Thursday, January 31, 2013

Feeling Orange

I thought I was getting the flue. My body felt all kinds of achy, stomach wanted to revolt and I was getting a grump on. My body said "quit" but my brain said "sit". "Sit down and put your feet in a big bucket of hot water until it looks like you are wearing pink socks" was the exact direction. A lady from the CA St Grange had emailed me and gave me this advice when I told her I felt like I was coming down with something.
Feet in hot water? That's it? No 12 dollar flue medicine? No special potion with green goop?
I did it anyway.
I sat there for twenty minutes or so, feeling like a pilgrim who should have had a string of garlic around my neck as well.
Ten minutes later, when my feet and lower legs were pinker than a pig in July, my kids came home from school and sitting was not really the best of options. Snacks needed to be somewhat monitored or an entire weeks worth of chips might be inhaled. So I got up and put my feet in arm socks like she directed. And I felt awesome. Totally clear and good!

Wednesday afternoon is my "alone time, art lesson" with Ben. Although I normally would have blown it off and pleaded still sick, I felt fine, so I set up the colored pencils, asked him if he wanted to learn how to draw a portrait and we set to it. I picked purple. He picked orange. He learned the techniques of portraits. I remembered that, damn I can still draw!

After our sketching, I wanted to know more, not just about what he can, like draw a really cute portrait of himself, but how he thinks too, so I told him about an old friend who used to have an email address ""
and I asked Ben,"If orange were a feeling what would you feel like?"
He mused "Hmmm... well, orange maks me think of pumpkins and pumpkins make me think of Halloween, and Halloween is like I think mischievious!"
" Helpful!"
"Well....sad." His face drooped.
"Filled with peace!" Easy grin...I loved hearing how he thought!
"Normal...umm balanced."
He smiled his big beautiful happy smile, I loved everything about him, and I was so glad I wasn't sitting in bed having a pity party.
I was so glad I used an old fashioned tip to get healthy and have a new moment of connection with my son.
There is nothing more important than health. Our health gives us access to do all the other things we want to do and be all the other ways we want to mischieviously orange:)
Here's to making extraordinary moments, living life to be creative, and listening for creativity in even the most ordinary of moments.

Zen Honeycutt

Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Have Your Children Listen to You

Listening for "Are your words landing in your children's hearts?"

You can tell when they are right? Your children don't blink. Their breathing is imperceptible. They look straight into your eyes and absorb every word. There is nothing between you and them but connecting energy. The buzz in the room is palpable and you are present to only what you are creating...not yourself, not their wants, just the energy of great love.
Then maybe your child might start blinking a lot because they might cry. Or they may burst out with spontaneous hugs and kisses. They are so moved by your attention, your love and your caring, so moved by YOU being moved by your own experience of whatever you are sharing with your child, a learning lesson from the day or story from your past, that the two of you feel like one. You can tell. You didn't plan it. You were just present to love.

You cannot always tell when your words are NOT landing in their hearts, though...because some children listen and doodle and ARE moved.. Some are moved but their face wouldn't tell ya if they had won a shopping spree at a toy store. Some children wear the same expression throughout the day because they are determined not to crack...however they are is simply how they are. That's fine. And if you sense your words are not landing in their hearts, they are wandering off or starting to sing their own little song....all there is to do is to let go of any "make wrong" and get present to what is in your heart.
What Matters to YOU?
Share that. Share your own humanity and your children will relate.

Benjamin Zander, famous conductor and Landmark Grad responds to the question he was posed,
How do you know if you are touching the audience?
He said , "I look to see if their eyes are shining! If their eyes are shining I know I am doing my job."

What job could matter more than being a parent whose words land in another human being's heart and leaves them with their eyes shining?
Inspired parenting is an opportunity that we create. The future is ours to create with our children.
Be love and they will listen.

Zen Honeycutt
This distinction comes from a leadership class at The application into parenting is my own.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How a 4 year old IS Transformation

A thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.

Transformation to me is altering who I am being, how I see the world, how I react and choosing who I am versus just allowing circumstances, resignation and doubt make my decisions for me. Transformation for me is choosing integrity, power, full self expression, freedom and peace of mind.

I get very introspective about this and I take seminars to expand my life and what's possible for my family. Sometimes it seems a serous business.
Other times, the transformation is available right in front of me in my 4 year old.
Here are some examples:

Bronson,"Mom, YOU SAID two minutes."

Bronson, "Mom, I'm going to be an astronaut."
Bodee,"Well astronauts are really good at math."
Ben, "Let's teach him math!"
Bronson, "Okay!"

