How Different The World Might Be

What if we could all have tantrums?

My daughter threw a 30 minute tantrum today.

What if we could all throw tantrums?

I say tantrum, but I look at it through more of an RIE parenting lense so really she had a 30 minute emotional release. And it all started because she wanted to play with the printer’s tray and I wouldn’t let her. I said, “I won’t let you play with the printer” and physically prevented her from reaching it. She pushed against my legs, crying for the next 30 minutes. And I just let her. I didn’t put her in time out; I didn’t try to bribe her or distract her with something else; I didn’t try to rationalize with her – I just quietly and calmly held the space for her to have her feelings. The most I did was prevent her from hurting me or herself and acknowledge her feelings a few times at the beginning. And I didn’t take it personally – I knew that all this crying and pushing wasn’t about me or about the printer. It was about something else entirely. Perhaps it was about all the changes that have taken place in our lives the past two months or the busy-ness of it all. Or perhaps it was something else entirely. To be honest? It doesn’t matter what it was about. What mattered was that I was able to be her safe harbor as her emotions crashed over her.

When we were about 20 minutes in, I started to wonder what the world might be like if everyone were able to have such emotional releases. If there was a judgment-free, intervention-free place where adults, teens, or children could express their anger or frustration or confusion or sadness or whatever else they might be feeling and have others quietly and courageously bear witness.

I was lucky enough to be a part of such a space for 7 years in my women’s circle and I can attest that it is truly powerful to be allowed to express one’s feelings with total acceptance. These marvelous women would bravely sit in a silent circle and bear witness to my pain. They would not offer me a tissue when my nose began to run or give me advice on how to ‘solve’ the problem. They would simply sit there, listening, watching & waiting, as I moved through my emotions. At times, the sobbing would slow down and it would seem that I was done, but these women were wise and knew to wait. A few minutes would pass and a new wave of grief or pain would wash over me and it would all begin again. They trusted that I was strong enough and capable enough to feel my feelings and to know when I was done. It was a powerful experience that I am incredibly grateful to have had and to have given to others as well, including my daughter today.

And what happened, you might ask, at the end of that thirty minutes? My sweet daughter lay on the floor, stomach down, completely spent and sniffling slightly as her breathing began to return to a normal pace. She lay there quietly breathing for about 5 minutes before she looked up at me slightly and said, “Can I watch Sarah & Duck?” And that was it. It was over and we cuddled on the couch watching our favorite duck waddle about on the TV.

Refrigerator Reminders

It’s my first post of 2018! Woohoo! How’s your 2018 going? Mine has gotten off to a rocky start. Things always seem to fall apart for us after the holiday rush of Christmas and New Year’s is over. So I decided to revive and revamp some old reminders on my refrigerator. I had put them up sometime last year and then taken them down months later as they seemed like they were no longer needed. Ha! I was incorrect. For me, personally, these reminders are helpful with my daughter who is in the throws of the terrible (or terrific as my mother-in-law likes to say) twos. The first two are to help keep me grounded:

Crayon on Paper. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

So often problems with my daughter arise when I haven’t been taking my time to meditate and breathe or because I’m trying to move at my adult pace. Granted, sometimes moving at an adult pace is necessary, but often times it is not and it’s important for me to remember to s l o w   d o w n. For me, I find that something magical happens when I slow down and move at my daughter’s pace. I’m able to see the world from her eyes and be fully present and connected. And really, what’s the rush?

The second two reminders are mostly in regards to my daughter but are also applicable to me:

Crayon on Paper. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

I have a strong aversion to mess but life and toddlerhood and art and a myriad of other things can be quite messy! So this is a reminder to myself to allow messes to happen. Throw a tarp down and let the kiddo paint a cardboard box and get covered in paint from head to toe. Let her dig in the mud and pour water in her sandbox. Let her play and be messy. And also, don’t be afraid to get messy yourself – with the kiddo, in your art, in your writing, in your music, in the kitchen, anywhere!

The other reminder is a crucial one. Get outside. Last year, when I had this reminder on fridge and I was having a bad day, it helped me to remember to take the kiddo outside. To a park or just in the backyard. On days when I have very little to give her, going outside always seems to help both of us. I get to recharge (being outside does that to me) and she gets to play happily as she tends to entertain herself very easily outside.

