Category Archives: personal development

y trampoline 2

See the possibilities in your child, not the limitations

Can you believe that Yirmi just recently turned 5?

Until Yirmi was born and we received the birth diagnosis of Trisomy 21, I knew very little about what that entailed.  I had the stereotypical perceptions of people with Down syndrome based on very limited personal connection.  When Yirmi was born, my eyes were opened to a much broader, more appreciative and more accurate way of seeing people with differences.

Though people tend to assign a lot of significance to the differences (skin color, religion, political affiliation, income level, abilities), we’re all more alike than different, and we all benefit when we place more emphasis on what makes us similar.  More than anything – every one of us wants to be valued for who we are.  And this has been my focus in raising Yirmi.

Yirmi and his big sister, May 2017

Yirmi and his big sister

We had a 3 hour appointment with a developmental pediatrician very recently (the first since leaving Karmiel 2.5 years ago), who was blown away by Yirmi.  She kept exclaiming that she’s never seen a 5 year old with T21 like him in her decades of working in the field.

She said that he is bright, communicative, emotionally present, focused, takes initiative, and has the confidence to try new things in a new environment.  She told me that these aren’t qualities that she’s seen in a child with T21 of this age, particularly combined with a language delay like his (‘Usually these kids are shut down.’).

A week later I took Rafael for his intake appointment, and again she remarked on how taken she was with Yirmi.  “He’s so emotionally intact.”

y trampoline 2

Why would it be unusual for a child with T21 to not be emotionally intact?  To not be confident or communicative in new situations?  To not trust their abilities?  To not be willing to try new things?  To not keep trying to be understood?

Could it be in part because of how those with whom they interact regularly treat them?  Are the frameworks in which they spend most of their time focused on what they can’t do instead of what they can?  Are they being defined by limitation instead of possibility?

Having fun with Daddy!

Playing on the trampoline with Daddy!

People have told me Yirmi doesn’t act like he has Down syndrome, or that he must have it ‘just a little bit’.  What does that even mean??? What limited perceptions are those comments based on??  You can’t have T21 just a little bit – either you’ve got it or you don’t.  He definitely has garden variety Down syndrome, present in every cell of his body.

Though professionals have told me that Yirmi is doing very well, it’s not because he’s inherently different or better than any other child with T21.  I’m not holding him up as an ideal or trying to imply he’s the most amazing child with T21 ever. Comparisons of performance and impressing anyone else isn’t my goal – he is who he is and and regardless of percentages or testing or anything else, he is enough as he is right now.

Having said that, in line with the 80/20 principle, I believe 80% of children with T21 can be doing just as well if given similar support.  I don’t think he should be as unusual as the professionals say he is.  Actually, I think a lot of kids with T21 are already doing great but probably most of them are also being treated like outliers.

I passionately believe that every child deserves to be treated with respect. With respect for where he is right now, with support for whatever limitation he has at this time, and with belief in who he will be in the future.

It’s not hard to do this.  It’s really not.  It may be counter cultural, but it’s not hard.  People think I must ‘work so much’ with Yirmi.  I don’t see what I do as work; he’s not my project to fix.  What I do that I think is of the most value is to parent him the same as all of my other children – I look at what his needs are and try to find integrated ways to support those needs in our daily lives.

Integrating support in a fun way - trampolining!

One example of how we integrate support in a fun way – trampolining!

In my opinion, the most challenging thing is to recognize the aspects of your thinking about your child that are limiting, and then to change those thoughts.  Your actions will follow your thoughts, and your child responds to your thoughts about him.  If you think your child is capable, you’ll have different expectations and take different action than if you think your child has significant limitations.

To consciously shift from a paradigm of limitation to possibility means seeing the potential in your child and acting in alignment with what you trust he will become, long before you see that in him. 

If he can’t yet talk or can’t yet walk, it means believing that if you keep giving good quality input, that you can trust the timing of the output (ie performance) even when it’s taking a lot longer than you would like. At age 4, Yirmi still hardly said any words.  Now a year later, we’re seeing an explosion of speech.  And I trust that we’ll continue to see significant gains with time.

Shifting that paradigm means reflecting your child’s positive inner value to him even at times that he’s immature, irresponsible, unreliable, hypersensitive, or mean.  It means trusting your child’s potential and holding on to that vision even when external circumstances might give you reason to feel discouraged.

And that’s something that benefits every child,  regardless of diagnosis!

