Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh Boy! Oh Boy! Oh Boy!

Moments of truth from my boys:

After Bronson, 18 months old screeched and I saw Bodee push him, "Bodee! Don't push him, he's just a baby, be careful!" "He's NOT a baby Mom!" "Yes, he is. " I argue pointlessly. Bodee insists, "NOOOOOOOO he isn't, he just hit me too! He's grown up!"

"Mom, he has one eye." Bodee informs me seriously, about a house guest, right in front of him, who indeed has one working eye..."he's like a Pirate! Cool!"

"First you go left, and then right and right again and then left and then right and the Kendo class is right there." Bodee's directions to Kendo class which were exactly correct after the second time.

"I am a Great Artist!" Ben, who is indeed. And in fact just had his art accepted by the City Hall Young Masters Art Show...where's my bumper sticker?

I could go on and on, I have some real gems in their baby journals as well. My boys fascinate me.
The way Bodee lowers his voice like a threatening machine when he talks about Bakugan ( some kind of Japanese robot toy). The way Bronson can take my lipstick out of my purse and with lips pursed and shooting sounds from his mouth, turn it into a deadly weapon, charging at me with fearless gusto. The way Ben can cut paper out and with tape and a marker, create an intricate 3-D pop up scenes of action, adventure and drama.

Boys are such, well...BOYS. And I have a new found marveling at them.
It wasn't always that way. I wanted just one girl eventually and I got three boys...and I admit I sometimes still wanted them to be girls. When they didn't sit and eat dinner quietly for 5 minutes...when they race through the house and use every possible toy as a weapon... when they make joke after joke about poop in front of the neighbors daughter...

I just wonder WHY? Why can't they behave? Be quiet, be calm for just 5 Minutes????
I got this past weekend in the PAX workshop that boys are miraculous little hunters. They are out to show their power, to test and trial and win at everything.
It's natural for them to confront, to get frustrated, to pout and express anger. It's natural for them to help and accomplish as well. They are wonderful at what they do.If I set them up to win, the struggle will cease.

That's not always easy though, to know ahead of time that the boys might leave the fridge slightly ajar and the baby will get in there and dump my sweet and sour sticky sauce all over three shelves of the refrigerator. Nobody wins there unless you count that he got to win by feeling the sensation of smearing the sauce. I guess that's a sensory win. Hang on, he did win, he conquered the lid on the sauce!

So I have a new challenge...setting them up to win. Thinking ahead, and sometimes I do. Today, while Bodee was taking Kendo class...karate with sticks....getting sweaty charging about a room with a big bamboo stick, yelling Japanese phrases at the top of his lungs, Ben was learning how to draw perspective with Mommy as his teacher, and Bronson was playing with preschool type toys in the kids room. They were all doing what they love, being challenged and winning...and I get to feel like the biggest winner of all, a Mom of three boys who hit the Jackpot!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I am not a "Better Man"

This weekend I participated in a Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women workshop with PAX
(meaning peace) programs. The view was awesome,and the workshop was:
Unbelievable. Incredible. Freeing. Empowering!

I have heard about the program for over a year now. Many of my female friends have done it and all rave about it. I didn't really think it was even remotely interesting at first, I had been married for ten years, my marriage with Todd was fine. We love each other, have fun together and have a great family. In fact we have been doing all kinds of leadership development and training together and our communication was completely transformed from what it used to be.

But sometimes I was still baffled. Sometimes I would sit in bed watching TV to wind down before bed and wonder WHY Todd was so focused on his research on the computer for his book, why he couldn't take some time to be with me without me reminding him? I would begin to feel sorry for myself, then mad at him and then wonder what was wrong with me that he didn't want to come to bed and talk and snuggle? WHAT? I look pretty darn good after 3 kids, I love to listen to him talk about his what was it that has him ignoring me? I would stew in a cloud of grrrrr.
HOW could I get him to spend more time with me?
If I were him I wouldn't be doing this, I would be a better husband...
Resentment would build, I wanted to talk to him, share my day, but if he didn't want to I wasn't going to force him...just let him be... and I would got to sleep feeling bottled up.
I would be cranky the next day we would be like ships passing, the perfunctory kiss or just the "Bye, see ya, love ya" as he went out the door.

