Friday, August 31, 2012

Make LIFE Good Art

Watching author Neil Gaiman's graduation speech

has me inspired to look at where I "Make Good Art" as he promotes...and where my life itself might be good art.

Where can I or have I faced everything and anything....
Family drama? His suggestion is "Make Good Art"...
Flop in public speech? "Make Good Art"...
Tantrum at the restaurant? "Make Good Art"...

I get now, that I can do this...anytime, anywhere. That's what being an Inspired Parent is, creating...making good art no matter what.

I never had a daughter. I cried for days when I realized I never would and still do when I see an adorable girl in a commercial or a pretty heart mourned for the massive loss of never having a girl. All that I will miss out on, all that I cannot pass on...all that I cannot witness...
or not?

Our exchange student from Hong Kong arrived last night. It was so exciting to make a sign for her, my temporary daughter, and hug her with a full, full heart when she ran to greet us. She is adorable, a 17 year old that looks like 14. Bright, happy, caring and outgoing, she is condensed awesome. She plays with the boys like a long lost big sister. She takes interest in the boys Pokemon and legos and I look forward to shopping with her. She shares stories of Hong Kong and brings a new culture and perspective into our home. To me, creating several months of adventure with her and our boys will be making LIFE as Good Art.

It has me wonder where else I can "Make Good Art."

Zen Honeycutt
Contact Pamela Michelle at CETUSA if you are interested in hosting a student from another culture!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dinner time is OUR Time

This is a follow up to "I Hate Dinnertime!" blog post from a few days ago.
Dinnertime was not fun. Pretty unpleasant for a week or so. Then I got present that I could create something and transform this area of my life.
I took a good look at it and what I had already been doing:

I was resisting making dinner until the last minute. It was a big "I HAVE to."
I was making dinner with a left over pile of dishes from earlier in the day stacked up around me...UGH and feeling like “it’s all on me” and stressing out.
I was throwing whatever food there was together, really bored with the food I was cooking and practically slapping it on the table.
I was hollering at the kids to help set the table like they are in trouble, as if they should have known already, read my mind or something and have the table set without me even asking. They were in trouble before dinner even started!
I was sitting down and saying grace in a rush.
I was getting really upset and resentful with the kids for putting their elbows on the table, maybe even feet on the table, playing with their napkin and not eating... or eating with their fingers. I would snap at them and feel a rush of anger.
I was yelling at them to eat at the table and someone often cried.
I was comparing my kids to how I think I was, an obedient child at the table and I am making them totally wrong.
I was wanting to quit being a part of this family.

The result was I had a miserable dinner experience. I had an experience of myself as a failure of a Mom.
I had a clenched stomach and kids with stomach aches after dinner.
I had kids who were being yelled at at a time of day when all we all wanted is to be together and enjoy each other.
I had a husband who worked all day to provide for us and came home to a stressful dinner and resentful wife.
This really, really doesn't work for me.
When I really looked at myself, who I was being was focused on my own stress.
I was being angry, unpleasant and frustrated.
But I was right to be this way. I was justified because of the way the kids were behaving!
When I looked further though, and really told the truth on myself, I could see I was being a victim of my own creation... the three kids, family, the idea of a nice dinner, was all my doing and yet "woe is me!". " I can't take it!"

When I blogged last week, I really got to see that what is probable is that I will continue yelling at dinner, having a miserable dinner and husband and kids who don't feel honored and appreciated, and I will, most likely, continue being angry, unpleasant, frustrated and self centered and continue to have miserable dinners.
That's just the way it's going to continue to go!

That was not okay for me. I know I could survive it. People do. I could. It could keep going like that, but I am committed to an extraordinary life, to creating love and aliveness, so I got to work.

I looked at what was missing that would make a difference and I saw being present, engaged in life, really creating dinner time as special was missing. What was missing was honoring my husband and seeing joy in my kids. I could see that being present, honor and joy is missing. And what that would make available is Loving Ease and Grace!

So I created the possibility of Loving Ease and Grace and suddenly a whole new world of possibilities opened up for me. I began to think like a southern belle, a hostess, and wonder what I could create. I dug out our fancy table cloth and china. I asked Mom friends for creative ideas. Last night I set up the dinner table a half hour ahead of time and when I put a candle on the table, the kids came over, curious and wanting to help. They set the table like a couple of adorable helpers, even folding the napkins. I cleaned the kitchen well in advance and made a delicious salmon dinner with dill, zucchini and roasted potatoes and brownie sundaes for dessert. When my husband came home with the candle lit and table set, I knew he felt honored. I was proud to place that dinner on the table that looked beautiful and my son even asked to do something which I had started from creating the possibility of Loving Ease and Grace, which was each say the rose, thorn and bud, from our day, the best thing, worst thing and something we learned. ( Thanks Pam for that idea!) The kids enjoyed taking turns and even though my husband had a bad day ( his father is in the hospital and work is piling up) I got that I could hold the space at the dinner table for us all to be connected anyway. And when my son puts his knee up and the other one was taking an eternity to eat, I saw that my automatic way of reacting would be to demand for them to stop, get loud and unpleasant. Inside of my possibility of Loving Ease and Grace, however, I simply whispered to them, and asked them whether or not that behavior was appropriate. They were surprised and corrected their behavior. No tears. No yelling. I got that I get to hold the space for the future of good table manners and in the meantime I am THE ONE to create loving ease and grace right now, matter what. I really got that it was ME all along that was creating the anger and miserable dinner, not them. They are having a blast eating with their fingers and playing with their napkins. It was ME that was making dinnertime upsetting by getting angry about it and yelling. I don't have to be that way! I could come from loving ease and grace no matter what.

So last night, my kids ate, shared about their day, felt heard and special.
And it wasn't the table cloth, china or brownie sundaes that made it special, it was me being responsible for creating the ambiance and being loving ease and grace.

At the end of the night my husband thanked me for the dinner and said that it really meant alot to him after the day he had, that I had dinner be that way for him and the family. The way his body relaxed showed that he felt supported and honored. He shared all about his day, which is something that probably wouldn’t have happened if we had all been yelling at each other at dinner the way we had been.
As he shared about his day, I got that everything he does is for us, and I am committed to him feeling love, support and the gratitude we have for him, everyday, and did last night, and will continue to, from me, being The ONE to get present and create from the possibility of Loving Ease and Grace.

