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    Sit With Your Anger

    I read a book with my son last night, Anh's Anger (written by Gail Silver; illustrated by Christiane Kromer), that was absolutely wonderful.  It's about a young boy, Anh, who is stacking blocks when his grandfather tells him it's time for dinner. As many young boys who are in the middle of playing, he didn't want to stop playing. He gets very angry, and knocks down his tower, which makes him even more angry (anyone ever experience this with young boys? Yes, I thought so) . His grandfather acknowledges that he's upset, then gently requests that he sit with his anger, then rejoin him when he's calm. While on his own, Anh meets his anger in the form of a big red snaggle-toothed monster. They bang around a bit, vocalize, dance, and then sit and breathe. And as they sit and breathe, anger gets smaller, and Anh gets calmer. They talk about who anger is and why he's there, and how they can help each other. And once Anh is calm, he and his grandfather reconcile, and life continues on.


    Sit with your anger.


    What amazingly simple, perfect advice. Something that I don't typically do; I'd venture that's true MOST people. I'd say more often than not, we act on our anger right away - which can result in doing or saying things we wouldn't have otherwise done or said, and consequently, feeling badly afterwards. When you can acknowledge your anger, work with it creatively, and try to understand it, it's far less scary. You can become an observer, analyzing, considering, and then releasing.

    (image credit: amazon.com)


    So what does sit with your anger mean to a child?


    In our post-reading conversation, my nearly 6 year old was able to recognize Anh's monster was not a "real" thing, but rather a representation of the feelings we get when we are angry. He understood the message was that it's okay to FEEL angry, but that you shouldn't act out in anger towards someone or something else - even when you felt like it. He said that it was okay to express your anger in ways that didn't hurt anyone (even yourself) until you were calm enough to think a bit about it; in other words, to have a conversation with your monster. And then, once you've had the conversation, to breathe in, breathe out, calm, and come back to being yourself. He really enjoyed the book as we were going through it, and it inspired some fantastic post-read discussion as well.

    (image credit: gailsilverbooks.com)


    The illustrations are bright & simple - charcoal, paint, and collage elements. At ~30 pages (of words & illustrations), I found it just the right length for a bedtime story (and plenty of conversation afterwards).


    We all struggle at times with our anger - and our children, who are so new in this world, can often find anger frightening and overwhelming. Heck, so can adults. This book is the perfect springboard for talking with your kids about creative expression of anger - without shame, without punishment - you just might find yourself examining your own ways of dealing with anger. And that can only be a good thing for everyone.


    Peace to you.


    Keeping Your Cool

    I recently posted (and got lots of response) about kids and their emotions – particularly anger; as well as my own response to it. So, as part of my approach trying to figure out/deal with my own triggers, and help my children with their own, I ordered three parenting/discipline books:
    Screamfree Parenting, 1-2-3 Magic, and Playful Parenting. I started reading the first book, Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel, a few days ago. As of today, I’m a little more than 100 pages in, and nodding my head to nearly every word of it.