This weekend, this example is just one of the hundreds of moments that I got to the source of all the confusion, resentment, communication disasters, squabbles, sighs, eyeball rolling, defeated silences...all those and more...

I was not seeing Todd for the man he is, not seeing him as a man committed to providing for our family, who loves me and the kids. A man focused on a single thing at a a hunter focused on the deer...he is driven to achieve. My complaining about him not snuggling me is draining and confusing to he is doing it all, the research, the book, the work, our beautiful home in a wonderful neighborhood, the caring for the kids, for me, and for the life we created together. I see his heart as huge now, instead of selfish. I see him as creative, loving and committed. And, thanks to this weekend I know how to communicate with him to have him honored and for me to be satisfied as well. I got the WHY, WHAT and HOW! Yea!

I got clear on so many many things. One of the biggest being that by letting Todd be the incredible man that he is, I do not have to police who he is being as a man. I do not have to be a "Better Man". I can let him be a man and I can be me, a Woman.
Very exciting.

I have been in Doing, Doing, Doing mode..or "Man Mode" for so long, surrounded by males, that I forgot what it means to be feminine, to be a Woman.
What's possible now is a whole new realm of ...instead of Zen MASTER....Zen the Temptress, Zen Momma, Queen Zen. Alot more joy, humor, fun and ease as well.
Life is so exciting and thrilling when I take risks, try something new and dive into what's possible....stay tuned to how letting "boys be boys" ( they are NOT girls! you hear that school systems?) expands the possibilities for peace and empowerment for my boys.

Thank you for inviting me Donna....and local ladies, if you are available May 15-16th, there is another one,a great deal too, at the Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, only the most beautiful location ever.

Zen Honeycutt

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Follow the Leader...or else.

It is a bright white sun light kind of Sunday afternoon. We are at El Moro Canyon on the coast of Laguna Beach for a hike with dear dear family friends. The hillsides are several shades of silky green, with patches of yellow wildflowers. The ocean breeze tousles my children's hair and they jump and skip in anticipation at the base of the gravel path. I am present to just how incredibly amazing the day is, the air, the location and our friends. Where we live is gorgeous.

My son Bodee is also gorgeous. He is days away from five, on the cusp of Big Boy-dom.
I am not sure it means anything, but he is the sign of Aries (fire sign, like me) and the Chinese horoscope Rooster (like my husband) and we sometimes lovingly joke that he is often like a Rooster with his A** on fire.
He is at the head of our pack of six kids and three adults, jogging in place, calling us forth, electric energy exuding from all pores.
We follow. He runs, he explores. He throws rocks at bugs and smashes snake holes. He is a mighty warrior through and through.
Suddenly, our mildly strenuous hike up the gently sloping hill is interrupted by his scream that is in the realm of a mortally wounded wild boar. Bodee comes running back, away from the head of the group screaming, "They are trying to get in front of me! They are cheating! They are making me not the leader!"

His misery is heart wrenching. He sulks, hangs back and pouts angrily. After some time he can't help himself but to try to be the leader again, but this time he is fierce, muttering under his breath, eyes shifting back and forth, watching his peripherals with paranoid anger. He may be the leader, but he is not having fun. He is ferociously on guard, preventing that scenario from happening again. He will NOT be bested!

I have experienced that human beings have a way of being exactly the way Bodee behaved. I know I have. We strive forth, we explore and conquer. And then somebody does something. Somebody alllways does something..that we don't like. Or something goes the way we didn't want it to go. And that's it. Forget it. Pointless, useless, and definitely less fun.

We may pick ourselves up and try again....ask a different girl to dance, work harder, work longer, and yet that past experience hangs onto us like a paranoid monkey on our back with its hands over our eyes. We can't see what's really in front of us ...which is nothing....we can only see the past experience lurking, looming, breathing down our necks threatening the future we think we are creating. THAT's not going to happen to us again! It's why wars are started and borders are created, politicians filibust and siblings and spouses silently hold grudges for years.

On the way down Bodee runs with his brothers and friends until he collapses in his fathers arms, and Todd carries him the rest of the way. He is tired from leading. He rests and restores himself. Children can sleep anywhere.

