๐Ÿง  Greet and Thank Your Mind

When Marie Kondo starts organizing a home she starts by greeting it and thanking it. I started to do that on the homepage of my blog, I acknowledged the homepage as a “dungeon” of my own mind. My mind isn’t so morose or anything, I say dungeon because of the metaphorical way that we are all imprisioned within our perspectives, that our senses aren’t fact, but interpretation ext, that we can’t experience the world directly or know exactly what are in other people’s hearts and minds. I think it’s very challenging to live in this time of great technological transition, there must have been a comfort in using the same technology that your grandparents and parents used, being able to learn from teachers who had a good grasp of the material, since they had time to digest it and play with different examples. When my father was young they didn’t believe in dinosaurs, when I was young genetics wasn’t a part of school, I took it in college, now my daughter is growing up with a better grasp of both genetics and paleontology than was available to the experts of the past. It’s great, but also taxing on our minds, and stressful to our bodies to have so much information overload as the status quo. For all of us growing up with sticks and cans for toys, living in this tablet, 3D printer world is understandably overwhelming. The begining step should have been to thank my mind for helping me know my loved ones, do what I do on a daily basis and remembering what is important to me (I did that at dawn for the first time).

โœจ Profiles, Avitars, Identity, Ego

When I discarded my old avatars and profiles this past week, I made peace with who I am now, older than before, but more happy, more balanced and less shy. As I chose my new universal profile (for gravitar, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Google) I scrolled through my photos and drawings looking at who I was before and how I looked then, and who I am now and how I look now. I was able to let go of my past youth and mentally move on to the 2019 me. I wanted to use just one avatar to represent my authenticity, whether or not a particular style would be better for marketing doesn’t matter to me, I’m comfortable with who I am without makeup ext. No offense to people who like makeup, it just isn’t me to care about it in real life and I want the digital world to organize my real life, not exist as a seperate facade. Discarding my past self along with my past avatar, helped me become more whole in this moment because it gave me time to reform a subconsious narative of this current chapter in my own life story.

๐Ÿ“ฑ My Experience with the Fabulous Motivate Me App

Written in 2017, when my daughter was two and I was working full time:

Wow, I have so many feelings about this app. I committed to it deeply in my heart and soul, since I finished reading the Power of Habit and I felt that I can no longer go on “being a sleep walking murderer, gambling the family’s money away on the party boat and killing thousands of English people in subways by doing a shitty job at work.”

After reading the book, I started experimenting with the habit loop. It went poorly though.

I would get pretty excited and then think of 100s of changes I wanted to make to myself, and my life, and my home, “that day”… so surges of overwhelming change would happen, and then I would collapse in an overworked pile of shame and regret, mostly the same person…

Then I found the Fabulous app and it seemed like it would be a good way to start off, and then I would just keep going on my own, but I was so much more effective with Fabulous than I was without it, that I committed to using it for at least one year straight.

Lesson One from Fabulous: Don’t try to make more than one meaningful change at a time, my brain rewiring itself takes time.

Lesson Two from Fabulous: Don’t think I know how to make things work in my life, that I already know I have’nt made work yet… sometimes arrogance is a prison.

Lesson Three from Fabulous: Don’t work around poorly stored items, put what you need where it will be easiest to use without hunting around.

I started with the Energize yourself journey, because I felt too tired to think straight after work, the baby, and the work of a marriage. I had mixed success following what the app told me to do, but using Fabulous as a tool and brainstorming what I needed to do for myself to meet the end goal, I had complete success. Say what! Yes, I followed their program with my whole heart, but it left me short on energy, so because the desire and the commitment were real, I forged onward to find the caffeine drip system, that in combination with the Fabulous habits of drinking water, eating breakfast and exercising, did energize me enough to stop being a walking zombie-cow (cow because I breast feed all night and day so I can’t sleep or be a real human being – some of you know what I mean).

Next I continued being a better human being, with the Exercise Journey. I didn’t like most of the journeys that were offered, they weren’t all things I needed to learn (like weight loss, sleeping well). But I knew I needed the boundaries and structure that the app provided to grow my habit formation muscles. I hesitated to exercise more, because I didn’t see a reason. I am lucky to be healthy and at a healthy weight, so I really forgot that exercise affects mental flexibility, where I suck. Having a little mental flexibility really helps me not be as mean, to myself and others. If you are someone who always picks on yourself for not doing all 100 errands you were supposed to do, you may enjoy the life that mental flexibility can give you… but anyways, exercise has been really good at reducing my anxiety, helping me write, and helping me be mentally flexible to life changing what I need to, or get to, do that day.

