Read This When Your Teenager (the tadpole) Grows Legs

What do college students and parents have in common with tadpoles and fish? In a nutshell,  when we send our kids off to college, they leave our ‘pond’ and go out on their own.

Do they find another pond?  Do they return to OUR pond? What happens if they really weren’t ‘fish’ at all  but really TADPOLES when they left.

Upon return they might have legs!  GASP!!  Now what?

Details about the scenario are tackled within “Illusion:Redefined” by Dr. Nehoc. If you check it out, please do share your comments in this forum, as Dr. Nehoc checks it frequently.

Moving along . . . so the kids arrive home and there are new conversations beginning. Discussions about course work, finances, plans, social life, milestones, short and long term goals.

New and changing family dynamics as parents embark upon difficult discussions (click here for tips on helping college students cope with divorce ) or remarry; or perhaps a student braves a discussion with parents about self-discovery (click here for resources focusing on gender discovery discussions). Maybe there is a family vacation that your returning student actually prefers to NOT join, for the very first time in his/her life.

Sometimes it’s easy to begin new conversations. When it isn’t, there are resources you can tap into. (Below and throughout this post)

As children grow, they yearn for their own identity – one that is separate from that of their parents.  They need to discover their own motivation, earn their own respect and figure out their destiny.  They need to find their own rhythm.

Students often believe their value is measured by exam grades. Employees feel their value is measured by the annual review.  Until an internal locus of control is recognized, it can’t be tapped into, and our children search for who they are by reaching out rather than reaching in.

If your child is a dreamer, she/he needs tools to self-reflect.  If your child has no creative imagination, she/he may need tools to learn how to meditate.  Your job is to facilitate your child’s independence and decision making.

When kids come home from college, they have a lot to share. But what really happens when families re-unite? Are hugs and “I missed you” enhanced by insight? Or do you experience struggles or fights? Sometimes the newness is met with respect; embraced with full hearts, and it’s clear. Opinions are honored; renewal through sharing reminds us that we can lean on unconditional love and depend on mutual support.

Lucky are those who have patience and a desire to listen. They share, with a feeling of safety and security. Blessed are those who can learn, change and grow. Validation is such a gift. Wisdom helps parents and children recognize the importance of trust.

Are you open minded or are you trying to force your children into a mold you picked for them? Do you say, “It’s the way that we do it” to justify why your children ‘should’ let go of something new they brought home?  Perhaps a new culture or extended vocabulary?  Unless it is destructive, why are you to tell them to let it go?

What of the student who makes a decision to follow a path ‘strange’ or ‘new’? Are you a parent who can’t accept you child’s rejection of parts of the upbringing that you value? Your disappointment may be well founded; that is, if your child is self-destructive or otherwise destructive to another person, click here for resources.

When neither side feels heard, communication halts.  Sadness, resentment and feeling unheard distract from the deep love you know you share. When “points must be made” and “agendas are set” you risk missing out on how much you all care for one another. How can you change this pattern?  Click here to learn about family communication.

If your child is simply growing in a new direction, see if you can honor the journey, for each path is sacred; sometimes we just have to let go. Our children are under our care for life’s tools, and then life is their own; to stay stagnant or grow. Click here for support.

The reality is that not all children want (or are ABLE) to live the life their parents raised them to live. As Nehoc’s book discusses, the tadpole that hatches among many fish swims as if they’re all the same. But time forces legs . . . the bank claims the frog. The Universe balances life’s ponds with this game. All in The Meadow have their dance and place. With humans, the same: wisdom meets change with grace. (Click here for Nehoc’s book)

If you’re a parent who just can’t accept this chapter in life, turn the page . . . Try to think back to what you thought then, when you were at your child’s age. You had your obstacles; you made it through. Your school, more than likely: hard knocks.  Ask yourself honestly, “What is my goal? To facilitate the fulfillment of my child’s potential or to feed my own ego?”  If you don’t nourish the spirit within your child, you risk blocking the flow of positive energy

Successful are those who choose to remain available to lend an ear. Not with, “I told you so”  not   “this is how. . .”    but supportive and just with, “I’m here.”  Today set new boundaries, create a safe space, and try to accept something new.  You offered your best; each day, a new test . . . “Be there” to help if you’re asked to.

