I am experimenting with the idea that every person, object, idea, animal, insect, etc. exists with a desire to love and be loved. Since my perception of how the world is makes it easier for me to respond proactively and with compassion, having this outlook makes it much easier for me to respond with empathy. Responding with empathy makes it more likely for connection and win win solutions to result.

The desire to  love and be loved is often expressed in tragic ways that make it hard for me to see it as such. When my partner, Robert, does something that pushes my buttons (this is strange–I can’t think of any examples right now!) in the past it has been so easy for me to just fly off the handle.

But when I can remember that he is either asking for love or offering love, it makes it easier for me to respond with empathy.

Even easier still would it be if I saw him as a child who is acting in a way that I don’t enjoy. It is easy for me to respond to children with empathy. I can count on two hands how many times I have yelled at my children in the past twenty years. I take no credit for this. For some reason I was just made to have compassion for kids.

Now I want to take this one step further. What if I saw something like money as a child who is offering or wanting  love? I can see my thought immediately changing.

You see, I have this love-hate relationship with money. I hate having to earn it. I hate the fact that I have little time to give time to my friends, and that I choose to charge money to help them and thus be with them. I dislike how money gives people so much power. I detest the fact that some people are born with lots of money, and all they have to do is invest their money wisely and they can make interest and just live on that. I really can’t stand how the poor get poorer and rich get richer because of the way money is structured.

But last night, it was like a revelation.  Paul in the New Testament of the bible, says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but over come evil with good.” Gandhi and his followers support this idea. It has actually been proven that non-violence is more successful than violence. That tells me that if I am going to have a good relationship with money, and have lots of it available so I can realize my dream of traveling the world giving concerts and workshops inspiring people to be neighborhood bridge builders who help every neighborhood become a thriving, self-reliant village–maybe I could change my relationship with money.

So I am going to have a little empathy session with money. Let’s see how it goes.

P: Money, I would like to have a conversation with you so I can understand you better, and be able to better cooperate with you. Are you willing to do that at this moment?

M: Sure, why not?

P: I know that in the past I have said a lot of pretty negative things about you, and I think that I have thus pushed you away. Would you say that is true?

M: Yes,your negative thoughts and words have created a vibration within you that shouts out to the universe, “I don’t want you.” The universe, or Creator, or God–whatever you want to call she  him it–loves you so much and wants to give you want you want. So you have thus been given very little money. In fact, you have been given just the opposite–lots of debt.

P: Well, I would like to develop a better relationship with you so that we can be friends, and we can work together. Does that sound good to you?

M: Sure, I love contributing to the well being of others.

P: Would you be willing to share how you have been feeling about my negative reaction to you?

M: I would be happy to.

P: In addition, would you be willing to just speak without having to say just the right words–I want to hear all of your distress.

M: Okay, I’ll try. Here goes:

When you say things like, “I hate having to make money,” or “I can’t stand how that person spends money–if I had that money I would save the world, I hate it.

P: Sounds like you feel angry  because you want me to speak more positively about you.

M: Yeah, that’s right. I can’t stand it when you act like you are so much better than people who have money and send out this vibration, without even thinking about it. It pushes me away.

P: I am hearing that you feel really frustrated because you would like me to bless the people who have money and send them love.

M: Right on! I get so sick and tired of all the stupid things you think about people who have money. After all, I am so closely tied to those people, it affects my feelings towards you.

P: It sounds to me like you feel disappointed because you are really wanting to have positive feelings towards me.

M: Yes, that’s right. I really love you and want the best for you. When you send mixed messages like “I want you money, but I hate you and the people who have you.” then I can’t help but run away because it is a law of the universe.”

P: Wow! I am guessing that you feel disappointed because you yearn to nurture me and you are able to do so.

M: That’s correct. And also, the way you treat me is really bad. You wrinkle me up and stuff me in your wallet and it doesn’t feel good.

