What Children Teach Us About Living a Creative Life and Impacting the World Without Fear

by Holly Mthethwa

“I’m gonna hop, hop, hop,” my two-year-old daughter shouts as she hops and runs down the sidewalk, a made-up song spilling out with her giggles.

“Mommy! I’m gonna fly like a plane,” she shouts again as she extends her arms above her sides and starts to run.

I watch her.

It doesn’t cross her mind that anyone, but me, is watching.

She’s not even aware that anyone else might be paying attention or that we’re “in public.”


She’s not trying to impress anyone….

Or wondering what someone might think.

She is simply testing her abilities and finding creative ways to express herself and have fun.

Ari

I long to protect that—that innocent and unrestrained self-expression and playfulness.

And, I wonder when I lost it. When we lost it.

I wonder when we stopped testing our abilities, because we started to believe failure was a bad thing or when our shouts turned to a whisper and then to silence, because someone told us we were too loud or talked too much or didn’t have anything valuable to say.

Or when we started to compare our made-up songs or made-up poems with someone else’s and thought we better stop “making up,” because we weren’t any good at it anyway.

Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us what it looks like to express ourselves and create without fear.

There are times when we call our children reckless; we say they have no sense of danger or that they’re too courageous.

I wonder what age those words start sticking and when our caution starts to plant seeds of fear and reluctance in our children.

Of course, we have to teach our children boundaries and, of course, we have to teach them about danger.

But, why do our boundary lines move closer and closer inward until we will not move or speak or create or play for fear that we’ll cross the line?

The very line we ourselves created.

Why have we allowed fear to keep us silent?

Or keep us so heavily guarded that the words we speak or the things we create have little impact, because they’re not striking deep places, simply because we’re afraid to pull from deeper within ourselves?

As much as I long to protect the creativity, imagination, and uninhibited expression within my daughter, I long—even more—to cultivate it.

I long to find ways to keep her imagination and creativity alive, to fan the flame, and to keep it growing….

to call out all that’s inside of her to come forth and encounter the world…to make it brighter, to make it better.

And, when I create space for her to sing, dance, paint, or run without me drawing imaginary boundary lines around her with my “be careful,” or my “not so loud,” I see the most of her, I see the best of her…..I see what she’s made of.

And, when I create space for her to express herself without worry of a mess or a fall, she challenges herself and she surprises me, because “I didn’t know she could do that—I thought she was too young.”

Then, I wonder if I would create space, if there are places in my life where I’d surprise myself, because “I didn’t know I could do that.”

My daughter reminds me what it looks to create without fear.

Her very act of creating without fear is itself a creation, because it sparks in me the desire to create.

And, I start to think that if we’d all be a little braver, a little less restrained, and we’d extend those boundary lines out a little more…we’d see an outpouring of gifts, talents, ideas, and works-of-art that would begin to drown out the destruction in our world.

Because, if we’re not making something new or finding ways to breathe new life into what’s already been created, we’re either staying stagnant or we’re destroying the things that we’ve made.

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Although we’ve never met in person, Holly and I connected through Her View From Home and hit it off right away. It took a few phone conversations before I realized that she is a Cozad, Nebraska native and her dad worked with my husband’a grandparents there. I’m so pleased to share her with you today. Please go to her website and order her book!

-Andrea

HollyHolly Mthethwa is passionate about sharing God’s word in everyday life. She’s been a missionary advisor in Peru and India and is the author of the Christian memoir “Hot Chocolate in June: A True Story of Loss, Love, and Restoration.” She resides just outside of Washington, D.C. where she lives an adventure with her husband and daughter. Holly writes regularly about faith, family, and moments that have hooked her heart at www.ruggedandredeemed.com.

To read more from Holly, check out her book “Hot Chocolate in June” on Amazon or visit her blog at ruggedandredeemed.com.

Every Empathetic Leader Needs to Unplug From People

Those of us who are particularly sensitive or empathetic tend to feel the emotions of others. We not only have to contend with our own emotional experiences, but we literally feel what others feel. And sometimes we’re not sure of the distinction between our feelings and the feelings of others.

We see tears and our own eyes fill with tears. We see anger and something inside of us fires up. We see tension and something inside of us tightens up.

The empathetic leader internalizes the notion that relationships are a big responsibility.

What does it feel like when…

  • Your baby cries inconsolably?
  • Children whine about the choice of food for supper?
  • Students walk in the door with their head down to their chest?
  • Colleagues knit-pick every decision other people make?
  • Your team bombards you with questions about the upcoming transition?