You offered the tools and set out the rules. And now your child will embark upon an adventure. She/he will fulfill potential- experience life . . . perhaps as a night owl, or a morning lark. It is not necessarily YOUR rhythm – but it is valid. Life is multi-dimensional, with mysteries, that threaten balance. Count blessings, have faith and honor prayer – as these are all tools to help you cope.

For additional support and guidance regarding healthy communication with your college student or grown child, click various links below:

The Mind/Body/Spirit Approach to Healing and Maintaining Balance

Have you ever heard of “tapping” as an approach used to free oneself from negative emotions and destructive self-talk that are also associated with fear, shame and guilt?

Tapping is based on principles of an integrated system, complex yet so easy to access – and the answer to your personal freedom from distractions to your joy are literally and figuratively at your fingertips.

Check out this link and then do some additional investigative research on your own if this appeals to you:

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: We Say “I’m Here” But The Open Laptop Says, “I’m Busy”

When the family unit struggles to reestablish and maintain emotional or financial balance, our own mind, body and spirit feel the burden.  Putting our children through school, or helping with their education, filing for student loans and financial aid (you know the drill) is no easy task. But once done, and the kids are off to college hours from home, there is a shift in our family experience. Whether it is one child, three out of the house, four still at home or you now live in an empty nest, there is a different vibe to every room in the home you cherish.

Technology may help unite us, while apart, as SKYPE, viber, Hangouts, Facebook and you name it permit us to hear or see our children. But what about when the kids finally visit home?  What is that experience like?

Checkout this essay (click here) for hints and tips on how to face and embrace the time we all share.

When Self-Protective is Self-Destructive: What is REALLY at Risk When We ‘Play It Safe’?

Note: Caution, inner wisdom, self-reflection and centering help keep us out of harm’s way; the term “playing it safe” in the article below refers to self-protection that is so thick that it borders on hardening of one’s heart; at no point does the author intend to suggest that ‘healthy choices’ include blurred boundaries, careless or risky behavior, or any actions or decisions that result in danger to mind, body or spirit at any point. Consequences are helpful in guiding decision-making.  All references are to mental and spiritual rather than physical . . . and all feedback is welcomed.  ~Dr. Iankowitz

The story might begin with three people walking down the street debating the question asked by the title. What would the optimist say?  The realist?   The pessimist? If honest, all three would have to agree on the following point:

Joy and pain are intimately intertwined. Playing it safe risks more than we bargained for.

Just take a look at it. When one’s sole purpose in life is to avoid pain, isn’t the price paid: “joy”?  I suggest that all three people in that debate would agree that joy IS the price tag for a ‘pain-free’ existence. Realistically speaking, to avoid pain one must avoid all risk – or adequately self-protect (multi-level experience) while taking the risk.  Do you disagree?

So, to take it a step further, let’s illustrate levels of risk and self-protection:

  • Level #1 (beginner) Accepting no invitations to any social events. GOAL: No risk of rejection. 
  • Level #2 (intermediate) Accepting invitations, going to social gatherings, and sitting in a corner to avoid interaction. GOAL: Minimize risk of rejection.
  • Level #3 (expert) Accepting invitations, participating (overtly), while maintaining emotional distance (covertly – but it becomes overt if we permit another close enough to discover we are emotionally unavailable). GOAL: (You decide) is this just minimizing or totally avoiding risk of rejection?

So then we ask ourselves about individual relationships, with respect to trust, safety and our ability to feel comfortable in the company of others. We may realize that we have different expectations, we act differently, give differently, make exceptions; we depend on or go out of our way for certain people based upon status combined with personal comfort: friends, family, acquaintance-ship etc. We may be outgoing, trusting, fun loving, masters at self control or self-distraction; we may take and/or offer direction well; we may be shy or bossy, controlling, aloof or guarded. Do you create a ‘safe’ zone for people to approach you? Valuable self-reflective question to ask – often.

When assessing our own place in the friends/family aspect of our lives, we ask ourselves some other pointed questions, such as:

  • Do I tell other people what to say and do?
  • Am I often referred to as “over-controlling”?
  • Do I lack self-control?
  • Do others boss me around?
  • Do I accept responsibility for too many/ not enough choices/reactions?