Thank you Landmark Education and everyone who attends for the daily miracles of relatedness I get to create using this work and your coaching.
I get to have what matters most to me, present to the miracles of love in my family.

Zen Honeycutt

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Summer I Fell in Love

...With Being a Mom.

It came to me the other day in a moment of reflection about this almost-over-summer. This summer was the summer I fell in love with being a Mom. Better late than never. Maybe you fell in love with being a Mom when your baby was born...
I didn't. I was scared. I loved my child, don't get me wrong, when I saw my child I was bewildered with the feelings of wonder, love, protectiveness, fascination and fear. As my baby grunted, cooed, gurgled, nuzzled, yawned and sighed, I fell in love over and over again, but I was not in love with who I was.
I was fearful and quick to anger. If you so much as sneezed around my baby, I tensed and twitched. I became analytical and annoying about the dangers that could befall my child. I was a Debbie Downer (see Saturday Night Live), Paranoid Hermit and a Tiger Mom all in one. I can't say I was much fun.
I didn't exactly charm anyone or delight myself.

Something monumental shifted this summer. This summer I rearranged the molecules of my being. I created the possibility of being The Gateway to Adventure! and inside of that possibility everything shifted. A new realm of possibilities opened up and my world became an opportunity rather than something to survive. Each day became a blank slate to create with my children...and create we did! volcanoes, puppets, musical instruments, clay huts, science projects, and art galore. When I was cleaning or planning to manage the house and our adventures, each moment that they interrupted me with a book to read or story about their lego creation became a sacred moment of sharing.
I did not send them off to summer camp to "get a break from them". I joined them and volunteered and got to be a part of their adventures. This was a huge breakthrough for me. The freedom is like my soul sighing a sense of relief after finding it's home.

I got that I GET TO be The One. The ONE to be there when they are sad, mad or frustrated. Not to fix it, but to get them, to hear their soul speaking and validate their woes. I GET TO be The One to create spontaneity and delight in a moment's notice with a game of tag at the beach or crushing a sand castle. I GET TO Be The One to clap and applaud their piano playing in their underwear and ohhh and ahhhh at their castles made with tunnels of coach pillows. I GET TO be The One to wipe their tears when they cut their head from falling off the bike they just learned to ride (even with the helmet) and later, post staples, to support them in getting back on.

Being a Mom used to be the hardest job in the world, (sigh, sputter, groan) something my husband didn't understand and my Mom friends, although they understood, were too busy with their own trials and tribulations to be of much support to me. I bared it all myself and most of my communications to my husband were complaints that he "needed to hear" or else I would feel invalidated and grumpy for days. Now it's different. It's not that it's not challenging. The kids still resist eating when I make then food and pester me for food when I am trying to fold laundry, but inside of being The Gateway to Adventure, new actions show up, like folding laundry at night while I watch a romantic drama movie ( my kind of adventure) and planning a trip to the Pepper Tree grove for a hike and bringing a picnic lunch. During that adventure they are having too much fun to bug me for food and when we do eat with friends they really get it's time to eat and they do. There is no space for hard when you are having fun. And complaints just don't show up when you are sharing the adventures with your husband. You know what does show up? Connection and romantic adventures! wink wink...the surprise bonus:) Quite delightful.

This summer I created instead of survived. I share my joy in hopes to connect with other Moms who may notice their joy more through reading this.I took my kids off the "To Do" list, like What do I do with them? And become a being of creativity. My boys in turn, got something priceless. They got me. A mother who is not just there for them, but wants to be there for them and gets her value of being there for them. I am present, caring, creative, engaged and endearing. My heart celebrates with Moms who get this, you have inspired me for years. My heart aches for all Moms to have this relationship, not just with their kids, but with themselves. I wish for all Moms to know to the core of their being that their presence, creativity and attention is the greatest gift they can give their family. Them. Exactly the way they are. There is nothing to fix or better way to be but to be present. Be curious. And in being all about them, you get all of yourself. You get the immense gift that YOU are to the world.
You. Mom.

Zen Honeycutt

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Power of Pinterest

I finally checked out Pinterest a few weeks ago after numerous Facebook posts from a friend that could no longer be denied as intriguing. At first I experienced a dread, another job, I thought I had before me, to fill up my boards with fascinating images that would make me look good.Ha ha. Ugh. And then I just poked around and looked at people's favorite things. There was my quiet friend who is obviously obsessed with male models, my fashion friend who post intricately gorgeous crocheted couture pieces and has renewed my appreciation of fashion, and there were the crafts. Ohhhh... the crafts. There are Moms and crafty ladies out there that are gobsmackingly great at fabulous and quirky crafts. I just dive into board after board of wonderful and simple ideas...and find one board that practically giggles with glee and color. Children crafts and play ideas that I repin one after the other, not to look good for other people at all, but so that I remember to do them.

Today was "My Surprise Thursday" and I never know what I am going to do to surprise myself or my children. Today, after a day of No TV yesterday (that's a whole other blog) I was sure the boys would be glommed onto the TV as much as possible. After almost a half hour of squawky TV in the morning I saw the masking tape sitting on a counter top corner and a memory of a Pinterest post grabbed me and had me marching toward the carpet with purpose. Within several seconds I had begun mapping out a town with masking tape on the carpet. Streets, parking lots and multiple driveways for them to build homes and whatever else they imagine. My boys began turning their head from SpongeBob and asking me what I was doing. Nothing usually brakes the SpongeBob daze. I surprised myself!
The second the episode ended, which was just when I was completing the last driveway, the boys turned the TV off without me asking. They jumped up and spread out around the masking tape lines, figuring out that it was a village and immediately laying claim to real estate on appealing corners. Territorial little buggers.
I set out a few boxes of freshly organized toys (due to No TV day) and they were excited to each get a box that they had sorted and was now exclusively theirs for the next few minutes. They built Lincoln Log restaurants and block homes and even giant spider webs. They played for at least an hour while I cleaned out a closet and several shelves for the incoming exchange student from China we are hosting in a week.