Avivah

woman-wearing-bathing-cap-and-swimming-goggles-BMJ28C[1]

Lessons from the Pool – recognizing the limitations of childhood thinking

Last week I went on a two day retreat with 300 other women.  I had a wonderful time and some powerful moments of growth and awareness. Since they were so personal I wasn’t going to share about them but I was strongly encouraged to do it by someone who told me it would be of service to others.   Here is one blinding moment of clarity and light that I experienced.

********************

When we got to the hotel in the north where we were staying, the pool was open and it seemed almost everyone opted to go in!

I held back for a bit, since I don’t particularly enjoy being in a crowded pool. After a while it thinned out a bit and I went in. I looked around and realized that although there were a lot of women there, they were mostly clustered in groups around the edges of the pool. If I were to swim across the width of the pool, I would mostly be able to do that. So I set off for the other side, and the deep pleasure of swimming surged through me as I sliced through the water. I went back and forth, thinking all the time how amazing it was to be in the water, feeling one with myself and my movement through the water. I haven’t swum in fifteen years and it felt so, so good to be swimming again.

At one point, I thought to myself how nice it was that I can enjoy swimming even though I might not look like a very good swimmer to someone watching. I was feeling good to be fine with myself regardless of what others might think.

And then I got to the end of the lane and someone said to me, “You swim beautifully!” “Thank you”, I said, while I thought “hmm..”  Why is someone in a pool full of women singling me out to tell me how well I swim but my mind is telling me that I’m a sloppy swimmer? Cognitive dissonance.

I was pondering this as I continued my laps, wondering who was right – me or the outside observer?  It’s strange that I had this negative self-assessment as a swimmer when I love swimming and the only feedback I could remember was positive and took place when I was 12. At that time I was assessed in camp to determine what level group I would be in. The instructor, who was a kind of tough drill instructor type woman not given to praise, exclaimed about me: “Wow, she has power!!!”  And almost as an aside added, “But her technique needs a bit of work.”

This women was impressed by me! I always thought back on that comment as a positive memory. So how if I’ve only had positive feedback on my swimming, I wondered, had I somehow internalized that comment to mean I was a lousy swimmer?  When it was clear to me and everyone standing around that she was very impressed?

All of a sudden, I realized that it was ME who gave myself that definition. Me, who found the tiny possibility of negativity in her comment and blew it up larger than life; me, who created that image in my mind of myself. Me, who continued to unquestioningly own that definition three decades later.

‘If my swimming form could use some work, obviously I was a sloppy swimmer,’ I had somehow reasoned. Is that what she said? Was that the truth? No. It wasn’t based on anything in reality. Just my inability as a twelve year old to allow myself to completely accept wholehearted praise for what it was.

“How many other times and in how many other ways have I done this to myself?” I wondered.

As I had that thought, I was suddenly I was so overcome with emotion that I just started crying right there in the pool.

I can’t describe to you the power of that moment, realizing with stark clarity that I had limited myself for so long without even being aware of it.

This wasn’t about my swimming. In my world, how well I do or don’t swim has very little significance.

It was the power of deeply recognizing how our thinking patterns as children carry into adulthood. If unchallenged, they continue to run our lives behind the scenes. I’ve consciously changed so much of the scripting of my younger self, and this has benefited my life enormously. But I never could change this scripting because it wasn’t until that moment that I had a deep gut level realization that this  way of thinking had been a subtle and pervasive part of me.

It can be painful to let the spotlight shine on our inner workings and imperfections, but it can also be so powerful and freeing. For me this was an extremely expansive and illuminating experience, allowing me to start to see and move away from a limitation that was invisible to me until that moment.

And oh – I can now recognize without reservations that I’m a good swimmer and I have been for many, many years.

Avivah

happyanniversarytop[1]

My tips for making your marriage awesome!

My husband and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage!  Eleven wonderful children, several national and international moves, job changes, health scares…we’ve navigated lots of situations together over the years and our marriage is a source of great happiness and stability for us both!

In honor of our anniversary I want to share some of the lessons that have been helpful to me in building our relationship.

Me and my husband

What I say is applicable to husbands or wives, but for simplicity I’m going to address this post to women. I also believe that in the typical relationship (not including abuse or addictions) women have more power than men do to significantly impact the quality of the relationship.

