Chores and Kids – How to Get the Help You Want Without Bribes or Arguments

Every parent I know would like their kids to be helpful, respectful, and responsible. And most parents are frustrated that their kids aren’t more of those things more of the time. In fact, I often hear lamentation that kids are self-centered and lazy.

Want to turn it around?
Want your kids to do more of the picking up around the house than you do?
Want your kids to value shared spaces and learn to care for not only their things but yours as well?

Then tune in to the free webinar Sunday 3/29 at 3pm Eastern, noon Pacific. We’ll talk about all this and more. Join us!

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Who Thinks About Bullies?

When we think of bullying, we most often think of victims. We think of the kids that are getting picked on and pushed around. We may feel helpless, sad, or rageful that it happens at all and that we don’t know how to stop it.

Next we might think of the bullies. We might shame or judge the people who are hurting others, thinking they need to be punished. Or we might pity them thinking that they’ve been mistreated and they are just passing on what they have learned.

Rarely do we think of the parents. When we do, we think that they should stop bullying. If we are the parents, we usually think we should stop it. We have all the responsibility and yet can feel such frustration that we don’t have the power to control our children or what happens to them. We can’t keep them safe. We can’t make them behave. bullying

Reactions to bullying are often intense. We’re usually sure who’s doing wrong (bully) and who’s being wronged (victim) and what we’re supposed to do (judge, punish, and stop it).

I’m going to suggest a different way. I’m going to suggest you fire yourself from the tiring and thankless jobs of being the judge, jury, and police (knowing what’s right and wrong, deciding on punishment, and enforcing your will).  I’m going to suggest that you take your desire for peace and fairness and do something that actually works.

Learn more at the free webinar on Tuesday, March 31 at 8pm Eastern, 5pm Pacific. Register for this awesomely informative action packed (or at least insightful) opportunity below.

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Want more ease and harmony? Do this Mediation for Compassion.

When my child or I am upset, I feel a strong urge to figure out what’s wrong and fix it. So great can this urge to assign blame and begin changing behavior be for me, that it takes a conscious effort to remember my tools. Compassionate listening is the very best tool in my parent coaching toolbox. It’s deceptively simple yet very powerful.

Meditation for Compassionate Listening

This mediation is inspired and strongly influenced by my training in Inner Empathy by Jerry Donoghe. Learn more about the great work in nondualism and parts work going on at

I invite you to try it for yourself.

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The Healing Power of the Seasons

Fall feels like it’s fully arrived inside me as well as outside my window.

Autumn is a time of harvesting the fruits of the previous season, getting ready for winter and the dark season, and letting go of things that are ready to die.

Fall leaves remind us of the wisdom of cycles -  letting go, hibernating, and rebirthing.

Fall leaves remind us of the wisdom of cycles – letting go, hibernating, and rebirthing.

Fall leaves are a great reminder of the cycles of the seasons. The leaves that were green just a month ago have turned brown, yellow and red. They are falling off the trees in droves. They remind me that just because it’s time to let go of something now doesn’t mean that it was useless or I never should have had it in the first place.

The dance of letting in and letting go continues constantly throughout life. Sometimes the cycle is as short as a breath – breathing in and breathing out. Sometimes the cycle is as long as an entire life – birth into this human body and death to leave it. In between the two are countless cycles within cycles as we learn to dance with intimacy. Do we keep someone – our children, spouse, partner, parent, lover, or friend – from touching us deeply? Do we keep love at arm’s length for fear of losing it? Or do we let them in? Do we open our hearts to the most vulnerable experiences of joy and love knowing that these, like everything in our cyclical lives, will pass?

Taking our cues from the trees, we can find comfort in the repetition of the cycles. We must let go of the old to allow it to compost and create space for new growth.

This is true in parenting as we let go of the ways of connecting that worked with our child in the previous season. As our children grow they let go of breastfeeding to make room for more independence. Comforting with a lap and snuggles without warm milk and suckling is a transition, a letting go. My younger daughter still wants a hug and a kiss before I leave her at our homeschool coop. My older daughter doesn’t want to be seen touching me by her friends. Where she used to want me with her constantly, she now says “See ya” from 5 feet away and turns around to talk to other kids.

Relationships grow and evolve, closeness ebbs and flows.

Like the tide coming into shore, relationships ebb and flow.

Like the tide coming into shore, relationships ebb and flow.

