Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Miracles in Marriage

Marriage can be a lot of the same old, same old. After 12 years of marriage we know how to finish each other's sentences, how to push each other's buttons and piss each other off...we might even do it for fun sometimes because things can get so "fine". We can predict how the other will respond to a want or need we might have, sigh... so we don't even bother to ask. We could have a predictable marriage.
It would be understandable. You could commiserate probably, if you are married, and my husband and I could make fun of each other at social gatherings, half-jokingly belittling each other, especially me of him, and we would hear lots of laughter of agreement. That's human, and normal. Yes, we could do that, just to do that.

Recently though, especially because of courses from PAX ( meaning Peace) about men and women, I have seen that the predictability in marriage and the resignation with men, is just not something that has to be that way.
I have a new perspective on what men want in marriage, especially after ASKING my husband and listening for twenty minutes (Epic!), and I have come to terms with the fact that my husband has been going through as stage as men do, according to Allison Armstrong, and this one is where he works ALOT. He is compelled to work, to build, to provide. His expression of love is his drive to provide for us. He is great at it. He has a full time job that matters to him and where he makes a huge difference daily. He is also writing a book. He is DRIVEN and gets up at 5:30 every morning except some weekends and writes. Then after the kids go to bed he does his research for the next days writings session. Sometimes that nightly research goes til 11:00. That doesn't leave much time for me. Of course, since every one revolves around ME, it's MY universe, this is tragic.

Because I choose to ongoingly apply what I have learned at Landmark Education, I can see my part in this too. Inside of my part, my responsibility, I have power to cause something. But first I need to look at my part.
Ohhhhhh...I get prickly when he pulls that computer out. I make him WRONG. I make the book WRONG. Sometimes I want to smash his laptop. I feel sorry for myself and curl up in bed with a pout, resentful towards him, boiling in making him wrong and stewing at 10 pm while he clacks away on his computer in the kitchen. Sometimes I just watch TV and go to sleep, but many days I really do miss him, feel sad and lonely and blame him for my woes. I am snippy with him and he has the experience that he can never make me happy. He has no idea what to do about my general malaise. We both feel unappreciated and disconnected...
And I am RIGHT to do that don'tcha know. Totally justified. Oooooh I am SO right.

And if I continue to be right, that's all that I will get. The big badge of RIGHT and my husband WRONG. And that's that.It will continue like that..for years. God knows what will happen, probably affairs, and I'm not saying him.

That's not what I am committed to.
So I looked at what was missing, what I could put in that would make a difference and I saw that compassion, appreciation, support, trust and curiosity would make a difference. And if I were being those things, that would provide me with love, partnership and creation in our marriage. That would be AWESOME. I don't know what would happen, I couldn't manipulate that...and I can see that that would make a huge difference for both of us.

So I created the possibility of Partnership and Creation! I took new actions from that. I asked Todd to share what was going on for him with his book. And I really meant it. I was curious. He told me and saw that the female character had him a little foggy in certain areas. Made sense. Last time I check he had never been a teenage girl. So I asked if I could make a difference if I looked at it. He said yes. I looked and contributed, not making him or the book wrong, but looked for what would have it all, everything he wants in the book, have it all work...and what I contributed from THAT, from what matters to HIM, worked. Two days later Todd asked me to partner with him on his book.

Now, we can't wait to talk to each other. We email each other ideas and we speak to each other with excitement and joy after dinner, before bed and every where in between. Yesterday, as he created the outline for a part of the book, I took notes and contributed my female perspective. He laughed at my straightforwardness and said "You know, we might just be the PERFECT writing partners."

Miracle. Miracle here. Now.
I feel appreciated, valued, connected, loved and I suddenly know myself to be a person who makes a difference in our marriage. I honor him and his creation. He gets to be supported and admired. He WINS.I do too. I am inspired by his vision. I want to dive into his brain and splash in his imagination, roll in his ideas, he is so fascinating and brilliant. REALLY. This is the high point of our marriage and it's just going up from here. This is what we choose to create together.

Zen Honeycutt

If you are curious:


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School and Getting the RIGHT Teacher

I see the increased emails going back and forth in my Moms Club and hear the parents at the pool talking in hushed tones, "Which teacher did you request? Do you know anything about Miss. Jessica? What about Miss. Lori*? I heard she was...I hope my kids don't get..."