You may be completely capable of meeting each of these scenarios with grace and wisdom, but it doesn’t take long before they all add up and the needs of the people around you begin to feel overwhelming.

Quiet Time

Empathetic leaders need to unplug from people.We’ve all heard a lot about the importance of unplugging or disconnecting from social media, email and electronics, in general. It’s definitely important to give our bodies and minds a break from the barrage of media and information overload. Taking time away from these things helps us refresh and remember why we engage in these mediums in the first place.

But electronics are not the only thing we need to unplug from. We need to unplug from people, too. I call it Quiet Time. QT is a period of disconnection from emotional stimulation. It is a time when no one is pulling on you to meet their needs or give them attention. The amount of QT you need each day depends on you and your circumstances. You may have a limited window of opportunity for it and it may take some creativity to work it in.

Be proactive in planning your QT. Don’t wait for overwhelm to strike before you lash out at everyone to get them to leave you alone. Don’t wait until you’re about to crumble under the weight of the emotional storm around you. Plan ahead! Work QT into your daily routine and have a plan in place for a quick moment of down time in case you need it.

Here are some ways you can work QT into your daily routine:

  • Drive around for an extra 10 minutes after work. You will be more engaged and prepared to serve your family when you walk in the door if you are not feeling rushed and frazzled.
  • Take 15 minutes of your lunch time to sit or lay quietly with your eyes closed listening to calming music or praying with a calm heart. For added benefit, do it in a dark room.
  • If you have children at home, implement QT for everyone, regardless of their age. I prefer to have everyone go to their rooms after lunch to play quietly while I lay down on my bed in the dark.
  • Plan to go for a quiet walk before everyone else gets up or after everyone goes to bed.

Here are a few go-to ideas when you need a quick QT emotional reboot:

  • Go to the bathroom and lock the door for a few minutes. 🙂
  • Close the curtains and turn off the light in your office with a “Do not disturb” sign for 5 minutes.
  • Use noise canceling earplugs or earphones and use them in a noisy, chaotic environment when you don’t need to engage fully.
  • Place a wall between yourself and others. Take your work to another room.
  • Ask a friend to trade playdates with your kids or have a babysitter come entertain your kids for a couple of hours while you rest or go for a walk.

Reboot for Greater Impact

You can do hard things.Caring leaders want to be there for their teams. Moms want to be there for their families. Teachers want to be there for their students. But for the person who truly cares, there is a heavy weight of responsibility with each of these relationships. You will be more prepared to meet the needs of those around you if you unplug from them on a regular basis.

If you feel like it’s impossible to accomplish, don’t give up. Employ your creativity and honestly state your needs to the people around you.

How do you reboot emotionally? What suggestions do you have for other empathetic leaders?

If you’re looking for someone to help your hurting team unify and restore to health so you can make a bigger impact together, I’m here to help. Click here for more information.

 

 

 

 

Stop Waiting to be Discovered; You Can Fight Darth Vader, Too

It wasn’t like she asked for the opportunity. We simply walked into the auditorium to save seats up close because we knew Grant was excited to see the Jedi training show on our Disney cruise.

Amelia Jedi TrainingA woman stopped Amelia in the aisle and inquired, “Do you like Star Wars?”

“Ya,” Amelia responded.

What was she supposed to say? She never showed an ounce of interest in it until that morning when she decided to join us for the little show, but it might be rude to say anything else.

“Would you like to come up on stage and be trained as a Jedi?” the woman offered.

“Sure,” Amelia shrugged.

My stomach sank to the floor and before I could stop it, I turned into the ungrateful mom who asks for an extra freebie for her other child. “Her brother would like it so much more,” I pleaded with my eyes as the words came out. I knew Amelia wouldn’t mind giving up her spot so her brother could do it.

But they didn’t have time to wait for him. So they whisked Amelia away and the next time we saw her, she was wearing a brown robe and holding a coveted light saber. Grant was giddy when he realized she was going on stage but by the time she had her turn doing what every Star Wars fan ever dreamed of doing (fighting Darth Vader!) the question hit him.

IMG_7442“Why her and not me?”

I knew exactly how he felt. For years I read other people’s books, watched other speakers give presentations and listened to other people’s podcasts. And all the while I wondered, “Why them and not me?”

Maybe you’ve asked that question before.

Why did he get that part and not me?
Why is she married and not me?
Why does he get to travel for work and not me?
Why are they happy in their marriage and not me?

I’m sure we can all come up with answers to those questions.

