Introduction to Empowerful Parenting™ 

What is Empowerful Parenting™?  

Empowerful Parenting™ is giving children the power and opportunity to learn and grow by doing things for themselves.  

In a society of “helicopter parents” who swoop in anytime their child is challenged or uncomfortable, Empowerful Parents understand that it is through life’s challenges that we grow

Empowerful Parents give their children space and opportunity to learn through experience

Empowerful Parents provide children with honestloving guidance and positive support to develop independence and self-confidence.  

  

Scenario:  Your 6-year old wails from the couch, “Mom, I’m thirsty!”

The enabling parent:  

Responds to needs by getting the child a drink.

The Empowerful Parent:  

Says an empowering statement, “You are thirsty? What are you going to do?” (This statement says:  I believe in your abilities.  You are capable.  I value your opinion.)

Then, gives space and time for child to think and respond.

If child needs help, parent offers guidance by saying, “You could get a cup from the panty for water or there are juice boxes in the refrigerator”

If child asks parent to do it for them, parent responds, “Let’s get your drink together.  I can show you how, so you will know what to do next time you feel thirsty.”

Scenario:  Your 10-year old has put off doing his book report–it is due tomorrow and he hasn’t even started yet.

The enabling parent:  

Helps the child by basically doing the project for him so he won’t get a bad grade.

The Empowerful Parent:  

Encourages the child with an empowering statement that helps the child recognize the strengths of the situation (i.e.  “you still have plenty of time to finish the project” or “you are smart kid, I know you’ll figure it out”). 

Then, The Empowerful Parent gives the child space and time for independent problem solving while remaining present for positive support.  

Next, offers guidance when child requests assistance.

Finally, if needed parent works together with the child to help facilitate problem solving. 

The Empowerful Parent sees challenges like this as an opportunity for the child to learn about time management.

Learn more:  Empowerful Parenting™ Fox News interview 
I can’t talk about Empowerful Parenting™ without giving a “shout out” to all of the people who have influenced my evolution as a parent.  I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of Empowerful Parents.  It is these amazing mamas and papas who have helped me to see the power of positive thinking, recognizing abilities and providing children with safe and appropriate opportunities for growth and independence.  These relationships have helped me evolve from an enabling parent into an Empowerful Parent.  Thanks to all of you…you know who you are 😉

Happiness 101: How to Experience Genuine and Authentic Happiness

Everyone wants to feel happy.  Research indicates that solid relationships, engaging ways to spend your time and prosocial behavior all contribute to happiness.

But do you really NEED these things to feel happy? If your basic human needs are met is it possible to feel happy by simply being?

Spiritual teachings stress that happiness is real only when we let go of seeking material and transient things and discover the lasting joy that is within.

  Here are six steps to help you feel genuine, authentic happiness:

1. Lighten up.  Quit taking yourself so seriously. So what if you farted in your office right before your boss walked in…$h!+ happens…to everyone. Including your boss.

2. Don’t label yourself or identify yourself with something external.  You are not your body, your job, even your accomplishments. You are a spiritual being having a human experience.

3. Love yourself.   Be kind to yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. If you can’t love yourself how can you accept love from anyone else?

4. Release the past and forgive yourself. What’s done is done. It cannot be changed. Move on.

5. Feelings are for feeling, not stuffing. Don’t constipate yourself with emotions you have stuffed away. Acknowledge and accept any and all feelings you experience. Cry. Laugh. Get angry. Scream. Tremble. Be afraid. Hiding your feelings only hurts you.  

6. Meditate.  Meditation gives you a sense of awareness beyond the sensory experiences of the material world. Meditation allows you to consciously move your awareness from the material to the immaterial.
 Did YOU connect with your inner happiness?  It might take some time, but keep at it.  Happiness is there…I promise.

How to Play “The Smile Game”

Smiles are contagious. 

Every time you smile, you start a feel-good party in your brain.  Your brain starts throwing out neurotransmitters, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin like confetti. When other people sense your smile party, they want to join in too. Before you know it, your infectious smile has spread.  People all around you have contracted your contagious smile.  Scientist and spiritual teachers alike agree that smiling can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile makes you appear more attractive to others. It lifts your mood as well as the moods of those around you, and it can even lengthen your life. So slap a smile on that face of yours.  Who knows who you will spread your case of the smiles to?!?!

THE SMILE GAME   The perfect great game for ANYONE, ANY AGE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!