People who feel in control of themselves generally

  • don’t try to control others. If you believe you (or someone you love) may have self-control issues, click here for some hints and possible tips. 
  • spend meaningful time self-reflecting. They ask themselves questions – some more difficult than others; all of which lead to personal awakening, which is the first step to growth. 

Some self-reflective questions:

  • What motivated me to say or do this or that?
  • What do I feel when I hear ___?
  • What did I really mean when I said____?
  • Do I feel awkward more often than not when in the company of other people?
  • Do I ‘self-protect’ by keeping my finger on the figurative jugular of others?  OR by overloading others with words or ‘assignments’ etc?
  • Do I lie to myself or others on a regular basis?
  • Do I say, “To be honest . . . ” or “I really want to be open with you” even when I’m not and don’t?
  • Do I have great friendship building skills (or do I need a few guidelines?) If you’d like a few tips on how to begin or repair a relationship, click here. 

Before we can share our time and space with others, it behooves us to know ourselves. Just as there are two main goals that dictate how we spend our “alone time” (reflecting: a desire to grow; self-distract: to avoid growth), there are two main reasons why we choose to spend time with another person:

  • We want to build a healthy relationship   OR
  • We want to continue to distract ourselves from self-reflection (but trick ourselves into believing it is not our responsibility – forcing the ‘burden’ of this distraction onto the other person)

If we want to build healthy relationships, then the time we spend with others is joyful, filled with clarification, mutual sharing, learning, teaching, growing, relaxing and a wide range of positive energy experiences. We effortlessly shift from light, easy ‘superficial’ sharing, laughter and joy to discussions of greater depth and meaning. We feel the other person helps us by creating a ‘safe zone’ for us to feel safe.  One does NOT need to ‘self-protect’ from another person when there is shared trust in the ‘safe zone’ mutually created for both to freely express with an open heart.

If we truly want to self-distract (hide from ourselves) and avoid self-reflection, we might fear looking at ourselves (and/or the other person) honestly. If the illusion of fear is at the root of our decisions, we owe it to ourselves to explore the fear, along with its siblings: shame and guilt. Help is out there – and one doesn’t necessarily require a ‘label’ or a personality disorder to read articles, books or seek mental health intervention. Click here for possible resources that can help – with or without a ‘diagnosis’.

Most of us indulge in denial, to some degree, as a self-protective mechanism during key moments in time.  The issues arise when our desire to self-protect becomes THE MOST important motivating factor in our existence.

No matter where we are along the continuum of  our relationships, the reality is that, if we elect to ‘play it safe’ we risk joy – and we do this by our own hand believing the illusion that we are taking NO risk at all.

Playing it ‘safe’.  Level #3 (expert) noted above, is mastered by people who desperately fear intimacy. They are very ‘self-protective’, trusting nobody (not even themselves. In fact, these ‘self-protective’ people are usually very self-destructive – causing their own imbalance of mind/body/spirit). While avoiding all emotional vulnerability, an individual at Level #3 may even appear to maintain a marriage for decades, until s/he (or the partner) ‘wakes up’. If a couple unites ‘in self-protective safety’ (neither trusting the other; able to maintain a distant, ‘for show’ relationship that ‘appears perfect’ to casual onlookers), close family members and/or friends (if there are any), usually know the truth about the arrangement, but keep it quiet.

In this situation, if one partner outgrows the charade, things become ‘interesting’; but, unless both partners agree to embrace a trusting relationship, permitting and risking emotional vulnerability so they can share mutual loving and positive energy, the couple either agrees to maintain ‘status quo’ for appearances, or they go their separate ways. This split permits one to maintain emotional unavailability while the other is free to explore a new path.

Since you have read this far, let’s assume you are a relatively social, healthy, well balanced individual. You likely strive for balance, but may not know if you are undercutting your success with certain patterns of behavior. You might be asking yourself right now: “How can I know if I’m self-destructive, self-distracting and/or self-protective?”

To answer this, take a look at your social habits. Ask, “Do I feel most comfortable when surrounded by:

  • ‘yes’ people”?
  • people who lack the ability to help me grow”?

If so, you might explore why. The answers usually involve illusions surrounding fear, shame and/or guilt – which are ILLUSIONS.  Illusions are shadows. When the light shines ON THEM they disappear.  Think about it.

