Everything Worth Having is Worth Fighting For

I am writing a book.

I haven’t been really terribly open about it as it started as a personal project. As such things tend to however, this project had other plans for me than I had for it.

Now nearly done, I have a publisher and am working on rewrites, additions and other minutiae.

It’s about ANXIETY. It’s called The Courage Key.

You will hear more about this in the coming weeks and months as it is slated to be launched into the world in about March of 2019.

That’s not what I am blogging about today, but it makes a lovely start to what I sat down to tell you.

If you have been following me for a while, you know I have son who has struggled for his entire life with anger, impulsiveness, conflict, and all the things that come along with them.

It’s been a rough go on all of us.

We recently got him properly assessed which was an absolute game changer. It helped me to see that for so long all of the adults in his life were working to change him to fit the container of the world. He said many many times that his life sucked, and I would respond with empathy, and offer a flip. I have very little patience for people who play the victim and refuse to see how their life is actually beautiful and magical, filled with abundance.

When I was finally handed his psych profile, what I realized is that for him, his life DOES suck. His whole life the adults around him, with the best of intentions, have been working to mold him to fit the container they thought he ought to fit into. The one that was easier for them to provide, as they knew how to do it. Imagine living a life where you felt like you were fundamentally wrong. That who you are is not acceptable and that your struggles are not real. It broke my heart more than a little bit.

I don’t have a round peg that just refuses to fit into a round hole. I have a triangle peg, and a triangle peg does not fit into a round hole.

 This whole time what we needed was to create a container to fit the kid, and not the other way around.

I knew the WHAT – what he was like, what he struggled with, what problems it caused, what his habits were.

I tried a thousand HOW’S – everything I could think of, but nothing really worked.

 It was the WHY that was the magic key. Knowing WHY he is who he is, how his brain is built changed EVERYTHING. I can now work with mastery and skill on creating a container at home, and work with his team to create a container at school that will fit this child.

See, I knew he was brilliant, and I knew he had so much going for him. It was just that his apparent pessimism and anger always got in the way. He never performed on tests or in school the way I knew he was capable of. Knowing WHY, and applying it made something magical happen this week.

On his first accommodated math test, he came home with a mark of 89%.

 89%!

This was his true potential reflected in his world. I am not going to lie to you, and I didn’t lie to him. I am and always have been a marks nerd. To get an A on anything was #goals for me for my whole academic life. It drove me, and I frequently earned them. However, what is even more meaningful in this mark for me is how it made him FEEL.

He said, after some prodding, that he felt like he had won all the first prizes.

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He is 12, and getting here has been a long, hard road filled with yelling, tears, fights, sadness, depression, struggle, confusion, despair and hopelessness. I have searched for 10 years for answers, resources, professionals and support. Finally, FINALLY some light has broken through.

It was a small, fleeting moment, but it was a HUGE way marker on our path. We are finally finding the light.

How does this relate to anxiety?

 It was only after I read his profile that I realized that all the anger he has displayed for his whole life is because he has been in constant fight or flight mode, and this kid will choose FIGHT every time. This is a great quality,  but a terrible result of a life where he felt like he was wrong at every level.

The tide is beginning to turn, and what’s possible is beginning to happen.

We fought for it. We fought each other, the system, ourselves…for a decade.

 But we didn’t give up.

I don’t give up.

Neither does he.

And we are beginning to see the light.

This moment, this tiny fleeting moment, made a decade of struggle worth it. I have a feeling that more moments like this are coming, now that we are working to create a container to fit my beautiful triangle peg young man.

There is always hope, even when the night seems darkest. Never give up. Never surrender.

 KEEP GOING.

What Parenting Isn’t

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There is a whole culture around parenting. Visit any bookstore and you will find shelves upon shelves of books purporting to tell you what is wrong with your kids, and how to fix it. Everything from what to feed them, to how to get them to sleep, how to snuff out challenging behaviours and why too much screen time is bad. For even more fun, hit Google, and type in any question you have about how to raise kids and you will get avalanches of information on the topic from every one ranging from mommy bloggers to scientists. Most of it will contradict itself, and you will end up more confused than you were when you began.