How to play:

  1. Smile at someone, anyone.  It can be the cashier at the grocery store, your mom, a baby or the mail man.
  2. See if they smile back.
  3. If they do, hooray!  You get one point.
  4. If they don’t, boo hoo.  You lose one point.
  5. The goal is to get 10 points.
  6. This can be a contest between multiple people to see who gets to 10 points first or a race to see how quickly you can get to 10-points on your own.

My family has a blast playing this at the grocery store, at home with each other, at school…any where.  

Have fun and may the smiling odds ever be in your favor! 

 

How to create your happiest year ever…

I love this time of year. The beginning of a new year. New goals. New aspirations. Excitement. Optimism. The start of something new brings the hope of something great!  We set goals to eat healthy, exercise more, lose weight, quit bad habits, be more productive…

Why do we set these goals?  

Is it because it’s the “right” thing to do, what we think we “should” do? Or, is it because doing these things will make us happy?

I challenge you, this year, to stop “shoulding” yourself and set your New Years resolutions based upon your soul’s deepest desire: HAPPINESS.  

Take a moment to reflect on your life. What moments do you remember with a smile? Is it busting your butt on the treadmill at 5am or is it that afternoon that you hiked through Tooth Fairy Forest with your family?

This year, instead of setting goals for things you SHOULD do, write a list of all the things that will make you HAPPY. Then, resolve to spend more time doing those things.  

Resolve to choose happiness above all “shoulds”.

I’m definitely not saying go hogwild on the fried chicken at Country Kitchen buffet or spend the year sitting on your couch laughing at reruns of Seinfeld. Those activities might make you happy in the moment, but when December 31, 2016 rolls around are those the moments that you will remember?

Resolve to create moments worth remembering.

I am certain this resolution will lead you to your HAPPIEST year yet!

What are your resolutions to create happiness? I’d love to read them!

A few of my resolutions to create happiness:

  1. Having FUN makes me happy…Spend more time playing, laughing and being silly.
  2. BALANCE in my life makes me happy…balance my time between work, play, relaxation, relationships, me-time, charity.
  3. SUCCESS and accomplishment makes me happy…Take daily action towards my life goals.
  4. Spending QUALITY TIME with my loved ones and friends makes me happy…have parties, celebrate everything, host more happy hours, lunch dates, put down my phone and Be present with people, snuggle my family and puppy.
  5. TRAVELING makes me happy…plan vacations, take road trips.
  6. Feeling HEALTHY makes me happy…walk the dog, walk with friends, do yoga, plan healthy meals, cook with my family, meditate.
  7. MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION makes me happy…spend time daily talking with my kids about topics beyond “how was your day”.  
  8. INSPIRING others makes me happy…write inspiring blogs, public speaking, write inspirational book, practice affirmations.
  9. Being KIND and HELPFUL makes me happy…continue working as a pediatric OT,  volunteer at kids’ school, volunteer on HOA board, do lots of random acts of kindness.
  10. Being CREATIVE makes me happy…write some more books (maybe with my kids), launch the Comfy Cup.
  11. Having FREEDOM and FREE TIME makes me happy…So I vow to practice saying “no thanks” to thongs and things that don’t make me happy! (haha, typo that I decided to leave in–because thongs don’t make me happy…I much prefer a cozy booty-covering underpant). No thanks to thongs that ride up my crack!  Also, no thanks to any THING doesn’t create FUN or FREE TIME or HAPPY AND MEMORABLE MOMENTS.

Each year, I choose a “word for the year”.  Several people have asked what my word is this year.

 This year, my word is HAPPINESS.

    What is yours? 

    5 Things To Do Before 2016

    Although the high temp in Lenexa is 56 degrees today.  (Woo Hoo!) It’s officially winter. Yes, winter is here and spring is just around the corner.  From now on, the days will gradually lengthen.  I love this time of year.  It’s a time for reflecting on everything you have.  All the things, people, and experiences you are grateful for. This is the time to look forward to a new beginning.  It’s the time for setting goals and intentions for the new year.

    Amidst the buzz of the holidays, take some time to quiet your mind and do these five things to prepare yourself for the new year:

    1. Make a list of all the things you love.

    2. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for.

    3. Answer these questions and set your intentions for 2015.

       -When are you the happiest?

       -What is something that you can share with others to improve their lives?

       -Where do you see yourself one year from now?

       -What is your personal mission statement?