Ten minutes later..
Bronson, "Mommy ask me a math question!"
Me, "What's two plus two?"
Bronson, "Noooooo, I know that one, four,ask me another one."
Me," What's three plus four?"
Counts under his breath with his fingers by touching them to his nose, "Seven!"
Beaming face and math questions under ten become his favorite game.

Full Self Expression
Me," Bronson put your socks and shoes on."

Bronson and Bodee playing a game.
Bodee,"First you have to go here and then under the bridge and past the trolls, and THEN you win."
Bronson picks up his piece and put's it on the last square. "Nope. I win."

Peace of Mind
Ten minutes after the dust has settled from a Mommy breakdown of some forgettable random mess that Bronson made, Bronson comes over to me, holds my face in his hands and looks at me lovingly in the eyes. "Mommy are you happy now?"
Heart melts. I see that he just wants me to chose to be happy now, because it's time to be. Me, "Yes, yes I am."

Bronson reminds me that I can scream, win,learn, be my word and choose peace of mind and happiness in a moment.
It's up to me.

The other day, my newly ten year old was sad. His father asked him what was going on with him and he said."I don't want to grow up. I want to be a little kid and I'm not anymore. Sometimes I wish I could just stop growing."

The sullen and sulky expressions of pre teens used to irritate me. I see them in a new light now. Perhaps they are not trying to give us a hard time. Perhaps they are having a hard time...adjusting from the freedom and power of being a magical "little kid" that makes things up and plays with everything and screams when they want, to the new responsibility of being a "big kid".

What might be missing, as we grow, is seeing that we have a responsibility to fulfill on our potential, to have integrity, power, full self expression, freedom and peace of mind no matter what age.

Zen Honeycutt

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Far From Home

California is full of transplants. Many of my friends live far from home. A few have moved back home to be with family. I have not. It has been 12 years since I left Connecticut and my whole family. My mother just left us after visiting for a month and as she left, it was like home left with her. My entire being wanted to collapse and cry. I was driving on the 405 so I did not, but I crumpled and withered inside instead.
It's miserable being far away from my family of origin. As much as they can drive me crazy, they are from whence I came. I love her. I love all of my family, and to be faraway from them seems, at time like the most back-asswards way of living in the world. I can justify it with the golden opportunities we have here, my husband's great job, his family and all our cousins and the short distance to the beach and the snowy mountains. Then of course, there is the weather. The almost endlessly sunny days that lull us into a California coma of "we can do anything" because we can. We can plan a birthday party out doors in January at a park and get away with it. I can justify living here for the pure adventure of it all, but nothing makes being away from your Momma right.

Moments after she left I thought about what she said she wished for me, to "smile more and relax take care of yourself first." My first thought, was we are just different. I am a "doer" and she doesn't get that I just feel better when I am busy. She is more of a go with the flow, mosey along and stop and smell the roses kind of gal. But then I thought about who she was when she was with us. She was of complete service. All she did was ask what she could do for us. She had her times of making art and relaxing on the back patio chatting with her friends, but for the most part, she lives her entire life to make others happy. She helped us by cooking, sweeping, playing with the boys so my husband and I could talk or work, and she made art with our 4 year old to prevent tantrum disasters.

Meanwhile, I often plunked away on my laptop, writing email after email to plan the national Moms Across America March to Label GMOs. I dashed about, volunteering, prepping for den meetings and hopping on calls with national leaders. The urgency to "get things done" was fed by the knowledge that I had a loving and free child care helper and I had better get done what I could, while I could.
After she left, I missed her and instead of wishing she would be any other way other than how she is (like for her to stop encouraging me to slow down and relax), I realized that the difference between her and I was zero. Although she was not working regularly to better her nation or the world, like I am obsessed to do, she is of total service to her family. And that is no less important. She gives of herself more fully and generously than anyone I know.

I cried to myself and a friend that I asked to commiserate with me, because I realized that on many days, I took advantage of her being here rather than taking advantage of being with her.

My mother's visit often seems like an opportunity for me to relax just a little bit in my motherly mom will often make breakfast for my kids while I sleep in just a half hour later, or wash the dishes while I talk to my husband alone after dinner or work on the Moms March after the kids get home from school because I know my Mom will play with them. But after she leaves I am filled with regret for not taking the opportunity to relax and just be with her.

My friend acknowledged my feelings and then gave me the freedom I as looking for from the heaviness I felt. She reminded me my sorrow came from my vast love for my mother. It is a breakdown for me that I was a brat to my mother even once while she was here. It is painful for me to be away from her. That is a miracle of love. My sorrow became my access to relief. I am grateful to have that love for my mother and be present to the contribution she is to us all...even for a month or a day out of the year...far from home.

