Lessons in Compassion and Connection

May 23, 2024

The holiday season can be a unique journey, full of unexpected moments and precious lessons. I remember once years ago as I navigated shopping with my son, I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming commercialism that surrounded us.

The sensory overload, the constant temptation to buy impulsively – it can be challenging, especially when impulse control is a struggle. I found myself caught in moments of shame and frustration as my son yearned for things in the store. But in those moments, I've learned something profound.

It's about redefining the shopping experience. I asked my son if he'd like to go "window shopping" with me, to simply enjoy the sights and not make any purchases. His enthusiasm was heartwarming. We explored the store, and when he saw something he really wanted, we examined it closely, read the details, and talked about it.

And then, a pivotal moment. As he desperately wanted an item, he witnessed another family happily buying it. The longing in his eyes...

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Transformative Parenting: Nurturing Hearts and Minds

May 17, 2024

This blog is a heartfelt dedication to all those caring for individuals with "special needs." Welcome to our community of shared experiences, support, encouragement, heart connections, and celebrations. Today, I'll share a story about my journey with my son, who was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, and how NonViolent Communication (NVC) and Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) transformed our lives.

A bit of background: My son, Rylan, was given many diagnoses, one being a math disability in the first grade. This revealed he experienced a working memory deficit which was critical for math. I learned that he had endured isolating experiences where he was made to sit at his desk with a timer. The teacher's intention was to help him focus. But it heightened his anxiety, especially being separated from warm relationships.

Let's explore how stress affected Rylan through IPNB. Panic flooded his system with hormones, triggering his survival mode. Cortisol inhibits the hippocampus,...

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Navigating the Overwhelming Role of Parenting a Child with Special Needs

Oct 18, 2023

Today, I want to share with you my personal experience as a parent of a child with special needs. I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed and in need of someone who can truly understand what you are going through. It can be difficult to manage your emotions and maintain your composure in the face of your child's heightened nervous system. I have often found myself in this situation, feeling like my cup is nearly empty and desperately needing empathy and compassion.

During these times, I have learned the importance of showing myself the same love and acceptance that I seek from others. One technique that has helped me is using a deck of GROK "Needs/Values" cards. I sorted the cards into two piles, one with needs/values that resonated with me and another with those that didn't. Out of 54 cards, 33 resonated with me, and I grouped them under the seven basic human needs.

I focused on the need for connection, which had the largest cluster of cards, and counted 16 cards, including...

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From Triggered to Empowered: A Healing Experience of Accompaniment

Jul 05, 2023

I remember a powerful experience when I had just held space for a team member who was triggered, and I was beginning to debrief with my co-facilitators. As I looked into another team members eyes, I felt a lightness in my chest and a sense of resonance. But suddenly, I felt a drop of energy in the room, like a void, a dark cloud of energy.

Glancing to my right, I noticed one of the women sitting quietly, still-faced, and looking away. I recognized a familiar sense of dread and nothingness waft over my felt sense of existing in that moment. I felt like doom was eminently near.

Immediately, my Compassionate Self silently acknowledged this inner felt part, saying gently, "I see you. I am here with you. It is safe to be you, especially now."

Breathing into my belly, I turned with curiosity to the still-faced person and said, "I'd like to check in with you. I sense it may feel as if I rolled over you, and that was not my intention. I apologize."

"Well, I understand people get...

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Desperate to Experience Something Different

May 17, 2023

I found my way to Nonviolent Communication and Interpersonal Neurobiology out of desperation to experience something different, and gratefully have received a TON of empathy support over the years. Being held in a container of warmth, understanding, and acceptance, has allowed the embedded patterns of my conditioning to unravel and new neural pathways of resilience to lie down in my nervous system. As I consistently received resonant empathy support, over time I developed my own resonating self-witness. 

This inner-witness is not simply a compassionate voice; it is a deeply responsive, warmly curious, and generous voice. These new pathways empower us to live into a new way of being in our relationships, with ourself, and with others. 

I remember receiving a correspondence from someone who began their communication acknowledging the value they experience for the gifts I bring into the world, and I noticed how my heart felt soft and open in response. The next sentence,...

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Shutting Down and Changing the Subject

Jun 22, 2022

Do you take the time to reflect on your relationship with your loved ones? What influences our feelings, perceptions, and behaviors as evolving human beings? Are you consciously creating a nurturing environment where safety and trust influence the activation of genes and sculpt the structure of the brain?   

The genes that children inherit influence their development and shape the inborn characteristics of their nervous systems. Their experiences also directly shape their development and influence which genes are activated. Relationships that provide contingency (responses to other's signals with a quality, intensity, and timing which clearly reflect the signals that were sent), especially when emotions are heightened, offer our loved ones repeated experiences where they feel connected, understood and protected. 

I noticed when homeschooling my son, Rylan, that rather than sharing a mutual sense of interest and wonder as we focused on learning, Rylan would shut down...

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Understanding a Two-Year-Old’s Conversation

Apr 13, 2022

Do you have dreams for your children? What nature of character would you like to see them acquire? Children learn what's important to us and what we value by living with us and observing the outward expressions of our character. They remember, imitate, and recreate these ways of being in the world. When I intentionally take time to learn ways of being that are rooted in compassionate self-understanding I am also taking an important step in an unfolding process that supports my children to know themselves.   

I remember experiencing the beauty of this with one of my grandsons when he was two-years-old. My three grandchildren were visiting, Rylan and I had a fun and busy morning with them. We put together puzzles, read and told stories, shared pretend play in the play-room, and observed Uncle Rylan's frog, Mr. Ed. 

When I noticed lunchtime was drawing near, I brought out the color books and crayons and asked, "Would anyone like to color while Grammy works in the...

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Waking to Racing Thoughts

Mar 30, 2022

Have you ever woken up early in the morning with a million thoughts racing through your head? And each thought is telling you what you should be doing, or better yet, telling you what you should already have done? Well, I remember when that was my experience one morning! 

I was telling myself, "You need to get up now, before Rylan wakes up, so you can write your newsletter?" "Hurry, before you run out of time!" "You were supposed to already have published your newsletter, hurry up!" "And don't forget to update your website." "Remember to create those new seminars while you are at it." "You really need to spend time connecting with the horses at least three times a week." "You ought to spend more time with your friend before she leaves." "Don't forget to plant seeds in the green house today." As the thoughts sped up I had the sensation that a balloon was about to burst within my chest. 

I recognized my familiar thought-life and paused deliberately. I took a deep cleansing...

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Knocked Off Balance by the Unexpected

Mar 09, 2022

Have you ever been knocked off balance by the unexpected happening? I know I have! Let me share a story with you. I remember several years when my son, Rylan, came tearing up the back steps and into the house, wide- eyed and breathless. I noticed his shirt and pants were wet in places. "What's going on? Are you okay?" I asked as I reached toward him. 

He crouched away as he sank onto the floor and the words tumbled out, "I was just playing with my squirt gun and took it over to Jim's where he was watering his plants outside. When I squirted it towards him, he said, 'you might not want to do that or something like this might happen,' and then he sprayed me with the hose! It was really hard, and I didn't call him a f--r but I flipped him off and now I'm scared he hates me and will get me! Dad saw it all and said we have to go talk with him before we can leave, and I'm scared!" 

"Where is your Dad? He was there with you and saw it all happen?" I asked, trying to make sense of...

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