Here’s my first  tip for a good marriage but only those of you who aren’t yet married can use this one:

  • Choose well.  Choose a spouse who is kind, caring, emotionally stable, shares your values and with whom you emotionally connect.  Lots of problems that later come up in relationships are because people didn’t choose well and that’s something that’s really hard to overcome.

I was young when I got married but I consciously sought out role models of strong relationships and thought about what kind of person would be a healthy match for me.  Notice I said ‘healthy’, not ‘good’.  People get into relationships that can feel exciting or good on some level but not be healthy.  People mistakenly think that marriage is all about meeting the right one and the stars sparkling in the air around them.  That can be part of it, but there’s a definite place for carefully looking for the qualities that are important to you.

Okay, on to other musings that are of applicable to everyone!

A general principle of healthy relationships is that people want to be around people who make them feel good.  When you were dating, the odds are high that you and your husband enjoyed one another and felt appreciated by the other.  And you loved being around each other.

But too often, the sheen wears off after you’ve been married for a while and you start focusing on what isn’t and what you don’t have instead of what is and what you do have. You want to change him to be more like what you want him to be. Guaranteed recipe for misery.

  • Be conscious of your husband’s good qualities and let him know how much you appreciate them!  Just because you see some other less desirable qualities doesn’t erase all those good qualities. Every one of us is a work in progress. Don’t be shy about letting your husband know you think he’s a great guy!  What you focus on grows.
  • Don’t get so used to the things he brings to the relationship that you take them for granted.  My husband goes out to work every day to support his family and has done this for many years.  Does his consistently showing up and being responsible not deserve positive feedback just because he’s been doing it so long??  I let him know on a regular basis how much it means to me that he works so hard to take care of us even though he’d probably rather be kicking back on a beach somewhere.

And when it comes to making those changes that you want him to make – he’s lots more likely to make the effort to please you when he feels accepted and appreciated by you.

  • No one wants to feel taken for granted, belittled or inadequate.  I’ve often heard wives talk about their husbands as if he’s one more child that needs to be tended to. Ladies – guys aren’t completely obtuse.  When you think about him like this and speak about him to your friends like this, don’t you think he gets a sense of that even if you don’t directly say anything to him?

And let’s face it.  How many of us can feel that kind of exasperation and not express it?  Come on, you’d have to be a saint to be thinking those kind of thoughts and be able to keep them to yourself!  Learn to shift your thinking by focusing on his good qualities.

  • You’re not his mother.   It’s not your job to fix him or oversee all the details of his life.  He’s an adult, so treat him like one.
  •  When you husband does something to make you happy, don’t point out all the ways he could have done it better.  Let him know how much you appreciate the effort.
  • When you first see your spouse after a long day apart, don’t jump into complaining about how hard your day was.  I know, it’s hard to set aside one’s desire to be heard.  But take a few minutes to warmly greet your spouse.  A warm smile and welcoming, “I’m so happy to see you!” help make your home a place your spouse wants to be.
  • Let him make mistakes without pointing out everything he did wrong.  Seriously, would you want to live with an all seeing eye who pointed out all of your errors? I’d want to run in the other direction!  That’s one reason for the escape of men to their man caves.
  • Ask for what you want.  Don’t hint around and don’t expect him to read your mind and then get resentful that he didn’t do what you wanted him to do!  And don’t tell yourself if he really loved you he’d know what you want without you telling him – that’s not true and it’s just not fair.
  • Make time to spend just enjoying each other. Not at home, distracted by the chores that need to be done or the kids that need to be put to sleep.  It’s worth the effort to get out on a regular basis.  My husband and I go out every week and when we took a break from this for a couple of months due to scheduling changes, I  felt something was missing.
  • Have friendships outside of your marriage; don’t expect your spouse to be the one and only person you can talk to about everything.  That can become a burden.  My husband is my best friend, but that doesn’t mean I expect him to be interested in every single thing that interests me!
  • Similarly, don’t expect your spouse to be your therapist and to listen to all your sadness and pain – that gets old pretty fast.

And here’s a really big one, so big that I could have really put this first.

  • Make self-care a priority.  It’s not your husband’s job to make sure you get enough sleep, time with friends, exercise, meditation, yoga, bubble baths, upbeat music, etc, etc.  It’s your job to make yourself happy.  You can ask for his logistical support and chances are high he’ll be happy to help you make it happen if you’ve been warm, affirming and positive toward him.  Most husbands really want to make their wives happy.  But it’s not his job.