In the silence of the easy hike downward, just the sound of gravel crunching softly beneath our feet, we are present not just to nature but to human nature. I am present to how perfect he is, exactly the way he is. His striving to be a leader is an expression, as my mother would say, of life itself.

Zen Honeycutt

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Multiple Choice Night

Leftovers night as a child was always so disappointing. "Mom, I'm hungry, what's for dinner?" I would hang around her like a starving wolf, pacing behind her as she cooked on the white old fashioned stove.
"Leftovers! " She would say cheerily.

"Awwww shoulders would droop, I would sigh, and set my face in a frown and get ready to survive dinner. Leftovers always sounded so gross. Left over...the stuff that has been picked through,forgotten for how many days... may be contaminated by peoples germs, who knows? Definitely over cooked,mushy and gross.

Tonight, as I heat left over chicken, peas, and since that may not feed five,
(four of which are of the male gender and may turn out eventually to be scientifically proven to have three stomachs each )...I also heat up left over meat pasta. I have a new appreciation for my mother, who commuted and worked full time as a child care development official for the State of Connecticut, raised three kids, was married for 32 years, and was a partner in a summer resort which often hosted 55 people a weekend. AND came home and cooked great dinners. Leftover night to her was awesome. No cooking from scratch. I get it. As I arrange the food attractively on the plate, I look at the colorful display of assorted foods, it dawns on me.
It's all context.

How about Multiple Choice Night?
Usually dinner is "This is what's for dinner." Period. If they don't like it, they go to bed hungry. Seriously, unless we are eating fiery hot Indian food, we all eat the same thing and if they don't like it, well, too bad. We don't make peanut butter sandwiches ( well, sunbutter in our house) at 8:00 pm (anymore) because someone didn't want to try fish with black bean sauce, rice and bok choy. We aren't mean about it, we don't say it in a hostile voice, that's just the way it is. Sort of like buckling up the seat belt. That's just the way it is.

Because of that, I like to think, my almost 5 year old actually dipped fresh spinach leaves into a green mushy Indian pea sauce the other night and loved it. My 7 yr old jumped up and down with glee when I bought brussel sprouts for him. No kidding. They know that what's so is "This is what's for dinner."
Then we encourage and celebrate when they try something new.
Last week, when Bodee said, eyeing red peppers suspiciously, "Mommy, I don't want to try something new, I only want what I have tried before."

I responded simply, " Bodee, everything you have eaten, was, at one time, new."

He looks confused and then gets it. He sighs and tries it. He lits up with delight when he likes it!

Tonight we have a special surprise. Like a buffet, they will get to do something they never usually do for dinner, they will have a's Multiple choice night. They get the power to chose and it's an empowering context for everyone...something to look forward to rather than survive. Yea! Dinner!

Have any other ideas for jazzy names for leftover night?

Zen Honeycutt

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cut it out! Knock it off! Stop it!

" Cut it out! Knock it off! Stop it!"
My husband half chuckles. He "knows" he should be telling him to stop, but he's so cute he laughs. Bodee is near naked, besides his Spiderman underwear at the breakfast table, and he is standing on the chair doing a spontaneous dance.....then he turns and points his butt at us and waggles it with glee.
Todd's command is ineffective and it is not until he almost tips the chair over that Bodee stops himself, sits down and eats his eggs.

What comes to mind is the perfectly behaved Chinese kids I often see at the huge round tables at restaurants, silently and politely having dim sum with their families. Meanwhile, my kids are laughing, tickling each other under the table,and dangling their noodles in front of their faces before slurping them up with relish. The little voice in my head says...I am half Chinese...what happened with my kids?

"That's what's wrong with America," some may say...."Parent's are not disciplining their children. They let them run wild and act all crazy at the dinner tables, let 'em get away with anything and then before you know it they are getting locked up."

Yeah, yeah, judge as you will. Tonight we are laughing at the dinner table. We enjoy our children's songs and creative play with their food as long as they are eating. We all hold hands and look each other in the eyes as one of the boys leads our prayer, and then we say in unison " God is great, God is good, and we Thank you for our food, AMEN-ies!" Sometime the baby claps after we pray.

