Parenting Win

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My 12 year old is a planner and a lover of severe weather. He's ready for the bus with time to spare every day. He stresses out about being late. He harasses his sister to "get going so we won't be late". 

Guess what new skill he's mastered this week, in our 28 degree mornings without a garage???

He takes his extra 5 minutes and starts my car, turns on the defroster and seat warmers and scrapes the ice off the windshield!

And he LOVES it.

He’s learning a new skill, outside in the elements he loves, doing something for his family. I call that a win!

Bonus for him: If he has extra time, he tests the ice in various places and has a good time looking for icicles.

Where could you plug into your child’s strengths AND create a family win?

My Favorite Personality Assessment: Enneagram Basics

Building A StoryBrand” by Donald Miller is one of my favorite marketing and general business podcasts.

Guess which type I am?

Guess which type I am?

In The Do’s and Don’ts of Leading Each Enneagram Type, Donald Miller interviews Ian Cron and this is my all-time favorite episode because it focuses on our personality types, teaches us how to showcase our strengths and how to lead other people to showcase theirs and builds a common language so we can better communicate how we prefer to work.

It’s always smarter when we UnPush and work on ourselves instead of trying to makeover everyone else, right?

Have you heard of the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a personality typing system that teaches us that there are nine basic personality styles in the world. These styles, or “types,” deeply influence how we think and act. Not surprisingly, our personalities change in times of comfort and stress and this system reflect that reality. 

There’s a wealth of information that comes from knowing your type and how you perform in ideal situations and in stress.


Who can benefit? Everyone. Whether you’re a solopreneur or managing 10,000 people, you’ll be delighted to understand yourself and others better. Instead of thinking “I can’t work with her!”, you’ll notice she’s coming at the problem entirely differently.

I have a friend who said she used to fight tooth and nail with her boss and they got nowhere until they both took an assessment. They realized he was an ideas guy and floated out 20 ideas a day. Both good and bad. No filter. She was a practical, “is this actually a GOOD idea” woman and tended to shoot down his bad ideas relentlessly. When they learned that he needed to hear “Wow, you’ve been so productive!” and she needed to hear “Thanks for averting disasters!”, they started appreciating each other and the skills they brought to work.

Appreciating each other for our strengths. Win-win.

You can take Cron’s free version of the test here for free to get an idea of the Enneagram type you might be. There’s a longer, more in-depth paid version here at the Enneagram Institute if you get hooked. I’m betting you’ll ask your family and co-workers take it too!

So, why don’t you take the free version and let me know what Enneagram type you are? We’ll exchange notes!

And for personalized instruction in all the Enneagram is, I have a recommendation. Pam Matchie-Thiede is my expert of choice to have long, fascinating conversations about Enneagram types with and learn how each style of personality interact, lead and create. She’s for hire and she will blow your mind with her observations!

The Art of UnPushing: A Love Story

We’d been married 14 years when I made The Big Mistake.

Really, like most conflict, it started a long time before that.

To back up, this is a love story.

Not the kind you see from Hollywood, all glossed over and easy, but the kind that’s real. It’s a messy, imperfect and beautiful story filled with commitment, character and micro-moments where we re-chose each other.

Fourteen years ago, we opened a business together and were the only employees. We were scrappy and young, newly married, starting from zero. Life was good. We had different, complementary skill sets. I was a strategy-focused CPA; he was a charming salesman with a gift for connecting with people.

Then babies came. Babies with lots of appointments related to deafness. I ran the back end of the store from home mostly, in between spit up and diapers and managing our home. The business was thriving and it started feeling like an Established Business. Actually, it was two full-time businesses by then. I was still managing paperwork, plus homeschooling, with a child still in early intervention and speech therapy and a third in diapers. Over time it becomes less “our store” and more “his store”.

After a years of our intense work schedules, I was tired of the grind. I was tired of being the one that got stuck with the thankless tasks at work. Audits--oh, that's me. Paperwork--also me. Cleaning up our accounting system after a major virus followed by a system glitch--me. I got handed shit and was asked to magically transform it into cotton candy.