I’m happy and grateful to have these reminders back up on my refrigerator and I can see that they are already helping. What reminders do you have (or want to have) on your fridge? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

THE LOVE SERIES #12: Earth Love

Well, I missed Earth Day in April and I’m a little early for next year, but as my favorite baseball cap says “Every day is Earth Day.” This is the 12th installment of my Love Series and how the woman in the picture looks is how I’m feeling today – full of love for our Earth.

I’ve recently been watching the new Cosmos with Neil Degrasse Tyson and reading the original Cosmos by Carl Sagan. And I must admit, it fills me with awe for this Earth, humanity, and the entire Cosmos. Those great works have also reminded me of how precious and unique (as far as we know) our Earth is and how we must care for it because, right now and for the foreseeable future, it’s the only one we’ve got.

So maybe go and do a small thing for the Earth today. Plant a tree. Pick up that piece of trash (yes, I know you didn’t leave it there, but someone has got to do it – why not you?). Volunteer for a beach clean-up. Give a little extra effort to recycle that (fill in the blank here). Start composting. Hug a tree (it’s not just for hippies). Or go do a naked gratitude dance in the woods (this one might be just for hippies). I don’t care what you do as long as you do something. One small step. One small act for this pale blue dot we call home.

Marker and colored pencil. © 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved

 

A Poem for Our Country

Inside the Texas State Capitol Building

CHECKMATE
They dominate.
They incarcerate.
They invalidate
then equivocate.

They legislate
then misappropriate.
They incriminate
then repatriate.

But then

They miscalculate
and underestimate.
We retaliate.
We do not vacillate.
We proliferate and irradiate.

Time to decontaminate
the slate.
Circumnavigate the fate
of the irate.
Time to eradicate hate.

We will resuscitate
and rejuvenate
this failed state.

We communicate
and collaborate.
We cultivate
and educate.

We contemplate.
We compensate
and commemorate
and celebrate.

We meditate
and motivate.
We demonstrate
and illuminate.

We will recreate
this state.

© 2017. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

[September 29, 2017 UPDATE: I’ve created an accompanying video. See below.]

How Different the World Might Be…

I visited a historic battleground monument and museum today. As usual, I was quite bored. As my 2 year old took a break in a hand-carved wooden chair, laid against a well-maintained marble wall, I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t have to pretend to look at all the war memorabilia, at least for a little while. As she started to squirm indicating the break was over, I said to her, “Well, are you ready to look at more old, white dudes?”

An over-simplification, to say the least, but a fairly accurate generalization (there were a few photos of white women hidden among the displays as well). As we gazed at the guns and swords and rifles and pistols and military uniforms, my 2 year old asked what they were and it was difficult for me to give her a clear, but appropriate answer. “These are weapons to kill other humans” was accurate but a little much for a 2 year old (and even for me). So I simply told her this was a ‘sword’ or ‘rifle.’

Even that felt a little wrong to me. I want to shield her from the violence that we humans commit against one another or the fact that we’ve created machines to perfect it. I don’t let her watch something so violent on television so why would I show her this shrine of violent instruments?

As we continued on, it became apparent that the museum was severely lacking in color. As in people of color. There were no indigenous people or African-Americans in this war of the Americas according to the museum’s display (although they surely had been there). No, the largest and most prominent displays were of old, white men and their weapons.

The old, white men and their weapons. That seems to be all I hear about these days. And I wonder if perhaps these shrines to violence that we’ve built all over this country don’t contribute a small part to all that is going on today. There are towering monuments to war and the heroes that fought them. There are entire museums that document the wars and their weaponry in great detail. Even my history classes in junior high and high school talked mostly about ‘the great wars.’

I understand that wars are huge, world-altering events that take many, many lives and those lives must not be forgotten. And I understand that, sometimes, we must fight for justice and what we believe in. But I wonder if we were to build more statues and monuments of peace and less of war, if things might be a little different. If we had more museums of peace and fashion and science and food and love instead of war, if things might be a little different.

I wonder how different the world might be if my 2 year old and every 2 year old were able to go to a museum of kindness today and be shown the great acts of kindness that humans are capable of. I wonder if things might be just a little bit different and a whole lot better.

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York City – A Tribute to John Lennon

THE LOVE SERIES #2: Acts of Love-ism

Though this Love Series has been brewing for years, it is the most recent terrorist attacks that have broken my heart and urged me to start this series now. When I read about these attacks in France, I felt dismayed and helpless.