Our relationships to our children, ourselves, work, our homes, partners and friends all change over time. When we insist that they stay constant, we set ourselves and others up for disappointment and suffering. One of the challenges of being a parent is to both set good boundaries and allow our children the freedom to grow and evolve. Mindfulness, reflection, quiet time, parts work, and “being with what is” are all great tools to allow the cycles of nature to teach and hold us, in times of closeness and in times of separation.

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Recipes for fall – Sunflower Seed Pate

Today I’m inspired to share a little recipe that’s a good source of vegan protein. I’m not vegan, but I’m feeding some friends who are tomorrow night. I eat very little soy and another friend who’s joining us doesn’t eat beans. Coming up with a main dish that works for all of us (and tastes good) is a bit tricky. Luckily yet another friend has this recipe for…

Sunflower Seed Pate

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds, ground
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (available in health food stores)
  • 3 t parsley
  • 1 1/2 t basil
  • 1 t thyme
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 cup potato, grated
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 T tamari, Bragg’s or soy sauce

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix all dry ingredients. Grate potato and rinse thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients stirring in the potato last. Oil a 9″ pie pan and spread pate evenly. Turn oven down to 350F, put the pate in, and bake 35-45 minutes until golden brown. May be served hot, warm, cool, or cold. Let cool to set completely.

That’s the recipe. I’ve made it before only preheating to 350F and not rinsing the potato. As far as I can tell, it still worked great. This recipe can be doubled or halved any number of times to make the right amount. Freezes and reheats pretty well.

The spices are all dried. If using fresh, double the amounts and then decrease the amount of water slightly so that the pate is a thick paste consistency before you bake it.

As a bonus, here are some salad dressings. One of them will feature on a chopped and massaged kale and collards salad tomorrow.

Miso Ginger Salad Dressing

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3T  light miso
  • 1 1/2″ fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 1 T honey
  • 3 T warm water

Shake in a ball jar with a tight fitting lid then add

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup oil

Sunflower Soy Dressing

  • 1 1/2 soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 3/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds

That’s the recipe. Again I’ll probably mess with it. I like to add tahini or sesame seeds and garlic then decrease the oil by about half and add some water.

Let me know if you try any of them and if you like them.

Thanks to Anthony Barrett and Alyssa Martin for the recipes.

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8 Principles of Working With Shadow Emotions

Shadow Emotion Principle

  1. Mindfulness – cultivating awareness of what’s happening both inside and outside of you before it changes
  1. Compassion – sitting with an emotion, experience, or person with no need to fix, change or figure them out. Curiosity, gentleness, and welcome are key aspects of compassion that are paramount to offer yourself as well as your children
  1. Parts Work - You are like a cast of characters in a play. The angry you, the sad you, the hopeful you they are all like characters that you can connect with, talk to, learn from, and speak with. They are parts of you and can give great insight into your shadow reactions.
  1. Listening and Reflection -Your children and your own parts  want to know that you hear them. They want to know that you love and value them. They want to know that they belong. The best ways to tell them those things is to listen and then reflect what you heard.
  1. Feelings – Feelings are neither inherently good nor bad, they simply are. Allowing ourselves to feel what we feel through noticing and naming them validates our experience. We are often afraid to feel shadow emotions because they don’t feel good. Parts work, mindfulness, and compassion allow us to receive the gifts of our shadow emotions without getting lost in them.
  1. Needs – All human beings have needs. These valid needs are the motivation for even the most destructive shadow behavior.  Doing your shadow work gives you access to your motivations – the needs underlying your behavior – and the motivations of your child. Connecting with these basic human needs creates connection and empathy while opening the door to new, less costly, and more effective behavior.
  1. Strategies – Strategies are the actions your parts take to get their needs met. The are the things your kids do when they are trying to get their needs met. When our strategies come out of our shadows, they usually create exactly the thing we are trying to avoid. This is called  a tragic expression of an unmet need. Learning better strategies makes everyone’s life happier.
  1. Persistence – Working with shadow emotions has immediate payoff but the real value is seen overtime with consistent application of these principles. Come back to them again and again. Journal. Create support dates with a friend or spouse to work on them. Get coaching with me. Let these principles live in and change your life.
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Homemade Granola Bars

Like all mothers, I want to feed my children well. I’ve spent many hours in the kitchen and many more hours in my head trying to figure out the right diet. We’ve tried many things – no dairy, no wheat, vegetarian, raw, GAPS diet, making our own cheese and butter, making our own fermented veggies, making kombucha and water kefir for probiotics – the list goes on.

Food is a big deal for most parents. So to make life a bit easier and let you know you’re not alone, I’m going to post recipes and tips from time to time. If you like these posts, let me know and I’ll do it more often.