I don't know the person who put that masking tape on her floor and took a picture of it and posted it to Pinterest and never will. She doesn't know that she had something to do with creating delight and giant spider webs in a village of Lincoln Logs and blocks in my home. She didn't know when she posted it that a Mom, somewhere out there, would feel fulfilled and satisfied by having her children playing while she created the space to welcome the daughter she never had into her home and discover a world of adventures in America. She will never know the thrill my children had in pulling it up after the village was demolished and balling up the roads into a big sticky tape ball and throwing at each other, cackling like crazy when it stuck to their hair. She didn't know she might create moments in which three brothers play as best friends.

So this Pinterest that so many view as a waste of time, could be... or it could inspire the best times of your life. All of life is a conversation. We either have a dis empowering conversation about something or an empowering one. Unless you are on morphine or laughing gas, the default one is usually dis empowering. It takes something to really look at what could be empowering about a website where people post a bunch of STUFF. It could be addicting, it could be mind numbing, it could be a huge waste of time....or it could be the best thing you could be doing in that moment and it could change your life and the lives of others.
Otherwise, why do it? Why not do everything as if it is the best thing you will ever do? What could open up? What could you create? It might be art with your kids that you never imagined. It might be a simple craft for a gift a year from now or intricate roadways for your children for the hour. It might be something that surprises you and delights those around you.
And that world is inspiring.
Thank you to everyone who shares creativity in the world. You transform what it means to be alive.

Zen Honeycutt

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Hate Dinnertime!!!

"I HATE dinnertime." my old neighbor once confessed to me. I was somewhat shocked. Not because she hated it, I was pretty frustrated with my kids at dinner too sometimes, but I was shocked because she confessed it. It doesn't look good to admit to hating time with your kids. So when she said that I commiserated appropriately but I filed it away as something I would never do.
I lied.

Right now, I hate it. Lately, I don't know if it's because it's summer time and we have seemingly chucked all rules and parental authority out the window along with the expectation that the boys should actually put shorts on and not hang out in their skivvies all day....
or if it's because our boys are 9, 7 and 3 now and have figured out that they actually outnumber us and seamlessly pull their stunts around the table so as to distract us from how much food is actually getting consumed versus smushed around on their plate.

What ever their scheming drunken troll minds have cooked up, I have had it. I am ready to either eat in silent protest, away from them, out side or upstairs, or quit altogether, point to the fridge and say there's the food and go out for dinner by myself. I am quite tempted by the last one, but I would probably have to get a job to pay for the dinners, and another job is the last thing I need.

So after asking Bronson to get his foot off the table, Bodee to actually move his jaw and chew the food inside his motionless chipmunk cheeked mouthful of food, Ben to stop putting his napkin on his face and eat...and then asking Bronson to eat, and Bodee to eat and then asked Bodee to pick up the food he dropped and Bodee to stop swinging his head back and forth to try to see what an earthquake feels like and then ask Ben to stop poking at Bronson's food, and Bodee to stop complaining about his food touching, and Bronson to use his fork not his fingers....

I got present to what was really there for me, ,and I say to them, "I don't enjoy eating dinner with you."There is a silence and stillness.
"And I feel really, really, sad. Because I want to be with you, you are my family and I love you, but when we sit down for dinner and you kids don't eat, you just play and complain about your food, I get upset and sad. And then I don't want to be with you. What should we do about this?"
"Should I quit? " I asked
"Should I eat outside by myself?"

Ben thought about it."If you and Dad have to ask us more than 3 times then we get a spanking."
I got even more upset."So... then I am in the middle of eating and I have to stop and hit my child???"
"Ohhhhh.." Ben's face fell.
Todd sensed the misplaced upset and tried to calm me, "He's just trying to problem solve, Zen."
"Okay" I took a breath, of course.
"That person could eat outside..." one of the boys offered, "by themselves".
"Yeah that person could eat outside by themselves and stay outside all night if they don't eat and sleep on the rug," another suggested.
This brought Bronson to tears. He hates sleeping alone. I could sense his stomach clamping up as big droopy tears rolled down his cheeks as he put food in his mouth in slow motion. I silently prophesied a stomach ache later. Ben looked really sad. Bodee even looked concerned.

"I have another idea!" I said almost excitedly, (I was too damn tired to muster up being really inspired.) "How about you kids just eat?"
They looked at me like it was an actual new idea.
They got it.
"Listen if we go to the swimming pool, what do you do in it?"
"Swim." said Ben simply.
"Yeah. Do you do your homework in the pool?"
"You swim in the pool. The pool is for swimming. That's what you do there. Dinner time is time to eat dinner. Not play, not do oragami, not argue or complain. Just eat."
They looked at me like I had just deciphered the code to Bible.
But we'll see if they have seen the light tomorrow night.

I don't have a breakthrough to share tonight folks. This is it. I still hate dinner time, but I feel better after sharing this. I know someone out there, maybe my old neighbor, maybe you, has some nugget of an idea that I can use and turn into inspiration. I am counting on you this time. Help me out.
What do you do to either get through dinner without killing off your young...or if you actually love dinner time, please share your secret with me. I might pay you millions.

Zen Honeycutt

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Back to School Wish

It's the last two weeks of summer and we have been wallowing in the laziness of our schedule, spontaneous fun and extreme adventure. We are driving home from the beach and I mention that school is coming soon and we begin to ponder what that classroom, new friends, different kids in class....and my son says,"Mom, I wish I would get a teacher that doesn't yell."
"I wish you would too. Why do you think she might yell, though if she did?"
"Well, it wouldn't be her fault. It's the kids that don't listen and move around a lot." He says emphatically.

"Well, I wouldn't say her fault, or the kids fault, but they are RESPONSIBLE for what they do, right?" I ask.

"Yeah.... But Mom, you know how you said that what we eat, you know, makes a difference on how we do in school, like makes us cranky and stuff?"
"Yes." I answer.

"Well, you know Mom, I see what the kids eat and a lot of them eat a lot of know, cookies with sprinkles and red food dye juice, and GMO and Cheetos with food dye...and they all eat wheat, and Mom, you know after they eat that they act all crazy and don't listen to the teacher and she yells and I can't think when she yells! You know, I wish those kids wouldn't do that!" He looks completely distraught. His passion has his younger brothers stop playing with their gadgets and look at him with concern.

"Well, they eat that food because they don't know that it affects them like that." I say to soften the intensity.

"Well, I am going to tell them then, you know, like an extra credit science project. I am going to do a report. Can I do it on the first day of school?"
"Why don't we do it and ask your teacher when it will work? Just be ready for the first day?" I ask.