For awhile I was on the Iron Will Journey, I made it a quarter of the way through, but then I fell off because I was having problems getting my check ins to count, I lost all my emotional momentum, and at the same time the Mental Fitness Journey came out, and I really didn’t want to have an iron will (I kind of know how to do that already… my parents were able to have an iron will at the cost of emotional connection to me, and I don’t really want to do that to my child…) so I would rather do the Mental Fitness Journey, which is where I am now, and it is amazing. Most of the suggestions Fabulous suggested I do are things I would not have done otherwise, but they really make my life better… it was a lucky coincidence that I ended up committed to trying whatever Fabulous says to do for two weeks to see how it went, but I now see that I would never have got my life unstuck, by doing what I thought would help, because what I thought would help created the life I felt dissatisfied within…

The concept I’ve been ruminating about the most over, the past few years: “Probleme kann man niemals mit derselben Denkweise lรถsen, durch die sie entstanden sind. Translation: Problems can never be solved with the same way of thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein

It seems like if it is true, I can’t ever really solve my own problems and I need help, or maybe I can change my consciousness on my own?

Right now, I would rather have help, my consciousness is pretty steady, which has good and bad effects on my life, and my loved ones life. Yes, I am stubborn, my core is persistent, but the stubbornness that says something rude, also works hard everyday putting food on the table, one shouldn’t disregard all the good that comes of stubbornness. Farming is a stubborn way to produce food, being pregnant is a stubborn act, writing books is quite stubborn, when stubbornness is applied towards great things it produces the wonders of the world, the great wall of China ext. The key to really harnessing the core value of persistence, is to own the stubbornness, but learn not to use that one tool for every situation. What really makes stubbornness get out of hand is pride, if you can be humble and stubborn, you can do anything. If you can take the correction of the experts in every field, and stubbornly apply the knowledge, you can do much more with your life, than you could with only the knowledge you yourself bring to the table. But can you be humble enough to admit other people know more than you? Can you handle being wrong sometimes? Your teachers, parents, books, news ext give you incorrect information sometimes, you are wrong when you hold onto the misinformation, can you handle the emotional pain of being wrong? It’s hard to do, but I do because I want the fruit that comes from the pain of being wrong… I want to be better than am now, more than I want to feel right. I want to be right in the future, more than I want to feel right now.

Written in 2019, two years later:

I think it’s been about a year since I stopped using the Fabulous App, it helped me get my feet wet with habit formation and gave me a lot of great information about the science behind habits, but it didn’t offer me what I wanted. It had a lot of health options, but nothing specifically for art, writing, time management, family management, cooking, meal planning. I really benefited by knowing I could take ownership of my life and my time even with kids, but the paths that they wanted me to walk were not the ones I wanted to go down. It took a long time to make sure I wasn’t leaving the app because I couldn’t do what they asked, give up sugar ext. But eventually I realized that Fabulous didn’t allow me any leadership of my life and habits, only management.

Management is how you hack away at the jungle with a machete, leadership is if you are even headed the right way.

Eventually I had to stop managing my life filled with too many things people told me to do, or that I felt I had to do, and start living my best life filled with what truely matters to me personally and by then Fabulous had already helped me get the basics of habit formation down well. I really appriciate that I was able to start waking up early, make a daily schedual for the first time in my life and drink more water, but the eating and exercise recomendations were more pushy and less helpful and eventually taking the suggestions was getting in the way of doing what mattered to me and also taking up the free time that is a premium in my life.

๐Ÿฒ Quick and Easy Beef Curry


1 Package of Beef

1 Onion

4 Potatoes

1 Bag Small Carrots

1 Package of Curry Block Flavoring

2 Splashes of Grapeseed Oil

Possible Method:

Heat oil in large pan on high, cutt onion in half and then slivers, add onion to oil, still ocassionally, cut meat in large chunks then toss it all in the onion/oil when it is really hot, after browned outside add half the curry block flavoring. Stir and set aside when meat is cooked enough to taste. Leave the oil in the pan to cook the veggies.

Dice potatoes into cubes, put it in a large bowl of water, put carrots in a large bowl of water, microwave potato and carrots with a towel on top of the bowls to keep the steam in, just to soften them half way (about 10 minutes). Add the veggies and water into the same pan the meat cooked in with the oil, add the second half of the curry, cook on high until the veggies are soft enough, then add the meat back in and stir a little to even the sauce out.

Enjoy! It’s really not much worse than much slower ways to cook curry, I think it took me about an hour from putting away the grocheries to eating. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

๐Ÿ”จ Persistence vs Opportunity Cost

Persistence has been one of my dominant values over my life time, but often it has kept me in bad situations.