If you could live with someone who was cheerful and fulfilled by her life, or someone who was a resentful martyr who put herself last, who would you rather spend time with?  Who would you want to come home to?  I’ve said this before about raising children but it’s just as true with marriage – you do everyone around you a favor by making yourself a priority.

I could go on and on with lots of little tips but it really comes down to this: treat your husband as you would want to treated- with kindness, respect and appreciation.  Give him the benefit of the doubt when something goes wrong.  Learn to let go of having to have things your way, and realize that ‘our’ way can be even better. Stop shaming, blaming, and complaining.

You know how I learned all this?  By making lots of mistakes!  At times I’ve been petty, judgmental, not respectful, impatient, unappreciative and resentful.  But I chose a good man and I was smart enough to remind myself of that even when I was feeling disgruntled. I knew that strong marriages didn’t happen by themselves; I messed up plenty but I’d try to do it better or differently the next time.

Personally, learning to let go and accept and appreciate what is has been one of the biggest lessons for me.   Some people are naturally easy going and accepting; I’m not one of them.  I came into marriage with a strong propensity to move fast, think fast, and be detail oriented, which strongly correlates with being impatient, reactive and critical.  I’ve worked very, very hard to learn to slow down, to make room for the interpretations that others bring to situations, and to focus on the positive.   And that’s made a huge difference in my marriage.

My husband has been an incredible source of acceptance and support for me through all these years, and I’m very, very grateful to be married to this amazing man.  Every year has just gotten better and I’m looking forward to the next 25 years!

Avivah

 

snychronicity

Does history repeat itself? A strange coincidence? Or something else?

My husband’s parents flew in from the US for the wedding and we enjoyed spending time with them this weekend!

We’ve been wondering if our branch of the family is related to other Werners and got into a discussion about my husband’s grandparents generation.

We learned for the first time that my husband’s great aunt and uncle had a child with Trisomy 21 who was institutionalized at birth, which tragically was the norm at that time.  I still couldn’t help wincing when the story was shared.

And then we learned something that kind of made us all shiver.

My father -in-law had an aunt and uncle who couldn’t have children.  Someone who was very ill asked them to raise her little son as their own when she died.  Since his mother had requested that her son be raised with her last name, he was raised in every way as their son but he wasn’t legally a Werner.

When my father-in-law shared this story, and then said the birth name of the child raised by the Werners three generations ago, my family members all looked at each other.  “What did you say his last name was?” someone asked.  “XYZ”, said my father in law, and spelled it out.

The same last name of our Rafael.  The same spelling.  A last name I heard for the first time when we were shown his file.  Not a common name at all.

And Werner isn’t a very common name either.

And so three generations ago, the Werners raised a little boy as their own, but keeping his birth name of XYZ.  And right now, the Werners are raising a little boy as their own, but keeping the same birth name of XYZ.

I can’t tell you what the significance of that is but it feels like more than just coincidence, don’t you think?

Avivah

Self-care-300x300[1]

Self-care – you can’t afford not to do it!

Yesterday a very busy mother of four young children who is longing for a break asked me, “How do you make time for yourself?”

I told her, you just have to do it!

So much easier said than done.

For many years, I minimized my need for self-time.  Sure, I would relax with a book or exercise at home with a dvd, but I didn’t really go too far beyond that.  Friends who wanted to meet me for coffee would be met instead with my flat response: “I can’t do it,” “It’s not realistic, I’ve got the kids home all the time.”

But do you know what?  I didn’t even stop to consider how to make that happen – I could have done it if it was really important to me.  But instead I right away assumed it was impossible. When it came to making time for myself (outside of home), with few exceptions I told myself I didn’t need it, that it was too much trouble to find a babysitter, too expensive or exhausting to make arrangements.

Well.

Over the last year I have been actively embracing self-care and it is a pretty darned wonderful thing to expand the ways that I enjoy my life!  After so many years of taking care of someone else and putting my own needs lower down on the list, I’m putting myself right at the top.  And I highly recommend it!

Taking more time for yourself begins with seeing it as an important and valuable use of your time.

This morning I went on a two hour nature outing with a small group of women to a park about a 15 minute walk away.  Later this week I’ll be going on a sunrise hike (I love these – this will only be the third one I’ve done in the last year – I get exercise, social connection, time out in nature and am home by 7 am, without anyone even realizing I was gone!)  Next week I’ll be going away for two days and one night to northern Israel for a women’s getaway. It sounds kind of decadent, doesn’t it?