I totally get the anxiety and anticipation of our children's experience at school. I used to bite my nails when I opened the letter from the preschool. I used to get a serious, scrunched face when other Moms talked about their children's teachers and listen intently to see what my child's future might hold. I totally get the utter and complete devotion it takes for a Mom to be committed so much to her child that which teacher her child gets consumes her being. That's love. That's dedication.
I just don't feel that way anymore.
And it's not because I don't love my child or care about which teacher they have.
Of course I want them to have the best teacher. Of course I love my child and would kill bears for them and maybe even picket outside a Principal's home if I thought it would make a difference.
That's my point. It won't make a difference, at least not the difference that matters to my husband and I.
Years ago, when I considered sending my children to private school even though we live in Irvine, which is touted as one of the best school districts in Southern California, my husband said seriously to me, "I want our children to be able to excel no matter what educational experience they have. We live in this great community and I want the kids to know the kids in their neighborhood and go to this good school with them." Ok. End of story. And I agree.

His point is that it is our responsibility as parents and our children's responsibility for their own lives that makes the real difference.
It is totally normal for we humans to have the idea that a certain teacher will CAUSE a certain EFFECT or result in our child's education and therefore cause a certain future of success, mediocrity or failure... therefore, we must CAUSE our kids to have the best teacher. It's survival of the fittest. It's anxiety ridden. It's never ending.
It's also dis-empowering.

See, if we follow this CAUSE and EFFECT idea, then a certain teacher will cause a certain effect and that is that. The child is stuck with that teacher and then stuck with the limited results...leading to a limited future. We can never time travel go back to the past and change which teacher our kids gets assigned to, how they were treated or taught or what the results were. The teacher defines our child's future.

So to be a normal human being and to live by CAUSE and EFFECT in any area...if that happens then this will happen..and then I will feel this way and oh well, we'll see.. is so dis-empowering I want to rant and rave and shake people by the shoulder and hug it out of them when I hear it in casual conversation.
Here's where I beg you to get the impact of, this Cause and Effect Poppycock in education:

What message does the anxiety we have over a certain teacher, certain school, certain talented program, say about our CHILDREN? What does this Cause and Effect idea say about what THEY are capable of, responsible for, or what is possible for them???
This idea that our children must have a certain teacher, education, school or scholarship to excel in life is totally dis-empowering. It makes them small. It makes them a victim of the system. It makes them At The Effect of something else, outside of them. Our child's power no longer lies with them, it is over there with that teacher, right or wrong.
It also puts all of the responsibility on the teachers. What kind of experience is that for the teachers and principals if they feel like we as parents NEED to have a certain classroom, at a certain time, with a certain teacher in order for the mystical minutia of our child's life to magically line up and create a successful school experience and life FOR them?
I suggest this shows a lack of trust in ourselves as parents and in our children's capabilities. Which is human, it's normal, it's just not, again, empowering.

There are two kinds of points of view we can have about life:
Dis-empowering or Empowering.
I choose Empowering. For everyone.

I do not imply here that the teachers don't matter. Teachers are extraordinary. Their education, style and commitment matter.They matter and they make a difference. They just don't define my children's future. My children do.
I chose to focus on empowering my child for the coming school year, and creating with them that WHATEVER teacher THEY get is the PERFECT teacher for them. Their classroom is perfect, their school is perfect and all they need to do is show up with their perfect selves and PARTNER with their teacher in their education, CREATING their own education and experience in life.

For those of you who scoff and say, well, your kid goes to a Blue Ribbon school, sure you can say that perfect BullS^%T. My kid goes to a dump of a school and their teacher is a lazy jerk.
I got it. That sucks. AND you CHOOSE to send your kid to school there even if you think you don't have a choice. We all have choice. If you can't afford a better area, move to a different state, if you can't get a better job to do that, pull your kid out and home school. If you both need to work just to put food on the table (not Gucci on your wrist), then look your kid in the eye and tell them something like,
"This school is what it is, it may not be pretty and the teachers may do what they do. That's what just what they do.In the meantime, we KNOW you will excel no matter what. That's how smart you are and how much we believe in you. No matter the situation is at school, we want you to ask yourself, Are you proud of who YOU are BEING?"

If the situation doesn't seem right, we can teach our kids, no matter what, to be committed, to have integrity, responsibility and generosity. Because in the long run, that CEO of a company or Investor is not going to hire or partner with our kids because they had Miss. Jessica instead of Miss. Lori...or because of their grades and what they KNOW. They will partner and create with our kid and our kids will make a difference in this world and be successful because of who they are BEING. And if our children is proud of who he or she is being, THAT is success.