When I was going to college I had some trouble my first few semesters and my science GPA was forever after stuck as average, I wanted to go to medical school, but having an average GPA didn’t give me a great chance at it. Then when I tried my best at the MCAT, I again scored average, that also didn’t help much. I could have gone to medical school far from my home state, but my fiance didn’t want to move with me. I didn’t want to leave my fiance and I couldn’t have gone in my home state, so I decided for a few reasons to abandon that goal.

I had been fixated on going to medical school since about age four and it was a river carved deeply into my life and my soul. I studied all of elementary school, ext, I took jobs that allowed me to study as I paid my way through Jr College and worked through the university as well. It’s a story that usually ends with success, but for me it didn’t, for me it ended as my best not being good enough for the competitive area I lived in, and the love of my life, instead of wanting to go with me, not even promising to wait… Reality can be so harsh sometimes.

Many times a woman has to choose between having kids, or having a better career, there are exceptions, but that doesn’t counter balance normal reality that moms that take leave, to have or raise their kids, are seen as not having current skills when they try to re-enter the work force.

Even a persistent, hardworking person can not be in two places at once. My dad is a super hardworking, high energy person, but after the 40 hour work week, he didn’t even have the energy to say “how was your day?” and I understand now as an adult. When you wake up at 4AM and work all day, by the end of the night, there just isn’t much left. My dad did what society required of him, working to support his two kids, but it also meant that I didn’t learn much from him, or get to know him much, until this past year that he has been retired and I am staying at home raising my children. The cost of the 40 hour work week to my family, was us not knowing our dad. Maybe other families make it work, but for my father, his work took everything he had to give. We got the income, but not much else. It’s not that I’m not grateful for what we had, but it still seems like the life balance of a typical family is deeply off balance to what being healthy would be like.

The good part of being persistent is that it’s easy to keep up healthy habits like exercise, but the bad part is that it’s easy to keep up unhealthy habits like studying for the wrong career path, doing too much of the household cleaning, slowly growing apart from your loved ones to tackle personal goals that leave you feeling empty once they are done.

For anyone it’s hard to do new things and easy to do the same things, but for me it’s doubly hard to do new things and doubly easy to do the same things. It may look nice from the outside in, that I can work 126 hours a week when my boss did the schedual wrong and asked me to, but it isn’t really nice knowing that I can get on the wrong path and continue for the rest of my life if unchecked.

Being persistent is good if your self leadership is also good, but most of my life mine wasn’t. I spent most of my life with a lost feeling that I avoided noticing by reading books, playing games, studying, working too hard, exercising, or practicing martial arts. All those things are fine, but not being able to sit with yourself in order to avoid finding out you are on the wrong path for you, is a poor way to spend a life time.

I considered persistence a value, it was on Russ Harris’s value list, but the more I think of it, I believe persistence is more of a personality type. Persistence isn’t integrity, if you eat yourself to death, you can do it with persistent eating, if you drink yourself to death, and beat your spouse, you can do it persistently. I think persistence is probably a biproduct of the way that “neurons that fire together wire together.” It probably means that my brain wires harder right away, to all activities, not that I have more discipline than other people.

Maybe persistence could be good, with mindfulness, with correct leadership, but currently it keeps me stuck in unhelpful routines, more often than it helps me reach my goals or achieve a state of well being. Maybe that is unfair though, maybe persistence lets me do worthwhile things that I don’t yet give myself credit for?

I’ve been converted to the mindset that on our deathbeds what we will place importance on is our relationships, not our careers. If that is the case, than I’m doing the right things, staying at home teaching my two kids, visiting my father and sister each spring and summer, trying to be understanding to my husband and hopefully make a new relationship if we can, when we can, but I don’t feel well with all my life being service to others and or interaction with others.

Everyone in my life wants to speak and not listen, so writing is where I feel I have a voice. I don’t know if that is normal for writers or just part of my poor verbal communication skills? If I stopped writing, it would be as if I stopped speaking, because the speaking I do in my daily life isn’t really voicing my soul at all. It’s just confirming I heard other people, telling people when I will get their water, juice, dinner, start their school time, where the laundry they are looking for is, where the household items are, how much I need for grocheries, when the trash needs to be taken out, if I will get the mail that day, ext. If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t feel like a person anymore. I would just feel like a robot that serves other people, and for me, it isn’t gratifying to serve. I know for many people it feels good. For me it doesn’t feel good to be constantly serving others. I can do it, I will do whatever my kids need done, to keep them safe, healthy, clean, learning, mentally balanced, feeling loved, interested in their inner values, but I don’t get satisfaction from it.

After a day of taking care of my kids and teaching them, if I haven’t done something more intellectual than pouring milk and making dinner I feel as if life isn’t really worth living.