       -What are your values?

    4. Make a vision board.

    5. Take time to play. Be silly and have fun.

    The greatest gift you have is the gift of creation.  You were born to create.  You are constantly creating and you probably don’t even realize it.  You create thoughts, love, kindness.

    You create your own future…what will you create in 2016?

    Empowerful Parenting: how to lovingly empower your kids vs. enable them

    Any parent will tell you that parenting is the hardest job in the world. A day spent at home with my kids is more mentally and physically challenging than any day at work.  Why? I believe it is my strong emotional connection to my kids.  After all, it is my responsibility to fill them with love and help them grow into the best human beings they can be.  As parents, it is our nature to give our children unconditional love and kindness. The challenge arises when delineating between loving-kindness and enabling.

    “Moooom, WHERE ARE MY SHOES?”

    “Moooom, I’m hungry!”

    “Moooom, is it time to go yet?”

    “Moooom….”

    “Mom? Did you hear me?”

    “MOM–wake up!”

    I know I am not the only mother that is exhausted by the end of the day. The constant need for guidance and assistance and attention can be draining.  Sometimes, it just seems easier to do things for them rather than teach them to do things for themselves.  But is that the loving thing to do?  Isn’t empowering more loving than enabling?

    Like all parents I love my kids to the moon and back. I want the world for them and I want them to HAVE, DO, and BE everything their soul desires. I realize that I don’t have to HAVE, DO, and BE everything FOR them.  

    So, where is that fine line between acts of love and enabling (which really is disabling) your child to depend upon you to HAVE, DO, and BE everything FOR them.

    By definition, enabling means: give someone or something the authority or means to do something.  

    There comes a time when you have to choose between giving your children the means to depend upon you or giving them the authority to explore the world independently.

    I recently placed a picture in my kitchen to remind myself how to choose between lovingly empowering and enabling my kiddos. 

    On a picture of my children at the beach, the caption reads: Do not do for others what they can do for themselves.

    Now, when I hear, “Mooom….”, I take a moment to ask myself, “Is this request something they can do for themselves?”

    If it is something I know they are capable of doing, I do this– I call it Empowerful Parenting:

      
    1. I encourage them by letting them know that I believe in them and their ability to do this task independently. 

    You are smart and strong I believe that is something you can do for yourself. 

    2. Then, I challenge them to find a solution.

    Hmmm…what ideas do you have to solve this problem?

    3. If they tried. I mean really tried. Then I offer choices as suggestions to guide them in their problem-solving.

    Have you tried___ or ___?

    4. Finally, I offer to help complete the task together. Not FOR them, WITH them.

    I am proud of you for trying…let’s see if we can do it together.

    If you think about it, when we are recognizing our children’s abilities and supporting and believing in the fact that they can do it for themselves. We are empowering them. That is ultimately loving them.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are still “MOOOOM” moments that require my attention. (i.e. I puked in my bed or I want a hug.) 

    And, if I am being completely honest, I still revert back to the “I’ll do it for you” on occasion. Hey, nobody is perfect, right?

    Overall, I am consciously making an effort to EMPOWER my children to trust in themselves and their own abilities, not to depend upon me to magically meet their needs and solve all their challenges.

    Presently–and even after my kids are grown-up and moved out of the house–I know there will be those “MOOOOM MOMENTS”. Those moments when my children really do need ME. 

    In those moments I will follow the advice of my own mother, and “appreciate being needed“.  

    Toilet Meditating for Parents who Barely Have Time to Poop

    As a parent in a busy household, one of the wishes I have each day is for just a few moments of peace and quiet and solitude. As a mama also aspiring for enlightenment– a few moments of meditation would be equally awesome.  But, let’s be honest.  Finding peace and quiet is a rare commodity in a busy household–unless you wake up at the crack-of-dawn and disappear to the solitude of the basement before those little feet pitter-patter down the hall squealing, “I’m hungry”. 

