What do you want in a given moment? Do you know? Do you consciously consider what you want on a moment-to-moment basis? Or do you just tell people what you don't want? This is a concept my son and I worked with for some time about 10-years ago.
Knowing what you want requires your prefrontal cortex to be available so you can imagine and dream. If you function from a state of fear/anxiety, your emotional alarm system tends to hijack your ability to stay regulated and present; you might easily get knocked off balance by the occurrence of things you don't want to happen.
I remember when my older son's family came over for a barbeque at our home to celebrate my birthday. This was during the time we were in the process of moving to the Spokane area. It was such fun to play with my grandchildren while my older son barbequed my favorite food, and to visit with my daughter-in-law. My most special gift was that Richard, my husband, was able to be here too.
When the weekend...
Transitioning - this word sounds like a fairly simple thing to do; to transition from one place to another place, from doing one task to another task, to even just move from one focus to another focus. Yet how often do we acknowledge just how many skills it takes us human beings to complete a transition? Transitioning, especially with ease, requires multiple skills working in unison. Without self-regulation, our internal systems may become overwhelmed, and we can lose our ability to be present even to ourselves. Often our implicit experiences (nonverbal memories that form below the level of our conscious awareness and form our expectations of the world) hijack us into familiar "fight, fight, or freeze" reactions, rather than supporting us to show up in congruence with our deeply held values.
I have observed that when my son is hijacked, his implicit template automatically triggers his emotional alarm system into the fight response, and my alarm system oftentimes responds by...
Does your family intentionally play together? How do you invite family members to join you? Is it possible to both remain engaged in play and be connected emotionally when others tip over into fear or rage? This is an area I looked for support to understand when my son was younger, especially in partnership with my spouse.
When my husband, my son & I participate in a weekend play workshop in Portland, Oregon, Kri, the organizer of the workshop invited us to join in the Play After Play* experience. I was thrilled!
At the Play after Play Theater, the husband-and-wife acting team, Marc Otto and Melanya Helene, performed a 20-minute show based on a folk tale, with just a few props and traditional songs.
"The play will begin, and then the play will end," Melanya said. "That is the time for wild applause."
Then came the "after" part of Play after Play: playtime.
My family gathered with other families filled with anticipation around the tumbling mats where...
What does "Play" look like? When someone invites you, "Want to play?" how do you respond? For me, play opens up possibilities, and yet, when my son has tipped over into stress, terror, or overwhelm, I can find myself flooded with a sense of disconnection, fear and shame. Then, I’m closed off to the possibility of play.
Receiving empathy support and learning about the brain has helped me to live more solidly in congruence with my values: remaining open, curious, and understanding, more consistency when parenting. Yet, even then, I have sensed there was something missing. I have longed for a dis-confirming experience where my heart remains open and present regardless of environmental factors.
I had a breakthrough years ago, when my empathy buddy invited me to a weekend play workshop in Portland. I felt amazed and thrilled, it was just what I had been longing for! At the time I was filled with gleeful anticipation. The weekend gave me a first-hand visceral experience...
Do you ever feel overwhelmed "being the parent" and would it be so sweet for someone to understand, on a cellular level, exactly what your on-going experience is? Does your window of tolerance shrink? Does it get stretched so far you feel you will either burst in frustration or faint from despair? That's where I repeatedly found myself in relationship with my son when his nervous system would get so heightened, and the energy got really big. My nervous system would alert me that my cup was near empty and I was in dire need of some empathy!
While being heard and seen by others with care and resonant empathy was so immensely calming, sometimes we must find ways to give ourselves some compassion when we are all alone.
One time I recognized, in the heat of the moment, a part of me believed the pain of disconnection would last forever. Nothing would ever change, no one would ever want to hang out with us, we were too much, we were too different, it was just too hard for others to be...
Do you like to play? I do, I love getting to play with kids especially. I want to check in as a parent, does your child have a lot of playdates? Do you get to hang out consistently with other moms or dads? Or do you have fewer opportunities for social time? Or maybe, not even any? What's it been like for you as a parent? Especially now, because a lot of things have changed.
I know when Rylan was younger social interactions really stretched him. They stretched his window of tolerance, yet at the same time he longed for companionship and fun. To have time with others. Where we lived previously was in a rural district out in the middle of 3,000 acres of wheat fields. So, playdates and get-togethers with friends and family were definitely planned in advance.
One time a close friend and I arranged to get-together to have coffee while her two young sons, who were eight and five years old at the time, played with Rylan for a few hours. That was a little bit of heaven back then.
I personally love the holiday season, all the different varieties of them. What I really enjoy is “window shopping" to see what will inspire me to think of a loved one while browsing about. However, there is one year I remember when my husband was working out of town and Rylan was much smaller. I would think about going shopping and it would just feel overwhelming. Just to get out of the house and go out in public, let alone doing any actual shopping. Especially during holidays, I’m wondering if you have noticed, just how much commercialism is out there. There is so much less relaxation and ease, and I feel so much more stress and pressure from the environment. My system thinks it’s just a little bit too much.
There are so many more items on display, and they just seem to tempt you to impulsively pick them up - and they beg to be purchased. Especially for kids, the visuals, smells, and sounds can be overwhelming the sensory circuits to navigate, so they get...
I was looking back over my journals and ran across the first article that I wrote regarding parenting. I remember at the time it took a lot of courage because I had what I called “writers block” and was petrified at putting my own self out there in the world. I was afraid of what others might think, say, or do, in response to me. It’s taken a lot of empathy sessions to lay down new pathways within myself to get to the point where I was willing to do that back in 2010. So, a few years have gone by and lots and lots of empathy sessions for Gloria, for which I am eternally grateful.
I want to come back around though, I have six beautiful grandchildren that I just love so much, and they always have me coming back around to what it’s like to be in relationships of trust. How to grow relationships of trust, and how important it is to be as present as possible with our children, with any children, or with one another.
So, let me share with you some of the...
I’ve spent time with several people lately that have been really struggling with deep sadness and grief. This sadness can feel so profound that the heart contracts and it feels very similar to a heart attack. Your heart can feel heavy with grief.
Have you ever felt your heart contract with pain, to where it feels difficult to breathe as well? Panic attacks are actually an activation of the PANIC/GRIEF/ABANDONMENT circuitry. When these attacks happen, it seems as if the very ground beneath your feet falls away. You can feel lost. Your SEEKING circuit dissipates, and you have no way to even begin to make movement in your world.
As we begin to allow ourselves to be held by others, and not be alone in our grief, we can have the courage to name our experience. We can receive some acknowledgement around what it’s like to be us in those moments. Such as, “Would it be sweet if someone understood just how difficult this is?”
Notice what happens in your body as you...
The other day, when I woke up, I felt something was stirring within me. I had had a little bit of a restless sleep with fragments of memories from when I was younger. So, I reached out to my empathy buddy, and I asked for some support, some resonant support of my inner experience.
It is such a pleasure to have a place where you can share your inner experience and to be met right there. To have trust and companionship to discover you really do make sense after all.
As I received the support, what I was able to tune into was a very, very young part of myself. There was a sacred vow, something like, “I, Gloria Mae, solemnly swear to my Essential Self, that I will be utterly committed to being less than. Believing that I’m not enough so that this other person in my life that I was close to, would have peace and security in a world that made them feel insane.”
I really tuned in to that this vow was made out of love for this other being. That is a really important piece...