I know it’s not popular to say that, but that’s how it is for me.

If I can do something I really love, gardening, writing, reading, and I take care of the kids, it’s a better feeling.

I guess I don’t like the feeling of putting myself last, even if I have no one else to blame for doing that than myself. Perhaps my tendency to persistently get everything done as soon as it can be done is digging myself into a hole as a parent, since there is almost an infinite amount of things that can be done to nuture or educate the kids and also an infinate amount of discipline and cleaning. I’m grinding my brain too hard, all day and the flow of doing things I like helps revive me.

I don’t know why I can’t enjoy parenting, even though I love my children, but after four years I’m not hopeful it will change for me.

Each year I choose seven values to live by, this year I chose persistence, but I think peristence (doing the same thing over and over) is no longer the right value for me. I think I’m living by it, but that it’s keeping me from living well, instead of helping me live well. I think mindfulness would be a good replacement, instead of just working without thinking, thinking about if what I’m doing matters and prioritizing what I do with my limited time would probably help me enjoy my life and help me have a better attitude towards my family as well.

Persistence sounds good, if you don’t know about opportunity cost, doing something, means something else is not getting done, and it matters a lot to know if what is getting done deserves to get done, instead of what doesn’t get to be done in the same time slot. It takes mindfulness to know what really matters to you, and it takes proactivity to change your own status quo. I think I still need to work with mindfulness, before I can be a good leader to myself, or my children. I’m still running around like a chicken with its head cut off, a little bit too often, but hopefully I’ll change that into running around like a chicken with its head left on soon.

๐Ÿ“• My Experience with Conscious Parenting

A book that really made it harder for me to raise my daughter was The Conscious Parent Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. I loved the book’s message that parents should accept their children the way they are, and it was probably not meant for small kids or to be literal, but I tried to use it that way.

I think when your child doesn’t use the toilet, and then they become ready to use it, you aren’t accepting what they want, you are training them to do things in a better way and somewhat change who they are.

Dr Shefali mentions that “normative” things should be taught as a routine, assertively, but she doesn’t address the dissidence between not trying to change your children vs changing them to do “normative things”. I also read Dr. Shefali’s second book, and loved it on paper. I committed myself to trying to use her method for my family, but many years later I am admitting to myself it did not work for us.

My understanding of the idea of conscious parenting is to 1. examine each situation on a case by case basis, 2. take in the moment, 3. examine your own soul and upbringing, 4. think about what to do, 5. put a space between being mad and acting (wait five minutes before punishment), 6. act to address the situation.

That all sounds fine, but it all doesn’t work for us. Examining each situation sounds great, but if you are pregnant with another kid vomiting in the toilet, how do you examine why your first child broke something in the playroom that you didn’t witness, and they say they didn’t break it… you don’t, you really can’t always do that. Clear, consistent rules are better for us, than a family meeting over each and every new infraction. We have tried it both ways. With clear rules my daughter isn’t scared of the punishment (you drop your ice cream you have no ice cream – you don’t get another, you hit your brother I talk to you about “mฤlama” (caring for) him and using your strength in a helpful way), she knows it is coming, she doesn’t love it, but it doesn’t give her anxiety the same as when we decided punishment on a case by case basis.

Conscious Parenting was a huge cognitive burden for me, to try to think about myself and my childhood every time anything bad happened. Yes,it was important for me to let go of a traumatic childhood, but having done that, not everything that happens to my family now has anything to do with my past upbringing.

When I am mad, it is often because my valid boundaries are being violated, not because I am a raging psycho who needs to chill out.

For me, especially with two kids to care for by myself, it makes things way easier if I don’t have to think about what to do when the same problem comes up, sure I have to figure out each new problem, but the set protocol really helps.

For something unsafe, phase 1 I grab my daughter and take her away, phase 2 soothe her, then phase 3 explain, I don’t ask for permission, I don’t negotiate, I just take action.

For emotional fits, I allow the fit, but ask her to go to her space so not everyone else in the family has to be disturbed from their life (quiet meal/music practice/computer project/work from home phone call) for her to throw her fit.

The protocols allow me to be a much better person in the heat of the moment than my attempt at conscious parenting did. For a big disturbing mess I separate her and the mess, have her wait, I clean, then I talk to her about mฤlama/caring for our home, or items she may have broken. I really do that. Before I had the protocol, it wasn’t as nice… There was yelling sometimes, it didn’t really seem to change her bad habits though.

