas

Thurs. – Brunswick stew

Here’s what my cooking schedule looked like the last few days:

On Sunday we had leftovers from Shabbos for dinner (chicken, potato kugel, roasted vegetables). I didn’t need to do any cooking for that night, so on Sunday afternoon I prepared a large pot of black bean soup.

I went out with the boys on Monday afternoon and before I did, left the soup on a very low flame to heat up. We walked in at 6:35 pm – I try to serve dinner at 6:30 pm – and were able to sit down to eat dinner as soon as we got inside.

Later in the evening I soaked a pan of chickpeas.

On Tuesday I cooked a pot of rice, a pot of buckwheat, ds10 baked a large pan of sweet potatoes and I asked someone else to put the chickpeas on to boil.  I also baked a pan of chicken – all quick and simple things to prepare.

On Wednesday I did a big shopping trip and got a bunch of chicken on sale (including chicken wings for just 4.90 shekels a kilo so I got twelve kilos!). Since the chicken was fresh, I made peanut butter/honey chicken with sesame seeds for Shabbos and plain roasted wings to use for two other dishes I planned to make that day.  I also cooked a few kilos of chicken gizzards.

(The buckwheat cooked on Tuesday was intended for a dish but the boys asked if they could eat it for lunch, so I let them have it.)

While the chicken was cooking, I prepared two chicken dishes: a double recipe of chicken tangine with chickpeas (using chickpeas I had cooked the day before), and Brunswick stew (using white beans I had also cooked in advance).  I also made some quinoa black bean burgers using some leftovers I had in the fridge that I served for lunch the next day.

We had the chicken tangine Weds. night for dinner. Later in the evening I boiled a large pot of potatoes and soaked a pan of lentils.

On Thursday morning ds10 mashed the pot of potatoes and I cooked the lentils.  While they were cooking I prepared two lentil mixtures: lentil meatloaf and lentil-rice-mushroom casserole.   I made 2 large 9 x 13 pans of each. We had one pan of lentil-rice casserole for lunch; the other three pans of food went into the freezer.

I then had an unexpected furniture delivery that took a lot of time and energy to organize (looks great now, though!), and it was later in the afternoon before I could take a nap. Before I lay down, I put the Brunswick stew on a very low flame to heat up. I got up at 6:10 pm but dinner was ready on time thanks to the advance preparation!

Thursday evening, I prepared the filling for shepherd’s pie, chopping up the chicken gizzards I cooked the day before, then topped the chicken and vegetable mixture with the potatoes ds10 had mashed that morning.  Once the two huge pans were baked, they went right into the freezer for two different meals.  (In case you’re wondering, I also made some chicken soup and roasted chicken for Shabbos.)

With some advance thought and a bit of extra effort, I now have four different dishes/6 meals in the freezer. It didn’t take much extra work but ready to go meals in the freezer are my ‘fast food’ for busy days!

Avivah

clarity

How To Get Clarity About What You Really Want

I think much of the inability to teach others how to respect you stems from a confusion as to what our needs really are or where boundaries should be. How can one achieve that kind of clarity? How does one teach others when one often cannot articulate one’s needs to oneself?

What an insightful comment on my last post!  Yes, this is completely true – so often we don’t know what we want and therefore we can’t communicate it to another person.

The six foundational principles of my Leadership Parenting approach are:

Connection, Compassion, Clarity, Courage, Calm and Correction

Every one of these are critical in parenting effectively.

Let’s talk a bit about clarity. Very, very often when parents ask me questions about how to handle different situations, I’ll ask them what they want.  “What is your goal in the situation?  How would you like this to play out?  What do you really want?”

That might seem simple, but knowing what you want often isn’t simple at all.

I recently had my first Supernanny stint, when I went into the home of clients to watch their family dynamics and see firsthand what was happening.   During our session that followed, I told the mother that she wasn’t clearly communicating to her child what she wanted of him.  In the privacy of my office, I was able to ask, “What do you want?”

