Thursday, August 7, 2014

Compassion and My Inner Child

Five months into therapy with Royal, I was watching a video on therapeutic parenting.  At one point, with a chuckle in his voice, the therapist said, "You know, behind every good therapist is a good therapist." It struck me.  I mulled over that line for the next couple weeks.

While I am NOT a therapist per se, I do have a child who requires therapeutic parenting.  When he first joined our family I was very optimistic about him getting past his difficult behaviors.  "It will just take a little time for him to settle in.  Then we'll be normal."  Three years later everything remained the same.  He was frustrated, I was frustrated.  It became no longer his problem and much more our problem.  I may have mentioned this before but second hand trauma is a real thing (like, scientifically proven with brain scans), and I have it.

So... I found my very own therapist.  I'd gotten to a place where anger and irritation seemed to be the only emotions I felt anymore.  How could I help Royal get out of his anger/irritation rut while I sat in it with him?

While I don't lounge on a couch during my "sessions," everything else is as cliche as you can imagine.  Besides the fact that I'm a 40 year old housewife, my therapist always begins by saying hi and then stares at me until I begin.  For an introvert who can't handle small talk, this is awkward yet a most rewarding way to have a conversation.  No BS, just straight to the heart of the matter.

This week our conversation wove around until we got on the topic of compassion
"Tell me what compassion looked like in your family growing up?" she said. 
"Um, ha ha, that's funny."
 I went on, "Well my mom is sort of known for her lack of tolerance towards pain and illness.  She would say, 'Stop coughing, I can't hear the TV!' or, 'I'll pick you up from school if you throw up. You're fine."
"How did this make you feel?"
"It didn't make me feel anything.  That was just the way she was."

There was more than that but you get the gist. 
Then she asked, "How do you react to your kids when they get hurt?"
"I used to just ignore them and tell them they were fine.  Now I comfort them but it is not a natural reaction.  After a 20 second delay I remember what I'm suppose to do and go to them."
Later I said, "Isn't it ironic that I know have a child who needs compassion ALL THE TIME? It's exhausting."
And like it was the most obvious thing in the world she said, "Of course this would exhaust you.  It doesn't come naturally to you!"

I'm not going to transcribe the entire hour's worth, especially the part about grieving for my inner child (I told you it's cliche), but that's just one example of how amazing this woman is.  I mean, how could I not have figured this out for myself?  How could she - a woman who doesn't even know me, filter through my rambling and pinpoint the exact things that I can work on?  Because she's a professional perhaps.

Among other things, I'm now working on being more compassionate and I think Kyle is really excited about this :)  Royal will benefit, Kyle will benefit, we will all benefit.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crossfit - One Year

     I've been doing Crossfit for a whole year! And, guess what? I still like it. When I started I had high hopes that by this time I'd have abs of steel, be kipping 25 pull ups, and dead lifting 150 lbs (read my cocky attitude post here). While those things didn't happen, other things did.

     First of all, I gained 3 pounds.  While this may not seem significant to most people, it is for me.  I've weighed 118 lbs. for 20 years.  The only weight flux was when I had babies.  So, you tell me - is it because I turned 40, or because I've built muscle? I don't know. 
     Secondly (is that a word), I've discovered that being in incredible shape does not equal skinny.  I've known this but assumed that anyone who worked out five days a week would be lean- like really lean.  At Crossfit, I've seen the hardest working out men and women not loose weight.  You may think, what's the point then?  The point is, their bodies change.  They look amazing, strong, healthy, and take pride in the fact that they can lift a lot of weight.  I LOVE this part of Crossfit- no mirrors, no talk of looks. It's all about being strong.
     Third of all, my back feels great!  I spent five years of my life at the chiropractor weekly.  Since Crossfit, I've seen him twice (knock on wood).

My own super model

We love making fun of Seattlites stretching in public.  It's a common sight. When in Rome...
     My greatest takeaway from Crossfit is this- know your limits.  When I started I really wanted to see improvement. Then my knee hurt, next my elbow hurt.  About four months ago I realized that I'll never be able to continue this for years unless I work hard without overdoing it.  I now go twice a week instead of three times, and I don't track my weights (don't tell my gym).

     Know your limits seems to translate well into other area's of my life too.  More on that later.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sun = Fun

This summer has given us the best weather ever! At least in my opinion.  My significant other calls the "heat" "oppressive." But I'm from Maryland where they have truely oppressive heat, so to me 88, sunny, and no humidity is heaven on earth.

For the first time ever (I've been in Seattle for 20 years now), I've gone swimming- outside- because I'm HOT- several days in a row- for two weeks, maybe three! I cannot emphasize how incredibly, ridiculously amazing this is.

I feel SO happy! 

That's ME- being fun mom.  I've jumped everyday, twice.

That Wyatt.  He's a bit more acrobatic about his jumps.  He'll even flip off that thing.
Boys playing in water. I know in other parts of the world this is a common sight. In Seattle, this is new territory.
I woke up this morning to brisk gray air and checked the forecast for the next several days. Clouds. Boo... It was good while it lasted.  Please come back Sunshine, my friend! I beg you. 

Therapeutic parenting update

I'm hoping to incorporate 15-20 minutes a day of deep breathing and "yoga" posses (not to alarm anyone, we aren't meditating or worshiping false gods, only stretching).  I've read a few articles this week about regulating brain patterns and how this can help calm kids down when they get out of whack.  

This is what happened after we breathed and stretched the first time. No kidding.

The second day of breathing/stretching didn't go as well.  Royal was P.O.ed after day one. He couldn't believe how I'd "tricked him into taking a nap." He's "not a baby!" I bribed him with wii time on day two and he complied (reluctantly). I could see immediately that his body was calmer post stretching.