He sucked up to the director.
She’s must be more comfortable talking to guys than I am.
He’s been in the job longer than I have.
If I had a spouse like that I’d be happy, too.

Maybe there is truth to some of these assumptions, or maybe they are just excuses. My reason for not doing what I longed to do certainly was…

“Because they haven’t discovered me yet.”

Do you hear how passive that sounds? I was waiting and waiting for someone to see me in a crowd and say, “I choose you, Andrea. It’s your turn now!” Because I assumed that the powers-that-be were the only ones who could finally give me my big break. They were the ones who could decide if I’d get that book deal…that speaking engagement…that interview. I was waiting to be discovered so I could make the impact I longed to make. 

%22I don't know what you long to do, be or say. But whatever it is, you won't get there by waiting to be discovered.%22

 

The statement, “God will make it happen if it’s supposed to happen,” is just as passive.

Yes, I just said that. Do you want to know why? Because whatever you believe about God, you still have to get up out of bed in the morning and put one foot in front of the other. God doesn’t do that for you.

Sometimes YOU have to act. YOU have to move.

You work your tail off for the next part.
You take risks to become more comfortable around guys.
You display the integrity, intelligence and grit it takes to travel for your job.
You stop demanding your spouse to make you happy and find your happiness in something more reliable.*

What are you waiting for?

Grant was quite disappointed by the time the Jedi training concluded. He tucked his head into my neck and I picked him up to carry him out of the auditorium. I let everyone else move on and then I paused in the aisle to speak to my son.

“Grant, I know you’re disappointed, but that happens a lot in life. Look up at that stage. Do you want to be up on that stage someday? If you really do, I believe you can. If you want to be a magician or get a job as a Lego Creator, I believe you can. But those things don’t just happen. You have to focus and work hard for it instead of being upset with others when you’re not chosen.”

Grant came home with all of the moves Amelia learned in her Jedi training and now the boy is ready to fight his own Darth Vader.

I don’t know what you long to do, be or say. But whatever it is, you won’t get there by waiting to be discovered. Take a risk and take action. Someone needs what you have to offer. 

*Relationships are complicated. Please seek wise counsel if you are struggling in your relationships.  

AJW_FacebookProfileImage_11

Would you like to read my story? Read the Prologue HERE or go directly to Amazon to purchase the book HERE.

 

The Opportunity in Your Imperfections

Stepping Out of Self-Shame: Part 4

Messing up is exhausting. Guess who didn’t wear her glasses to school again today? I mean, seriously! Four weeks ago I started this series talking about my sweet Amelia and how both of us forget to be sure she’s wearing her important reading glasses to school.  I don’t pay close attention to these details and I forget stuff like this a lot, so a few years ago I fell into a pattern of calling myself “stupid” and “an idiot” and “the worst mom” as punishment for my failures. And I tell you what, that self-shame didn’t improve my performance. In fact, it did nothing but make me feel horrible and act ugly toward others.

(Click here–>The Prerequisite to Empowering Others)

Just like most people, I would rather hide the ugly and weak parts of me than feel exposed. I don’t want to put myself in a vulnerable position where others might see these things and think less of me. You know…like in a blog post…on the Internet…for all the world to see! But as a reader, when do you feel the most connected to me as the writer of this blog? When I have all the answers and look good, strong and competent? Or when I tell real stories that expose my honest thoughts, feelings, weaknesses and the ways I mess up? IMG_5478

When do you suppose others feel most connect to you?

How Do You Love?

Love is such a confusing word. We love a great burger and we love our parents. We can be in love with that dress and in love with that man in my arms. But when I’m talking about loving others despite how I feel, I’m talking about a certain kind of love.

It’s not a pressure-filled love that comes from a place of shame. I’m talking about a kind of love that comes from a heart that knows what it’s like to be forgiven. It’s the kind of love that longs for others to experience the freedom of forgiveness, too!

And how do we know if we’re sharing that kind of love?

“We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it, or even when we believe that we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.”
— Dallas Willard (Renovation of the Heart)

When you…
take an honest look at your situation,
take responsibility for what you’ve done or not done,
and then you…
bask in the freedom of forgiveness rather than beating yourself up,
You are uniquely qualified and able to invite others into that kind of love, too! Because you are acting on what you believe.

Every time I feel exposed and have the urge to beat myself up with my thoughts and words, I have to ask myself again – what do I believe? Is it better to beat myself up when I mess up or to step into the light of love that exposes the reality of my situation and warms my heart to accept responsibility so I can also accept forgiveness and help? Which of these scenarios compells me to love others well?