She explained and explained and explained, and I finally told her: “I’m a mature adult sitting here listening to everything you’re saying, and I still don’t know what you want!  We can’t expect a child to be able to figure it out – we have to make it easy for him!”

You know why it wasn’t clear to her child or to me?  Because it wasn’t clear to her!

It’s okay not to have clarity. It’s not a moral failing. It’s understandable to feel ambivalent and have conflicting feelings about what you want. But lack of clarity can lead to unnecessary pain and frustration in our lives. To get the most out of life, you need to be able to clearly articulate to yourself what you really want.

Why is it so hard to get clarity?

  1. Sometimes we’re afraid to admit to ourselves what we want. It feels too big, too unreasonable, too hard to attain. So we readjust what we want to what we think we can have, and then we tell ourselves that’s what we want. However, there’s often a residual niggling discomfort that remains of the subordinated original desire that will keep poking at you.
  2. Sometimes the lack of clarity is because you’re living life based on what others expect of you and doing what everyone else does.
  3.  Another reason for the lack of clarity comes from having competing agendas – for example, someone who wants to be a stay at home mom and also wants career success. I recently experienced a conflict of competing agendas, which I shared at a seminar with the person leading the sessions. His feedback was that I have to be honest with myself.  That was not the answer I wanted to hear.  I felt like screaming in frustration when he gave me that answer, because (I thought) I was being honest with myself and that’s why I felt conflicted!

But when I thought it over afterwards and didn’t feel so defensive, I realized he was right. There was something I was saying that I wanted because I felt I should want that – and part of me really did want it and felt excited at the thought of taking on that role – but there was something else that I wanted more which I was giving my available life energy to.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself, “What do I really want?”

To tune into the answer, choose a quiet place when you can be alone with your thoughts. It can be helpful to lie down with some beautiful relaxing music playing in the background, or to sit outside in nature. I like sitting in my garden – you don’t have to go far from home! The main thing is that it feels peaceful to you.

Take some deep breaths and try to quiet your mind.

When I start this process, I initially get mental noise, like the static when you’re not tuned into an official radio station. “I don’t know what I want! I want this and this and this and I can’t have it and it’s to much and I’m completely overwhelmed!!!!”  While I consciously may say I want clarity, there’s part of me that likes being able to be ambivalent because then I don’t have to change anything I’m doing.  But if I keep sitting with myself and giving myself space for the response to come, the answer gets more and more clear.

Your inner self really does have all the answers.  However, sometimes you’ve gotten so used to habituated responses that aren’t in tune with that inner self that you can’t distinguish what is the healthy voice of truth and what is the voice of fear or habit.  It can be helpful to get feedback from someone you trust who is outside the situation; those people can often see things more clearly than you can.

Being a parent is such an amazing opportunity because it opens us up to incredible possibilities for growth and awareness that we wouldn’t have had otherwise!  Seriously.

Having to be clear with your child forces you to think more about what you say you want and why you want it. Let’s say you’re battling a child to take a bath every night or eat dinner. What do you really want? Do care that much about the bath? Is there something else that you care more about that you’d rather be investing your time in?

Often parents admit that they don’t really care that much about the things they’re fighting with their children about, but they feel these are rituals or activities that everyone should do so their child should also do it.

Well.

Doing what you think you should do because everyone else does it doesn’t align well with being happy!

Sometimes it becomes clear that yes, the bath or meal or whatever else really is the priority. In that case, it shouldn’t be set aside but there might be some more effective ways to go about achieving your goal.

There’s no one right way to parent and there’s no one right way to deal with a given situation. It depends so much on what you really want – you can have two very happy and healthy families who have chosen completely different ways of living their lives.

When you get clarity you can create healthy boundaries and teach others how to treat you, as you align what you say with the actions you take.  That’s a very empowering place to be!

Avivah