P: Sounds like you feel hurt and want me to fold you up neatly when I put you in my wallet.

M: You got it. I think that you and I would get along better if you just treated me with respect. And another thing. All you want to do is get rid of me because you think I am worthless. I am not worthless! I can buy things right now. Maybe less than I used to be able to buy, but right now I can do a lot of good.

P: I am hearing that you feel hurt and disappointed, because you want me to see that you have usefulness right now, and you want me to be able to do a lot of good with what usefulness you have.

M: Yeah! You are finally getting it. I just want you to be able to use me to do all the good that you want me to do. I don’t like being used to hurt others. I know that if you had more of me, you could do good. I don’t even mind if you get rid of me and promote barter, time banks, local currency and LETS systems. I just want you to love me the way I am.

P: I hear that you feel very sad when you are used for purposes that don’t contribute to the well being of others, and you want me to act in ways that attract to me lots of you so I can use you in ways you enjoy. And, I also understand that you are comfortable with disappearing from the scene in the form that you are because you just want the highest and best for everyone.

M: Yes, that is correct. I am made of the same love energy that you are  made of. The people who use me in less than nurturing ways are made up of that love energy. Our creator is only love, and wants the best for us. But because he-it-she gave us free will, people choose to do things that appear to be not loving.

I can’t choose how I act. Everyone just uses me. So I am just wanting you to see that if you can have a loving attitude towards me and the people who use me, you will  have more of me.  I  would love for you to have billions of me and to see how you might dance in the universe with me and my energy. I think it would be so much fun, and together we could help everyone express and ask for love in ways that truly contribute to everyone’s well being. We could live in the consciousness of the Garden of Eden where money isn’t  even necessary. There is so much abundance in that state of being that giving and receiving is the norm.

P: I can further imagine that in that world you envision with that kind of consciousness everyone would thrive and the huge problems that our world would have like hunger, violence, environmental destruction, and scarcity would disappear.

M: That is right. I only want the best for you Patricia, so I hope this has helped.

P: It sure had helped! From now on it will be easier for me to think thoughts and feelings of wanting the best for you and those who use you. I will be able to be more easily aware when I am judging you or those you have you. Wow, I can just imagine it now. When I see that someone has won the lottery, instead of thinking stuff like,

“Most people who win the lottery are broke within a year after they win it. People who do the lottery are ignorant and stupid. I wish I could have as much money as people who win the lottery do. I would use it so wisely. I am so much better than them.”

I could change it to:

“I have no idea where that person’s consciousness is, but I believe that our Creator loves that person who won the lottery as much as she he it loves me. I just want the best for that person. I hope that person can be happy like I am feeling the love of our creator, and living loved. I pray that this person will use the money in ways that enrich his life and the lives of others. I pray that I can write things that will inspire that person to do that very thing. I pray that he will hire me as a coach and pay me thousands of dollars to help him develop attitudes and change his inner being so that the money is a blessing to himself and others. I pray that billionaires and millionaires.  will want my services and pay me millions to help them to use their money in ways that help bring them true happiness. In this way, I can have money, and I can influence those who have lots of money.

Money: Wow! That is quite I shift. I appreciate your willingness to change your attitude towards me.Now we can start working together to make a world where it is easy for every living creature and seemingly non-living creature to thrive.

Patricia: Thanks for spending your precious time with me. Uh oh, I think I better have this conversation with time now. I’ll catch up with you later.

Money: I look forward to it!

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I have been told that there are not very many people who have shared about their experiences with raising children from the time they were in their womb with NVC.  Perhaps this experience that I have shared could be valuable for some. I hope so.

I never wanted to be a parent. I did not want the responsibility, and I saw no alternatives to the authoritarian manner that my parents and every other parent I observed. I did not want to be a boss to my children.

Through a kind of miraculous sequence of events, at the age of 35 I was pregnant with my first child, Christopher. I was blessed to have learned about NVC from my dear friend Corrinne. At the time I lived in Encinitas, California.  I took a class from a teacher who learned directly from Marshall. I don’t even remember the person who I first learned from.