Download this free printable poster!

My imperfectionsare anopportunityto let my lightshine.

Download

4. Boldly go and display this light of love by inviting others to be honest, allowing them to take responsibility for their mistakes or wrong-doing and then demonstrate your love and forgiveness for them.

It’s not easy or comfortable to invite others to be honest and allow them to take responsibility for what they’ve done or not done. It’s way more comfortable to say, “it’s OK” and try to make them feel better about themselves than it is to actually say, “I forgive you.”

It’s hard to ask for forgiveness and harder still to offer forgiveness. But when you’ve basked in the warmth that love and forgiveness provides, you know it’s more powerful than being defensive, making exuses or punishing yourself. Will you take the easy route or will you press in and dig deeper to both receive and offer real grace and forgiveness? It is, after all, the prerequisite to truly empowering others.

What is more compelling than that kind of love?

 

The Prerequisite to Empowering Others

I just got a call from our daughter’s school. Amelia forgot her glasses. Ugh. Those glasses are special glasses to help her eyes focus so she can read. Reading is pretty important in elementary school, so I hear. Immediately my heart sank and I began thinking on the dark side…IMG_6215

How did I not notice she didn’t have her glasses this morning?! I always screw stuff like this up!

And as I tracked down her glasses and ran them to school, I thought of all the things I forget – every meal that gets thrown together because I didn’t plan well…every piece of trash that was apparently lying around somewhere so the dogs could get to it and rip it into pieces…the dirty floors…the pants that need ironing…and on and on. By the time I got there, I felt worthless.

When I Put Myself Down

When I feel worthless, there are a few things that I automatically start doing:

  1. I start saying really mean things to myself.
    • “You never remember the important things.”
    • “Why can’t you be like ____?! She would pay attention to whether her kids have their glasses on or not.”
    • “Oh good grief, Andrea. You’re setting your kids up for disaster!”
  2. I show my attitude with my facial expressions and body language so everyone knows what a jerk I am.
  3. I begin to feel and act resentful toward others for judging me. Because if I can’t say anything good about myself, surely no one else can either.

But I’m pretty sure self-deprecation never made anyone more loving. And it certainly doesn’t make me any better at remembering things. My self-shaming comments make it nearly impossible for me to love others well. In fact, when I’m mean to myself, I’m mean to others.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that the answer is that we need to be kind to ourselves and stop feeling so bad for when we mess up. But I believe the process is incomplete if we ignore or deny the impact we have on others. When we mess up without acknowledging those we have hurt, we diminish the influence we have with them.

Humility, Not Self-Deprecation

If you want to love well and offer your gifts to others, it’s time to stop putting yourself down. It’s time to stop the self-shaming internal dialogue and start believing in something more true. How?

By stepping into a beam of light that exposes the reality of your situation, while warming your heart with love. This is the kind of love John talks about in 1 John 4 of the Bible. It’s the kind of love that says,sunbeam-76825_1280

“I see you for who you are: all of your mistakes, all of your wrong-doing, all of your short-comings, and you are forgiven. Now live in the humility of knowing that you are not perfect, but you are loved anyway. Then go and invite others into the light of love.”

If you want to empower your kids or your friends or your students to become all they can be, stop putting yourself down. Walk humbly, with an honest sense of the reality of your situation.

  1. Step into the light that exposes your weaknesses. See them for what they are.
  2. Take responsibility for your short-comings. Ask forgiveness when forgiveness is needed. Ask for help when help is needed.
  3. Enjoy the freedom from your burden. Bask in the warmth that love provides and say kind things to yourself and those who forgive or help you.
  4. Boldly go and display this light of love by inviting others to be honest, allowing them to take responsibility for their mistakes and then demonstrate your forgiveness and love for them.

The fact is, it will always be a struggle for me to keep up with daily life. I will always be better at things that have nothing to do with keeping our family well-dressed, well-fed and on-time. But if I give my mistakes and failures more air time than asking forgiveness and/or help, then my little snafus will turn into a deflated Andrea, who ends up deflating others.

What unkind things do you say to yourself? Perhaps it’s time to expose the reality of your situation and walk humbly into the light of love.

Do you want to empower your team to empower others?

Click here to learn more.

 

Self-Shame Series:

Stepping Out of Self-Shame: Part 1

Stepping Out of Self-Shame: Part 2

The Day I Realized I Was Hurting Myself (Part 3)

 

You Can Do Hard Things

She walked across the street, brow pursed as she stared at the ground. Our once exuberant 6-year-old threw irritable glances at her brother as soon as she got into the car. I couldn’t figure it out. What was going on at school that made her so upset? She loved kindergarten and the first half of first grade, but as she got into the second semester, her after-school outlook dimmed.