 I mean, all you’re trying to do is raise your kids in the absolute best way you possibly can, that’s can’t be so hard, right?

 To make matters worse, parenting seems to have fallen into the “white noise” of western culture. For all that we are told the myriad of ways that we are screwing up our kids, and exactly how to put it right, parenting is not considered to be an important job.  All you have to do is tell someone you are a stay at home mom, and the western perception of the value of parenting becomes clear.  The look of pity, the curious eyes, perhaps asking when you plan to “go back to work” ?

 Everyone seems to think that they know best “what parenting is”. Except parents.  Once you become a parent, all your ideas about parenting go out the window. It might make for a shorter list to talk about what parenting isn’t.

 For starters, parenting ISN”T a worthless job, that has no value to society. Quite the contrary in fact. Research has shown that parents as a group are one of the most powerful groups there is when it comes to galvanizing social change. Take any remarkable time in history, 1940’s Germany is a great example, go back 30 or so years and observe the parenting practices at that time in Germany, and you can fairly reliably predict that Nazi Germany would be the outcome.   What you do in your home, the methods you use, and your outlook on your job has an incredibly powerful effect on society.  Imagine if that power was ever tapped? Think about it, we are raising the next generation of workers, politicians, activists, scientists and thinkers. Who we are as parents has a great deal of influence over the world of the future. You are not insignificant. 

 At the same time though, parenting isn’t about YOU. The work of parenting is a verb.  Parenting is all about what you do.  Discipline methods, routines, housework, boundaries, expectations, all of these are the actions of parenting.  These are not about you.  You do these things for your children, motivated by the outcomes you so deeply desire for them.  There is something that we overlook though. Something so powerful. While there is a whole culture regarding the how of parenting, there is little to no attention paid to the WHO.  You. The parent.  If parenting is all about what you do, parenthoodIS about you. Parenthood is a noun. It is the state of being a parent. This is all about YOU. Who you are in this role, the quality of how you inhabit it. Think about it. Everything you do is enhanced and improved when you attend to the quality of your self that you bring to it. As a society we pay very little attention to this, and it has led to the immense amount of grief, dissonance and dissatisfaction parents often feel.  Attending to YOU, and your needs, and desires brings a whole new dimension to the parenting journey. And dare I say a great deal more quality to your work as a parent. 

 Parenting is not easy.  Yes, a great deal of the things that we do as parents are simple things. We make breakfast, we do laundry, we help with homework, we mediate arguments, we marshal them through routines. These are simple tasks, but in practice they are not always easy.  In this way, parenting challenges us to evolve as people. We are called to become a better, stronger, more flexible version of ourselves as we navigate the mundanities of raising our young. Many of us fall victim to feeling constantly as though we are failing in some very fundamental ways. Parenting culture contributes to this by offering a myriad of solutions to what we could not possibly figure out on our own.  I mean really, parenthood is a role as old as time itself. As long as their have been humans, there have been parents. One would think that there would be a great deal of instinct involved.  There probably is, but as a modern society, we are so trained to look outside of ourselves for approval that we have become completely unable to hear the quiet, resonant whispers of our instincts.  And those of us who can hear them often feel that they fly in the face of what society expects of us, thereby reinforcing the notion that we are somehow fundamentally failing both our children and society. 

Parenthood isn’t a lot of things. What it IS is a powerful vehicle for personal and social change. And when we inhabit it powerfully, with consciousness and intention, we unlock our incredible personal potential to change the world.

** Originally published in Windsor Parent Magazine, 2017

Teaching Kids About Consent in a Post #MeToo World

Consent is a hot topic in our culture right now.

With the emergence of the incredibly powerful #MeToo movement, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is critical that we teach our kids what consent is, what it means to have it, what it means to give it, and what it means when you don’t.

Why is it important for our kids to know this?

The social norms around body autonomy, gender equality, patriarchy, and sexual assault are in powerful flux. Teaching our kids fluency in the meaning and practice of consent protects and empowers our sons and daughters to own their bodies, define their personal boundaries, express them to others, and protect themselves when necessary.

