My calm place, as the world swirls around us in it’s own conversation, is my meditation practice. Each day I look to the calm inside beyond the appearance “out there.” The place where I connect to the Divine presence. Divine presence appears as Jesus at times, as Quan Yin, as Divine grace and sometimes no visual just the feeling of a warm cozy blanket around me.
Today after listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s post on the Insight Timer™ app (Elizabeth Gilbert Compassion), I found myself writing the letter she suggests from the divine loving presence to me. The letter poured out for pages as I let go of held-in tension I am not sure I even realized was there.
We go about our chosen spiritual path, and often forget our human part. We try to put on the happy face; the “I’m doing OK” face or the “I’ve got it together” face. We bury the real human feeling of being afraid, overwhelmed, and frustrated about things like no eggs or almond milk at the grocery store. But we are human and divine.
Our human BEING is vulnerable to the “Out there” scare, fear and the “fake news” and the real news. I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s message. We all, in our humanness, want the comfort of a warm loving ideal mother to put her arms around us and kiss the Boo-boo away. We may never have had that from our real mother or maybe we did. But, hey, we are toughened adults and whining to get comfort is frowned upon. We are all supposed to put on the brave face, especially if you have children at home.
As I wrote, more poured out. I got an image of a time when I learned to let go and trust. I was in the swimming pool at the YWCA from early childhood. You see, my Mom was afraid of the water and never learned to swim. She wanted me and my brother to never to be afraid of the water. She brought us to the Y for swim lessons at the earliest possible age. I loved it and went on to teach swimming as a teen. The float skill learning curve came to mind. Floating takes trust, letting go and finally faith.
In order to teach us to float, the instructor would be in the pool with me, hold my shoulders and asked me to move my feet up so I was like a log. I would move my feet up, then put them back down, afraid of sinking. She would patiently repeat the process. Then came the time I let it happen, I trusted the float that was there all the time waiting for me. Never looking back. Floating is one of the most calming things I do. Pool or ocean. Now, my son Paul is teaching my granddaughter, Nina age 3, to float.
I grew to love the waves at Tybee Beach, in Savannah, GA where we spent summers as a child. I would float, a wave would come and take me for a ride. I would often cough and sputter if the wave was a bit much for me in that moment. Then I got braver and allowed the float in me to become body surfing. The wave might come and toss me to the sand below even scratching my knees as the surf tumbled me with force. But I knew deep inside I always had my float. Just relax and the surface will come back.
Whether you float is a choice. Here is my float meditation:
F – Free yourself of FEAR
L – Lean into faith as you know it, the Loving arms of your Divine presence.
O – Offer thanksgiving/gratitude. Observe life from the hawk’s eye view.
A – Accept guidance, a nudge, or help. Accept that you can help others
T – Take one step
Floating takes trust, letting go and finally faith. Your float is waiting for you.
Be well out there,
P.S. – Here’s my new e-book. It is fill-in-able for you. Free to you. During this “shelter in place time,” journaling can be a great comfort and new habit to start or continue. Just go to my website: www.lifepathbydesign.net to receive your free e-book.
OR, if you’d like a page back copy with plenty of writing space, the book is available on Amazon.
In Part One, I discussed the fairy tale falsehood that what you do or say and don’t do or say is the ultimate cause of another’s happiness. You take on the unrealistic expectation that your job is to make others “happy.”
You are NOT responsible for another person’s happiness.
This is never truer than with your adult children. ALSO, the reverse…
Your adult children are NOT responsible for your happiness. Nor are they responsible for making you proud or for endorsing your beliefs and values.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
– Kahlil Gibran From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923). This poem is in the public domain.
Read and meditate/pray on Gibran’s words. Journal any feelings, upsets or dashed expectations about your adult children.
How does this work in real life? You and your spouse (if you are single, go it solo) will need time to sort out the boundaries you want to set. Also consider the expectations that might need to be let go.
Boundary suggestions, examples…
Sample boundary: We will financially support our children through _______ level of education. Because we are the financial support, we have a say in what we pay for and what we don’t pay for.
Example: We agreed to pay for bachelor’s level education with these stipulations: an in-state school, dormitory lodging, campus food. We pay car insurance, car payment, cell phone (reasonable) and clothes. All come with a budgeted allowance.