A year later her 2nd grade teacher informed us that she was beginning to lose ground in reading and comprehension. As words got smaller and closer together, she struggled more. Her self-confidence and love for school diminished. That’s when Aaron decided it was time for a more thorough eye exam. IMG_6963We found out that our daughter could see 20/20 when tested, but her eye muscles were working so hard that she easily became fatigued and words began to float on the page. We tried special glasses for a year. Amelia struggled to keep them on and I struggled to remind her. Then last week we went back to the eye doctor and decided it was time for eye therapy: computer-led exercises 20 minutes a day and therapy with the doctor once every 3 weeks.

Do I have what it takes?

My enthusiasm for helping our daughter turned into anxiety as we hit the road for our two hour trip home. How could I possibly motivate her to do exercises that cause her discomfort every day? I haven’t even been able to keep track of her reading log for school or help her stick to a routine for practicing piano. I’m horrid at keeping routines and the kids know it. The dark sky around us loomed as I asked the kids if they had any ideas for how we would fit eye therapy into our day. They seemed as lost and defeated as I felt.

But as we turned onto the interstate, I turned a corner in my mind. I was preparing to speak the next morning about how what we say to ourselves about ourselves is important. I know what it’s like to beat myself down for my lack of a detailed routine and focus. And I know that beating myself down never makes me perform better. Instead, with self-shame I become self-focused and I lose my ability to offer myself to my family. I wanted to search deep for words that are more true than, “I’ll never be able to do this. Other moms would do a better job at providing what my kids need.”

Truer Words

As I searched for truer words, I recalled a phrase I learned from a friend of mine who knows about walking through life, confronting hard things as a mother. I took a deep breath and with Kimberlye Berg’s words in my mind I said, “You know what, kids? We are going to figure this out. We are smart. We are creative. And we can do hard things. We’re going to come up with a plan to fit it all in and we are going to stick to it, even when it gets hard.”

You can do hard things.Something about saying those words changed my perspective. I felt like a grown up. I felt like a mom who refuses to be tossed around by expectations and chooses to serve her family with purpose. And I knew that in order to accomplish our goals for the next few months, our whole family would need to be more intentional about our routine. That which changes one of us must change us all.

The next night I outlined our weekly schedule and determined how to fit in the things we want to accomplish, as well as the things we want to enjoy. It requires me to get up and go to bed much earlier than I prefer. It requires Aaron and I to be more intentional about planning out our work time and family time when we usually prefer to do whatever feels right day-to-day. But you know what? I believe that we can do it. Because we can do hard things when we decide the benefits are worth the sacrifice. We can do hard things for one another.

This morning I woke up at 5:30 and desperately wanted to roll over and go back to sleep. But my determination to lead our kids by example propelled me to the gym so I could come back and start the day with our kids. Even if Amelia doesn’t gain ground in reading, I’m hopeful that she will gain confidence in the next few months and retain an important lesson: “I can do hard things.”

You can too.

What hard things are you facing that you can do? 

Read more about replacing self-shaming words with powerful words in my article for Her View From Home this week: How I Lost and Found My Dignity

Read more about Kimberlye Berg in Book Impact: Schema Of A Soul

Read more about: Vision Therapy

Book Impact: Schema of a Soul

Two years ago on Novemer 22st, Aaron and I traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska for Kimberlye Berg’s Schema of a Soul book launch party. It wasn’t just any old party or launch of a book. It was a sacred moment in time, set aside to honor the life and memory of a young man and woman lost tragically in a car accident, years before. It was a sacred space, set aside to hold the terrible-beautiful reality of suffering families and a mother who emurged from years of struggle with an offering: words that artfully and authentically tell how she found a love that is stronger than death.

I met Kimberlye Berg at Dr. Larry Crabb’s School of Spiritual Direction in 2011. I tend to be curious about quiet, introspective people. Kim had me burning with a curiosity that was left unfulfilled that week, but a year later that changed. I was in town and I wondered if she would want to have coffee.Kim & I
We ended up sharing the morning and a few tears together. When I left, I walked out the door with a precious gift – the first few chapters of a book she was writing. I read it all in one sitting that night in our hotel room. I felt strangely cleansed in the remnants of salty tears and trembling sobs. The offering of her mother-heart revived the decaying corners of my own. Schema of a Soul reminded me that I’m alive. And I need to live like it.