And at home, I was the one in the trenches, the enforcer. I was annoyed that I never got to be the “yes” parent, to hell with the consequences! I was a homeschooling Mom with the kids full-time. Because of the store, even a weekly trip without kids to the grocery store had to be negotiated into a 7am time slot on Sundays.

I realized I wanted to quit my job. Any sane person would. It was an impossible, thankless job, a behind-the-scenes clean up job. He knew I was miserable and he knew it was time to make a change. He loved his job and he loved the connections we had made with thousands of fans over the years. Once he left the house, he was unencumbered and able to be the expert. He was adored and even a celebrity in his niche. I missed that feeling of being the expert somewhere, like I had been in my career, and I missed that adult time of focus and reward.

We began strategizing toward selling the store and putting all of our efforts into our other business. We opened ourselves up to dreaming to possibilities of what could be next and it was good! We fell in love with an equestrian property with a spectacular view of the Salish Sea. Although we didn’t end up buying it, that process caused the dream to expand. It opened my eyes to the possibility that we could re-design all aspects of our lives. I could have salt water + horses + a small community + a husband who works at home and + lots of family time. What a dream!

As the store closure got closer, we had lots of “oh shit” moments.

What the hell were we doing, tearing apart a successful business loved by the community? How were we going to make enough money to support our family without it? Was this the stupidest thing we’d ever done?

Fear is a funny thing.

It pops up when you start to dismantle the “known” and dream up a new life. It wants you to stay safe, in a life that’s predictable and small. Fear causes you to push away the people you love, isolate yourself, blame others, dismiss the feelings of others, clam up and stop sharing your thoughts and feelings.

And that’s what happened. Fear started to take over.

I remember driving over the Thanksgiving weekend for 24 hours with little conversation between us. Talking was a chore, filled with silence and awkward gaps. We were in two different worlds with our thoughts.

We were both grieving the end of an era, but in different ways.

I was in “future mode”, excited to start planning our next stage together. I had been unhappy with the situation for a long time and was mostly relieved that it was ending.

He was in “today mode”, focused on the millions of tasks that needed to be done well today, asking not to be bothered by the future. All he could handle was the one day in front of him, doing his best at the store with customers, quietly sad with the reality. He was feeling the impact daily, as customers reminded him of all the good times at the store, he commuted to the physical location that customers loved, he reminisced about all the relationships, relived all the laughs.

Sales went through the roof as we dismantled what we sacrificed so much to grow.

It's like watching a healthy person get murdered--this idea of retiring from a business that is financially successful and well-loved, yet no longer conducive to family goals.

The decision was unconventional. Strange. Stupid even. People didn't get it, until they heard stories of the long hours and sacrifice, the current stress and compared it with our dream of connecting as a family and balancing all that we wanted to accomplish.

About two months from D-Day, he told me “I'd never be selling the store if it were just me. I made this business. I would happily stay in Seattle and continue for a long time. I love that place.”

I didn't know what to say.

Fear took the driver’s seat at that moment and my mind went right to the worst thing that could happen. The store closing was going to cause us to hate each other and that would lead to our breakup. I heard anger in his tone and wondered if he’d hate me forever.

That’s when I made The Big Mistake.

I told him (insisted, even) that we had to go to marriage counseling.

It did not go well.

And I learned I had a choice: I could continue to push him toward “doing something”, while making myself and him miserable, or I could work on me.

I turned inward.

I turned author Byron Katie's "The Work" on my anger and sadness toward him. Instead of continuing with thoughts like “He should want what I want”, I used her turn arounds to meditate on other thoughts that could be equally true, like “I should want what he wants” and “I should want what I want.”

Katie is a master at questioning her thoughts. (Visit www.thework.com to see what I mean).  She likes to ask, "Why are you pretending you don't love me?" when she finds herself in a situation where another person is unkind.

What if that were my perspective? To assume everyone loves me, they just may not know it yet. Or even if they know they love me, they may not know how to show me in that moment.

What a difference that shift in perspective made.

A funny thing happened along the way.

I defined a new essential way of being for myself and named it the UnPush.