This is an example from my husband and I (PS – We are a second marriage each with two children, so this conversation is critical to harmony and peace between you as a couple.)
Here is the tough love part; You have to keep the boundary in place because requests will come up and you best be prepared with the answer AND potential backlash.
Here are two we faced…My son wanted to move out of the dormitory and live in a rented house that his friends had found to rent. Here is how our boundary was used to respond to his request.
“You may live off-campus if you can live there and eat within the amount we are paying now for dormitory and food plan at the college.” I even asked my son to look up the detailed information. He got back with a monthly amount equivalent to the college dormitory and food plan. This is the amount of the monthly check we sent him. It was up to him to budget and make the money last the month long. Then summer came. He found that to keep the house he and roommates needed to pay rent over the summer. He asked if I would pay the rent and I told him that if he came home for the summer (which I really wanted) there would be no additional expense. If he wanted to help keep the house, he would have to find a job to pay the rent and for food. We would continue to pay for the car and insurance.
Though I would love to have more time with my son, I knew he had to make the decision within my boundaries. He found a really good job, with a mentor boss who taught him to make wonderful pies, (side benefit). He worked for a seafood market and restaurant. We ate at the restaurant after his graduation.
Sample boundary: Here is a second boundary to consider. We take care of all living expenses while our children are working on getting their bachelor’s degree. If after college they wanted to come live with us, they could do so room-and-board free for 90 days. After 90 days they would have to pay rent and do household chores as well as live with our values. This meant no spending the night with lovers in our home; letting us know if they were coming home at night (not a curfew; they are adults) and living with household guidelines, such as doing your own laundry and dishes. (Do Not become the maid for your adult children in your home.)
Example: Ted’s daughter showed up single and pregnant after receiving her bachelor’s degree. She wanted to come live with us and go back to school to become either a physical therapist or an occupational therapist. She wanted Ted, (after all he was retired), to be the baby’s caregiver while she was in school.
We’d paid for her bachelors as agreed, and she paid, (borrowed on student loans), for a masters. However, none of the degrees led to a paying profession. Now, as a single pregnant mom she wanted a profession to provide her child a good life.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
We were faced with a dilemma. We all love our children. In blended families we see how different household expectations, when merged, can be a challenge.
I knew from the past that “tough love” was not always present in the relationship my stepdaughter had with her father. During her times in our home and when we visited her, let’s say messy was the standard.
Add that to the fact that I ran my consulting business out of our den. I could envision a crying newborn in the background while I am talking to a client.
I meditated. Ted pondered. Then, we talked and cried. We knew that having a new baby in the home full-time would not be a good idea. Ted already had a tricky back and I needed to run a business.
This was our boundary compromise. We were living in Florida when the real estate market was down. I was making good money with my business. I agreed to buy a small investment house in St. Augustine where we lived. Ted’s daughter could live there while in college, rent-free.
Ted agreed to pay for childcare but not to be the full-time caretaker of a baby. She would have to find her own student loans for her education.
She did not like this choice and made other arrangements. Ted paid for childcare until she graduated. She did finish her degree but there was a bit of strain in our relationship until our grandson arrived. Ted went to the hospital to be with her for the birth. All is well now.
Adult children need to live with the consequences of their choices.
Your happiness is your stuff, your business. Your adult children need to know that their stuff is their stuff. You need to let them mature and learn how to recover from life’s upsetting events, wrong turns and poor choices. Let them learn to take responsibility for their actions instead of coming to you for a rescue. They learn how to make good decisions next time by making some bad decisions.
Take care of YOU, the one you can make happy. Michael Jackson said it best, “Learning to love yourself it the greatest love of all.” Learn to love yourself first. Get back in touch with your happiness. Live more from the inside out rather than the outside in. Your happiness is an inside job. If you expect something or someone to make you happy, then you will live in a disappointed, unfulfilled state. If you have been living outside-in, it may take a while for you to find your own happy place. It may take unplugging from constant stimulation of being a rescuer—a hero. Learn to be happy with yourself without an expectation that your adult children will do what you want.