"Okay great! Because if everyone knows that junk food and red food dye and sugar makes kids act crazy at school then they won't eat that and the food companies won't make that either. They would make something else that's better for us. And then everyone will be happier and better too. They might not die even from being sick from allergies and getting sick. I would be helping the world!" He is shining.

No joke. His words. My son is out to save the world.
He isn't even thinking of this as work, it just matters to him that everyone has fun in school and is healthy.

So be forewarned, parents, if your kid comes home asking for fruit for snacks instead of Cheetos...
because kids just say what matters to them.

Zen Honeycutt

From Drudgery to Discovery

My automatic way of thinking about learning is that it is hard and tedious. Especially to kids. Most likely, I am going to get resistance from them to try something new or they will give up quickly. Kids are "just like that" I think...

As I watch my son in his 5th piano lesson, I marvel at how quickly his little fingers move and how fast his brain memorizes the keys to play. The teacher shows him something once or twice and he has it down. He is using two hands now, already working on harmony and chords. He skipped the first 25 pages of the workbook and plays everyday, more times than I can count. I wake up to the theme songs to Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars. He will be playing with his brothers and then suddenly he runs off and is playing a song or two. Then he comes back to play. He is exhibiting what I think the brain most wants to do when learning something new...repeat it several times a day until it can recall it with ease...and then move on to something new. He has fun, is proud and looks forward to his next lesson.

I am so glad I was so WRONG about this! I wonder what else I might be wrong about?
I wonder what I haven't tried to learn because my idea that it is going to be hard stops me...foreign languages, advanced art skills, herbal healing. I would love to learn more everyday and often just don't. Then I wonder about what else I might be hesitant in having my kids learn because I think it will be tedious for them. I remember my father sitting me down and quizzing me in math facts or spelling for what seemed like hours. I couldn't stop yawning. So I resist doing that with my kids...and one of them could really use the support. What would it be like to make math facts fun? Use chocolate chips to subtract and add with? Do math facts as we are doing jumping jacks? Make art with math? What might he learn, ,and gain in confidence if he can see that learning is fun in this area too?

And what if one of my sons is secretly talented in something I think is too hard? I wonder what it might be?
My ideas of learning are obviously impact my life an my kid's life. There is so much more available to us if I let go of these old ideas and create.

Tonight after a rare excursion out to eat at a restaurant, to celebrate Bronson, our 3 year old, learning how to swim from my friend's 8 year old daughter, I noticed that my two eldest had a blast filling out the math puzzles on their placemat. Children naturally WANT to learn. It is naturally fun for them and they are proud of it. They show me their accomplishments with glee. I realize that although they learn much with my guidance, manners, how to paint, sew, build a campfire, fold laundry, countries around the world and how to eat healthy, they also learn much without me, sometimes even better without me. If I were telling Bodee to practice piano he would probably decide it's a drudgery and resist it. If I had told Bronson he was going to learn to swim today, he probably would have cried and clung to me. Sometimes taking ME out of the equation equals less of what I want for them and more of what they didn't even know they wanted. Sometimes children need to be away from their safety net to fly, be released from a schedule to dive into what they want, when they want. The space for them to want to learn makes the learning fun... and creates discovery.

So I wonder what new things my children and I will discover today?
What have you wanted to discover?

Zen Honeycutt

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Challenge and Conflict in Play

It's 7:30 in the morning and my two older boys have already been awake and painting wooden creatures for half an hour. The boys furrow their brows with intent stares at their brightly colored dragon and scorpion as they silently paint with the utmost care and detail. They are creating. Not watching TV, not fighting, not being bored from the days of summer that blend into each other. I am delighted and inspired by my children's immediate excitement to wake up in the morning and paint, to be creative. I wish them a life time of creativity and to support that, I sit beside them and ask them about their creatures. I set aside my suggestions or approval and just ask them about what they are up to. They describe a whole world for their creature and what they can and cannot do in defense and attacking complete with sound effects. I notice that even in their creativity my boys are creating challenge and conflict.

Later after breakfast, two of them play a board game and it is short lived. The 7 year old gets furious that the 3 year old wants to be banker, which is preposterous because the three year old can't add. The 7 year old tries to explain this to him, by challenging him with math facts and the 3 year old ends up screaming and throwing the money in his face. The 7 year old is smug that he won this battle even though the 3 year old storms off and he has no one to play with. Meanwhile, the nine year old plays his legos silently in his room, his challenge is on a galactic scale. He is building a new space ship to overthrow the warlords of his Star Wars galaxy. If anyone comes in his room and bothers him their will be a full scale attack, so we leave him to his plotting and engineering.
The banker issue gets resolved when Bronson wanders back into Bodee's territory, and Bodee who was probably bored with playing alone, welcomes him back and they decide to split up the money and both be their own bankers. They play a new sort of game which involves both of them winning lots of free money.

Later in the afternoon, they suddenly scatter in all directions to play hide and seek and have a short squabble over the rules. I listen for them to work it out and I hear the humanity of their struggle. Someone found someone and then they joined together to go find the other person. When the last one was found by the second one, he objects to the first one using the second one for help. "Not fair!"
My survival instinct was to jump in and ask them to play "Nice Nice."

I realized in that moment, even though I have an instinct and ability to quell the storm, that there was no reason for me to intervene. Boys create challenge, conflict and struggle as part of their play. That IS Nice, or FUN for them. The challenge and conflict is the whole point. Someone chases someone and the other runs. They wrastle, argue or fight off a bad guy, which could be any one of the unsuspecting brothers, and none of it means anything that I, as a female, imagines. It doesn't mean that they don't care and love each other when they are yelling at eachother. It doesn't mean that they are hurt when they are crying. It doesn't even mean that they won't be best friends or good brothers if they scream I hate you. I make that up. They may make that up too, but in most cases, within a minute or two, they are back to playing "Chase the puppy" or "Kill the dragon" from under their pile of sofa pillows without a second thought. It doesn't mean anything to them, it's all part of the game. Boys create challenge and conflict in their play because that is what is fun for them.