Zen Honeycutt

Monday, January 7, 2013

Party Post Partum

You may relate to having friends who throw the best kids birthday party ever. Or maybe you are that friend. Our friends are over the top awesome at parties. They plan and hand paint decortions a month a ahead of time. Super Hero backdrops for the kids to pose in front of, a station of six games the kids get to play, all Superhero related, and win tickets which they later get to redeem for prizes and balloons that they bent and twisted into swords and super long weanie dogs themselves. Of course, the home made cake looks like it was rolled out of "Cake Boss" too. Layers of fondant and four tiers (even bigger than the picture shown), each decorated with the colors and design of the costume of five different Super Heros from Avengers, with the hulk hand bursting out of the top layer. Amazing!
Did I mention the parents both work and the mother is a lawyer who works nearly 80 hours a week sometimes?
How they do it is beyond me. Their parties are awesome.
So we always go.

The problem is, when we get there, although Ben and I, with the most allergies, are super careful and only eat what works for us, I cave and let Bodee and Bronson eat pretty much whatever they want. They don't have the severity of allergies we do, so I think, "It's only this one time" or " A little bit will be okay." and they eat the pizza (gluten) and candy (GMOs)and cake( food coloring, gluten and GMOs). Ben and I sit and watch the Incredibles movie they have playing while everyone else eats cake. It's too tempting to watch them. Cake is my downfall. But this time anyway, I stay strong for myself. For the two younger ones, I honestly just did not want the screeching and crying, stomping and flailing to spoil the party. So I let them eat the "treats".

And boy do we pay for it later. I want to be clear here, it's not my friend's fault. This is every party we go to. I let my kids eat stuff I know doesn't really work for them. I caved. And the results were what they were, not bad or wrong, just really really annoying.

Bodee was on permanent grouch mode for the rest of the night and well into the next day. He stomped, yelled, slammed doors and gave us mean ogre faces at the dinner table. I almost laughed at him one time because he was staring at me like a one eyed pirate so hard I thought his one eye might pop out. I told him so and then he was screaming at me for laughing at him. His veins popped out and his face turned pink with aggression. It occurred to me that when my friends were kids, they might have gotten slapped upside the head for talking to their parents like that.

Bronson was a screech monster from hell. He cried every time his brother looked at him and he screeched holy hell when I asked him to pick up his toys. Everything was "I don't love you anymore Momma", which is a really big deal for him to say, and "I hate you" to everyone else. I lived each moment in regret every time I raised my voice to tell them to stop fighting and be quiet. I was not inspired. I was annoyed, upset, regretful and mad at them for not controlling themselves.

I kept trying to remind myself of a saying I saw on Facebook written over the face of a miserable looking child "I am not giving you a hard time, I am having a hard time." I got it. They are having a hard time. Well, I am having a hard time with them having a hard time. My husband is ready to blow a gasket and yells "Just make him STOP!" He hollers that he is leaving the house to go work at Starbucks, but after a shower to simmer him down, he puts a movie on for the kids and all seems to settle.

I realize that it's not worth it. Not going to the party, but letting them eat stuff that just doesn't work for them. Bronson's stomach gets a bloated and rashy and Bodee gets dark circles under his eyes and they both look miserable. They don't want to behave this way, they feel like they can't control themselves, I know. I feel like that sometimes too when I have eaten tons of sugary, food dyed, GMO foods. I feel like I am on one of those rides at a carnival that spins really fast and I am screaming and later vomiting profanities uncontrollably. It's Party Post Partum. The body is out of wack from all the chemicals and crashes into the abysss of feeling bad, fits and tantrums.

Sometimes it takes uninspired moments to create inspiration. What I am getting from this experience is a possibility for coming together like a band of B Boys before we go to parties. Bringing our own food and agreeing that after the party we get to all do something super fun as a family together if we all eat our own food instead. We have an After Party! We celebrate our self control, reward our restricted diet, with GMO free, gluten free, food dye free and preservative free abundance of food. It's not that hard either. I make extra gluten free, GMO free pizza and cupcakes and freeze them in the freezer, ready for the next party. I bring some food dye free lollipops from Trader Joe's and GMO free candy in case all the other kids get goody bags with candy it them so I can swap it out. My kids can eat the fruit and popcorn and drink the juice (as long as it doesn't contain corn syrup) and play all the games til their hearts content.

I could just not RSVP to parties and stay home and avoid the mayhem. I can see though, that there would be a real loss in bonding, fun and celebration of our friends. So the "inspired parenting" challenge for me transforms the situation from one of regret to a possible opportunity to really have it all...go to parties and all do what works for us and be our own Super Heros. Sometimes, saying "No" is actually saying "YES" and is the most heroic thing to do.