Now with standing protocol I get less flustered, I treat her better, my husband can help me decide on the protocol (sometimes he has good ideas). The last point about why I’m not a fan of conscious parenting anymore, is that when you want to modify behavior waiting five minutes uncouples the cause and effect in the brain of the child, if each time the child does something bad something adverse happens (like they get their toys taken away for the day, when they hurt someone with the toy) it’s a more powerful learning message, than if that toy was taken away five minutes later, when they are already thinking and possibly doing something else.

Sometimes I get too angry to talk to my child about our values when she does something bad, and I confine her somewhere safe while I calm down, but I don’t expect her to learn from that… I’m just keeping her safe from being verbally abused by me, while I am furious. I talk to her when I am calmed down, and I tell her what our family values are. I’m trying to use ICC, inform, consequence, choice from the Four Tendencies book, so I say “when you kick the dog you are not mฤlama-ing/caring for our dog” (inform), “if you kick the dog you can not be in the living room where the dog lives anymore, you will go to your space” (consequence), then I let her choose to either apologize to the dog, or go to/be taken to her room (choice). I don’t punish her with hitting, with screaming, with taking away toys (except if she used them as weapons), I don’t confine her in her room as punishment (though I do for safety, while I calm down) and over the past month I’ve noticed a big improvement in her behavior.

There are some really wonderful ideas in Dr. Shefali’s books, so much so that I tried to live by them for about three years. However, I think it’s so important for parents to know that not all ideas work for all parents or children, even if you try them consistently and do a good job, since kids are different, parenting can never be a one size fit’s all eye glasses prescription. My favorite Ted Talk about parenting, Jennifer Nacif’s “the Secret to Motivating Your Child,” changed the way I saw all parenting advice forever, and empowered me to start viewing my child as a person first, and child second and if all people are created equal, that means my child isn’t really somehow “holier than me” needing me to constantly be the one to go the extra mile, while she won’t meet me half way.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ Why I Want to Change My Child

I’m not that traditional, but everything “kind of normal to society” is optional to my daughter: wiping her dirty butt after using the potty, washing her dirty hands before putting them in her mouth… I had pinworm for two years because I couldn’t stop her from sticking her dirty hands in my and her mouth for two years.

My daughter doesn’t just hurt herself when she won’t take health and safety advice from me, she hurts other people in the family too. I had less nutrition for my growing baby, when I was pregnant with my son, because of my daughters never ending parasites that she shared with me (that was emotionally difficult), but the downsides of our child are an unavoidable cost that we pay to have the great parts of her in our lives, it’s the ticket price for the show…

I haven’t given up on trying to keep my daughter safe, and trying to advocate health and hygiene, and make normal routines like hand washing override what she wants to do (run off to play without hand washing), but I’ve made peace with the fact that a certain percent of the time I will fail, because my daughter is a rebel, not because I suck as a human being.

Other parents may have better behaved children, other parents may be kinder to their children, other parents may have a better relationship with their children, or do more enrichment activities with their children, but I do a good job with the real life situation that I have within my capacities as a human being.

There are parts of my daughter that I do want to change and parts that I don’t want to change. When I say I don’t want to change “her” anymore, I mean her soul, her personality, her “higher self,” but it doesn’t mean that I can’t tell her we don’t steal or try not to hurt the baby (head butting his nose when you flop down on the bed for fun – that happened today) or we put trash in the trash can not the floor. Someone vs someone’s behavior a very fine distinction to make, a difficult line to divide, a subtle, yet vital distinction.

Some people say “don’t try to change you kids,” but in real life, I will continue to try to change my daughter’s actions and habits, not because I’m uncomfortable with her being different, or because I want to meet the status quo, or I don’t want to be judged for her outbursts, but because I love her.

Discipline, to me, means teaching with kindness, what is wrong and right (sure it’s situational, but there is a wrong and right, punching her four-month-old baby brother when she is frustrated is so wrong). Discipline, even in a kind manner, is a very ugly, tiring job, but to skip teaching what is expected ie discipline, is a form of neglect.

I grew up without discipline, it was scary not knowing what punishments would come if my parents did get mad. They didn’t make any rules, but when they got mad they punished us unexpectedly, it made me really afraid of emotions instead of being afraid of misbehaving.

Discipline is not bad, like guns are not bad, it’s the way that it is used that matters.

Is the intent teaching with love? If so, the method probably works. If the intent is to punish a child for making a parent be uncomfortable in some way, that’s not really discipline.

There are things I never want to change about my daughter, that she is creative, that she is empathetic, that she doesn’t blindly follow, but I do want to force her not to cut people with knives and garden shears, I do want to force her to not kill people and eat them (which is what she says she wants to do when she grows up, because I showed her a Youtube video saying not to do that and she is quite contrary), I do want to force her to wash her hands (so no one else in our family gets pinworm again), I do want to force her to not hit the baby when she is mad. I don’t want to change “her” thoughts, feelings, personality, soul, but I do want to change her beliefs, actions, understanding of cause and effect, hygiene and safety practices, out of love for her, and a belief she will have a better life if she learns to be kind as she stands up for herself and be a gentle friend to the people who she wants to keep around her.