    Of course, you could wait until the house is quiet in the evening after the kiddos are in bed and your spouse has finished blaring his nightly Netflix episode of Breaking Bad on the TV …if you can stay awake that late.  I don’t know about you, but it seems that my house is abuzz with activity from dawn until midnight. 
    So, what is an exhausted mom seeking a slice of solitude to do? 
    We all know the “escape to the bathroom trick”.  Oh, come on, don’t act like you have never used the bathroom as a getaway.  Once you are in there, hunched down holding your head in your hands, how do you maximize those precious moments of “me time”and bring your energy from zero back to hero?  
    Toilet Meditation.  
    Yes, you read that correctly…Toilet Meditation.
    It can be done, and it can be glorious.  We take time to “lighten the load”, but what about our emotional and energetic load?  We owe it to ourselves and our families to pause a few extra minutes on that porcelain throne to enlighten our minds and not just our behinds.
    The benefits of mediation are comparable, if not better than a good BM, so why not squeeze a MB (meditation break) in after your BM?

    Consider these benefits of toilet meditation:
    1. Provides a sense of calm and balance
    2. Increases energy
    3. Reduces pain and enhances the body’s immune system
    4. Reduces stress
    5. Relieves muscle tension

    Follow these 10 Steps to Master the Toilet Meditation:
    1.  Secure the area (that’s basically the lock yourself in the bathroom technique aforementioned).  
    2.  Get loaded.  The toilet provides a wonderful support for you to sit grounded with your spine erect and your feet flat on the floor.  No need to try the lotus position in the loo. 
    3. Close your eyes and bring your attention to the space between your eyes.  
    4. Get your brain from Beta to Theta.  I personally love listening to Dr. Joe Dispenza’s “You are the Placebo” meditations (available on iTunes).  However, if you are locked and loaded and you left your iPhone and earbuds in the kitchen, the hum of the bathroom exhaust fan is the next best thing to the harmonious binaural beats.
    Follow this handy-dandy brainwave map to get you there:
      

     5. Do not attend to any knocking, hollering, barking, ringing for 5-minutes.  Imagine that your body is not a solid mass, but instead that it is made up of millions of tiny atoms (because it actually is). Feel the space between the atoms expanding and filling the room (kind of like a fart). 

    6. Breathe.
    7.  Ignore that pounding on the bathroom door and the “Moooooom, are you in there?”
    Bring your awareness back to the space between your eyes.  Keep your eyes closed.  
    8.  Stay in that Toilet Theta State as long as you can…but not too long.  You don’t want to end up with ring-around-the-toilet thighs (especially during tennis-skirt season), or worse yet, have your legs fall asleep!
    9. Bring your awareness back your body.  Open your eyes.  Can you feel your toes?
    Your legs? Your arms? Feels good, Right?
    10. Don’t forget to flush and wash, and while you are in there, go ahead and give yourself a wink in the mirror and say, “I’m good stuff!”

    “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio should be a required read for everyone.

    “Wonder” is the story of a ten year-old boy with severe facial abnormalities and his transition from home-schooling to fifth grade at a Manhattan private school.  While the meat of the book addresses bullying and acceptance, it also has a deeper layer that speaks to the soul.  

    “Wonder” enlightens readers to become more conscious of their thoughts, words, and actions. It brings awareness to the power of kindness and compassion.  And, it teaches readers that judgement and blame are not the path to growth.  It is through awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness that we learn from our mistakes and grow to become better and brighter human beings.  
    Our children spend thousands of hours in classrooms learning the subjects of reading, writing, math and science.  Yet, how much time is devoted to the lessons that are truly important in life?  Lessons about kindness, compassion, love and acceptance.  Lessons in accepting yourself and others for the wonderfully unique beings we are.  Why do we spend so much time teaching kids math facts and spelling words when we should be teaching them to love themselves and love others?
    This book had me sobbing tears of joy and sadness.  It revealed wonderful life-lessons in language and topics that children and adults can both relate to.  Through laughter and tears, “Wonder” teaches:
    1.  Our perspective creates our journey.  
    2.  In all cases choose kindness.
    3.  Reflect on your mistakes and learn from them.  
    There are so many other beautiful life lessons expressed in this WONDERful story it is a definite MUST READ for any age, young or old.  

    Why you should: Find your Fractals,  See the Seagulls, and Pay Attention to the Signs!