Zen Honeycuttt

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Family

I think I know our kids. "Oh my oldest is my compassionate one, and my middle is my competitive one...not sure about the youngest yet, but I think he's the charmer."
Every parent I know sums up their children in a word. Sometimes the way we sum them up is not so nice too. We can't help ourselves though. It makes us feel comfortable that we know our children, we are their experts and we are tuned in to them.
That can be good... and not so good, or rather it could work or not work.

Here's why: as soon as we think we "know" someone we are no longer looking for other ways they could be. Think about it, when your husband seems like a jerk to you in a fight, suddenly everything he does looks like things an even bigger jerk would do....the way he looks at you, the way he chews, they way he forgets to close the refrigerator door...all things that when he seems like your "hero" are really not offensive at all. After a while though, if we continue to see our husband as a "jerk" it seems like he really is, like that is just who he is, the actions turn into a life sentence and soon divorce papers are getting mailed.
It's the same with our kids. When we label them they show up that way for us. It could be awesome, or we could be missing out on some thing new and labeling them for life.
Another example, Jack is seen as the "troubled kid" at school. A sub comes in and calls him "brilliant" when he gets a right answer and suddenly Jack has a new found confidence and future. All it takes is one person to see that kid differently and he becomes a teacher later in life, empowering kids that others once gave up on.

On New Years Day, we have a tradition of gathering around our Japanese wishing pot. My husband got it as a gift for me from a Zen shop in Vegas. It's a very unique piece of pottery, with a lid and tiny bucket inside that hangs like a hot air balloon basket inside the round pot. When you lift it the bucket reveals it is holding a tiny scroll of paper. We take out that scroll of paper and read what we said we wanted last year and get complete with it and then create a New Year every year.
Except it's not about what we want, like just a bigger house ( although one son did wish for that one year and we got exactly that and LOVE it.)

We write down what we want to

We do this because when we are being a certain way, for instance, Bodee choosing Courageous last year, he will have certain results, like trying out for any audition he got and filming a Disney Jr Promo and he will do fun new things like he said he wanted to do.
Most of us think we need to do, then have, then be, (like I won't be happy until I do a lot of work and have a lot of money) but in my Landmark seminars I realized it's the other way. First we BE, then we DO ( actually they are in a simultaneous dance) and then we Have the results we want. BE and the doing rises up with the being and having comes as a result.

So this year my sons chose:
Ben "to be Responsible and Respectful"
Bodee: "to be FUN and Nice"
Bronson: "to be Awesome"
Todd chose "to be 100% present"
and I chose "Integrity"

I have kids that are responsible, respectful, fun, nice and awesome! How cool is that! These ways of being are new ways we are seeing each other now. Our old labels are gone and we listen to each other as who we say we are. We remind Bodee that he said he is being "Fun and Nice" and we acknowledge him when that shows up in his actions.
He has brought people water three times without being asked!
As a result, he may actually have Disneyland for his birthday as he wants. But not because we just hand it to him. This year we are teaching them that they have something to do with everything they want. So their new ways of being can result in them being entrepreneurial and creating what they want through new actions. We are creating bringing a mobile snack stand to baseball games and selling small bags of popcorn and lemonade. He does that a few times and he has money for a ticket to Disneyland. And you can bet that he will enjoy those rides 100% more because he paid (or partially paid) for them!

And some years, we may only remember the ways of being...we may forget what we said we wanted in material things, but the surprise is, when we open the pot, that we can always find we got what we wanted in one form or another by being what we said we would be.

For me, in 2013, I am up to the biggest game of my life so far by planning a national march "Moms Across America March to label GMOs". I am also up to the most important job in my life by being a mother to three and a wife. To have all these commitments work, I need structure- a schedule that has time and space for all and being someone of integrity will have it all work. I used to resist being on time, like rebelling against "the man" and being a few minutes late made me not so controlled. Then I realized I am "the man" in my life, or rather "the woman". I was rebelling against me! I am the one who said I would volunteer at my kids school, I am the one who said I would clean out my car. ME. So this year I take on integrity and being Excited about my Dynamic schedule.
Yesterday I had put "yoga" and "clean the garage" in the schedule. I loved the yoga class, and I am not ashamed to say that I came home after the class, when I should have been sore and collapsed on the couch, but I grabbed that garage by the cajones and had my way with it. I was excited to do it and it was satisfying afterwards!

I am excited about what newness will show up in my family and kids this year along with our new ways of being.

I wish you a very Happy New Year and invite you to listen to your kids newly as well.
Zen Honeycutt