The morning after the wedding, do you know where I was?  On a hike to a local forest.  When I arrived the organizer looked at me in shock and said, “Even though you said you were coming, I didn’t believe you would actually be here!”  I obviously didn’t get home very early the night before. :) I had a ridiculously full day that day, that included taking dd16 to Jerusalem for her seminary interview in the early afternoon, returning home, then turning right back around with the rest of my family and traveling to Jerusalem for that night’s sheva brachos. Does it seem I was making my day too full and stressful by going on a hike in the morning?

I made this commitment to myself before the interview was scheduled, and I decided I would go because it was important to me especially with the busyness of the wedding season to make time for myself.  I would have cancelled my appointment with my daughter and told the seminary administration I would have come a week later before I would have cancelled this time for myself.  Hiking in the woods and later sitting quietly alone for almost a half hour in the forest while the other women continued on a different trail was spiritually and mentally renewing for me.

Honestly, I’ve had to work through my mixed feelings about all of this.  I’ve been moving out of my comfort zone in this arena for a while and continue to expand the boundaries of how I nurture myself. Because I did so little self care in this way for so long, sometimes by contrast what I do now feels selfish and self-indulgent.  That’s not reality, it’s just my mind getting in the way of letting myself feel good about taking care of me.

self-care

We parents deserve to take time to care for ourselves.  We NEED to take time for ourselves. We are worthy of treating ourselves with kindness and compassion, to create and embrace opportunities to nurture those parts of ourselves that we tend to set aside when the responsibilities of life take up so much space.

When we become parents we don’t stop being the people we were until then – and once we hammer that into our own consciousness, we then have a great opportunity to model this lesson for our children.

The more I recharge myself, the more emotionally present I am for myself and for others.  Really.

Can you afford NOT to take time to recharge yourself?  Even if you don’t feel you deserve to take time for yourself, wouldn’t your children benefit from an energized, upbeat mother who values herself?

Learning to care for and love yourself the way you care for and love your children – the new horizon!

Avivah

And now yet more wonderful news – our son is engaged!

We are thrilled and delighted to announce the engagement of our oldest son, Elazar!

You may remember him from a photo last week with his two youngest brothers:

Ds23 with ds4 and Rafael

Ds23 with Yirmi and Rafael

I began writing this blog 10.5 years ago, when he had just turned 13.  Some of you have been reading from the beginning and have watched him (as well as our other children) grow up through all these years.  He has become an amazing young man.

Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to meet the young woman he was dating (we went right from there to pick up Rafael!).  At that point it was clear that his intentions were serious and it didn’t take more than a few minutes for it to be obvious to us both what a beautiful person she is and to see what a perfect match they were!

Last night he proposed to this very special young lady.  It brings me so much joy to share with you all our overflowing happiness as he embarks on this new stage of life with his wonderful fiance, Rivkie!

Elazar and Rivkie

May you all be blessed with abundant good in your lives, and may we all share in continued good news!

Avivah

self love

Burnout, too many expectations and not enough self-love

I constantly hear about burnout, both in  my professional life working with parents and in my social life.

There is so much expectation, so much strain and anxiety and so much shame that people are feel about not  measuring up, not being able to do it all.

Underlying all the various ways this issue is expressed, I’ve noticed an underlying self-imposed urgency.  ‘It’s not self imposed,’ you may protest.  I then hear how these things really are so so SO important, with the sentiment expressed that if the speaker doesn’t do them, something bad is going to happen.

What is going to happen if you don’t do this particular thing for your child?  When I suggest that a lot of the pressure the parent is feeling might be unnecessary and excessive, the response is usually “But don’t kids need to…go to sleep at a given time, brush their teeth, eat the right amount of nutritious foods, get to school on time, do their homework???”  The list of what responsible parents ‘should‘ do doesn’t end.

And the pressure that parents put on themselves doesn’t end either.

Could we possibly  learn to lighten up and let go of some of that tense perfectionism that is rooted in fear?  Can we trust ourselves and trust our kids instead of a checklist?  Really, we’re not going to fail them or ourselves if we don’t do this long list of things on a regular basis.  If we do the things that really matter – which comes down to providing a nurturing, loving home for our children – they’re going to be okay.  They really are.

Not because you’re the perfect mother.  Not because you line up all your ducks in a row and manage to execute flawlessly every day.  No.  You don’t and you can’t.  And you don’t need to.