A good place to start is to define the language. Consent is defined as giving or having permission for something to happen. This simple and clear definition makes it obvious that consent is a two way street. It’s important that you know how to give it, as well as how to know you have gotten it from someone else.

We also need to know how to withdraw consent clearly and without hesitation.

We need to know how to teach this to our kids, because as I am always saying, we can’t teach what we don’t know. Period.

There are reams of resources online whose primary purpose are to help parents build their own fluency so they can share that with their children in way that they can understand at every age.

According to The Good Men Project, http://goodmenproject.com , we can start teaching consent to kids as young as one year old. Visit their website, where you will find everything you need to start talking to your kids about consent, modelling what it looks like to get it and give it, and start building their fluency in this critical social skill.

One of the key facets of consent according to teachconsent.org is knowing what enthusiastic verbal consent looks like.This website teaches the skills of asking for, listening for, and respecting verbal consent for young people.Through videos and tutorials, they teach what enthusiastic verbal consent looks and sounds like, how to ask for it, how to recognize it, and how to respect the answer whether it’s yes or no. They also cover how to say no, hear no, and respond to no in these delicate and emotional situations. This website is specifically targeted at young people who are beginning to approach and participate in dating relationships.

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An important underpinning of consent is an understanding of body autonomy. What does that mean? At it’s most basic, body autonomy is the notion that your body is your body and no one has the right to do anything to your body that you don’t consent to. From kissing and hugging family members that they don’t feel comfortable with, to uninvited touching from friends, acquaintances, or strangers, all the way to unwanted or forced invasion or assault on their body of a sexual or predatory nature, it’s critical that kids understand this key concept in order for them to be confident with their own giving, refusing, or withdrawing of consent.

Teaching our kids about body autonomy and consent empowers them to move through the post #MeToo world with confidence, knowing that they won’t find themselves in the position of having pushed past no without intending to harm, or worse, having their no disregarded and experiencing the trauma that inevitably follows. Fluency in consent and confidence in their ownership over their own bodies is a fundamental skill for life in the 21st century.

Imagine if you had been given these tools as a young person. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones. Maybe you weren’t. Maybe you have a #MeToo story. If you don’t, you know someone who does. We do not want our children to have those stories, and we certainly don’t want them to be the perpetrator of that story upon others. Teaching consent and bodily autonomy protects them from being either the victims or the perpetrators of such trauma. There isn’t a parent alive that doesn’t want that for their kids.

If you aren’t talking to your kids about consent, start today. Visit the resources listed above and empower yourself. Get to know the topics, get comfortable with the language, and start practising them with your kids. Encourage them to ask questions, create safe spaces for them to talk about uncomfortable or scary situations with you, and explore the web together to find more of the multitudes of resources that are available on this topic.

This is one of the most powerful ways we can prepare our kids to survive and thrive in the 21st century. As time shifts, this is how we turn #MeToo into #NeverAgain.

 

“I don’t have time to write.”

Do you watch TV?

Do you surf social media mindlessly?

Do you spend more than ten minutes a day in worry or stress fuelled inaction?

Do you drink? 

Do you say yes to doing things you don’t really want to do in order please other people?

If you answered yes to any of the above items then you have time to write, you are simply choosing to use it to do other things. 

I love you, and I believe in you and your message. That is why I am being a hard ass with you this week. We all occasionally need a loving kick in the ass to get ours in gear and take our lives to the next level. 

If you are reading this, it’s because you know that it’s possible for life to be different than it is right now. You are looking for ways to do what you WANT to do instead of what you HAVE to do. You are right Life can be amazing. Your every moment can be vibrant and fully alive. Happiness and peace arrive NOW. I am going to break your brain a bit when I say they are available to you RIGHT NOW in the very moment that you are reading this. 

I can hear what you’re thinking, “yeah right, nice sunshine and rainbows fantasy Steph, I happen to live in the real world.” That’s the thing. Fully alive and vibrant doesn’t always mean sunshine and rainbows. It doesn’t always mean happy. It doesn’t mean perfect. It does mean intentional. It does mean fully present. It does mean fully engaged. All in for all of it. 

Full. Alive. Present. 

Choosing what you do. Designing your life. Writing because you want to instead of vegging in front of Netflix because you always do. Journalling it out with pen and paper instead of numbing it out with wine in a glass. 