Sometimes it gets really confusing to know what I want to change, and what I should never try to change, but I have to take the responsibility for bringing my kids into this world by making the best decisions that I can, out of love, and hope that what I do is enough to let my kids someday enter the world ready to be confident in who they are, yet not shoot other people on a whim or because they had a bad day.

I recently read a helpful post, by Dr. Fawzy Masaoud, about mental health in sibling relationships, that helped me get more insight into my daughter’s internal struggles. Since the first child, my daughter, was the center of attention for three years, she is trying to act like our baby, to get the attention back. She swings in the baby swing, walks in the baby walker, chews on the baby’s teething keys ext. we tried to stop her at first, but she does it with such a strong compulsion, that since it hasn’t caused any real problems, I stopped trying to stop her.

It may seem obvious to everyone else, but I really didn’t know my daughter was doing it for attention… I thought she wanted to use the new stuff, just because it was new.

Although I plan to give her attention and love, I think it’s going to be more important for her to get used to having less, than it will be for me to try to tend a three-year-old and a four-month-old with exactly the same amount of attention.

I was also the oldest child and the habit of expecting more attention to be due to me, than what other people want to give me, caused problems in my marriage. Sometimes having less can be a blessing, because it gives you the opportunity to exercise developing gratitude, then even if you get more you know how to be happy with what you have. {Note from 2 Years Later: My daughter did not learn much gratitude by the way, but happily I did and that helped me get through my daughter’s Sensory Processing Disorder which explained why she didn’t develop much gratitude, unfortunately her prefrontal cortex was too overwhelmed to develop at the normal pace.}

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ Rock Bottom to Redemption

Recently in the kitchen, I confronted my three year old daughter about loving a purple dino cup more than me…

My sister said I was being ridiculous and that my daughter loved me more than the dino cup, we asked my daughter and she said over and over that she loved the purple dino cup, because it was a dino, and that she didn’t love me.

We asked her in different ways, we made a Venn diagram about what she did or didn’t like about me, and it just became clearer, and clearer that my daughter and I didn’t love each other anymore.

It happens with spouses, couples, and I guess with children too.

Initially I was so angry, I very uncharacteristically threw the purple dino cup full of water to the floor. It was another rock bottom emotional moment for me. As the water spread across the floor, the problem I had been having internally, emotionally, vaguely, became tangible, physical, measurable in density… (the problem I have with my daughter displaced about 2 cups of water).

I have had this problem, since she was born, but before the water hit the floor everyone dismissed it.

My husband, my sister, my father, refused to believe that things weren’t great between my daughter and I, but they never had been.

They had been better, but never great.

I remember my baby, screaming, flailing, crying out, in my opinion, to be understood.

I fed her, I held her, I carried her in a carrier, I taught her to read, I never left her to work (I brought her to work), but none of it mattered to her. Her dad understood her on a deep emotional level, that I never did, and that kept her dissatisfied, and me exhausted, feeling inadequate and bitter that my best effort wasn’t worth anything to my demanding daughter. {Check out When Your Daughter Has BPD by Daniel Lobel if this is too familiar.}

That was 22 days ago, August 1st.

Today things are much better, because I finally understand my daughter a bit more, and also I’ve been using “ICC” (a boundary setting tool) from Gretchin Rubin’s the Four Tendencies book. It has really helped.

I’ve tried literally a dozen very good sounding parenting books that were not able to help me with my extreemly rebellious, high spirited toddler: The Whole Brained Child, How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, No Drauma Discipline, Siblings Without Rivalry, No Bad Kids, Elevating Child Care, Boundaries with Kids, Brain Rules for Baby, The Awakened Family, Parenting Without Power Struggles, The Explosive Child, with Gretchin Rubin’s the Four Tendencies, I finally got what I wanted, something to help me manage my daughter’s constant crazy outbursts.