By special request from my friend Bobbie, here is a recipe for no bake granola bars.  I like them without the chocolate, but my kids favorite part (surprise!) is the chocolate chips.

Everything tastes better and is better for the environment when it is local and organic. Organic food is often grown with more care and fewer pesticides and chemical fertilizers making it better for the land, the farmers who grow it, and you. Plus it really does taste better most of the time – so go for it when you can.

  • 4 cups rolled oats (quick are my favorite but any thickness will do)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 – 1 cup sorghum, maple syrup, or honey
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tsp salt

You can just throw everything in a big bowl, mix as long as you can with a spoon and then use your hands. We do it that way often.

Slightly easier is to mix the peanut butter, sorghum, and coconut oil (it becomes a liquid at about 80 degrees F). Mix all the dry ingredients together and then pour the liquid into the dry ingredients.

Vary the recipe to your taste, pat the mix into a 9×13 pan and refrigerate. They will harden into bars that keep nearly indefinitely at cooler temperatures.




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Quality Time Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Use the chart below and the tips which follow to figure out if you really need to buy something new or if you could do just as well (and maybe even better) by saving your pennies. Connection doesn’t have to be expensive.

Quality doesn't have to mean "new"

Quality doesn’t have to mean “new”


Play More and Spend Less with these practical, simple tips.

Expensive Old Way Lower Cost New Way Added Benefit of the New Way
Going out to movies Make your own entertainment: sing and play music together, read aloud, play a game, create art More connection and stronger family bonds while developing skills and imagination. Get outside. Move. Play. Do projects together.
Buying new clothes, toys, and tools Shop at Thrift stores, trade with friends, and craigslist Reusing means less trash goes in the landfills and oceans. Supporting thrift stores supports valuable charities like stray pets, addiction recovery, and epilepsy research.
Eating out Make your own meals from whole ingredients Homecooked meals are notoriously lower in fat, sugar, salt, and processed food additives helping you both feel and look better.


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Mother’s Day

Good morning Mothers.

There is this creative, life givine energy within each of us regardless of age, gender, and whether or not you have given birth.

To be a mother is to bring forth new life.

One life is the new life of a baby. Soft, warm gestating for 9 months then coming out of our bodies to be held and nourished in our arms and with our loving attention.

Let’s broaden the definition of mother. To recognize mothers is also to recognize the divine manifestress within each of us. The creatrix of ideas, plans, and a business. The creatrix of a home, a skyscraper, and a garden. The creatrix of a safe place to rest, grow, and be born into yourself.

What do you nurture and grow?

Sometimes we nurture seeds of lack and grow those into experiences of limitation and frustration. I’m not good enough. There’s not enough time. There’s too much to do. I can’t do it all, but I’m going to try….These thoughts and the actions that come from them flower into experiences of shortcoming, failure, and disappointment. Even when we reach the goal, we’re unable to enjoy it when it comes from these motivators.

Is there another way? Can we be successful without the inner critic driving us to perform? Yes.

What if today was a day to practice loving acceptance? Let compassionate presence be the womb that gestates the seeds of love, kindness, spaciousness, and enough into experiences of having enough time, enjoying the moment you are in, and still being able to move with purpose and direction.

Let this be a day of walking around seeing the nurturing, creative energy within every person we meet, including ourselves.

While I can sometimes get annoyed at Mother’s Day as a holiday designed by a consumer culture to guilt children and husbands into buying things for mothers, today I’m choosing a different approach.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Is This Emotion Mine?

Does talking with your spouse or kids leave you feeling drained or overwhelmed? Do you want to retreat, eat chocolate cake, or go for a long solo bike ride after spending time with them? Do you notice that you don’t even want to go home sometimes?

While this may happen to all of us sometimes, if it happens often you may be taking their upset or challenges  too personally. While it’s nearly impossible to be completely unruffled by someone you live so closely with, you can take steps to make it easier to both listen deeply and keep your own sanity.

Step 1: Mindfulness

Notice what you are feeling. Ask if this is your emotion. Are you taking on someone else’s work, emotion, or baggage?

Step 2: Discernment

Closely linked with mindfulness is noticing you have choices. What do you want to do right now? Many of us often try to help by absorbing and trying to fix or heal someone’s else’s upset. Rarely does this actually help and tends to disempower all involved. Very often the kindest thing you can do is sit with someone while they feel their feelings with no need to change, fix, figure out, or take them personally. If you think there’s even a possibility that that’s true, try the following exercises and see if they work better than absorbing or fixing someone else’s upset.