You can keep telling yourself you don’t have time to write, or you can get started. You can keep delaying or you can start creating. It’s a choice, and it’s a choice that you are making. 

You might be making it because it’s the choice you have always made, and that’s ok. That choice brought you here. Now you can choose something new, or you can choose more of the same. The point is IT’S UP TO YOU. 

If you are ready to get writing, come join the Write Now Facebook Community where I share tips, stories and encouragement to help you get down to the work of writing. 

Much love Writers, 

Xo, 

Steph

Social Media Makes Every One Of Us A Broadcaster

Gone are the days when you had to search for someone to give you access to a platform. 

All you need are a smart phone and a social media account. Pick your platform – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIN, Twitter, you name it. Pick more than one, heck, pick them all. Here is your platform. 

What is your message? 

Is there something burning inside of you that you are dying to get out? Here is your soapbox. Use it wisely. Use it frequently. 

The reason you are not broadcasting is now not because you lack the means, and certainly not because you lack the message. It’s now more because you lack the – ahem – “motivation”. 

Let’s just take apart why “motivation” is bullshit, shall we? 

To begin with, look at the definition; 

“The reason, or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. “

“The general desire or willingness of someone to do something”

Motivation is a feeling or a thought. 

If your pattern to this point has been of inaction then you are most assuredly not going to “feel like” suddenly doing that thing that you have spent so long NOT doing. Chances are you also have a zillion thoughts about why you are not doing said thing. The endeavour of dissecting those thoughts and refuting them one at a time would take a great deal of time, and I am pretty sure you don’t “feel like” doing that either. 

The fact of the matter is that you are not going to “feel like” doing it until after you have started developing the habit of doing it and reaping the rewards. 

So, motivation comes after action. If you are waiting for motivation to take action, you will be waiting forever. 

Mel Robbins, one of my fave speakers, is the mastermind behind the 5 Second Rule. The fundamentals of this rule are that YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO FEEL LIKE IT. The trick is to do it anyway. 

Check out her TED talk.

I have used this principle to get my blog going, to write regularly, to start a podcast, to reach out to new people, to get active in my community, to overcome the fear of going somewhere new by myself, to make important phone calls I didn’t want to make….. the list goes on. 

You can be an influencer. You can be a gamechanger. You have everything at your disposal to become one. The one thing you lack is the moxie to suck it up and take action on your desires. 

 To get you off your ass and into action, I challenge you to come join the Write Now Facebook Community and participate in the 7 Day Write Now Challenge that starts July 2, 2018. Get visible, get accountable and start making the ripples you are called to make. 

CLICK HERE AND REQUEST TO JOIN.

The time has never been more NOW. 

Published is Better Than Perfect

Perfection paralysis is a thing. 

So many people that I talk to are waiting until they have enough time, energy, or inspiration before they start their passion project. I have heard this about books people want to write, hobbies people want to cultivate, fitness routines, meditation practice, eating better….. you name it. The list goes on. 

The real truth is IT”S A DELAY TACTIC. 

You mightn’t be conscious that you are delaying taking action but the effect is the same. 

Waiting for “perfection” of any sort before you act fundamentally delays your experience of whatever it is you are not taking action on. 

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Let’s say that you want to take up hobby painting. You have the easels, the canvasses, the paints, the paint brushes all gathered and day after day you gaze longingly at them but don’t pick them up. Your story is that your kids are too small, you don’t have time between dishes and work and kids. You promise yourself everyday that you will pick them up when you have time, but that time never seems to arrive. 

Instead of using your energy to create or allocate the time, to find a way to make it happen, you are using your energy to long after your dream. This delays the painting. You are longing instead. 

You WANT to paint, you have all the materials you NEED to paint, but you are not taking the action to do the actual painting. You are waiting for the perfect time. 

The perfect time will never arrive on it’s own, by default. 

It must be created by design. 

This is how it works. This is the only way it works. 

Instead of waiting, take ten minutes today and set up a canvas. Arrange your paints. Prepare your brushes. Then take ten minutes tomorrow and make a quick sketch of what you want to paint.  Then take ten minutes the next day and get started. 