It's a moment of unity, gratitude and grounding.
I don't care if Bodee is not dressed tonight. I don't care if he is dancing once in a while. The family meals are a time to connect, and let's face it, a 5 year old communication skills consist predominately of imaginative play. They are still working out what a conversation is. Mostly his play with friends comprises sounds of battle ships shooting,light sabers swooshing and high pitched cartoon characters saying " Oh Noooo! he's gonna get me"...and then a deep voice booms "I'll save you!"
So for him to tell a story, do a dance, eat his french fries like airplanes and waggle his butt now and then ...well, it's an example to me of freedom and fun as a family.

The real kicker is in not comparing my kids to other kids. I find that it's automatic...and if I am not careful I can make it mean kid dances half naked at the table at home, and out, their kids are quiet, our kids are hiding under the table cloth, shrieking, and I think one just ate a fried noodle off the floor....I could make that mean that I am a lenient, lazy Mom and they are hoodlums. I could. And I would have some pretty good evidence according to some.

Or I could chose a more empowering context, an empowering perspective, if you will. I could choose to see that we are living life, our kids are free to dance, to waggle, to giggle. They are fully self expressed and create laughter, love and fun.

Manners are good too, and for the really important times and places we empower them with those tools...but getting caught up in what they are doing means something about us as a no win situation.
They are kids.We are parents. For the most part, if they are having fun, so are we.
And if we are having fun, so can they.

Zen Honeycutt

Friday, March 12, 2010


It's after six on a Friday night and Daddy isn't home yet.
Tonight I get why a Mom of three kids several years back put a strike sign out on her front yard and sat out there for days. She made the national news. MOM on STRIKE her sign read. She slept in a tent on the front yard. Seriously.

I wasn't considering a tent tonight though, my plan of escape was to pack a small bag with clothes and bath salts, pass the baby off the moment my husband walked in the door and go buy a bottle of Merlot, some chocolates and bee line it to the nearest decent hotel. That's my fantasy night...wild huh?

Tonight, the chocolate ice cream in the boys bedroom carpet...the uncooked dinner, the boys rough housing, the sticky substance on the floor, the baby screaming because I just put him down for what? 2 seconds? (please God help me find my Beco baby carrier...) the orders not filled...all cry out for me, in some cases literally....for me to grow six limbs and take care of them NOW!

The crazy idea that leaving it all would somehow make it better flirts with me like a cocky fraternity pledge. Not that I would ever, ever, ever....but I get now why the highest number of affairs happen when couples have kids that are 2-5 years old. Again, seriously. It's just escape.
Crazy days like this and no respect for the partner could easily lead to a crumbling foundation...I can see how it happens. I don't like what I see.

So I sigh, allowing myself the indulgence of my identity....swearing in my head, hissing at me to say "Calgon take me away!" and go...and then I say thank you very much, not today....and I pick up the baby, kiss his chocolaty cheek, write a few notes for my husband with clear but respectful directions about dinner (his cell phone died...note to Todd: Please buy a remote/second cell charger), give the boys direction to play outside and I retreat to bed with the baby. Mommy needs a time home.

Several minutes later, baby and I snoozing, I hear my husband come in the door. He is happy to see his sons running at him and then the reality of the mess on the carpet sinks in. Then he is not happy. Chocolate ice cream in the BEDROOM???!!!
I don't get up. It's his turn I reason...
He makes dinner and brings it to me...ohhh so's good too!...I start to thaw...but he delivers it with a set scowl on his face and I do not engage.
A short time later he comes in, neutral now...we both breathe, and he just asks how I am. He says that whatever is going on for me is OK. And I love him madly. I love that he can be with my ups and downs. I love that he can be my rock when I fall. I love that he can steam clean the carpet after a full day at work and not break something. I sink into his deep brown eyes, thank him, apologize for the retreat...and when he shushes me, I get again that I don't have to apologize. I'm here, he's here, the kids are alive. I don't need to strike. Not tonight anyway.