I learned that the opposite of pushing isn’t pulling. Pulling is still a forcing energy. The opposite of pushing is UnPushing, the very act of detaching from what my ego wants. UnPushing allows the other person to feel an energetic letting go, a freedom. My detached energy magnetically opens up the possibilities in a situation and the other person can feel the shift.

As I started UnPushing, I became more empathetic, less the victim. I realized he was acting like a scared wild horse. Fight or flight were the only options. He didn’t see any happy outcomes. He was grieving and there were stages of grief he had to go through and that was his work, not mine.

I learned we could be in different places emotionally and it doesn't have to mean doom.

Instead of "We're not talking", I reframed the same situation to be "We're working on new ways to communicate and we’re figuring out what that looks like."

Wow. I could breathe again. So much less fear and pain in that.

As my perspective shifted, I kept hearing the message, loud and clear: "Show up with love".

I'd heard that phrase for years from inspirational author Marci Moore, who has made “show up with love” her life’s work, and I understood it in my head. But my heart had never had to live it, never had  to practice it, until now.

Show up with love.

That's all I can do.

Work on me.

Insisting we go to marriage counseling? Pointless.

Try to control him? Wish he'd say or do something different? Good luck!

Here was a real example of what I'd been studying in life coach school: I made myself miserable by attaching to beliefs that caused me pain. But believing those thoughts was totally optional! The only way to feel less pain was to form new thoughts that could feel just as “true” that felt lighter and more joyful. Bottom line: If a thought is causing ME pain, it’s my job to work on ME.

“Showing up with love” came to mean changing the look in my eye from steely, analytical, worried eyes to hopeful, loving eyes.

Keeping myself and my ego out of his business. Giving him space to be who he is in that moment. Listening without attaching to his thoughts or solving his problems. Recognizing he's scared and tired and the financial burden has been his for a long time.

And in case you’re wondering, showing up with love doesn't mean becoming a spineless doormat.

It's the opposite. It’s self-empowerment, empathy and pure love. When I get clear on what’s mine to control and detach from the rest, I’m empowered to speak my truth. How others receive my truth isn’t my business.

Showing up with love means taking responsibility for my thoughts and feelings, hearing the messages inside the feelings and getting clear about what's missing. Doing the work on me, getting my thoughts clear and clean, then approaching the other person with love, not anger.

My heart melted as I imagined him as a frightened child.

What would I do for any scared child? Open my arms and offer love. Then I imagined myself as a frightened child and I realized she also needed open arms, compassion and love.

One morning I apologized to him.

An apology for being in his business, thinking I knew what was best for him, assuming he wanted to work on things, assuming he wanted my help. I told him I was going to work on me, get support for me, make myself the best version of me. Not in an accusatory, guilt-laden way full of expectation that he would change himself. Just the facts.

You see, I was wrong to tell him we needed counseling. I needed counseling. He may or may not--that's his journey. I told him from now on I would like to be an advisor for his business, this business we'd grown together, and he'd get my opinion only when he asked. No unsolicited advice. It wasn’t my business. Literally.

I let go.

It's easy to read this and infuse a tone of sassy. That's not what I intended. The words were said with love and tears and sincerity.

Every morning after that apology, I started the day by asking him, "How can I show you I love you today?" The first day I asked, he looked shocked.

We've always had a little ritual: When I fill his coffee cup, I say with a smile "That’s because I love you" or when he gets me a fresh towel, he’ll say the same thing. But to ask? That was new. That felt like love expanded.

That one question “How can I show you I love you today?” has brought such playfulness and fun back into our lives.

Eventually he started to ask me the same question.

What's changed since then? Physical intimacy has increased, so has laughter, contentment, hand holding, texting and phone calls, conversations, invitations to business meetings, coming home earlier, asking my opinion, dreaming and scheming about our future together....

All behaviors I desperately wanted.

It’s ironic. I struggled and pushed my way into his life, while he pushed back because I was intruding. That energy of the angry “you shoulds” and “I know what’s best for you” repelled him.

Who knew I could UnPush and magnetize him to me? Effortlessly open him up by opening myself up, all by shifting my perspective and playing with how else I could see the same situation?

My new way of being starts with humility, staying in “my business” and recognizing when I'm about to switch lanes into his, giving him space to do his own work (or not).  