When I learned this new language and consciousness, I was in ecstasy. It was kind of like when a Christian commits him or herself to Christ. I knew this was my path. It answered so many questions that I had. All I wanted to do was learn and practice.

I was also blessed to be able to take 2 intensive weekend workshops with Marshall, and have a personal meeting with him, because he liked my music that I shared with him on a tape called HAPPY TO BE ME.  I still have a picture of him holding my son, Christopher when he was a little baby.

I still remember how when Christopher would cry, I was able to communicate with him in a way that nurtured both he and I. I would say, “are you feeling hungry and do you want some milk? (I did breast feed, later it would be are you feeling hungry, and do you want some num num, his name for breast milk)  I had a difficult time being a mom who was used to being completely independent, and now was very much attached to this little guy who couldn’t be gone for long since I was breast feeding on demand.

I always tried to find win-win solutions to our problems, trying to get both of our needs met. Sometimes I gave up my needs because I could see that if I didn’t, I would have a child who had some major problems.  Like the time when I was working in a pre-school and the teacher said I had to pay attention to all the children equally, and not favor my child. My two year old didn’t understand and I chose to quit rather than put him through suffering.

I used the book HOW TO TALK SO KIDS WILL LISTEN AND LISTEN SO KIDS WILL TALK to kind of supplement my NVC skills. The bottom line was, though, that I would not boss him around, make demands, act like I was more in power.  He had a lot of needs. He hated the car seat. He didn’t want to stay with any one else but Cliff and I and one other caregiver. He wouldn’t go to preschool by himself. All the things that could help me be more independent. But I honored his needs, wanting to joyfully contribute to his well being. I felt better when I did that, then when I asserted my own needs over his.

I remember so many times that he would get really upset about something.  Probably a big part of it was because I wasn’t totally present with him because I still didn’t really want to be a parent—because of my loss of independence. But I listened to his needs empathically 99.99 percent of the time, and I saw that every time he had distress, he would move out of it into a space of peace. I felt so happy to see this, and I saw that he was caring towards me and cooperative often.

I remember one of the simplest ways I had to resolve conflicts when he was with other children was to simply say, “Uh oh, there is one toy, and two children—what are we going to do?” Simply stating the observation and making a request—encouraged them to try to find a solution. It was so beautiful.

As Christopher grew older, I saw how he was developing in a way that I was so happy with. I never forced him to share—but he shared. I didn’t force him to be “polite” but he was. I didn’t force him to be honest, but he always told the truth.

I continue to listen to him empathically now that he is a teenager. There was a time about 3 years ago when he was so skinny that a friend of mine wondered if he was anorexic. I had some long talks with him—and he was able to share and cry and open up.  By sharing my concerns using NVC and listening with empathy, he was able to have some emotional release which lead to a point where we could find some solutions.

Cliff, who is Cliff’s father, and I divorced when Chris was 1 year old. But we have been able to live close to each other all these years, and plan on building an eco-village, along with Robert, my husband, and Mahriyanna, our daughter. Using NVC, Cliff and I were able to and continue to be able to stay connected. I actually have more experiences using NVC with my daughter.

But my son, whom I love so dearly, is a shining example of how using NVC results in a person who is the following”

  1. Is around a variety of people, and does not give into peer pressure.
  2. Has great critical creative thinking skills.
  3. Can easily converse with adults
  4. Is kind and cooperative
  5. Stands up for his rights
  6. Is a wonderful big brother—protective and loving of his little sister of ten years old.
  7. People just love him for the way he is so loving, funny, and easy to be with. People are often telling me how much they appreciate him and his positive influence on their lives.
  8. He has a natural state of empathy and sensitiveness, especially being a boy.