Zen Honeycutt

Please note: this is an old picture of my middle son as a baby...along with the many things on my list to do is to find my camera. This is a fine example of today, however, gets the job done.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Catching Air

The intense whiteness of the snow is startling and yet serene at the same time. The crispness of the air fills my chest and I buzz with aliveness.
We are in the mountains, on a snowy Sunday afternoon for a day of free family sledding. My three children are padded with layers of clothing and waddle to the edge of the snowbanks. They eye the steep incline and move minds eye imagines them lurching forward, toppling over, a ball of limbs rolling down the hill, screeching and flailing...and I sternly redirect them to a path.

We troop through the fresh snow, on an adventure, to the sledding area, which is teeming with families, snow ball fights and large red and blue plastic pieces of broken sleds. Again the alarm goes off in my head.

As my husband guides my two elder sons, 7 and 5, onto the sled, I must consciously tell myself "He's got them. They will be alright."

How often, in business, in life,in parenting, must I give up that "something bad is going to happen"? It seems like constantly.

When I was a child, playing hide and go seek with my brother, he wanted to hide near me and I told him, "No, go away, this is my spot!"
He didn't listen to me. He hid there anyway, climbed on top of the cabinet, broke my mothers bowl I told on him,and he was punished for it. It was not right, it was wrong in my eyes. A big mess all around. And all my fault.

If he had only listened to me none of this would have happened.

From now on, I better know better. And people better listen to me!

My whole life I tell people what to do, thinking I am helping them... my maiden name actually is LaBossiere and people called me "LaBoss". In elementary and high school I was automatically The Boss. And mostly, I was right too. You can imagine how my relationships went...being right all the time!

Today, when I stop and get present,I see that the unknown, no matter what it is, the glare of the bright future, the darkness of the shadows, the unsure opportunity in business, has my automatic way of being...that I have to know better and people must listen to me...or something bad is going to happen....that way of being could run my life.
I could not let them sled, or be a crabby boss about it when they sled. I could not try certain avenues of business, not meet new people, not speak in front of large groups ...unless I know for sure how it' s going to go.
Or, I breathe. Revel in my 5 year old catching air off a bump and whooping with delight... and laugh...Trust the world. Trust myself, that no matter what, I will be ok. My family will too. I will be responsible even if things don't turn out.
We will thrive. And create fun.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Let's Get it Done!

I am sitting in the office of a director of a major hotel in Irvine. She is savvy business women who has graciously welcomed time with me to discuss Zen's Purple Garden. On the cork board behind her is a post card that stands out "Do or Don't. There is no TRY." I comment how I like the post card. I am a firm believer in committing to something in life, or not, and following through. She agrees and shares about aspects of her job that require following through, even when you don't want to. We get that we honor deadlines, do what we say, commit. We exchange a look of recognition of someone who has integrity, someone who is trustworthy.

Later, I see the news. Obama has declared about health care "Let's get it done!"
I agree. I don't know all the details of the reform, but I get that it is a step forward, not perfect, not without gaps, but a step forward. I do get his commitment to the best possible bill with "what's so" right now. As I watched clips of the health care conference last week I sighed with exasperation at the antics of the opposing members, turning the conference into a battleground of analogies and jabbing words versus honoring the time carefully created to CREATE.

As a Mom and business person, as a wife creating a life with my husband of ten years, I am constantly getting things done. I am doing doing doing. There are days in which I take my often protesting, screaming baby in and out of the car seat, bringing my older boys to school, to errands, grocery shopping, to play dates or doctors, over twelve times. And that's just the car seat, that's not the highchair or diaper changing table. I bend, lift, squat, clean, reach, scrape food, wipe butt, sweep, scrub, cook, blot, dab, put away, wash, fold, pack, remind, direct, ask, command, walk, pick up, drop off, console, cuddle, pat, tuck, dress and hug, countless times during the day. I get it Done! Moms do.

And yet with all that doing, I rarely take time to think about who I am being...what is my experience of myself? Who am I to my children? To my husband? Do they enjoy being around me? Does my husband really look forward to coming home? Does he just like to come home to get away from work? Or to be with Me?

When I can take my mind off auto pilot and stop just doing doing doing...I look into their eyes and get what all the doing is about. What REALLY matters. And that's not what I am doing for them. It's who I am being with them.