Next thing to consider: Am I, more often than not, filled with internal (or outward) negativity, anger, frustration, hostility, defensiveness, rage and/or any other energy blocking/energy sucking distractions?

If the answer is “yes” then skills to learn how to fine-tune ‘centering’ (so that learning and growth help you lift yourself out of toxic patterns) might be of value. For guided meditation click here. For self-help relationship building tools: Click here.

Life is filled with choices. If you recognize a pattern that is self-destructive, you have the power to choose to perpetuate or discontinue it.

Responsibility is yours.

  • Where there is a will there is a way.
  • You are in control of your life – whether you recognize it or not.
  • To decide NOT to decide is, in itself, a decision.  Own it.
  • If you choose to break one or more unhealthy patterns, you will begin to seek out healthy mentors.
  • If you choose to hide, you can of course facilitate that desire, as well – but at what cost?  What price is really paid when the decision is to remain out of balance?

Balance facilitates healing. Today, as the first day of the rest of our lives, we can embrace this very minute which provides us with a new opportunity to make choices that feed our spirit, and help to regain and maintain balance.

The more people who fill the world with balance, enlightenment, goodness and joy, the more positive our impact on the earth as a living, breathing planet of healthy energy.

Self-Care: Who Has TIME For It?

What exactly is ‘self-care’ and why is it such a big deal? Self-care represents

  • tending to one’s self as if we are our own best friend
  • paying attention to our body when it feels tired, hungry, thirsty, or when our skin is too wet, dry, cold, hot
  • sometimes saying “No” to a poor choice and/or “Yes” to a healthy one
  • a gift of love we give to ourselves.

We are the only ones in the world who can facilitate our own self-care. If you are a busy person click here . . . and if you have the added blessing of children, click here for additional hints and tips on how to work self care into your hectic schedule.

Okay. So why is it so important? Without proper self-care, we become burdensome to others as the neglected mind, body or spirit must inevitably suffer.

If we don’t give ourselves the necessary care, sooner or later, someone else will be in a position to do so – and then the scenario takes on an entirely different tone. Are you wondering if you are neglecting yourself? If you think you might be, click here to check.

Help is out there. Consult with your primary health care provider for possible interventions. You deserve to feel joy. If you do self-neglect or self-abuse, then a well trained mental health professional (psychologist or social worker, for example) might be able to offer you keys to free yourself from your own chains that hold you down.

We owe it to ourselves and to those we say we love to pay attention to the signals our body gives us. The body speaks on it’s own behalf and on behalf of our mind and spirit. When the mind or spirit suffers, the suffering is revealed by the body. For some “New Age” meditation music click here; for Tibetan meditation, click here; for Native American shamanic music, click here; yoga guidance for beginners, click here.

Personal self care is essential to maintaining balance, and suggests an interest in maintaining wellness. Personal self-neglect may suggest ‘off-balance’ issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. You are in control of these decisions.

What about when we observe that a ‘dependent’ or one who is in charge but may not have the mental capacity to BE in charge (youngster or elder) is neglected (either by a care giver OR by him/her self)? If you become aware that a family member or other loved one is neglected or self neglects, click here for some help. Click here for additional resources.

Back to the topic of ‘self-neglect’ and finding the time to reclaim, reestablish and maintain balance in our mind, body and spirit . . .

The 21st century is filled with 24/7 demands.

  • Elementary school aged children are “on-call” for friends at all hours of the night.
  • Demands, around-the-clock, need to be met by high school and college students who have papers to write.

There was a time when the day began and ended according to the rhythm of the sun and moon; however, this is no longer reality. Now:

  • reading doesn’t stop when the sun sets.
  • studying isn’t done in libraries that close, bringing a forced end to research.

Precious moments of our day are taken from us unless we deliberately set healthy boundaries on how we invest our limited time – including investment of time in our personal health. Helping establish healthy boundaries and learning how to manage time are important skills to master and pass along to the next generation. Click here for tips on how to establish healthy boundaries, and click here for guidance regarding time-management.

If one concludes that self-care has suffered because of inadequate time management and/ or organizational skills, opportunity for growth has presented itself.

Whenever we take a look at ourselves and think, “This could have been done more effectively,” or “I could be happier/ more satisfied or productive . . . etc” then what we are REALLY experiencing is self-reflection and an awareness that we have the power to make decisions to repeat the familiar pattern or begin a new and different one. (If you didn’t check out the links above, this might be a good time to do so).