9. He is very tolerant and loving of people’s differences.

I feel hopeful that non-violent communication greatly contributed to my twenty year old son, Chris’s creativity and initiative in helping him produce this CD. Now, here’s the review by locally famous Kelly Mulholland, member of the duo Still on the Hill:
The Flight Brigade, ‘Help Is On The Way


Chris Mikkelson has put together a remarkable debut CD with the release of ‘Help Is On The Way’.  The CD reflects a first rate sensibility for what makes a pop song tick combined with a keen sense of creative production techniques.  Chris is primarily a bass player but the studio seems to be his instrument as well.  He combines his own excellent musicianship with all sorts of synthetic instruments to create a sound scape that never seem even a bit machine like.  At times it rocks really hard but in a moment is breaks down to more sublime texture.  This is one exciting recording from start to finish.  There is a ragged raw energy with a wide range of texture changes from song to song and within each song as well.  I say ragged to mean that this CD has a good ‘human’ hand made feel that never sounds ‘slick’.

The ever positive opening cut, Help Is On The Way, comes out full tilt with an riveting anthemic chorus.  The pace is relentless.  The second cut, Two Edge Knife, is the polar opposite in attitude, a relentless condemnation of worldly temptations. Here, the production is absolutely mesmerizing-a very creative arrangements of guitars and keyboards and drum grooves.  The CD roars on, cut after cut.  It’s a rocking CD for sure, but with many islands of texture change that make every cut a journey.  Every instrument and even many vocal parts are fair game for all sorts of clever electronic processing painting an almost psychedelic tone at times but classic rock grooves keep it all very grounded.

Right on to the end this CD keeps up the pace.  The power rocker, Take Back the Light, keeps the guitars blazing over the top with rich, liquid razor tones. The closing cut, Somewhere, is a cool down from the rest of the CD. Simply beautiful.  Nice long melody that just rises up a lifts you up.  You would do well to check this CD out.  It is rich with honest lyrics, great melodies, rich arrangements, and great tunes.

note from Patricia…you can hear some of the tunes here http://www.myspace.com/theflightbrigade

This is how I want to inspire my children to live. In agape love. They are getting there!
Agape Love
by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
December 1967

AGAPE is more than romantic love, it is more than friendship. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men. Agape is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. When you rise to love on this level, you love all men not because you like them, not because their ways appeal to you, but you love them because God loves them. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.” And I’m happy that he didn’t say, “Like you enemies,” because there are some people that I find it pretty difficult to like. Liking is an affectionate emotion, and I can’t like anybody who would bomb my home. I can’t like anybody who would exploit me. I can’t like anybody who would trample over me with injustices. I can’t like them. I can’t like anybody who threatens to kill me day in and day out. But Jesus reminds us that love is greater than liking. Love is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men.

I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many sheriffs, too many white citizens’ councilors, and too many Klansmen of the South to want to hate, myself; and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate it too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country, and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, and we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”

If there is to be peace on earth and good will toward men, we must finally believe in the ultimate morality of the universe, and believe that all reality hinges on moral foundations.

 

My dear children. I write you this letter and let others read it because I want you and everyone to know why I have decided to do my very best to inspire and support parents and caregivers to empower their children to be healthy in all ways–mentaly, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and politically. I also am hoping that you will get a sense of how much I value you, and that this will be an encouragement to you on your journey. And, finally, I dream that our relationship will be strengthened, enriched, and enhanced by my words which I hope will be life-giving.

I have been honest with you about how I never wanted to have children. Of course I never told you that when you were young and could not understand. I did my best to hide this knowledge from you because the last thing I wanted to do was hurt you. I wanted to want you, because my longing was to be a “good parent”. It wasn’t until about five months ago that I finally realized that you are the best thing that ever happened to me. Yet somehow even though I had mixed feelings about being a parent, I managed to perform actions which strengthened our connection and empowered you to be people who I respect, admire, value, celebrate, and just plain old enjoy being with.