    I don’t know about you, but I can’t get my mind to shut up.   I am constantly thinking about what comes next or worrying about how I could’ve done something different in the past.  Sometimes, when I’m driving in the car I try to meditate in silence. However, it is very easy and tempting to numb our mind’s chatter with to all of this with the songs on the radio.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love singing in my car. And makes me so happy and is a great emotional release. However, I wonder, what am I missing when I am numbing my mind with the radio or the television?
    You see, I have started to realize when I am aware and focused in the present moment, The Universe sends me little signs guiding me toward my intentions.
    I am getting better every day. However, many days I feel like I am driving down a dark highway with the music blaring and my headlights out.   It is as if my fuel light has come on and I am in a panic to get to the nearest gas station as fast as possible.  In this state of fear, I am completely unaware of all the signs along my path guiding me where to go.
    A fractal is a natural phenomenon that exhibits a repeating pattern.  It is something that is repeated over and over again in your life, a sign, a guidepost, telling you which way to steer.
    I learned the term from a wonderful teacher, Jen Freeman. She explained to me that when we reflect on our lives, we can identify many fractals, or common themes that are consistently repeated.  When we become aware of these fractals or signs, we can feel more confident and moving toward our purpose.
    I read an email today from Ramit Sethi.  In the message, he described signs or fractals as seagulls. He wrote:
    “In the 1820s, a sailor wrote about his 3-month-long journey from Spain to America: “I love when I see seagulls, it reminds me we’re close to land”
    In 1492, Columbus kept a diary of his voyage. In September, he wrote this:

    “That day they navigated, on their westerly course, day and night, 20 leagues, counting a little less. Here those of the caravel Niña reported that they had seen a tern and a boatswain bird, and these birds never go more than 25 leagues from the land.”

    In other words, he noticed the birds…and knew he was close to land.

    You can use this principle in business and personal life, too. I call it The Seagull Theory.

    The Seagull Theory describes how the subtlest of clues can signify you’re on the right track. For example, when someone says something once, you might not notice it. When you hear it again, that’s interesting. When you hear it three times, you lean in and start paying attention.

    The universe is so amazing. It is constantly sending us signs to steer us on our divine course. However, we have to turn off the background music, turn on our headlights, and pay attention in order to notice the signs.
    Let me give you an example:
    Last week, a friend told me about an opportunity for therapists to travel to Peru to provide therapy for a community that does not have access to this type of healthcare. This is something I have always wanted to do with my husband (since we are both in healthcare).  I actually, put an image of it on my vision board this year.
    I sent an email to get some more information on the Peru opportunity and that was it…at least that is what I thought.  However, I was really practicing being aware and focused and tuned in.  And since then, Peru has been popping up like a zit on a teenager’s face.
    One of my favorite authors who I follow on Facebook posted this week that she will be traveling to Peru to give a seminar.  Then, over the weekend my neighbor told me I needed to try out a Peruvian restaurant nearby. (We were even talking about Peru-nor does she have any idea about my interest in traveling there.)
    So, in less than a week, Peru came up three different times.
    And maybe even more,Who knows what I might have missed while I wasn’t tuned in.
    So, what does all this mean? Am I attracting Peru to me? Or, is the universe sending me signs about Peru?
     
    When we increase our awareness, and quit numbing our minds with the tune of “uptown funk” for the umpteenth time that day, some pretty amazing signs start to appear. Signs that have probably been there all along, but we were just tuned in to Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson instead of our own divine rhythm.
    Take a minute and reflect on your own life. What fractals can you identify? This week, make a conscious effort to become more aware and tune in. What signs do you see appear in your life? What seagulls are flying over your head giving you a little fly-by-hi squawking, “This way to land.”

    

    Don’t hate. Don’t judge.

    Any label someone gives you is a judgment. 

    You work too hard.
    You talk too much.
    You are too skinny.   
    You are a horrible mother. 
    You are a wonderful cook.

    Each of these statements is a judgment based upon the individual’s own perspective.
    We were not put on this earth to judge. We are here to discover who we are and what unique gifts we can share with others to make the world a better place.
    You are not what anyone else defines you to be.
    Only you know who you are. Because only you can hear the unique whisper of your soul.

    The next time someone judges or labels you, try this:
    Simply say, “hmmm…that’s an interesting point of view.”
    It is an easy, non-judgemental way of saying “I hear you, but I am choosing not to argue about this.”
    Take a minute now, and think about how many times a day you place judgment on others.

    Her shoes don’t match that dress.
    They should not let their child run around the restaurant.
    His house is a mess.

    Most of the time we only think these thoughts. But, thinking them can be just as nasty as saying them.
    Yikes!
    Instead of judging, try wondering.

    I wonder if she has another pair of shoes?
    I wonder why their child is running around the restaurant?
    I wonder how their house became such a mess?

    See how easy it is to transfer a statement of judgment to a question?
    When we question and wonder, we expand our mind to other possibilities.