Go on your own self -discovery journey as an empty nester. Your job is to discover what makes you happy. Once you know what makes you happy, you can share that with others, including your adult children. More than anything, children need to learn the consequences of their behavior, (Cause and Effect). Children are here to experience life and the lessons that come with life events. Some seem to be here for hard lessons, while others seem to have it easier. Ours is not to ask “Why?”
Love does not mean overprotecting, rescuing or accepting anything they do as your problem. As my Mom used to say, “I love you all the time, but I don’t like what you do at times.”
Setting and keeping boundaries are foundations for healthy relationships, healthy self-esteem and worthiness. Healthy self-esteem allows you to take care of yourself, your values and needs in a healthy relationship. The funny thing is that life constantly presents you with the balancing act between OTHERS’ needs, wants and desires and YOUR own needs, wants and desires.
Let’s dispel the fairy tale falsehood that what you do or say or don’t do or say is the ultimate cause of another’s happiness. You take on the unrealistic expectation that your job is to make others “happy.” You want your children, your spouse and your co-workers to be happy, especially happy with you. Au contraire. “Happy” is such an individual perspective, there is no way you can be responsible for another’s person’s happiness. Let me repeat this:
You are NOT responsible
for another person’s happiness.
Let’s talk about your children, (the ones that are your dependents – boundaries for adult children will be another installment), here in Part One. A child’s happiness is a fleeting thing from the toddler’s temper tantrums to those unpredictable teen moods. As a parent, your job is not your child’s happiness. A child’s happiness meter can be a black hole of emotional ups and downs. Some are meant to play to your vulnerable side. If a child learns that you hold their happiness above and beyond all else, they will learn to play you. They learn that if they protest about your boundary or the restriction you impose because of their inappropriate behavior, you will give in to make them happy. They play you. They learn manipulative behavior that they take into their adult life.
Children are smart and wily. You as the adult – the parent – must grow your own healthy self-esteem and worthiness so that you can survive your child’s temporary disdain. Children “huff and puff” hoping you will give in. When you let the boundary go, you reduce the restriction to make them “happy”, you both lose. The child loses because they go out into the world acting as if boundaries set by others have little or no meaning. They defy their teachers, giving excuses instead of the work they should hand in. They take advantage of their friends, who may have said “No.” Since they never learned a REAL “NO” from you, the parent, they do not hear “NO” from others. They push the window of acceptable behavior.
While they are children, your job is to keep them safe, secure and learning boundaries as they grow. Your job is to teach them acceptable behaviors and that their actions have consequences. When you let go of rescuing and always trying to make them happy, they learn that they ARE NOT the center of the world. They learn to take responsibility for their actions. When a child being “happy” is more important than a child learning to become a mature person as they grow, the child will have a hard time in the adult world. Think about some of your co-workers who overstep boundaries.
Life is about lessons. There is an experience or event that leads to a decision, behavior or action. Decisions, actions or even inaction, have cause-and-effect consequences. A parent’s role is to allow the life lessons to be fully experienced. Now, I am not talking about letting your two-year-old child run in the street to learn about cars. But I am talking about allowing your children to experience the consequences of their behavior. Who but you can teach them that inappropriate behavior has consequences?
Will there be times when you are miserable because they are miserable with a restriction? YES. Will there be times you want to take the easy way out and let them have their way? YES. Will they pout and huff and puff at the restriction? YES. Your job is to set the boundaries and use appropriate consequences. Their job is to understand that if they break the boundary, there is a consequence. I am not talking about unrealistic strictness. Fair boundaries are important for children to learn. This means that if the boundary is no TV, video games, iPad, or friends over until homework is done, then that is the boundary.
When you tie your own happiness to your child’s happiness, you will be miserable. We cannot ever MAKE someone happy. Children need to grow, mature and learn about life. Their learning needs to include getting along in a world where everyone has different needs, wants and desires. They need to learn that their immediate happiness is not the top priority of other people. Your job is to teach them through your actions, how the world really works.
Detach from the thought that your child has to be happy all the time for you to be OK. Most people, including your children will have periods of stress, frustration, disappointment, and unhappiness. If you don’t want them to experience these real-life emotions because you want to protect them, life will be infinitely tough for them as adults.