Step 3: Practices to Keep Your Ground

Exercise 1 – Energetic Shield: Stand up and feel your feet on the ground. Run your hands in front of you. Imagine you are putting an energetic shield in place. This shield protects you from absorbing or getting exhausted by the person you are listening to. It can let in anything that you need to feel and hear. It can keep out and deflect back to your partner anything that is theirs and that they need for their healing.

The energetic shield is very useful when your spouse, co-workers, or children are expressing their upset. Take a deep breath and move your hands in front of your face, heart, belly, and as far down your legs as you can reach. After some practice, you can do a smaller motion that doesn’t seem as obvious. You can also use it when you’re in an environment that seems negative and out of your control (i.e. doctor’s office with TV playing or your in-laws house when they start to bicker).

With someone you know, you can actively put your shield up with them. Let them know you’re putting your shield up. Pause the conversation and do the motions. This may actually help them feel safer to talk to you because they know they won’t be dealing with the fallout of your overwhelm after you listen to them.

Exercise 2 – Compassionate Presence: Imagine you are pure compassion and empathy. You have no need to change, fix or figure out the person who’s talking to you. You trust they are the experts on their own life. You trust them to figure out their own path and that the kindest and most loving thing you can do it listen to them with complete trust and love.

You may also notice that parts of you get stimulated by their pain. This is what makes it hard to offer compassion to your intimates. Your lives are so intertwined that their pain triggers your own. Hold the pain within you with compassion as well. What if it was OK to just notice it without need to fix, figure out or change? What if you could also ask for compassionate listening time with your partner, a friend, or ?

Exercise 3 – Listen for Feelings and Needs: Compassion, reflective listening, and guessing at feelings and needs are powerful tools for finding our share humanity and creating more understanding. The form is simple: Reflect back what you heard and guess at what the person is feeling and needing. Doing it well takes a lot of practice. Luckily, living in close proximity to other human beings isn’t easy and gives us lots of practice.

Let’s take a common situation. I said I’d bring home milk and I forgot. When I get home my partner is upset that I forgot the milk.

Partner: I can’t believe you forgot the milk. You said you’d bring it home. I can never count on you. Now what am I going to do for dinner? You know I needed it to make the sauce.

Me: I hear you’re really upset and frustrated. You’ve put effort and energy into dinner and you want that energy to mean something. You really want to know your needs are going to be met and right now you’re not sure they will be.

Partner: That’s right. My day’s been so hard. Everything I did with the kids took much longer than I expected. I’m late with dinner. And we didn’t even enjoy being together. Why am I staying at home with them anyway? You’ve got it lucky that you get to work with people who actually want to hear what you have to say.

Me: I hear you really want to be listened to and valued. Some days it’s hard for you to be home with the kids and today was one of them. Are you looking for relief, understanding, and support?

Partner: Yes! (and then you forgot the milk….)

This dialogue would likely go on for some time, especially if this way of listening is new to your partnership. Over time, you’ll each come to trust it more.

An important thing to remember is that I (and you when you’re in this situation) have choices again and again in this dialogue. Put yourself in ‘my’ place as you read the following ways I could choose to hear my partner’s words…

  • How I hear: I can hear my partner’s words as personal criticism.
  • How I react: Then I tend to attack or defend myself.
  • How I hear:  I can hear my partner’s words an indication of a problem beyond my partner’s ability to solve.
  • How I react: Then I tend to problem solve and offer solutions.
  • How I hear:  I can hear my partner’s words as an indication that they are about to quit and go get a job and put the kids in school.
  • How I react:  Then I tend to react with my own preferences and fears/agendas for how the home and childrearing happen.


  • How I hear:  I can hear my partner’s words as proof that I’m not going to get the compassionate listening that I need. Maybe I had a hard day too? Maybe I get worried that my partner needs all the attention and I never get to show my own vulnerability.
  • How I react:  In this case, I’ll tend to react with irritation, withholding my compassion and just wishing my partner wasn’t so needy.

Any of these reactions are unlikely to lead to the closeness and connection I really desire with my partner.

Listening from compassion works so much better. When I beam trust and love at my partner. When I sit with him as though he is beautiful, capable, and I love him. When I listen as though I’m hearing a story that has a great ending, then my energy totally shifts. I’m able to evoke that energy in myself (caring, loving, beautiful) and in my partner. The whole dynamic changes based on how I listen and how I offer my presence.

And remember – It’s really not about the milk.

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