Changing my perspective changed my energy. Pushing toward him left me with arms out and a graspy fearful energy.

Opening and unpushing left space for possibility and magic.

“Not my circus, not my monkeys” is a mantra that has served me well since then.

First, it makes me laugh. Second, it reminds me I’m not the boss of everything. It grounds me and reminds me that I can  control me and that’s all. I’m clearly not the ringmaster in someone else’s circus, so why try? As boss of me, I can watch the show and decide if I want to stick around. That’s about it.

It feels so clean to work on me.  I have the solid knowledge that I'm ok, regardless of anybody else, regardless of drama happening “out there”. I'm ok.

This is a life changer.

Are you ready to see how this could work in your life?

Go here for the UnPush framework.

TWO Choices for Clarity and Connection with Celebrate You™ in 2018

History of Celebrate You™

Historically, the Celebrate You™ gathering in January has been a half day spent wrapping up last year's lessons and thoughts and discovering the next year's intentions and inspired actions, then ending with a word of the year chosen by each of us.

2017 has been a year of growth for the Celebrate You™ movement and in an effort to include more women, we're offering two options for this first meeting.

Choices in 2018

We're expanding and you have two choices!

  1. A Weekend Retreat in Port Townsend, WA to expand the time for learning, connecting and celebrating yourself

  2. A One Day Retreat in Langley, WA the traditional time filled with meaningful connections and celebrations

Everyone is Welcome to Come

Just like in previous years, everyone is welcome to participate in this first meeting. No membership is required for these events. Both events will use the 2018 Celebrate You™ Workbook and offer similar content. 

Of course... we do hope that you continue the momentum by joining the 12-month self-discovery program called Celebrate You™.

Expressive vs Receptive Skills

I've been involved in lots of habilitation therapy with my kids. Specifically for language, speech and communication. I have two kids whose ears are deaf or hard of hearing.

I remember clearly the big celebration when the therapist said "Your child is at or above age level for both receptive and expressive skills." Yay! It was a huge milestone to celebrate all the years of hard work and hard listening and repeating.

What are receptive and expressive skills?

Receptive language is understanding and interpreting language input, both in words and gestures. Expressive language focuses on the language output, how a person expresses themselves grammatically and what they want and need.

When I apply this concept to my life, my receptive skills are huge while my expressive skills are developing.

I am a life-long learner and love to take courses, read non-fiction books and keep stimulated with new ideas (high receptive skills). Soaking up a new idea is bliss. It's easy.  Historically, I've tended to put off teaching others what I know (developing expressive skills). My tendency has been to go learn more so I can be "perfect" when I teach, instead of teaching what I know, with all the holes and questions I still have. Learning is less risky; I don't feel vulnerable when I learn. This awareness of a pattern is causing me to exercise my expressive skills, take risks and express what I know.

In "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah" Richard Bach wrote, "You teach best what you most need to learn."

I'm feeling that at a deep level. As I teach the topics I care most about, I continue learning, I ask questions, I stay humble and admit I don't know it all. It feels great to deepen the conversations and to hear others say "I never thought of that!" with a smile.

Which way will I change the world? How can I create kindness and inspire others to lead with kindness?

Only by speaking out, using that expressive side. Only by risking "doing it wrong" will I be able to connect with others and invite the change that I wish to see in the world.

That's my plan.

"Be the change that you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi

What Home Feels Like

As I reflect on 2016, one of the great things about our six weeks of travel last Fall was teaching my kids how to feel settled and safe emotionally, in their hearts, when we're unsettled physically. How to live from a suitcase. How to pack and unpack every day. How to make each space we slept in feel safe and homey. How to value what we have. How to play with and enjoy each other. How to notice similarities and differences in all the settings.

This year we've created more unsettledness in our physical surroundings. We're moving an hour away in stages and have things scattered in boxes here and there. We left our home of 8 years last month with clothes, books and things we cared most about. I brought the basics for the smaller rental house and the extra stuff won't follow us for awhile, perhaps not ever. My husband is transitioning more slowly, living at our previous home and readying it for resale. We're building a house a few minutes away from the rental, questioning how our family functions and what structures would support us best.