    This book, so far, is inspiring, freeing, and not full of just theory (which I’ve found so many parenting books to be), but actual ideas and examples as well. The main idea I’ve gleaned so far: the realization and understanding that the only person (and thus the only person’s behavior) you can control is you (and your own behavior). In other words: you cannot control your children (nor would you want to), but you can control your reactions to your children. So instead of trying to always control their behaviors and actions, start focusing on controlling yourself and your emotional response to things, and your children will follow your lead (and become what we really want from our kids: individual, self-directed beings.... who also happen to know how to calmly work through life's difficulties = WIN!).
    The author uses lots of quotes – both his own and others’ to help drive his point home. This one I really appreciated: “Your emotional response is always up to you. You always have a choice.” So often I’ve found myself feeling at MY wits end – simply because my kids have reached their end. And its there, at that end that I’ve felt, I just have no choice: what else can I do but react with craziness to craziness (once all my attempts at reasoning, redirection, and “discipline” have been expended)? Yet, reading this book gives me a different perspective. My children’s emotions and actions are separate from my own. My children are responsible for their own emotions, just as I am responsible for mine. When I don't have to feel responsible for taking on the way they are feeling or acting, it really relieves so much pressure. I don't need to respond in kind to my 3 yo tantruming. Instead, I can be more zen & go with the flow, so to speak. To bend with their storm, but not break.
    Following that thought of going with the flow… Instead of always resisting our children’s emotions (boredom, anger, saying no), the book delves into how to acknowledge what they are feeling, to empathize, and then give them the responsibility of owning their own emotions and solving their own problems (certainly with help as is age-appropriate). The author gives a real-life example in the book (to which I absolutely related), of how to respond in a go-with-the-flow way to a child who complains, “I’m bored!”:
    “Wow, you’re bored? That stinks. I hate it when I’m bored. What are you going to do about it?” No resistance, just go with the momentum and actually join right alongside your child as she faces her own dilemma. (from pg. 100)
    Talk about awesome! That way of parenting just feels so empowering – both for parent and child! I don’t have to feel defeated by my children’s emotions, and they don’t need to feel required to have someone else always tackling the way they feel. It’s okay to just let them just be, and just let them feel, without judgment. To do so lets them know they are okay; that you know and trust they’ll make it through; that you love them, regardless of how they feel or act. And lets me take a much needed breather.
    I still have hundred or so pages to go… but I’ve already recommended to Adam that he read it when I’m finished. Here's hoping the second half lives up to the first half!
    So, have you read Screamfree Parenting? Thoughts? Any other peaceful parenting book recommendations?
    Posted: Jun 10 2010, 00:01 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Remembering J.D. Salinger

    "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."
    ~ Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye)

    I can’t believe J.D.Salinger died yesterday. Not because of the dying – he was 91, but rather because I didn’t know he was still living. So all in one day, I’m hit with: J.D. Salinger is dead? Which means he was alive? (He was alive?!) And now he’s dead.
    So I admit to my ignorance. I had never done any research on the man. I was a self-absorbed teen (who wasn't?). And, I suppose I’ve never been much of an Annie Wilkes. Heck, I lived in Maine for 5 years & never once went looking for Stephen King (seriously, why didn't I ever?).
    But, with this revelation, I’m now left wondering if I had know he was alive, if maybe I’d have written him a letter – at least. Although, according to NPR, Salinger didn’t grant interviews, with the exception of Betty Eppes in 1980. I would’ve been 5 then, and hadn’t yet read Catcher; though it wasn’t far off (My mother had a rather liberal view of books: if you can read it, you can read it). I’m not sure if I had written a letter, if he’d even have read it. Yet, his books helped me slog through adolescence & provided inspiration to write. He earned a letter. I suppose this post-mortem blog post will have to suffice.
    So, I'm thinking now I’ll have to hike up to the attic & dig out all my old dog-eared Salingers, and start re-reading while waiting for the release of the “reams of unpublished fiction in a vault”, as the rumor holds. I wonder if reading Salinger as a 30-something has the same effect as reading Salinger as a teenager? Things to ponder.
    Farewell J.D.
    Posted: Jan 29 2010, 10:03 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    New Year's Resolutions

    I love the positive renewing energy that comes from a new year – and with 2010, we start a new decade!

    In that spirit, here’s my list of things to improve upon, goals to reach, and things that I will do in 2010:

    1) Get Healthier. Okay, yes, #1 is uber-cliché & conventional as far as New Year’s resolutions go. But who couldn’t be healthier? Personally, I need to increase my HDL (“good cholesterol”) and reduce my TSH (thyroid level). To achieve these goals, I have three things in mind: exercise more, eat more raw, fresh food, and keep better tabs on what exactly I DO put into my body & how much I actually DO exercise. Fortunately, we have an elliptical machine, a fantastic Blendtec smoother blender which makes super-good fruit & veggie smoothies, and my ever-present pal, iPhone. With all these convenient, modern technologies how can I not get back to a place of better health? Of course, losing a bit of weight & getting stronger in the process are, of course, nice side benefits! :)

    2) Practice peaceful, positive discipline with my children more consistently and effectively! I recently purchased a pack of 52 cards to help me stay on track, called “Positive Discipline Parenting Tools: 52 Cards to Improve Your Parenting Skills”. The ideas presented on the cards are fantastic reminders to stay kind, positive, encouraging, and consistent in your interactions with your children. They suggest positive discipline techniques without overusing praise or punishment. Just perusing some of the cards, I’ve found them to be helpful in making a natural progression from the Attachment Parenting techniques we’ve used with our children as infants/toddlers to preschoolers! If you’re interested in the cards, I purchased them here (not my site & I’m not affiliated, just had a good experience with my online purchase).