Since then we have become good friends with Kim and Jim, staying in each other’s homes and sharing in each other’s experience of writing, family and business. Kim taught me how to make the most amazing bagels and I facilitated a few of her speaking engagements. When I couldn’t decide where to focus my writing efforts, she steered me back toward Frozen. It is a rich friendship, despite the distance between us. That is why I chose Kim’s book to be the first book I feature in the Book Impact series on this blog.

Schema of a Soul

In this book, Kimberlye Berg shares about the deep relational and spiritual struggles she faced with her family when they lost their oldest son/brother in a car accident. She writes to her husband, reflecting on their experience and utilizing beautiful metaphors from his experience in architecture.

Kim gave me the opportunity to share my endorsement in the book:

When the raging winds of pain below, we yearn for a safe shelter for our souls. The beautiful tapestry of practical and spiritual connections woven in schema of a soul wrapped securely around the reader, offering connection where there is isolation, vision where there is chaos, and faith where there is doubt. Whether you seek to understand and comfort those who mourn or you were aware of your own pain, nestle in. And may sacrificial love demonstrate the truth of it strength in you. p.9

Quotes from the Book

IMG_5437Seldom can you know what time last words will come to you. All words hold the potential of being last words. p. 23

He suggested we were being invited to enter into a place where, if we would go, could lead us to knowing God in ways we never had before. It would be hard. Uncomfortable. Take time. Or. We could try to get back into life the best we could. Fill the pain with work, Getting over it, and moving on. We would need to choose. One or the other.

It is a daunting thing to feel and seriously wrestle with intense pain deep within your soul, intense questions regarding everything you thought you believed about God. Many of us go to great extent in trying to evade soul pain, as if that would be the most noble choice. We focus instead on being busy. We are very busy, proud people, and we desperately want to be happy people, not sad. p.64

Pain and heartache are indescribable to someone who has never been inside of them. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do to make us feel better. That was the wrong battle, and we intuitively knew it deep within. p.64-65

We have been soaking wet and all drenched in ugly together, but in our weeping we have been been discovering the more that transcends the pain. p.136

 

Share this post on social media and comment to let me know you did. Please let me know if you share! You will be entered to win a copy of Schema Of A Soul.

 

Questions for the author, Kimberlye Berg

I would love for you each to meet Kim. Here are some wise thoughts from her about pain and loss.

2014_sept_kb_01-21. What one thing do you want us to remember when we face deep pain and loss?
I hope you remember this: Embrace pain and sorrow as an invitation to know and relate with God in this holy place. It is in this place that He does some of his deepest work in forming you, shaping you, sculpting your soul. Enfold yourself in what it really means that God loves you with an eternal love. A sacrificial love that has battled death and emerged stronger than death. He invites you to know and love Him in this place, to love others as He has loved you. Seeking soul to soul spiritual affection, you are invited into the fullest of relational soul to relational soul life even in the emptiest of places.

2. What can we do to support our friends and family when the face deep pain and loss?
I hope you will not put the burden on them to make you feel better because you want to “help” them. One of the most common comments is ” I don’t want to make you cry…” Like it is you that will make them cry. Realize your words can be subtlety demanding. If I sense you are not afraid to be with me where I am in my pain, I will feel some sense of hope. This will cost you something. You may need to think hard about what that is. Think in terms of being “with” rather than of “helping.”

Book and Author Information

For questions or more information about Kim, please click the following links. And if you read Schema of a Soul, please consider posting a review on Amazon.com.

Purchase Schema of a Soul: (Click Here)

Invite Kimberlye Berg to speak to your church or event: (Click Here)

Follow Schema of a Soul on Facebook: (Click Here)

 

This is a beautiful video tribute to Michael and Courtney made by Kim’s daughter, Megan Berg.

 

19 January 2013 from Megan Berg on Vimeo.

Why I Wear Sunglasses In Wal-Mart, And Perhaps You Should Too

Indications of Sensory Sensitivity

It just happened. We were looking at pictures of the Nebraska State Fair in anticipation of visiting soon when Grant screeched with glee, right in my ear. I don’t know how to describe how disturbing it is for me when loud, sharp noises upset my internal equilibrium. I went from being at complete peace to feeling inner turmoil in an instant. An INSTANT.

This, my friends, is not a an emotional problem. It is not a relational problem. I am not screwed up and neither is my son. It is not a spiritual problem, though I believe everything is spiritual in one way or another. No, this mood-altering screech was a direct hit to my nervous system. It is physical. I am extremely sensitive to sound.