Do you have ten minutes? Everyone has ten minutes. If you are taking ten minutes to read this blog then you have ten minutes. You could be painting. 

Perfection, magically having hours appear one day when you can immerse yourself in your craft may never organically arise. I can almost guarantee that it won’t. Consistent daily action creates the conditions for creativity to arise. 

If you take ten minutes a day, for five days this week, you have found an hour this week to nurture your passion project. That’s an hour more than you found last week. 

I have read that some of the greatest novels were written this way. 

I know that’s how this blog started. 

Ten minutes. 

What are you waiting for? 

Go. 

Write for Impact

In order to really make a difference with your writing, you have to use the right kinds of words.

I know you want to make a difference.

Here are three tips to make that happen.

1.) Avoid Safewords

Safewords are, well, “safe”. They protect you from pissing people off with your writing.

Let me tell you a secret – you WANT to piss people off with your writing. Your goal is impact, and pissing someone off is powerful.

To achieve this, avoid safe words. Commit to your message. Stay away from words like these;

– maybe

– sometimes

– sort of

– kind of

– perhaps

– somehow

– could

– should

These words soften your message and make you seem wimpy and unsure.

2.) Use Strong Words

Strong words are commitment to your message. After all, if you believe in your message, others will too.

There are lots of Strong Words. I will list some to give you an idea of what you’re aiming for, and I know you’ll be able to figure out the rest yourself.

– definitely

– certainly

– can

– want

– action

– commitment

– am

– will

– desire

You get the picture. Active language. When you sound sure, you build the “know – like – trust” of your audience, and build the strength of your platform.

I know you want that!

3.) Tell Stories!

Humans are wired for story. There is no way around this. Storytelling draws in your reader, gives them a window into your life, and makes them feel like they know you. This intimacy builds trust, and trust is incredibly important when you are working to position yourself as an expert.

Think about the people you see on social. Do you trust the ones who post lots of showy, sales-y stuff? Or do you prefer the ones who share their lives and their stories?

Ya, me too.

Go forth with these tips and Write Now my friends, and share with us when you’re done.

We can’t wait to see what you create.

Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust 

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I bought a house this week. If you follow me on instagram, you already know this because, well, I couldn’t shut up about it. The papers are signed and the craziness has settled down, which is allowing me a chance to reflect on the whirlwind that was the last ten days 

The opportunity to buy this house came disguised as our landlords giving us notice that they would be selling and we had until July 20 to make alternate housing arrangements. This was shocking to be sure, as it was quite sudden. 

Past Steph would have freaked out, spent two days crying and then muddled her way through the process of packing and moving fuelled by self righteous rage that this was happening to her AGAIN. It would have been a real victim shit show, and it would have caused tons of damage.

This was not what happened, as you know because you have read the previous two posts on the topic. I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, and asked myself (and the universe)”How is this an amazing opportunity for us?”. 

I didn’t immediately have an answer to that questions, and I was ok with that. In the last few years I have learned that it’s not up to me to have all the answers. It IS up to me to ask the best questions I can, and then be patient and wait for the answer to present itself. 

The last ten days have been a whirlwind that we navigated by taking one step forward at a time, and waiting for the next step to appear. There was no clear path through. It was a one step at a time situation. 

Through the whole process I found the words “Faith and trust” going through my head on loop. 

Because I am a mom, and I have a daughter, those words were followed by “…and Pixie Dust”. I would chuckle when it would chime in and let it pass, but the more times it would show up, the more I realized that it was reminding me of the magic that was taking place right in front of me. 

One step forward, with caution and curiosity, not doubt and fear. Another step forward, and another. Each step appearing after the previous step had been taken successfully, one at a time until we were through. 

What if I had gone in to doubt? What if I had let my fear get the  better of me? What if I had taken a completely different first step because I started with anger instead of curiosity? 

What if? 

Faith that things will work out perfectly, and trust that my high quality question was attracting the best possible answers created magic. That magic drew my family and I, as well as our landlords through this whirlwind to the best possible outcome for all of us. 

Some will say that grown up’s ought not believe in magic. 

To them I say, expect miracles. 