It is not fun for Moms, and that's why so many of us feel crazy and exhausted after refereeing for even a few hours of boys playing together. Moms and females have a natural drive for connection, nurturing and safety, so even hearing boys fight threatens our sense of survival. That may be why so many Moms get their kids out of the house to sports and activities...keep 'em busy so they won't fight. The thing is, whatever activity they do, they crave challenge and conflict, if it's in sports, theater or music even, their is the challenge to win, complete something new and the conflict they face is from failure if they don't. We could instead find peace in their challenges and conflict.

Boy are, in fact little men. And the DNA of men has not changed for 10,000 years. Their natural instinct is to play at struggle and conflict so that they may succeed in war and protect us, protect their mother and wives and children. Protect the village. So when they are fighting like wolves over a laundry basket they want to use to push each other around in on the floor, I can instead hear the gears in their brains learning how to negotiate world peace. As they argue over play money, I can listen for the conflict as their growth and development into responsible men who can provide for their family. I can see their struggle to build a tower that keeps toppling, not as something I must intervene to fix, but as a time to observe or inquire what other creative solution they might try and be triumphant in building a city. As challenging as it may be to set aside my natural instinct to intervene, calm and fix things for my boys, I am much more interested in creating a space where my boys are self sustaining and confident. In being present to what I am committed to creating, I find that the less I do in parenting boys during the free play of summer, the more they learn and grow.
The result is that,rather then shushed or shamed, they get the space to expand and to be celebrated.

Zen Honeycutt

I have a understanding of boys that brings me peace and wonder after Allison Armstrong's programs about Understanding Men at I highly recommend her programs..

Friday, August 10, 2012

Easy Parenting

Parenting is "hard" is a generally accepted concept, why make it harder? Having a play date, going to a Moms Club event, volunteering, joining Cub Scouts...all these things at first consideration seem like more work. Why bother? I hem and haw and procrastinate in planning them. Weeks go by and my kids don't have a friend over, months could go by before I venture out to a Moms Club event sometimes, and years went by before we joined Cub Scouts because we were coming from "making life easier" and "doing less" because "it's all too much".

The reality is, that just thinking that it's "hard" makes parenting harder. I know, there is the reality of it... the kids are home 24-7 with each other and they start to get tired, as any one would, of their stinky brother in their face. They start to whine about the way he breathes and cry about the way the other one mimics him. Tempers flare and no toy seems interesting anymore. I start doing a lot of sighing, threatening, cajoling and shouting and I exhaust myself just sitting on my butt planning the meals. But my perspective is actually what makes it tiring and hard.

Staying home, staying "small" by trying to reserve energy and do as little as possible is actually the most exhausting way to parent. The easy way to parent is to BE fun and interact with them doing stimulating activities. Not necessarily structured activities like shoving them into a tennis lesson or art lesson everyday, but by calling friends and lining up play dates, where the kids run around and "free" play, showing off the toys they haven't touched for months like they are gilded with gold. I can actually sit in the living room as they play and learn a new piano song or clean out the kitchen drawers as they have a snack and chat with them about their Pokemon collections. Having a play date is easier because they are better behaved in front of peers and more excited about home.Plus,you get a peek into their social life and get in their world. This relatedness makes communicating with your child much easier.

Going to a Moms Club event, where we meet new people, leap through a sprinkler, pick fruit off trees and read books together, works. Going to Moms Clubs events definitely makes being a parent easier because while the kids are playing I get to talk to a real live adult who isn't picking their nose or burping the alphabet. She actually listens to what I have to say and actually responds in complete intelligent sentences...unless she is interrupted by her screaming toddler. Which actually doesn't bother me, in fact it's often a relief and even funny sometimes. Many a Mom has been known to laugh at another Moms chaos, not out of ridicule but out of sheer bottled up frustration at their own kids. When we see another Mom dealing with the same thing, suddenly it's okay to let that energy out and it tumbles out in the form of uncontrollable laughter. Pretty soon all the Moms are laughing and we are just present to joy. Getting out of the house, connecting with the Moms Club makes parenting easier because you get you aren't crazy while the kids make new friends.

Volunteering at school, I thought would be especially taxing. I envisioned being sequestered to a room full of paper collating all day while a teacher's aid examines my work or complains about school politics. In reality, I get to observe the teacher's style in the classroom and hear her teaching lingo and use these words at home to reinforce the learning. I get to observe my child learning, his style, when he is comfortable or not and speak with him about how he does his homework at home with insights to what works for him. I get to be a part of an art project or writing lesson and learn how how my children learn, and use this at home when I am guiding them in their homework. Volunteering makes my life easier as a parent because I am tuned into how they learn.

Joining the Cub Scouts seemed like an impossibility for years. Give up our Saturdays for constant camping in the dirt? Sewing on badges til my fingers bleed? Trek them back and forth to flag ceremonies and memorize old fashioned fuddy duddy mottos? In reality Cub Scouts camp two or three times a year and it is awesome. We go boulder climbing, make marshmallow air guns with pipes, hike in canyons and sing songs around the campfire. The badges are less than you think and you can sew them while you watch TV. As far as it being old fashioned, there is nothing outdated about BB Gun shooting, deep seas fishing, archery, catapult making and learning good character:what it means to be responsible, respectful, honest and loyal. Cub Scouts makes parenting easier because you get a wonderful community of parents who support teaching your boys good character while you all create adventures together. Being a leader in Cub Scouts is even more awesome because you get to create with other leaders and your kids get the experience of having their parent be a leader. Being a Cub Scout leader makes it much easier to raise your son to be a leader.

Now, when I consider an option, even if I feel like draggin' butt all day, I look at what is possible...what might the kids get out of this? What might I get out of this? What might I be able to contribute? And my world shifts, from "too hard" to exciting new and marvelous wonders. And we just GET OUT! We go outside, have fun and cause a ruckus and I get to participate, create and cause being an adventurous parent and having amazingly happy and stimulated children. When I am an involved and connected with my kids, I am happier, and when Momma's happy, everyone's happy! What's hard is checking out. Checking in, and creating makes it all easier. Coming from the world creating, all there is is ease, freedom, excitement and fun!
Not just easy, but Inspired Parenting!

Zen Honeycutt

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Digging and Sharing: the Phenomena of Facebook

The AC is broken and it's so hot I walk around in my bathing suit and periodically hop in and out of the cold shower. Water drips from between my legs onto the tile floor and my three year old suspects me of peeing. It's then that I decide we are going to the beach as soon as possible. Miraculously my husband comes home early from work and by 6 pm we are on the beach, and I am looking at my sexy man talk about something with the spray of ocean water misting over his tan face. I am so grateful for him, his job and for where we live. I breathe and sigh and then cool off in the rushing ocean. It is perfect.