There's discomfort in the unsettledness, the not-knowing and all the newness. A month ago, making a fire in a woodstove was completely foreign to me. Fire burns stuff automatically, right? I thought. How hard could it be??? I'll tell you how hard--we froze our patooties off the first week! The woodstove in our rental is the primary source of heat. And I like heat. After much practice, some advice from friends and Youtube and some hands-on lessons with my husband, I'm a much better fire builder. Now the time I spend making a fire is like a meditation inviting awareness.

We have at least two more moves ahead of us this year. One to another temporary space, hopefully on our property, and one to the home we're building. Yet right now we feel settled at this home, in this space. The rental is cozy and filled with heart. The move feels right. Crazy, but right. Our new community reflects our values and we've benefited from the love and support of friends in the transition.

We're home.

We feel settled in our hearts.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "home" as "the social unit of a family living together" and "a familiar or usual setting". I believe our family is enhancing our social unit by teaching the spirit of "home", the settled, safe feeling that is a family living together and caring for each other in any setting, familiar or otherwise.

Celebrate the Solutions

I didn't start out knowing how to parent.

When my kids were loud, cranky, mad, sad--anything but happy, really, I made it about me. Some of my thoughts: Other parents are watching me and I've got to DO something, I'm not a good Mom, This sucks!, I have to control them, They're going to become horrible adults because I'm not doing this right.

I parented in ways that I'm not proud of (hell, I still have my moments!)...until I started trusting myself. Trusting that I could navigate parenting based on my core feelings--what I'm about to do or say--will it feel like love or like fear? Will it feel like nourishment or like poison in our relationship?

If what I'm about to do feels like poison, I'll regret it later. If what I'm about to do feels like nourishment, I'll celebrate it later. I'm becoming more aware of my choice points before I do or say something.

What I've learned is that I'm not here to teach my children how to behave. I'm here to teach myself to behave and then watch as my behavior trickles down to them.

My kids have just as much to teach me about being "in the moment" and enjoying life one giggle at a time as I have to teach them about values and ethics.

I used to yell "Stop hurting your brother!", with my face full of anger and judgment.

How much was I hurting my child as I said (OK, yelled) not to hurt others? What if, instead, I said nothing and hugged my child with compassion? Recognized that she's human and is doing the best with the tools she has (just like I am)? Realized that I'm expecting more of her than I am of myself? Later I could show her more tools; in that moment all she is asking for is love and connection.

Speaking of trickle down moments, last night my 10 year old and I were cuddling before bed. He asks if we can watch a TV show before bed. I say no, I'm really wanting to read my book and have quiet time.

He says, "What other solutions could we come up with? Could you read your book for 15 minutes and then we could watch a show?"

I melted.

How many times have I asked that question: "What other solutions can we come up with?"  while negotiating conflict in our family.

He was actually listening!

I celebrated for many reasons--he asked respectfully, he partnered with me, he modeled how I'd like to ask questions, he had another solution ready that might work for both of us, he was ready to accept my answer either way.

All good skills for a human being of any age to have.

What are YOU celebrating?

"Say you're SORRY!"

How many times have you overheard a parent snarl this?

The tone is angry, the underlying message is "Say you're sorry or ELSE" and it's really not about the child expressing regret anymore. It's about the parent feeling out of control or embarrassed or angry about the situation.

Even if she says sorry, is she, in that moment? I'm guessing not. I'd be scared if my parent was mad at me.

What ARE we teaching when we force an apology? To ignore feelings, to lie about reality (everybody knows the kid isn’t sorry!), to decide someone else knows more than our kids about their emotions.

Ouch. That’s not what I want to teach.

But what else can we do? How do kids develop empathy without forcing the "I'm sorry?"

Here’s an idea.

Try this--once they're calmed down, ask both kids how they're feeling and what would make them feel better about what just happened.

With my kids, sometimes that means a promise to not hurt each other or a silly high five or a video of their goofy faces together or drawing a comic together or even a traditional apology.

I'm generally amazed at the ideas they have for what will repair their relationships.

The kids get to practice checking in with each other and deciding what would feel good. They're negotiating, trading ideas, solving their own problems using their words and skills.