ICC specifically fits well with my daughter, while many of the “How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen” ideas made her amused, but didn’t solve the problems we had, ICC does solve them 80% of the time. “Whole Brained Child” was too listening based for my daughter, even when she is being good, she doesn’t listen well, she is super visual and kinetic, but not auditory, she doesn’t have much inborn ethics at all to play upon. We have built an I don’t want to kick my brother, because I get a dollar less allowance “ethics” recently and that’s better than nothing. {2 years later it hasn’t backfired, some kids do respond well to rewards without loosing internal motivation or loosing the habit when the reward changes, despite experts saying it’s impossible, it’s happening due in part to habit stickiness}

ICC is inform (this example is for hitting the dog): “we malama (care for) the dog in this family, the dog lives here in the living room and deserves to be safe here” consequence “if you keep hitting the dog, you can not be here in the living room, you will have to be in your room,” choice “what do you pick to do? Will you stop hitting the dog or will you go to your room?” If she doesn’t go on her own, she would be grasped lightly, yet firmly on the wrist and escorted, if she stopped walking I would drag her gently like I would drag a heavy, yet valuable item around the house. But lately, she just decides to comply.

This is literally the first month of her life that she has started complying with anything I have asked her to do without a fight, her whole life. {Later learned my daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder, I’m the same mom and my other child was pretty reasonably compliant from about 1 year onward}

It was 20+ struggles a day with this child, since I met her in October 2015, I’m not 100% sure if it’s her age or the new discipline technique, but I’m 100% happy that we can spend the day learning, having fun, talking about values, instead of fighting over stupid stuff like wiping after using the bathroom, wearing shoes over rough terrain ext.

Today was amazing, she woke up and got through our normal morning routine, potty, wash hands, new underwear, have hair brushed, breakfast without any fights, then we did the entire school day without any fights, then we helped a neighbor go shopping and did our shopping and she didn’t have any melt downs shopping, or in the very long car ride, she was so amazing today compared to normal. It was family movie night and after the movie (Minuscule) she drew her first family portrait on the white board.

It was kind of beautiful that it was family movie night and she drew her first family picture. I want to believe that there is some internal values of unity and harmony getting through to her from the efforts we make to do things together at least one night a week.

Yesterday I found some very reasonably priced taco themed stuff (she loves the books “Tacos y Dragones”) for her upcoming birthday party, from Oriental Trading Company, and my husband says I can get it Wednesday.

Life seems really good right now. I’ve made a lot of mistakes with my daughter, but she is very forgiving and it feels like the relationship is reversing it’s sourness.

I’m very grateful that the 13th book I got to help me with the problem between my daughter and I, had the answers I have been looking for, for the past four years. Yesterday I wrote a post about the downside to persistence, but today I see the upside. Persistence over a long amount of time, has the ability to produce results that seem impossible to most people.

I thought my daughter and I being a poor fit would always make our lives worse, and that she would just have to rely on her father to be there for her in ways that I couldn’t because I couldn’t understand her. But thanks to raising my awareness above the level that created the problem, I can live a completely different kind of life with my daughter now. I’m starting to love her the same way I did when she was a baby again, I’m starting to enjoy her company again, I’m starting to look forward to watching her grow and hopefully being someone she can turn to as a teen and adult again.

Knowing why my daughter fights me so much, and does so much stupid stuff everyday, is what I needed to have patience with it, and find love for her. I don’t know if it’s right or wrong for me to need to understand her to be patient with her, but that is truly what I needed, and I’m very grateful to have finally found it. A special thank you to Gretchin Rubin!

I’m hoping to improve my other relationships with The Four Tendencies book’s techniques as well.

๐Ÿ“• The Four Tendencies

I recently started reading Gretchin Rubin’s book about the four tendencies to help me understand more about my daughter.

I have a three year and a half year old problem, I mean daughter (said somewhat jokingly). Things have always been hard between us, a poor fit, I’m not proud of it, but it’s the elephant in the room I would rather talk about than ignore. Part of the problem is that we don’t understand each other. I don’t know anyone like my daughter to help me get inside her perspective and understand her motivations to encourage her to be her best self and comply with necessary health and safety rules in a neutral or pleasant manner. {12-31-2020 I found out my daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder and I realized I was right about not understanding her, but I didn’t even realize the depth of the differences between us}.

Recently, I read the Jon Klassen shape trilogy. I really enjoyed it. It’s a children’s series, but I think I would have liked it even if I didn’t have kids (maybe because I loved “Flatland“). In the shape trilogy there are rowdy, rebellious triangles, hard working, yet inflexible squares and emotional, encouraging circles. I really associate myself with the squares, and my husband and daughter with the triangles. At the same time I read the shape trilogy I also started listening to “The Four Tendencies,” by Gretchin Rubin. After another horrible rock bottom moment with my daughter I was looking for an answer somewhere. There was a lot of synchronicity between the shape trilogy and the four tendencies book. I enjoyed learning about analyzers/promoters/assertives from Chris Voss’ “Never Split the Difference,” and the 16 Personalities from 16personalities.com (I’m an INTJ), but although they helped me understand and accept myself, they didn’t help me understand and deal with other people, nothing had until now.