So this is me helping in my own little way. This is me saying, “I’m so sorry, France. My heart breaks with you. I’m here for you.”

This is my act of Love-ism.

#2 in THE LOVE SERIES.

#2 in THE LOVE SERIES. Click the image for a clearer, larger picture.

© 2016. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

Open Letter to An American Teenager

One of my teenage relatives was recently having a rough time of things.

This is what I would say to her (and my high school self).

Dear Teen,

I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and already know: life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I think, a teen’s life can have extra bits of unfair-ness. First, there is school. Don’t even get me started on school. You can read about why school sucks here, here, and here. Then there is the fact that you’re almost sort-of an adult but not really. You are given tastes of freedom and independence but none of the trust or respect to go with it. “Be an adult. Stop acting childish” but also “Listen to me. Do what I say. You live under my roof, you have no rights.” This is in addition to the pressure and expectations of everyone around you: friends, teachers, parents, relatives, your church, your culture, the media, etc. And as the cherry on top are all of the ‘normal’ things in life that suck: trauma, abuse*, hardship, death, etc. What I’m trying to say here is that, generally, a teen’s life can really suck. And when your life has a tendency to suck, you tend to have a few bad days (or weeks or months or…).

This is for those times. The bad days. First, I’m going to give you some advice my mom gave me (yes, parents do actually know something from time to time): you can’t change anyone but yourself. Another gem from the old lady: what other people think about you is none of your business. And lastly: don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides (this includes the crap people post on Facebook). These three statements have profoundly changed the way I look at myself and the world. 

IMG_20160229_111901

© 2016 Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved. 

Secondly, when I’m having a bad day, I know it’s time to get back to the basics:

  • FOOD :  Am I eating often enough? Am I eating good, healthy foods? How can I prevent hangry moments?
  • WATER : Am I drinking enough water? How can I always have water accessible to me?
  • SLEEP : Am I getting enough sleep? Is it good quality sleep? How can I improve the quality of my sleep?
  • MOVEMENT : Am I moving my body almost everyday? Is it enjoyable? If not, how would I enjoy moving and strengthening my body?
  • OUTDOORS : Am I getting enough time in the sun (and therefore, Vitamin D)? Am I getting enough time in nature? How can I get outside more?
  • MEDITATION : Am I spending enough time alone? Do I make time to deal with my big emotions? Do I make time to get in touch with myself and figure out who I am and what I want? Do I listen to my inner wise voice?
  • SELF-EXPRESSION : Am I making time to express myself in a way that feels true to my soul? Even if I’m not going to share it with another living person, it still needs to be expressed.

What I’ve just listed is essentially radical self care. And contrary to popular belief,  caring for yourself is not selfish. It’s like they say on an airplane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else put on theirs. And let me tell you – self care isn’t easy. Change takes time and you will fall off the wagon. Be kind and gentle with yourself and just get back on. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or get creative.

And if all else fails, get some perspective: read a book, make a list of what you’re grateful for, help someone else, give back, focus on what you do have. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than high school and you are stronger, wiser, braver, and more resilient and powerful than you know. Hang in there – I promise you it will get better.

Oh, and one final thing:

YOU ARE VALUED.

YOU ARE NEEDED.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

YOU ARE LOVED.

All my love,

Angelle

*If you are currently in an abusive situation, I urge you to seek help. Please call one of the hotlines on this page. You will get through this. You will survive.

Cheryl Richardson is Right

I just received the most recent newsletter from Cheryl Richardson entitled , “Why we need to rethink a college education.”

In it she says:

“The world is changing. We need to give children the permission and guidance to find a new way to gain the skills and experience necessary to build a good life, not just a successful career.” Yes, yes, and yes. Unschooling at its finest.

I’m not sure I could have said it any better so I’m linking it here.  Enjoy!

Love, Fun, Joy: That’s The Point

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© 2015 Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved. 

Original Drawing inspired by the words of Neale Donald Walsch:

“Have fun. Spread joy. Share love. This is the Three-Way Path.” –Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens

“Fun, joy, and love is who you are. It is the natural you. Just give in to that[…] Share love with everyone, in the form that your soul tells you is most appropriate to the moment and to the kind of relationship you have with each person – and with yourself.” –Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens

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