Can you embrace loving yourself as you are right  now?  Right now, with all of your imperfections?

I’ll tell you something that might be intuitive.  Or it might be counterintuitive.

Do you want to be a more effective parent?  Do you want to be more loving, more effective, more emotionally and physically present?  Try treating yourself with kindness and compassion, with appreciation for your efforts and forgiveness for your lapses.

The more love you show to yourself, the easier it is to love those around you.  When you learn to nurture yourself appropriately, it becomes much easier to nurture your children.  When you stop continually raising the bar so high for yourself, accept your mistakes and appreciate your good intents, it’s natural to do the same for those around you.

We are so harsh to ourselves.  So, so harsh.  Do you think you’re being responsible to push yourself more, to tell yourself why you need to do more, to be more?  No, it’s not responsible.  It’s harsh.

Listen to me.  There is nothing more valuable to your children than being raised by a mother who loves and accepts herself.  Do you know how powerful it is to be loved unconditionally?  Most of us don’t and we don’t know how to give that to our children.  But it’s not too late – because you can give yourself that gift.

Start with small ways to love yourself.  Go to bed earlier.  Take a ten minute shower instead of a five cupofselfloveminute shower.  Sit and enjoy your cup of herbal tea.  Little things that reflect the kindness and compassion that you deserve.

Allow yourself to slow down or do less without feeling guilty about it, without feeling defensive or apologetic, without the habitual self-shaming of telling yourself you really should be doing something else.  Something more valuable, more important than taking care of yourself.

There’s not much that’s more important than appropriately taking care of yourself.  Your capacity to give to others is rooted in the care you take of yourself, and the love you learn to give yourself will flow out to those around you.

For today, lovingly put yourself first.  You deserve it, and your family deserves it.

Avivah

happy birthday

Celebrating my birthday with my first webinar launch – join me!

Today is my birthday.  And it feels significant.

It’s been two years since I shared – also on my birthday – about my deep sense of exhaustion and depletion following the three years of challenge after challenge that followed our move from the US to Israel in 2011.  About my lack of energy or desire to do anything.  About my fear that I would never have any motivation to do anything again.

After moving to Israel, not only did I lose my support network and years of social collateral, but I lost myself.  Really, really lost myself.  I was so consumed with trying to hold my family together through all the upheaval and changes – and I did a really good job of that.  But my underlying sense of who I was, my confidence and belief in myself, my sense of belonging and identification were so seriously challenged by the transition to a different culture and everything we went through that I emotionally kind of climbed into a cave to regroup. And because the cave felt so safe, I contemplated just staying there.

But you know, fear grows in the dark.  So as safe as it was, it didn’t feel good.  I knew I was avoiding being who I was put in the world to be and that feeling kept pushing its way toward the surface.  I would push it down again and again, and it would keep pushing back up.  Finally after my birthday a couple of years ago, I knew it was time to stop making excuses to myself and to take some baby steps in a new direction.

It’s been an amazing two year journey from where I was to where I am now. It’s been a process of learning to love and nurture myself at a deeper level, reclaiming and owning my gifts and abilities, moving from the emotional safety of staying out of the light and being willing to show up as my true self in the world.

It hasn’t been easy.  I’ve had to build and strengthen spiritual muscles, some of which I let atrophy and others I didn’t know existed at all. These spiritual disciplines have taken consistent consciousness and effort to maintain, and there remains lots of room for growth.  Yet I look at my life after these two years and marvel at how much better it is in every way – I’m healthier, I’m calmer, I feel more at peace with myself and the world around me.  It’s because of all this inner work that I’m now able to share myself and my parenting approach in a broader way despite what sometimes feels uncomfortable.

And it’s so incredibly appropriate that tonight, on my birthday, I’m launching my first Leadership Parenting webinar ever.  As much as my intent is to be of maximum service to you, it’s also a gift to myself to share my roadmap for building a strong and connected family.  I truly believe that no matter where you are coming from, no matter how hard your background or how much you’re struggling right now as a parent, you can learn to be compassionate and kind and powerful and influential in your family – to be an effective leader – from a place of love for your children and for yourself.

So I invite you to join me on this 16 week Leadership Parenting training workshop series.  It will be a journey of self-discovery and insight, along with practical suggestions on how to apply leadership concepts in your daily parenting.  The webinars will be accessible by computer and by phone, taking place live on Sunday nights (Israel), 8:30 – 10 pm/ 1:30 – 3 pm EST.  The first hour is my presentation and the remaining thirty minutes is for your questions.  If the timing doesn’t work for you, you can still participate at your own convenience by watching or listening to the recordings.