Our sons are digging holes in the sand. My eldest is digging one especially large, and by 7pm we have to put the kabosh on digging deeper and tell him to only dig wider. When he protests I tell him that some people have died from large sand holes collapsing around them. I hate to do this, scare him with tales of death, but I think sometimes sharing an example of what could happen is much more related than simply saying "because I said so." There is honor in an explanation. In hind site, there is creation in wonder and asking him what he thought would happen, is more effective. I usually do that...but sometimes velocity in communication trumps all. The beach is too wonderful of a place to linger on what bad things could happen. Just dig.

Later, as the sun is setting, the kids all jump in the massive hole and we let it collapse around them, cheating death, living on the edge, and they are filled with glee. Then Ben jumps up the stairs, leaving the beach declaring, "I dug the biggest hole ever! I can't wait to tell my friends!"

I realize that his experience and desire to share it is an inspired human creation. It's not necessary for his friends to know about this hole, it's not even important. But to him, it creates joy to share it, it enlivens him and deepens his experience of being fully alive. I realize that is what drives our connections in friendships, in Facebook and Twitter. Our desire to share, to connect, to have witnesses to our triumphs and pain has us feeling fully alive. It is an entirely new phenomena that we are sitting on the beach, watching a sunset and have the ability to share the moment with 700 Facebook friends. In all my 39 years, I never experience that before a year or so ago. I have always wanted to share moments like this with everyone and just never could before. Now I can. It becomes almost instinctual...great dinner, the idea to share it pops up, kids making funny faces or beautiful flowers...gotta post it. Sometimes I don't, I just live in the moment, but sometimes I do. People can be quite annoyed by this new trend, but I find it inspiring.

Tapping into the human desire to connect was genius on Zuckerberg's part, whether his idea or not. By executing Facebook, by creating Twitter, whomever did that, the creator's capitalized on a human desire that will never cease. We want to share, to celebrate, to shout our triumph's to the world, and now, via the internet we can literally do that. We want to be acknowledged or "liked", we want to connect with others, either from our past or make new friends. We want to complain and get sympathy and empathy and feel connected to our common disappointment in the status quo. Our ability to share that we have just dug the "biggest hole ever!" expands our joy just a little bit longer. My son doesn't get to post on Facebook yet, he just wants to tell his friends, but if he had an account, he would and there would be nothing wrong with that. Can you imagine the world of what kids would share? Big sand holes, brother's funny faces, photos of rear ends, super duper messes, mighty forts and miles of train tracks. By sharing, we get to share our world and peek into other's.We feel that our accomplishment is then known and heard throughout the greater world and we have made a mark, for a moment, that will float in the "cloud" forever. There is a sense of completion with sharing. And with completion comes the space to move on and create something new.

Although some think that Facebook and Twitter distract from human socialization, I suggest that they expand the very essence of socialization and connection. It is sheer delight to see that my friends in San Francisco, New York and England have read and "liked" or commented on a post. Not just because of me, but because of who they are to me. I get to connect to that, to them, to who THEY are, to their friendship and love for a tiny moment of the day, and that makes the moment HUGE.

Zen Honeycutt

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


What I have to say is very unpopular. I think it's making my family unpopular too. I am pretty sure we may not be getting invited to BBQ's and family dinners because people have heard me talk about my kid's multitude of allergies and wonder what the hell they would feed us. So they don't bother, too complicated. I really don't blame them. No one wants to have people over that are complicated.

Then there are others that I have also shared the very inconvenient and unhealthy truth about GMO's in our food, and man, they get a clouded look on their face like it's just not something they ever wanted to know. They don't want to hear it. It's not a fun topic. I can relate. I didn't want to know about it either.
They also don't want to be scrutinized for what they serve and they don't want to have to scrutinize what they buy at the store. It's just too damn hard. So they don't invite us over.
So invite them, you might say. Yes, I could, and do sometimes. Those are the times when people bring over food. Do I ask if it's organic before letting my kids eat it? Is that considered a faux pas in etiquette? Usually I just let my kids eat it, sometimes I eat it myself, and then later, when my son's or husband's lips have puffed up from an allergic reaction or my stomach aches and I am crankier than cat hanging by it's tail, I regret it. And I am not quick to invite people over again either.

GMO's are impacting our health AND social life and I am not happy about it.
Oh Waaaah! You may think I am crying like a baby. I get it. Just be responsible and bring my own food and suck it up.
I know. Fine.

The thing is, it wasn't always this way and doesn't have to be this way.

My Mom didn't have to make gluten free pizza for me with non dairy cheese and a gluten free/egg free cupcake before going to a birthday party. ALOT of Moms do now. Millions. All in the past 10-15 years since GMO's were introduced into our food. And the number is rising. Allergies and GMO foods.And we put up with it.
Or stay home and avoid it. Seriously, if my kids have two things going in a day and the night before we have plans, the answer to going to a birthday party is no. Because what is going to be served there is pizza, cake and soda. If I don't make time to make and bring a bunch of food, my kids will eat what is there. They will leave especially tired and grumpy from the food and a few hours later they are screaming at each other, we are screaming at them and they have some painful rash that last for weeks. It's not worth it. We love people but if this is what it takes to be social we choose to be unpopular.

That place of shutting down is so stinky though isn't it? It's totally not inspiring. My game is to have life be inspiring. So I play.
Today I am playing at planning fun activities with friends that do not involve much food. Just snacks, that we bring. Swimming works. Campfire with healthy smores (there is a brand of marshmallows without GMO corn syrup at Mother's). Park play dates. Board games.

And in the meantime I can just let go of my fear of being unpopular and share what is there for me. Talk to people about GMO's and even ask them if they want to be a part of helping to eliminate them. They may yes. I might even make new friends. Who knows?

Please leave a comment. How do you feel about GMO's in our food? Do you talk with your friends and family about them? What happens?