Zen Honeycutt

Not that they need it, but to find out more about a program for your child 8-13yrs that empowers them to have integrity, responsibility and generosity, look up The Landmark Forum for Young People at www.landmarkeducation.com
And no I do not get compensated in anyway from Landmark, I just love this program!

* These names are made up and I apologize if they coincide with any real teachers names that may or may not be talked about.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Vast Disconnect: Teens and UK Riots

I have heard many times of rioting, and my reaction was a momentary numb sadness. The LA riots were more deeply disturbing, but the riots in Africa,Germany and France...all seemed but a distant disappointment in humanity and government. C'mon, get it together people! I would think, Get some government support or job infrastructure going! The rioting was a wake up call for that government, almost a deserved slap in the face that something needs to be done in that issue. I almost envied the protestors passion. You wouldn't find me stomping around the streets shouting about anything unless my toddler escaped.

This week however, I am jostled to my core about the London riots and now spreading UK riots. I am transfixed and terrified to see crowds of 14, 15 and 16 year olds strutting the streets, sinister and seeking destruction. They randomly smash windows, steal, throw rocks at police, burn cars and landmark buildings and even steal from a pre teen's backpack as they help him up, injured and stunned from the rioting, face bleeding. They steal his ipad or camera from his backpack as he weakly waves them away, leaving his backpack gaping open, boy wondering...what the Hell is going on?
The audio recordings of the teens bragging that they "Can do what they want and the police can't stop them" or that they will "Keep doing this til they get caught" and then finally "When I get home nothing will happen." strikes me to my heart.
Nothing will happen.

As a Mom of three boys, only five years away from being teens, I see these riots as a scream of society. Screams from our youth. They want SOMETHING to happen. They want their parents to care enough to hear them, to give them structure, to pay attention, to care about them enough to support them in being useful, productive and self sufficient. Teens are shown more material things through media than ever, songs like "I want to be a Billionaire" and "Dirty Rich" are just a sign of the focus of our youth. It's on extreme wealth, sex, beauty and AQUIRING and they perceive that they have almost no means of doing that unless they are given money...or steal it.

Just a few hundred years ago we could not survive as a family and as a colony if our teens weren't being useful, productive and protective. For almost a million years as humans, they were some of the most valuable people in society. The teen boys trained to hunt, kill, fight and protect the women and children. They backed up their fathers and were some of the first to defend or attack and it was necessary that they do so. They had areas of accountability that were all and only theirs. If the 13 year old boy didn't bring the wood in, the family would have no fire until he did. The teen girls trained to deliver babies, feed and clothe the family, mix medicine that would heal and save each other and the defending men and teens. If the 13 year old girl didn't heat the water, they had no hot water for food. Teens were an integral part our survival.

What is so now, is that our instincts and abilities have not changed (rather they have expanded) but society has. Society is set up now for teens to wait. Wait until they are adults.
Teens are now, for many, are just vapid airheads or stupid punks (there is actually evidence now that shows that their brains are not fully formed) that are in a holding pattern. They are "no good" until they get out of that pimply, rebellious stage and turn 25. I literally had a teacher tell me that "Guys are basically sh*t until they are 25."

A few hundred years ago, kids began working at 7 or 8 and were already in training and making a difference for their family. Teens now can't even legally work until they are 16. They can get babysitting jobs and care for our children but they can't flip burgers. Even then they are competing for those jobs with twenty four year old parents now. If they are lucky enough to live in a suburb with lawns, they can cut grass and move heavy machinery but they can't legally fix or make a computer. Even if they do have a job, it's merely for them to buy sneakers or makeup or a car for themselves. They focus is on them, not others. They aren't deemed NECESSARY. They go to school. Fabulous. What is so about that is that, that is all a lot of doing for SOMEDAY, when they graduate, later, when they have that degree, THEN they will be useful. Our families don't need what they could offer NOW because our society is structured completely differently. And no one cares about that because they way our society is now is more conveinent...and teens well, they will get over it, get used to it, grow up and eventually do something useful. In the mean time, thank God for video games.

Our global economy has expanded our comforts and conveniences but has shrunk our local teen's role of importance in our families and communities.

This is why, in my opinion as a Mom with pending teen boys, we need to ask more, not less, of our children and teens. We need to close the vast disconnect by reeling them in to love, listen and pay attention to them, no matter what, grumpy faces or bad attitudes, so what. Love them. And then firmly point them in the direction of something we NEED done, something important to us, something we depend on, and set them free to do it. Don't hover, don't criticize and don't demean their efforts. Celebrate their contribution. Have them be useful. Challenge them and give them big jobs, accountability and consequences. Have them also choose their area of passion and support it. Yes, they need to choose to take responsibility, and we in turn need to stop thinking that the way we can support them in their life is by money. No, it is by creating them as BEING important.
Teens are not just BECOMING. They ARE, right now, important, imperative, insistent human beings. Let's close the gap from destruction on the streets and disconnect in our relationships to create connection and contribution at home and in our neighborhoods.