To join, all you need to do is send $200 via Paypal to avivahwerner@yahoo.com.  I’ll email you a confirmation along with a link to register.  Once you complete that, you’ll automatically be sent an email with details to access the webinars and after each webinar, you’ll receive a link to access the recording.

I’m looking forward to this shared journey of exploration and learning with you!

Avivah

stepping stones

Just do the next right thing – and trust it will lead you where you want to go

This week someone shared with me her desire to discover her life mission, her frustration with not knowing what bigger role she’s meant to play in this world.  Her life is positive in so many ways but she has this elusive sense that she’s meant to be doing something more.

Can you relate?

I can.  I’ve been there.  And what I’ve discovered is sometimes we overthink things.  We make things too big, too complex, too intimidating.  We minimize and discount the success we’re already experiencing. We focus too much on what we haven’t yet done, we compare ourselves to others and we feel inadequate.

We are told that to uncover our mission, we need to identify our unique skills and abilities and then make consciously plan how we’ll make our mark on the world.

And sometimes that systematic planned out approach is what happens.

But more often, your mission finds you.

There’s a simple way to know where to invest your energies.  Are you ready for this?

Look at the opportunities that come into your life and then take one small action in a direction that feels right to you.

Stephen Covey writes that in his examination of the habits of world leaders, they didn’t consciously set out with the idea of doing what they later became famous for.  Initially each one took one step in a given direction because that was the area they felt they could contribute.  And then they took another step in that direction, and another and another.

Isn’t taking the next right step much more doable than thinking you need to have an intimidating plan ?  I know for me it is!

One of the ways we trick ourselves into being small is to tell ourselves, this little action that I’m taking doesn’t make a difference.  That keeps us from taking the action or valuing whatever action we take.  And that keeps us from moving forward in a meaningful way.

I have a note on my desk that says, “Slow moving is not stuck.”  That’s my reminder to myself.  You know why I need that?  To counteract the negative voice telling me that I’m not doing enough, I’m not being enough, and I’m never going to be able to be enough or do enough.  Oh, the lies we tell ourselves!

The scary thing is when we don’t recognize we’re lying.

Don’t beat yourself up for not being enough, not doing enough, or for living too small. If you have an opportunity to spread a little bit of light today, to do a kindness for someone else – and that someone might be yourself or your child- go ahead and do it!

Living large starts by fully living the seemingly small moments.

Avivah

new path

A new beginning for Baby M

As I close this challenging month of advocating for Baby M, I want to give you a final update.

After an emergency meeting held by social services this week, the decision was made to remove her from where she is now and place her in a temporary foster home.  While she is living with the temporary family, social services will be facilitating the long term placement for her with a specific foster family that her biological parents requested.

No, this will not be our family.

While to others involved we were the obvious choice to take home Baby M,  I never had confidence that the parents would make the choice based on the factors that seemed relevant to others.  Like the parents, we are charedi native English speakers.  However, the parents are chassidim and we are not, we are from America and they are from Europe, and I expected that cultural compatibility would be of very high priority to them.

I don’t have any details on the two families who will take Baby M and I won’t be getting any details.  In a conversation a week ago with the grandmother, she told me the mother was very excited to find a woman from the same country that she came from who would take Baby M and agreed she would give her back when the parents wanted.  I assume this is the family they requested at the meeting with social services.

Was this decision a huge disappointment to me?  Yes.  I have a huge place in my heart for this baby and was emotionally completely ready to take her.

However, I believe that G-d makes no mistakes and therefore whatever happened was the best thing to have happen in this situation.   If it was truly the best scenario for everyone (including us), we would have been chosen.

So I’m trying to keep my focus on this – remembering that G-d runs the world, that He cares about each of us more than we can imagine, that everything we experience is for our ultimate good and that He knows what He is doing.  As difficult as this last month has been for me, every tiny aspect of it was engineered for the spiritual benefit of every person involved.

My other emotion is gratitude: gratitude that Baby M will finally be with a family who will care for her.  And gratitude for emotional closure for myself and my family.

Thank you to all of you for your prayers and concern for Baby M.  I am so glad that as we go into Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, she will have a new beginning of her own!

Avivah