Zen Honeycutt

GMO hazards:

GMO's in pregnant women and babies:

Want to contact the White House and be heard?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Momma Drama

I am doing it again. Creating the Momma Drama.
First, inevitably, there is the discontent with something...mess, boredom, crankiness due to that time of the moneth...something. Lately it has been the neck pain for me and the hours of laying on the couch and watching TV commericals that just lie to us. Coca Cola, McDonald's and Cadbury as sponsors of the Olympics? If I didn't own the TV I would throw something at it. How stupid do they think American's are? Isn't sponsoring something supposed to mean you have some correlation, some connection of relatedness?
As a mother I am apalled that children anywhere, especially in my own home, might think that there is a connection between these diabetes-inducing-companies and the phenomenal athletes and their performance and I make sure to tell them. ARRRGGHH!
You can see the Momma Drama building here.

So at some point, in between complaining to my nothing-but-awesomely-patient-husband and snapping at my adorably affectionate child who just hugged me a little too hard and hurt my neck...I realized I have got to stop focusing on problems and sitting around stewing in my own soon as I am better I am going to create something rather than sitting here reacting to the world around me.

So I created the possibility of being Love and Generosity. And I realized I didn't have to wait until I got better. I can be that anytime, anywhere. So I started to look into, what would be an expression of love and generosity that inspires me?

I found so many things. Number one, being with my kids in a loving way. Realizing that not being able to pick them up and hug them makes a difference for them, so last night I just sat and held my youngest for a long time and just let him sleep beside us and didn't get frustrated with him. Just loved him.

Then I saw that taking action in the other areas that really matter to me, educating the public about Genetically Modified Foods, how they are the cause of allergies and instigate inflammation in the body and rise in cancer...this matters to me. So I contacted the Label GMO's group and got opportunities to volunteer. The fiber of my being stands for healthy kids and people through REAL FOOD.

Then, while reading an article about a Chinese woman who picked through garbage as a living and found abandoned babies and rescued them, 30 of them, I realized that there is more that we could be doing for the foster kids in our own back yard. Children feeling loved everywhere, this really matters to me.

And then there is the issue so close to my heart of women having choices, birth centers and access to midwives and doulas, healthcare that covers those services and the education to be able to choose them, Empowered Births, empowered women, peace and love during the first moments of life, this really matters to me.

So I have many areas where I would be lit up and fulfilled to make a difference in, and then these opportunities open up, and I cannot be in four places at once. I begin to create more Momma Drama for myself, which one do I choose now? I can't do it all! Am I failing this guy if I don't volunteer today? Which one is more important? Are my kids going to be mad and scream if I go out for three hours? What if what I do doesn't really make a difference? Tension begins to hurt my neck again.
Maybe other people do this too...maybe this is why alot of people don't take on any volunteering at all...the fear of not being able to do enough...creating drama for ourselves which we use as an excuse to not take action.Or if we do, it doesn't go the way we think it should so we let our passion peter out.

See, when I take on a new project, the way it sometimes goes is that my husband and kids are the ones that suffer for it. I suffer too, tension etc, but I am so used to it I hardly notice it. They get the brunt of it. I get excited about something, doing something, making a difference, and that excitement turns into anxiety and angst about getting it done on time or doing it right. We are rushing out the door and I am barking at them and my husband wonders how the hell he got roped into doing something that is supposed to be fun and is turning out to be miserable. He is coming from that FUN, right now, should be the reason why we are doing all this....I am thinking that it is just the way it is that it is rushed and crazy is for later, during the event. I am living for someday, later, he is living in the moment, the now.

I can see this now, at the time I couldn't or wouldn't, and I am totally not committed to that craziness. I am committed to love and generosity and peace of mind too. For me, for my family and for everyone I connect with.

So in taking on being of service to others, I make a deal with myself. Create a plan, a structure, for how and when and how long. One thing a day. Could be 5 minutes, could be an hour. Have it work. Take a deep breath. Connect with your inner peace and let that out to shine. "Be the Change you want to see in the world" doesn't mean it you can't have any fun or peace in the mean time. On fact, being the fun and the peace, now, is the whole point.

Zen Honeycutt

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Drive to Win

We have all been there, either as children or parents of a child that didn't want to even try. Having a child that tries and fails is one thing. Having a child that doesn't even want to try is another. As a parent, there is a deeper kind of failure. What did I do to have this child so deathly afraid of failure that he won't even try? Why doesn't he want to learn something new, to play to WIN?

I experience dread and sorrow when my children give up and/or don't bother trying. Perhaps my own drive to win makes it so significant for them that hey resist it altogether. I have been known to make "getting it right" a pretty intense endeavor.
Their little faces droop and they look down and away, not able to look me in the eye for shame of disappointment. My head fills with WHY? WHY? WHY?
I want to shout, "It's OKAY to play and lose, just PLAY!"
Whether it's not wanting to try kickball, soccer or to get an "A"...I am convinced there is something wrong with ME as a parent because my children don't, in certain areas, have any drive to win.

When the South Korean, Chinese and Indonesian teams were eliminated from Olympic competition for not playing to win, it reeked... not of shrewd strategy as they intended, but of a failure of sportmanship. It is that lack of sportsmanship, of honor and pride in oneself that is most disappointing. Although we know they wanted to win, the game they played and lost on purpose was inauthentic to their human spirit. It struck a chord in my wondering regards to my children why would they not want to win?

Perhaps for them, it is like the badminton players, if they don't play the way they could, then in the end they do win. They win at being who they are, as they are. Their seven and nine year old identities aren't threatened by a bigger win. They will take the small loss and keep their image of themselves intact. Because a bigger loss is to threatening. It is there, in the lack of confidence in themselves to go up against a bigger threat and win, that has us scream from the stands at the players. It makes us mad. An athlete or performer is supposed to be courageous and try anyway, aren't they? If not they are cheating the human race.
I see now, that my upset with my boys,whether expressed or not, comes from wanting them to not cheat themselves out on living, from being committed to them living fully.

Whatever the reason is there for them, I take great deep breaths whenever my boys don't want to try something. When I see other boys running across the street to baseball or soccer practice, I sigh to myself and and let it go...and then go ask them about the lego tower they are building that day. I let go and listen.