I remember being a child myself, I remember feeling in my 20s that even though my family helped and supported me in many ways, they had never loved me “for me”, because they had never known me “for me” at all. I felt unheard and unaccepted until I accepted myself, over the past 2 years, after doing that I still think my family hadn’t known and accepted me, but it doesn’t crush me anymore, because since I have my own understanding and acceptance of myself, I don’t feel I need theirs anymore. It took me about 30 years to understand who I am, how I am, what I value, because most of my life I was trying (yet failing) to do and be, what I thought people thought, I was supposed to do and be. I got my head straight more during a long illness, which forced me to take more down time and evaluate what I wanted to do with the time I had left, since I was made aware that time wouldn’t be forever.

The Four Tendencies book was a really good finish to a journey I started a few years ago to gain a workable amount of understanding of myself as a human being. It’s probably the best to focus on self knowledge, more than values, strengths, personality, because self awareness transcends values, strengths and personality, and interacts with all of them. The tendencies (Rubin’s but not the traditional temperaments that is completely different) describe what you really do on a normal day, the way you live on autopilot, which is how most of life happens.

The four tendencies (Rubin’s) are upholder, questioner, obliger and rebel.

I am an upholder, I finish the fight most of the time, but I was an obliger just a few years ago. Meaning I put other people first, I could have gone to the grave without ever having played the cello (which I wanted to do since age 8), without trying to write (which I wanted to do since age 5), without enjoying a simple sunset without rushing to clean up or teach my kids, or ask my husband if he needed something.

It’s fine to help people if you like it, but I didn’t like it, I just felt that I had to put everyone else first, and there wasn’t much left over after I was done with what was demanded from me on a daily basis.

I’m not that person anymore. My demanding daughter killed that person.

Now I put myself equal with my loved ones, not really first, but not after. I think about what we all need and want, what makes sense to me to do first, and what I have to do now because the chance won’t be there later.

My husband and daughter are rebels, which is hard for me to deal with, but I love them, and I think someday the love will carry me all the way through the pain and help me find the wisdom I need to restore the harmony I want to have between us again.

My sister is a questioner, she is and always has been so different from me that it sparked an early interest in personality types for me. Physically we aren’t too dissimilar, small, female, thin, short, but mentally we have always had a different process of thinking about and interacting with the world, besides just having different tastes in food, pets, hobbies, music, books, people.

The Four Tendencies Book has convinced me not to try to change my rebel daughter and rebel husband anymore, I had stopped trying to change my husband already, but I had stopped out of desperation that it didn’t work, that isn’t the same as stopping on purpose because I accept the way my husband really is. With my daughter, I felt like I had to change her, that I couldn’t release a J-walker into society, but as painful as it will be to see it, she is mainly going to learn from experience what she does or doesn’t like in her life, and won’t just take my word about what situations to engage or avoid.

It’s not that easy to change people, but it is possible, because of leverage. I can change the environment I share with my daughter, and I can change myself and both of those things will change her. It’s subtle, but it’s true. We can change ourselves and we can change others, but not easily, or totally, not just by commanding the world to be the way we want it to be immediately with no time and effort expended.

The best part of the Four Tendencies Book, for me, is the guide on how to work with people of different tendencies. It’s helped me already, with myself, managing myself as another person. It’s helped me accept myself, when the book talks about an obliger having “a burnout moment” and refusing to meet expectations, which happened to me recently: after a really hard day my sister said, “we still love you,” to my daughter and I screamed “not me,” if it wasn’t described in the Four Tendencies book I would never have understood why I did something so unkind and uncharacteristic of my typical behavior. I’m not excusing my behavior, I don’t even need to excuse it, moms don’t loose the right to yell once in awhile while being yelled at, kicked, bitten, pooped on and otherwise abused by kids who get a pass for anything and everything… But, still I don’t like yelling at my kids, or think it’s the best way to communicate on a normal basis. I could have lived and died without ever knowing why I did yell though, since I have a small baby I could have thought it was postpartum hormones, but it wasn’t. It was burnout, because I don’t take breaks. It’s a workplace health code violation to go 4 years without a 10 minute break, but it’s standard parent lifestyle in the modern world… I should take breaks, so I don’t get burnt out, so I don’t yell. I never knew that before this book. Because I thought I could live up to an unlivable standard of doing everything my husband and daughter asked me to do before taking a break, but I didn’t know that break would never come, I didn’t know that I couldn’t ever satisfy my daughter, and that with or without a break she wanted more than I ever had to give her. Now that I have more insight I can get more help, I didn’t know I needed it before, but I do. I need more help to take more breaks so that when I am caring for my kids I can do my best job, imperfect as it will still be.