I don’t think I really noticed it before I had kids. Perhaps something happened in childbirth that impacted my nerves in ways that left me more sensitive to sensory stimulation than I was before. (Check out my series on Childbirth and Postpartum Depression by clicking here) I’ve done a lot of personal research on the matter and I absolutely believe that sensory sensitivity is a thing. A real thing. The sounds of chaotic play, startling “bangs” and screeching children can throw me into instantaneous sobs. INSTANTLY.

shadesMaybe I’m Not Crazy

I avoid our local Wal-Mart* as much as I can unless I feel lazy or desperate. I’ve heard of many reasons why different people avoid it but I have one: It makes me crazy.

I am well aquainted with my tendency to become irritable as I shop there but the other day I courageously stepped into the door with both kids and a short mission. I wondered how long I had before I would start to feel overwhelmed. It took all of five minutes. Aware of how bright lights also bother me, I took note of the fact I was squinting as I pushed the cart down the asile of dishes I ducked into a moment before. So I put on my sunglasses.

Instant relief. INSTANT.

The muscles around my eyes relaxed and nothing felt as urgent. I wore the glasses for a few minutes before I felt really awkward and tucked them back in my purse while I rushed through collecting our remaining necessities. As we checked out I looked around and saw narry a smile. I wondered how many of the employees who work there day after day are also sensitive to the harsh light bouncing off of the blue walls, white fixtures and shiny floors? How many people leave this store believing they hate it, not really knowing why?

How Do I Know & What Do I Do?

Friends, many of us are sensitive to sensory stimulation and just think we’re irritable people. Many of your children are and don’t know how to tell you. So let ME tell you.

If you prefer to work with the lights dimmed…

If you think more clearly when music with a strong beat is playing…

If you cut out the tags in your clothes or find comfort in twirling your hair…

You may be sensitive.

If your infant relaxes when listening to loud heart-beat sounds (as described in this article: click here)…

If your daughter likes to wear tight clothing that presses securely on her skin…

If your son refuses to eat foods with strange textures…

Your child may be sensitive.

There is much more to say on this matter, including the power of sensitivity. I will likely be writing about it for years to come. But for now, know this. If you or your child is sensitive to sight, sound, taste, touch or smell, do three things:

  1. Be Aware. Watch for it. Take note of moments when you feel or your child feels irritable or overwhelmed and consider how your environment may be making you uncomfortable. Plan ahead for next time.
  2. Increase Your Buffer. Intentionally stay in your super-comfort zone at times so that other times you can take courageous steps into an overstimulating environment.
  3. Rest. And above all, get sleep! Sleep makes a world of difference.

Are you sensitive? Do you think of yourself as an irritable person at times, perhaps especially after having kids? What steps do you want to take to help yourself or your child?

Maybe we could all just wear sunglasses in Walmart so no one feels awkward!

*I do not intend to ever bash anyone or anything and that is not the purpose of this article. If you know someone who has a voice with Wal-Mart, please forward them this post so they are aware of this issue that negatively effects their company, completely unrelated to their business practices. Thank you.

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The 1 Thing I Hope My Son Remembers From Our Fairy Tale

I wonder if this day marks the beginning of the end of a fairy tale. You may know the one I’m thinking of – the one where the young knight is inflicted with a paralyzing wound that can only be healed by a kiss.

A mother’s kiss.

It’s a fairy tale, but somehow the power of this special magic has instantly stopped end-of-the-world screams for help. It’s completely blocked floodgates of tears on the spot. It’s turned a paralyzed boy on his heals and turned him into a knight ready to fight again.

Today I walked my little guy into kindergarten. My bright, confident, enthusiastic, sensitive boy.FullSizeRender The paperwork I handed his teacher answered the question “What are your concerns?”

I said that I’m concerned he will get upset and think he needs me to be there to comfort him. Sometimes he runs away and hides under our bed when he’s upset. Sometimes he refuses to talk when his feelings are hurt. And mom is the only person he will engage.

But as I sit here this morning, searching for the truth inside my heart, I am realizing I’m not really concerned about all that. Honestly, I’m more concerned that when he gets hurt he will realize he doesn’t need me to be OK. I’m sad that my special magic is sure to lose it’s power as he grows up and into an independent young man.

I don’t know how many times I’ve kissed his boo boos. Probably two a day for 6 years. Let’s see…that would be over 4,000 magical kisses. That’s a lot of power for one person to wield.