When we signed the boys up for Cub Scouts, we hoped they would be introduced to new things. And they were. The first time Ben tried archery, he was good at it, but I coached him from the sidelines and was told by the trainer that I can't do that. He sighed and said "Geez, can you trust me Mom?" So I just stayed quiet, and watched and listened to the coach and to him.
The second time he tried archery, Ben came home radiant from his Cub Scout camp weekend away with Daddy. His chest puffed out and head held high, he told me how much fun he had. Then he smiled from ear to ear as his father told me how our son scored the highest score, he had fathers and trainers patting him on the back and telling him he was excellent. Trainers gave Todd their numbers. Fathers stopped their cars to shout through open windows and dust at Todd to "make sure to get that kid a bow!" before they departed the camp. My son, the one who previously never wanted to try a sport, had found his "thing". He announced he wanted to get a scholarship to college with archery and go to the Olympics. He wants that gold medal.

So we got him lessons with an archery Olympic gold medalist instructor, and last night he pulled the bow for an hour, came home with fingers raw and back aching. Yet he did it, and when the session was over, he looked up at the posters of his 17 year old female instructor, who was the first female gold medalist, and sighed. That gold, that is what he wants. Before bed, when my husband whispered in awe, the details of how hard Ben worked, and how he never complained or gave up, I wanted to weep with joy.

You can imagine how thrilled my husband and I are, and how the Olympics takes on a whole new signifigance that it never had before. Suddenly, paying a hundred bucks, if necessary, (which it wasn't, it only cost 7 dollars more a month) didn't seem too much to have our son watch the Olympic archery competition and live into his dreams. When he anticipated today's men's match he secretly admitted to his father that he hoped the USA archer, who is one of the best, didn't win, because then HE would be the first American to win when he goes to the Olympics in 2020 when he is 17.

I am clear that the odds are great. He may not go to the Olympics, he may not even want to after a few months or years. And that would be perfect too. He came up with this dream, and whether it happens or not only matters to me because it matters to him. So if that's what he wants we will do whatever it takes to support him. We are clear it absolutely could happen for him, and we envision it with him, in a mellow manner, and he gets starry eyed....and we delight in his desire to make his dreams come true. I know the most important thing I can do is not to shout encouragement at him, but to listen to why and how he plans to win. And if it doesn't happen, we will remind him, that what really counts is not the winning, or even the drive to win, which I thought was so important, but playing and doing what matters to you, authentically, fully self expressed and with your very all...that is the triumph of the human spirit.

Here's to people who who play, and "Go for the Gold" everywhere.

Zen Honeycutt
P.S. If you know my son,please ask him what is new for him, rather than telling him about this article. He knows I write about him, but it would be more fun for him to be asked and then to tell you.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Failures

The pain is searing, sharp and stabbing and then the ache sets in, like being pummeled by several Olympic boxers at once on my shoulder back and arm. Except the ache doesn't dissipate. It stays and the weight of my arm becomes unbearable. The weight of my head is impossible. All I can do is lie as still as possible...
and watch amazing athletes perform stunning feats of physical wizardry in the Olympics.

This is what I get for writing hunched over my laptop. This past week I discovered I now have readers in 17 countries around the world, including Poland, Germany, UK, France, Malaysia, Panama, Venezuela, and an especially large readership in Russia. I am stunned to see an international map light up in my blog source tracker (I can only see where from, not who.) I am delighted, elated and humbled. I am grateful and inspired. I suddenly feel much more responsible for being consistent, concise and impactful in my writing. I declare to continue writing everyday and to see and share the inspirational aspects of life. I create the game of having a book, a career as a professional writer.

Then the pain starts. Ironic, I think, that as soon as I create a bigger game, I am thrilled and ready to go....I have a new problem. I have frustration and I am not fulfilling on the game I said I would play, which is writing EVERYDAY, and elevating my level of writing to get a book deal. I have a bulging disc in my neck and a pinched nerve and my husband bans me from the computer for almost a week. I am frustrated and resentful at first, and then when I have a set back in the healing from trying to cook or something, and the doctor tells me I could cause permanent nerve damage, when I am crying just from picking up a water glass, when I wake up at three in the morning from pain and it is impossible to sleep for what seems like forever...I get it. Time to heal. That's it.

I also realize it's not a bad problem to have. Not the pain, but the desire to write and the inability not to, failure in my game. I created that.

In life, we strive to solve all our problems. We think it's bad to have problems. But, in fact we are only constantly creating our own problems, and more of them. What I got from a Landmark seminar was that I thought I had to solve the problem of doing good in school as a kid by getting into a good prep school. Then, once I was there I had a new problem of having to do well there so I could get into a good college. Once I did that I had the problem of doing well there so I could get a good job. Once I did that I had the problem of doing the work well so I could get a promotion and raise or have my own company, and then pay employees etc....get married? The problem is to stay married...or have kids...then make enough money to pay for everything...or have the problem of wanting to be a writer? Once you are then you have deadlines and book tours and readers who are expecting empowering perspectives that make a difference for their lives. That's the problem I am living into. The one I am creating for myself.That's a problem that is scares me but enlivens me at the same time.

See, as long as we are alive, we have problems. The question is, do we have problems that are worthy of our life? Whether we succeed or fail, are they problems worthy of our journey? No matter what? Win or lose. Are we creating the kind that awaken and aliven us or are we surviving our problems?

I created the problem of being a writer and having the frustration that I "can't write". I created having readers around the world! Inside of that, I can see an empowering context for myself. I, me, moi, CREATED the pain even. Seeing the pain as my creation, I can be with it, relax and heal. I am not a victim of myself. If I "lose" at it and never get a book deal, the journey itself is worth it. I am the creator of my life, aches and pains, triumphs and joy and all. I hope the Olympic athletes who don't win...who "fail" this week see that too, that they created their life, no matter what happens, THEY put themselves there and created that fail...and they can celebrate that! (It's not a small thing to go to the Olympics! Not many can say I am an Olympic Loser!) If you are going to lose or fail, you might as well go big. One time, when I lost at something, my coach inspired me to shout, " I am an AWESOME LOSER!!!" With freedom and joy in my heart I really got that I was awesome, and I lost. The point was I played awesomely. I played at something that mattered to me. And I reveled in my awesome loser-ness and found freedom to be me.

Whether it's in bed, like me surrounded by three amazing boys and an incredible husband and lovely friend who want me to be comfortable and heal, or on the court, surrounded by coaches and disappointed but loving fans, who believe in them still, we create our life, we can embrace our life, pain and problems, small or Olympic sized failures and all.

Zen Honeycutt