    3) Read 10 books. Now, ten may not sound that lofty to most. Frankly it’s not to me either. But with working, parenting, homemaking, gardening, blogging, etc., one of my favorite pastimes, reading, often gets left by the wayside, so I’m being realistic here folks. One book every 1.25 months I can do. I have 7 on my bedside table, ready to go. In fact, I just cracked the first one open!

    4) Write. More. Often. I so enjoy writing, yet like many other time consuming personal activities, since having children, I’ve pushed it to the backburner. So, 2010 is the year to bring quadrant two (non urgent, important [Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here's a quick review of Steven Covey’s Quadrants] to the forefront, and push quadrant 4 (non urgent, not important) to the background. And when I say write, I’m not talking about Twitter - because while it’s a fun place to share information – the time spent “writing” on twitter (and I use quotations as 140 characters dsnt leav mch rm 2 actuly wrt) could be much more productively spent actually writing. Like in my blog, or my novel (oh yes, I WILL complete it).

    5) Seeing Dave Matthews w/Tim Reynolds in concert. Yes, this is on my new years resolution list. Why? It’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve had a real concert EXPERIENCE. I’m craving one again, and from everything I’ve read, Dave will pull through for me. I wasn't more than a sometimes fan of Dave Matthews until about two years ago when I stumbled upon his & Tim Reynolds’ Live at Radio City video on the home theatre display with my daughter in an unnamed big box store. We sat & watched, entranced. What a performer! Been a big fan ever since (and even got Adam hooked too). Its time to experience it in person!

    So there you have it: Get healthier, parent better, read more, write more, and see a good show. That shouldn’t be too hard, right? I’m up for the challenge! Who’s with me? I’d love to hear your resolutions – please share your comments!

    Posted: Jan 05 2010, 18:58 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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    Twitter Book Club Weekend Update

    I hope everyone who wants to read along with our #twooks book club has had a chance to obtain a copy of The Thirteenth Tale (or is close to doing so!). I have my copy, and was pleased to discover that it includes a “Readers Club Guide” in the back of the book; including a summary (which I have chosen NOT to read, in order that I don’t spoil any surprises), 14 discussion points, suggestions on how to enhance our reading club experience, and a question & answer session with the author! As we get along in our reading, we may find these resources helpful. So far, I’ve managed to read one page. Yes, one. But a good one it was!

    In an effort to get us all “on the same page” I want to be sure we all know who is involved & reading, so we can all follow each other & get to know who is who! Here’s who I know is reading with us so far, but I may be missing someone(s), so please tweet me or leave a comment to let me know you’re reading too! I don’t want to leave anyone out:






    @kblogger (that’s me)








    It seems like the standard book club routine is to read a chapter at a time, and then discuss. However, the “chapters” in this book appear to be relatively short (about 12 pages), so we may want to just set a page # where we’ll all agree to pause & discuss? Or, would we appreciate a more free-form approach to reading & discussing: just posting/tweeting our thoughts as we go along at our individual speeds? We could post comments on this blog, or at another mutually agreed upon “book club” meeting place, or we could @ each other in twitter, or we could meet up at a certain time on twitter, or we could just post our thoughts whenever they come to mind by using the #twooks hashtag. I’m up for anything, though, less scheduling is probably best, to keep this fun!

    I know we all have very busy lives with children, work, school, family, and everything else. I don’t want this to feel like an obligation in any way! My personal intention with this club is simply to get back into reading good books! I’ve found in my life recently, I spend so much time reading online that reading books has taken a far backseat. I’d like to change that, in as fun a way as possible!

    So any suggestions as to how we’d like to move through the book & discuss what we’re reading as we go along are more than welcome!

    I am excited to get back into reading! Welcome to #twooks!

    Posted: Sep 20 2009, 22:26 by kelly | Comments (9) RSS comment feed |
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