Does it hurt to sit and watch them make what you consider to be a bad decision? YES. Unless it is illegal or life-threatening, let them make some poor decisions. If you think back, some of your most profound learning came from mistakes or poor decisions.
Allow them to learn about consequences, but only if your goal for your children is to become responsible adults, making it on their own and taking care of their business. The small goofy, poor decisions are necessary for maturation. Will they get hurt? YES. Will they have a broken heart, a lost friendship, a broken toy, a skinned knee? YES. And they will learn. Not letting them experience life’s bumps, leads to a man-child or a woman-child who looks to others and possibly to addictions for fulfillment. They never grow up because they were never allowed to learn from life. Your protections and rescues do not serve them or you.
Boundaries are a cornerstone of good self-care. Look for Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, “Set Boundaries for Healthy Self-Esteem” in upcoming blog posts. If you have not already, sign up for blog post email notifications here: Linda’s Blog Updates Signup. If you need a listening ear and any internal dialogue clean-up to accomplish this, get in touch with me for a Complimentary Discovery call. 800.242.7648.
Linda takes you on her journey from professional dental consultant to Retirement Coach
Failing retirement has been an interesting journey for me. Maybe once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur? Let me catch you up…
A butterfly was once in a cocoon. Snakes periodically shed their skin to keep growing. Life invites us to re-invent and re-imagine. In 2014, Ted and I moved to Ventura, CA to be near family. As I then flew in and out of LAX to see clients, I grew weary of the travel. Hence, I was ready for change.
In 2017, four capable dental consultant associates bought my dental consulting business. Then, I began to explore “What’s Next?” I was not ready to settle into golf and TV. I gave volunteering a go and decided that was like having a boss in different clothing.
During this transformation, I recalled how life coaches helped me pre-divorce, after divorce, and then building healthy relationships with Ted and my adult children. Business coaches helped me build my consulting business and taught me how to sell it. I personally know the life changing value of coaches.
Patrick Harbula, a minister, life coach, and native American shaman first taught me coaching. Patrick became my teacher, coach and mentor as I learned the skills of a Life Coach. In 2018, I became a Certified Life Coach under Patrick’s tutelage.
As I began seeing clients, I knew this was the right new path for me. I delight in my client’s “Aha’s” as they break through limiting beliefs and barriers to success in relationships, in business and in life.
Being devoted to personal growth and a dedicated lifelong learner, I kept studying. One favorite life coach used NLP, Neuro-linguistic Programming* as her core coaching methodology. I still recall her helping me break through some old limiting beliefs and barriers. California is NLP’s birthplace, so it is rife with NLP courses. After exploring, I chose Michael Stevenson’s Transform Destiny course and certification.
Transform Destiny has opened a “Whole New World” (kudos to Disney for the phrase) for me and my clients as I Re-Tool. My first level was NLP Practitioner. Next, came NLP Master Practitioner. These two levels of methodologies now help my clients. My NLP training includes:
√ Master Life Success Coach
√ Master Business and Relationship Coach
√ Master Time Techniques Coach
√ Master NLP Practitioner
*NLP – Neurolinguistic Programming was created in California in the 1970’s. NLP’s basis is modeling excellence and looking at the connection between neurological processes (neuro-), language (linguistic) and behavioral patterns that we learn through experience (programming). Once understood, the programing that is not serving the client can be identified and the patterns can be changed to achieve a more successful and fulfilling life.
Along the path, I discovered that I was not the only Baby Boomer who failed retirement. There are many of us who seem to want to re-invent retirement and not settle for the old model our parents followed. Thus, I added Retirement Coaching to my expertise.
Re-Engaging includes completing one third of a new book. The working title is Paths to Re-Imagined Retirement: A Field Guide for Savvy Retirees
. My research for the book led me to offer an upcoming course
on my methods and processes of Re-Imagining Retirement
. Check out this EventBrite link to find out more: bit.ly/34h8Yzs
.Or view it in the Event page
section of this website.
Life is good. My new business is growing. I want it to remain at a size that allows me to enjoy my grandchildren, enjoy adventures with Ted and time to be of service at my spiritual center.