Tonight, my husband looks at me with gratitude and sweetness in his eyes and requests that my sons tell me that I am amazing after a good dinner and bonding conversation, ( I love him:). My 4 year old looks at me and says "Momma, you are really really really really really reeeeeeeeeeally amazing!", and I get that it's not because of the cooking, picking up an dropping off, cleaning, packing lunches or bedtime tucking in. Being there and doing those thing is great, the health care conference was a good idea, but who I am being, who they are being about it, makes all the difference in the world.

When I let Bodee help cook and guide his hand gently, even when he makes a mess, or when I commit to being on time to drop off and pick up and I am, with a peaceful smile, (huge breakthrough for me, I used to always be late)...or when I hum lullabye, even when I am dog tired, and Thank God for all the beautiful things in nature, for my boys, with love and gratitude in my off key song...being patient and trustworthy, being love...I have a feeling that that might be what he appreciates so much.
Or it could be that I get what really matters to him and I buy him a pack of gum now and then...who knows.

My point is Getting it Done is great. Let' s do that. But let's also think about who we are being please, Congressmen and women. What are you creating and who are you being about that? People's lives are on the line and this mother cares about people having access to health care to take care of their families, and be healthy, now.
Thank you.

Zen Honeycutt

Monday, March 1, 2010

Presidents and Packs

It is almost dinner time, I am cooking, and Ben, my 7 year old and Bodee, almost 5 are playing with red clay at the family table, several feet from me. Bronson, 16 months, is padding about the kitchen in his bare feet. Ben and Bodee are chattering to eachother when I catch this part of their conversation:
"Bodee, if you do nice things for people, you could be President of America, you know, like Obama."
Bodee says with a sigh, "Naaaah, I don't want to be President of America, I want to be President of the Universe."
"No, Bodee you can't be President of the Universe." Ben says decidedly,and perhaps not wanting to hurt his little brother's feelings, he adds quickly, " Well, actually in your imagination you can."
"Well, ok I'll be President of America. I'll be a Daddy too."
"Yeah!" Ben says encouragingly " If you are a Daddy that's like being President of your own house. You can do that too!"
"Yeah, I'll be President of my own house too." Bodee says confidently.
"Yeah me too." Ben says excitedly.

I stir the potatoes and smile.
The me of my twenties, the Zen who was Xena the Warrior Princess for Halloween and stomped down Broadway in downtown Manhattan in a fake bear skin cape, with a shrill but triumphant war cry and fist in the air, would cringe and spit at the very thought of the man being THE President of the household. "NO, we should be EQUALS by all accounts" my warrior princess would growl.

Ceasar Millan from the Dog Whisperer, has had an impact on the perspective of that former twenty something year old. Watching a few of his shows and getting how it is the behavior of the leader of the pack that needs to change, has altered my current perspective. It is confusing for the children, or our "pack" to see two bickering "leaders of the pack" in the house at the same time. It is a child's natural drive to push the limits, to test the boundaries. They test the two leaders and see if they can divide and conquer. If there is one leader, they feel safe and can focus on play, growing and learning.

There was a moment when I got this, and saw how exhausted I have been from trying to be the leader of the pack, or at least co-leader ALL THE TIME. This results in cranky, screaming kids, a dishonored and withdrawn husband and me being frustrated and know, because we are humans, in a human family...that's just what happens sometimes.
That moment was freedom for me in my relationship with our "pack". I Get to Give Up being the leader of the pack when my husband is home. I can let go of control, I can breathe. I can trust he will take care of all of us....and our children can too.
That doesn't mean that I don't have opinions and input about how we parent, but each choice is a learning experience for us rather than a struggle. We are a team creating together rather than a pack of dogs fighting over turf.
As I imagine my sons as Presidents, I chuckle inside as it occurs to me that that is exactly why we created the names Ben, Bronson and Boden instead of Bodhi for our second son...Boden is distinguished and could easily, phonetically, be "President Boden". Solid.
I see that no matter what their names, they will be Presidents, of something, most definitely of their lives, because they say so, because they are leaders.

Zen Honeycutt