It’s a lot of power to hand back.

I’m guessing my kissing-booboo-days are numbered. I will take his cue to know when it’s time to settle for a hug, to stay in my seat when he falls on the field, to bless him when he finds someone else to adore.

He may forget my kisses, but I pray that his heart will always remember the power of a loving, tender connection in life’s most difficult moments. And I pray he will use that knowledge to fight for the hearts of others with all of his bright, confident, enthusiastic, senstive self.

 

For more about this topic click here: (What The “Movie Move” Means To a 5 Year Old)

When I Feel Tossed By The Morning Winds

5 proactive ideas to start the day

What goes through your mind when you wake up in the morning? Do you jump out of bed, ready to hit the day or do you roll over and hit the snooze button instead? Perhaps you are like me and set the alarm for as late as possible.

My kids have been my alarm for a very long time. I know, I know. It’s in the top 10 list of the worst things I can do as a mom. But seriously, if I wanted to get up before them I would be up at 5:00 a.m. When my son was a toddler, it would have been 3:30. No, thank you! Surely, you can understand why this night owl mom doesn’t set an alarm. I steal every last minute of morning-shut-eye I can get.

Survival Became Normal

Photo by Laura Bernero https://laurabernero.wordpress.com

Photo by Laura Bernero
https://laurabernero.wordpress.com

For over six years, I haven’t had to set an alarm. Unfortunately, that means my peaceful sleep is often interrupted by tears, barking or fighting. I throw the pillow over my head until the interruption moves into my bedroom, and then finally get up. I am thrust into chaos then struggle to survive until hitting the pillow again at night. It’s awfully difficult to feel purposeful in life when it’s all you can do to survive your physical, emotional and spiritual fatigue. And for a long time I couldn’t do much about it.

But somewhere along the way my morning routine became less of a necessity and more…normal. I just assumed that I would be tired and unmotivated all day. My problem turned into an attitude choice. The kids woke up a little later and were a little less needy, yet I still felt like someone was trying to torture me when they woke me up. And I acted like it.

Wake Up For Your Life

I recently listened to a podcast (here), recommended by one of my readers. Kat Lee of Inspired To Action gave some great advice about how to wake up in the morning:

Wake up for your life, not to your life.

I don’t think this suggestion means that I must wake up before my kids wake up. (I’m not a huge fan of blanket statements about the way we ought to do things.) However, there is a deep jewel of wisdom here. I can wake up ready to meet my life with all I am rather than being smacked by it and play catch-up all day.

And that’s just it. Life has a way of catching me on my heels when I wake up unprepared to meet my day. Through the sleep-deprived years I settled into a pattern of action and thought that generally kept me in a reactive mode, tossed around like a flag in the wind. I know there is a better way. My whole family feels more stable and at peace when I stay in a proactive mode, keeping the forward motion of a bird in flight. Of course, I am not able to control the winds of every argument, injury or fancy of those around me. But I can meet all of life by leaning into the headwinds and navigating them with all the wisdom, strength and humility I’ve been given.

5 Proactive Ideas To Start The Day

I’m a work in progress. Here are a few things that I do to when I focus on wake up for my life. Perhaps something here would help you, too.

  1. Prepare. To Do ListTake a few minutes each night to think through the next day’s schedule and goals. It took me twenty minutes to prepare this list for my kids last night, but it bought me hours of cooperation and accomplishment this morning.They loved their lists today and asked for another tomorrow. I rarely have a big list for the kids, but any kind of plan helps!
  2. Purge. Cut, minimize and simplify your schedule, possessions and expectations. Find and then keep finding the right balance for you and your household between being over and under whelmed. I have a long ways to go, but every little decision helps. My friend Trisha Martinez wrote a great post about this topic (here).
  3. Pray. In the groggy minutes after opening your eyes you may find aPrayer scripted prayer
    or verse to be really helpful for realigning your heart and mind with the heart of God. Spiritual Director, Kili Wenburg (here), introduced me to “Six Gestures of the Morning Praise” from Joyce Rupp’s book Out Of The Ordinary. It is lovely.
  4. Pump. Get your blood pumping in the morning with physical activity before it pumps with anxiety or anger. Your brain and nervous system will be more prepared for the stressors that come your way.
  5. Play. Find one light-hearted way to get everyone laughing in the morning. (Hint: making fool of yourself with slapstick humor works for kids every time.)

 

What routines or tips do you use to wake up for your day? I would love to have more ideas
from which to draw when I start to feel blown by the wind. Share here or on Facebook.

 

 

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