40 Thoughts

This month, I turn 40-years-old. Each year for me has come with less angst, less worry about things that don’t deserve worry, and a deeper sense of who I am and how I can take my place in the world. Plus, I kicked off my 40th birthday celebrations by going to a Neil Young concert with my 7-year-old, who is a fan. So fun! So I welcome 40 with open arms! It’s a good place to be. I’ve compiled a list of 40 thoughts!

  1. Every person you will ever meet has infinite worth. Every person you will ever meet is just as valuable as every other person you will ever meet. Let that guide you.
  2. There is a much, much bigger picture than we’ll ever know. God is here. All will be well.
  3. When you listen for the beauty inside someone, and help them realize their own gifts, that opens them up to see who they are, to take their place, and to feel free to make conscious choices and movement in their lives. And it makes it okay to be imperfect. Because we all are. Brene Brown says, “Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.”
  4. Self-regulation is a vital skill. It involves looking inside ourselves. Deep inside. It involves separating when the discomfort/noise/buzz/anxiety comes from external factors or from what is going on inside ourselves. When it is from external factors, we may need to take action, or we may just let that be over there and not put any energy into it. When it is from internal factors, then the discomfort/noise/buzz/anxiety will only change from looking inside ourselves.
  5. We can only truly be present when we are paying attention to what is going on inside of us, and we have learned to quiet the noise of our minds and just be right here. I have learned to say, “Right now, all is well.” When that’s true, it calms anxiety in a big way. I may be worrying about things that happened in the past or worried about what is coming in the future. But if I remember that “right now, all is well,” I can stay in this moment.
  6. Trust that the next step will follow. Listen for the next step. Don’t worry about 5 steps ahead. Just listen for the next step. Sometimes it takes a while to come. When that happens, just wait.
  7. Everything we do takes energy. Worry takes energy. Responding takes energy. Daily tasks take energy. Meeting our children’s emotional needs takes energy. The more we put energy into the things that match our values, the more capacity we will have for those things. Likewise, the more energy we put into things like worry, the less energy we have for other things.
  8. Inner work takes a conscious effort and it takes the help of someone wise. When we pay attention to who we are, to where we get caught or hooked, and when we learn how to get ourselves back to our grounded state, the rewards are endless.
  9. Once we have learned to truly know and ground ourselves (see #8), we free ourselves up to have the capacity and the energy to do the things we are meant to do, and the things that match our values. Suddenly, our capacity grows.
  10. By doing this (#9), you will share your soul, you will give of yourself in your biggest, most beautiful way.
  11. Self-regulation is learned through co-regulation. All the kids in your life will learn self-regulation not by being given consequences or told certain words. They will learn self-regulation by having you pay attention to what is going on inside of yourself, calming and regulating yourself, and then being present for them through whatever they are feeling or experiencing. Being with.
  12. I am so grateful to live in a time when research is finding again, and again, and again, that connection and relationship are the biggest predictors of positive outcomes. The reason I’m grateful about that, is because not only do I know this in my heart, but you don’t have to take my opinion of it. The research is piling up.
  13. Relationships take work. They will hit rocky patches. Don’t be scared of the rocky patches. They are normal.
  14. Relationships will be the most rewarding part of your life.
  15. Two souls of all kinds connecting are a most powerful thing: parents and children, lovers, young and old, friends, two who don’t speak the same language, animal and human. When you feel the connection to another soul, pause. Do not rush this moment. Feel its beauty.
  16. Grow a garden. Connect to the earth and to the process of growth.
  17. Always be mindful that we live in the context of our current time in history and our current culture. It has some wonderful things about it, and some major flaws. Don’t hang on too tightly to the values of our particular time in history or our current culture. These things change. Hang on to what humans have known all throughout time and all around the world: connection.
  18. When your children are ready to play…play. I know our lives are busy, and sometimes you can’t do this, but the truth is that if we put our own agendas aside and don’t over plan, sometimes, there is time. Don’t rush your kids from exploring the bark on the tree or the ant on the sidewalk on your walk to the park. It’s too easy to rush our kids away from the actual things we want them to be doing, in order to box them into doing these same things in a more confined way. Maybe the nature experience of today is the walk to the park, and you don’t actually get to the park.
  19. Research on early child development is ground breaking. If everyone working with people of all ages took the time to learn what early childhood research has known for years…the world would change. Basically, it boils down to connection, compassion, kindness, keeping yourself regulated in order to help regulate others, letting people develop at their own pace, creating the right environment. There are a lot of professions who work with older children and adults who have missed this piece.
  20. Why the f*#@ are behaviour-based strategies and programs still so prominent in our schools and our culture?? Read the research people.
  21. The answer to #20 is because it’s easier. It’s easier to put all the blame on others and create rules and consequences. The hardest work is looking inside ourselves and making changes. And yet. Growing from within ourselves is how we feel the most peaceful, the most satisfied, the most joyful, the most generous.
  22. Have grace for others.
  23. Have grace for yourself.
  24. It is not so much about making mistakes. It is about getting caught or hooked and learning how to bring ourselves back to our most grounded state.
  25. In addition to #24, this means that in the same situation, you and I will make different decisions. It is often not about one of us being right and one being wrong. It is about me listening to what is right for me, and you listening to what is right for you.
  26. By all means, let your baby breastfeed to sleep. Let your baby snuggle into your arms and sleep together (with awareness for their safety). This crazy focus on “sleep training” in our culture is causing parents to feel guilty about having some of the most natural, beautiful and rewarding moments with their babies. Babies do not sleep through the night. Just accept that. They will one day. Refer to #17. Remember that all throughout history and in all different cultures around the world, people do things in different ways. Many ways work. Don’t get caught up in the current hype of what our culture is telling you to try. Do what feels right in your heart.
  27. Parenting is hard work. Really hard work. Because it causes you to dig deep into wells of grace and growth you didn’t know were there. And it’s so worth it. And if you can, give some kind words, some practical support, and some extra love to the parents of young kids who you know in your life.
  28. As things shift and change, they usually enter a messy period. Wait for it. The new order and routine will come.
  29. Learn to sit with emotions. Feeling sad is hard. Feel it. Feeling joy is amazing. Feel it.
  30. Emotions are meant to move.
  31. When others express uncomfortable emotions to you (sad, scared, fear, anger), don’t be scared. They are just emotions.
  32. AND, it is never okay to hurt someone or be destructive when you are mad. It is never okay for someone to hurt you when they are mad. Set limits with others.
  33. Teach your children that every feeling is okay, but that it is never okay to hurt someone or break things when mad. There are healthy ways to help feelings move, and you can teach them those ways.
  34. Criticism doesn’t help anyone.
  35. Have compassion. For yourself. For others.
  36. Learn to receive.
  37. Boundaries are vital. They are very connected to values.
  38. If you never say no, then you are never really saying yes to anything.
  39. Let your life speak.
  40. Humility means not being more than or less than who you are.

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Photo by Chris Hoover         Bonus thought #41 – Sometimes, just sit back and enjoy life!

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