How are teens important in your life?

Zen Honeycutt

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

BEING the Fun

As I drop my two eldest of at the pool for swim lessons I suck in my breath and tell myself, "Ok let's have some fun." I am gearing up for what could be another 30 minute scream session with my almost three year old. Yesterday at this time of the day was an episode out of sheer Mommy Hell Movie. Bronson just couldn't bear it that Ben and Bodee could go for swim lessons and he couldn't (just not available)and he screamed to wake the Gods. I realized standing that with my monster outside the gate drooling at the cool pool in 93 degree heat would probably not be fun for anyone, so I stupidly asked him if he wanted to go swimming at another pool. He looked at me like OF COURSE!!! and lowered the screams into broken whining and crying. I then attempted to get him INTO the swim diaper. At this point in his tantrum, sweating, red faced etc, in retrospect,I could have asked him if he wanted a bath in ice cream and he would have said no. So he said NO to the swim diaper. I took this to mean he was growing up and yes in THAT stage of potty training. Yea! Then I remember he is still screaming.

So we get in the roasting car, buckle up, with Bronson crying like I am strangling him or something, drive to the OTHER pool, unbuckle, get out, walk down the block in the glaring sun and get finally to the pool. I get in, begin to sizzle with gratitude that Bronson has stopped whining for a moment, and then he starts up again. This time he has decided he DOES want his "Diapey". He totally resists even putting his toes in the water. The car is waaaaaaay over there I think....and then realize people are watching me sit in a nice cool pool while my red faced toddler is screaming for a water diaper. Obvioulsy I am not going to drag a toddler who is screaming for a diaper into a pool and risk a huge mess. So I drag myself out of the delicious water into the heat and grumpily haul my screaming toddler back to the car. I give up on the pool. When he learns this, he screams another round of resistance, piercing my brain and puncturing any bubble of hope and patience I had left... and then FINALLY falls asleep. That was yesterday.

Today I am CREATING a different outcome, FUN, Generosity and Creativity. I say creating because I get that reacting to a situation is asking for trouble as a Mom. I can see that if I am reacting a lot,then I am being a lazy parent. I'm not creating anything. I'm tired, resentful, overwhelmed and just plain playing a victim of what I created.
So today I prepare Bronson by telling him we are drop off Ben and Bodee and that we are going for our OWN swim. I say it with glee and anticipation.I describe the Fun we are going to have. He claps and can't wait to get into his swim "diapey" and runs like a gerbil set free towards the pool shouting "Yeaaaaaaa! Fun!"

When we get to the pool we, swim, play bounce and splash together in the big pool. Then we go to the kiddie pool, his domain, and I change things up a bit ( usually we just coexist with the other pool mates) and talk to two other bright faced little girls. I invite them to play Marco Polo with us and pretty soon we are laughing and lunging through the water with utter abandon. I am a child... gleeful, giggling, sputtering, shrieking and shouting. Bronson looks at me with happiness that could lit up a city. The other little girls are fascinated with me. (Usually other people's kids and I find each other mutually and utterly boring.)And I am delighted by them. I experience a stranger's child as a treasure.

As I lay back down, floating in the water with Bronson resting his head on my heart, I sigh with fulfillment. I realize I am in the mode of creating, and it occurs to me that I usually am not. Usually I might get in to "get wet" and then get out again just so I can sit and watch the kids play. I sit on the lounge chair and MONITOR the fun. I watch the fun. I am not, like many of the Nannies or Dads, BEING the fun. I look around and see many Moms lounging and kids playing. Now, there is nothing wrong with lounging. I love to lay around,lounge, please, lounge away...and I also get that rounding out a day at the pool with a good healthy dose of getting off my butt and BEING the fun is where the real joy lies.

When Todd gets home, Bronson exclaims proudly that "I had fun at the pool with Momma!!!." I want to cry. Usually it's just "We went to the pool" or "I had fun at the pool."
I have choice to be a stay at home Mom. I choose to not have two incomes and make that work. I choose to be Mommy NEED Central, the source of filling my kids needs all day. And I choose, by being present with our children, BEING the Fun.

Love, FUN and Joy to all,
Zen Honeycutt