I believe in magic.

How to Survive Buying a House.

Buying a house involves a lot of running around, paperwork, meetings, texts, calls, questions,legalities and other bullshit. Doing it for the first time is something like going on a trip with a destination but no map, where you have to rely upon people you meet along the way to direct you towards where you want to go.

It’s stressful, but stress isn’t necessarily bad. It’s how we grow, as I have said.

However, doing all these things with your spouse can be recipe for arguments, conflict and other unnecessary drama. These are avoidable.

Here’s some little tips I have gathered along the way so far how to not go completely bonkers.

1.) Breathe

2.) Laugh when things get ridiculous

3.) Ask questions

4.) Take time off work

5.) Nausea = growth

6.) Stay hydrated

7.) Don’t panic

8.) Laugh when you realize you’re panicking

9.) Stress can feel like anger. Do cardio instead of yelling at your kids. Everyone will thank you.

10.) Text your girlfriends, like, A LOT.

11.) Remember to eat.

12.) Turn your phone on vibrate so you don’t throw it against the wall.

13.) Celebrate each little step.

14.) See the opportunities, rather than looking for the problems. There are tons of opportunities.

15.) Ask for help

16.) Write stuff down – the biggest lie you tell yourself is “I don’t have to write that down, I’ll remember.” You won’t. WRITE IT DOWN.

17.) Scotiabank is right – you’re richer than you think.

18.) Tea. Lots of tea.

19.) Sleep

20.) Laugh some more.

What My Landlord Taught Me About Letting Go.

Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am a recovering control freak. 

My head brain likes to know all the variables so it can predict the outcome of any and every situation. When it encounters a surprise situation, like say, our landlords wanting to sell our home, it kicks into overdrive. It starts with all the worst case scenarios, like how we are going to end up living in a card board box on the street because rent in our city is currently insanely high. It follows this up with every possible negative thought about how I have been irresponsible and could have been more prepared for this.  This continues until, at some point, it starts working on solutions. 

This last step could take days or weeks to arrive at. 

And we only have five days. 

My wonderful brain is doing it’s best to do its job as it sees it, trying to keep me alive and safe.  Trouble is, safe is boring. Safe is stagnant. Safe isn’t growth.  

Growth is inherently dangerous, because it is partly destructive. A seed can’t become a tree without destroying all of its former self, right? It kicks off its casing, and digests it’s own insides to manifest its potential.  Caterpillars are the same.  They literally liquify in order to become butterflies. 

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Well, someone is selling my cocoon. 

In all fairness, we had intentions of making the move to buy our place within the next year. Somehow, the universe has offered us the opportunity NOW, and the opportunity is time sensitive. As in, you have five days to get your shit together. 

Yikes. 

Remember all those survival behaviours I was talking about earlier? Ya, we have no time for those now. What I need in order to create the best possible outcome for all concerned is a clear head, a calm body and a definiteness of purpose. 

I also need to surrender. Let go. Trust the process. 

This is scary AF, and also amazingly empowering. 

See, surrender is a practice. It’s a muscle, and like any other muscle it can be trained and strengthened. This goes for all habits, by the way. They are just muscles, and they get stronger the more often you use them. 

I intentionally practice using these muscles everyday in my morning routine. I meditate, which is a practice in letting go, over and over again. I have probably meditated for over 10,000 minutes over the years, likely more, and those 10,000 minutes have been spent letting go. Over and over. Noticing where I am holding on, and letting go. I practice it with my kids, letting go of controlling them and opting instead to control myself. Surrendering to what I can’t control and attending instead to what I can. Letting go of the nasty woman at the store, letting go of the annoying neighbour, letting go of my angst over politics, letting go of that client who is being difficult. Just letting go. Over and over again, each time the muscle getting that much stronger. 

And now it’s go time. 

I know I have made improvements because I am not freaking out. I am curious about the feelings I am experiencing and I am harnessing the calm I have cultivated to have through this with self control and optimism. I can’t control the outcome, but I can control who I am through the process. I can control what I believe, and what I think, and how I respond. I can control my alignment with the best outcome. 

And I can trust. 

I will let you know how it goes. xoxo Steph