Self-reflection is a healthy process by which we try to view ourselves through impartial eyes: a very difficult feat to accomplish. We are often prevented from doing so by the illusion of fear; that is, inner dialogue that suggests, “If you look at yourself you will be disappointed.” And yet, it is those with the courage to face the possibility of ‘disappointment’ who embark upon this exercise with the type of energy and desire that facilitates personal growth.

How can we ‘grow’ if we are not aware we have something within us that needs improvement?

The wise self-reflect often. They welcome ‘criticism’ and remain confident that they will not melt under the heat of inspection.

Q: How is this possible? What makes a person willing/able to take an honest look at his/her self?

A: Inner knowing. People who know, deep in their soul, that they are filled with positive energy and in search of truth, whatever it may be, are able to view themselves honestly, welcome impressions of others, and make healthy choices to facilitate healing of mind, body and spirit – their own and even for others who are open to this experience.

Time-management, organizational skills and self-care are inter-related. Some people are able to take a look at their day, understand the hours available, prioritize, and accomplish amazing things. It has been said, ‘when you want something done, give it to a busy person.’ I don’t know who coined that phrase but it rings true to me, over and over again. It has gotten me to redefine “busy” to the point where it can’t ever be used (by me, anyway) as a sufficient reason for NOT doing something.

When I find myself saying “No” to an invitation or additional task, it is because I am either not in the mood or simply overwhelmed by whatever I have set out to do for myself.

If there is a person, place or event that is REALLY important to me, I can almost always find the way to accommodate my schedule. I sometimes say “no” to a person, invitation or task as part of a healthy boundary setting exercise in order to make time for self-care.

Give yourself permission to set healthy boundaries and keep promises to yourself by strategically indulging in a bit of much needed self-care.

Keeping promises to yourself is how you continue to earn your own trust (click here for hints and tips on some valuable recommendations regarding self-development).

Peaceful Conflict Resolution For Second and Third Graders

Metamorphosis defines most healthy life experiences. Scientists and philosophers research and develop paradigms, share interests and curiosity surrounding developmental milestones, and put great time and effort into establishing outlines and procedures that focus on times during which key interventions help facilitate transitions through life.

College students learn about Erikson’s theory of developmental stages designed to help us understand the human condition through growth. Basic psychology courses include Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which addresses what motivates people. Human beings are an enigma as each person is multi-faceted, motivated by a wide range of priorities, desires and needs, and we come in all shapes and sizes on three levels: mind, body and spirit.

So when is the best time to facilitate self-esteem and peaceful conflict resolution? I have personally found that second grade is an essential group to target especially with regard to teaching certain skills such as telling time, resolving differences of opinion in a positive way, spelling, grammar and taking personal responsibility for healthy boundary setting.

I am admittedly not a famous philosopher or scientist; however, I am – at heart, a researcher with a strong educational background, analytical personality, and well developed clinical skills. I’m driven by an intuitive, curious, observant and methodical nature which inspired the following:

For about a decade I devoted a great deal of time listening to elementary school teachers, students and parents who shared concerns regarding their challenges, wishes and dreams. I then reflected what I learned in short stories for children, each of which were piloted in and out of the classroom to adults as well as second, third, fourth and fifth graders – all of whom inspired the stories.  Ultimately, it became clear that, out of the 34 stories I had written to address a wide range of needs and situations, about 20 or so are of particular interest to elementary school children between the ages of 7-9. These became “Marcy and Her Friends.” This children’s book was ‘accumulated’ over several years, and finally formally published in 2003. (While Scholastic wanted to market the book to fifth graders OR publish it, at that time, with illustrations to second graders, I was too thick headed to agree to illustration since I wanted ‘Marcy’ to be able to be anyone – no culture etc. Had I the opportunity to do this over again, I would re-think this. Marcy deserves to be out there and I haven’t put much time or energy into marketing her talents). That having been said, (tongue in cheek at this point):

Please check out my website and navigate around for free information that you can print out to use in the classroom (by teachers) and at home (by older siblings, baby-sitters and parents) to facilitate communication, and many lessons throughout the interactive book entitled Marcy and Her Friends.”