Up until about an hour ago, whenever I read stories about people who against all odds are successful in their endeavors, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I am glad that I didn’t have thier particular problem For example, when I read about a girl who was murdered in the Colombine School shooting because she answered “yes” to the question, “Do you believe in God”, I am glad neither of you go to school, and that you are very much alive. Or if I read of someone who is is paralyzed, yet is doing awesome things to help people in spite of their limitations, I’m glad I can have freedom of movement to dance, walk, garden and run around.

Yet at the same time, I feel disappointed. I admire these  people who rise above horrible situation and show the beauty of the human spirit and how our Creator made us to be able to make something good out of any situation if we chose to express our inherently good nature. But they get lots of attention because of their extreme situation. I want to have the kind of influence they do, so I can share my beliefs and values and inspire people to seriously consider the possibility of trying them on for size. The reason I want people to adopt my values is because I truly believe that they will contribute to well being of people and all life. I know people who have been inspired by how I parent, and I feel great joy in offering them suggestions and helping them parent in nurturing ways.

But you see, I have a pretty dramatic story to share. Against all odds, you both have turned out to be people who are respected, loved, valued, admired, and inspired by those around you. I might doubt my ability to objectively evaluate how you have evolved if I didn’t have so many people telling me how wonderful you are and how much they appreciate you. I look forward to writing countless stories about my own and others experiences of you that lead them to appreciate and value you so much.

I’ve got to admit that I had my doubts about how you two would turn out. Chris, you had so many temper tantrums when you were little, and I wondered if you would ever have the security it took to stay with someone besides your immediate family. But you blossomed into a centered, self-confident, responsible young man.  Of course you still have your moments as we all do–but you still move through your uncomfortable feelings quickly as you did when you were a child.

Mahriyanna–I wondered if you would ever learn to enjoy helping around the house.  You seemed so resistant to learning about compassionate listening. Yet now you find great joy in service to both family and friends, and your help in doing chores is so great. You have also learned that the skill of compassionate listening is very useful at times, with both me, your papa, brother, peers and young ones you care for.

When you didn’t learn to read until you were ten, Chris, I was worried up until then that maybe I was wrong in allowing you to have that freedom to choose. But when Mary Lightheart taught you when you attended her wonderful Montessori School for a brief period, you caught on in three weeks. Soon you were reading effortlessly. Thanks for being a pioneer. When, you, Mahriyanna didn’t learn to read until ten, we were confident that you would read when it was time.

There were so many ways we raised you that were different from others. I wholeheartedly embraced all the philosophies and tools that contributed to you having health on all levels. I have yet to meet any parents that have the same combination of values and who are fully available to live in community with.  This has been sad for me, because I yearn to live in a community where such things as non-violent communication, attachment parenting, unschooling, consensual decision making, healthy eating, and authentic love for all are lived out. I deeply want this both because I want other adults to support you in your evolution, and because I need suport as well.

At this point, I feel grateful that Robert, my partner, and you both can be together at times. I celebrate the moments where we connect and participate lovingly in life together. Sharing meals–often that  you both lovingly prepare; watching movies like Mama Mia that inspire discussion about what we value; working on projects like cleaning up clutter around our place and gardening; listening to your feelings when life seems to be overwhelming; having discussions about what it truly means to follow Jesus, or why we like the Ron Paul Freedom Revolution; swimming in our lovely lake; finding win-win solutions to conflicts and countless other moments of connection are a joy to me. I thank you for the depths of my heart for being who you are.

About two years ago, Robert encouraged me to pursue certification in Non-Violent Communication. After all, I had used this process both in my own growth as a parent and partner–and in nurturing you both from birth. I half-heartedly tried to take the steps that certification took. For various reasons I gave up on certification. Reflecting on that time, I think I still did not have the confidence I needed to say, “I am a parent who has been able to help my children be healthy on all levels.

A big part of that had to do with the fact that Robert and I still had so many unresolved conflicts that spilled out into our family like a noxious poison that cast a shadow over all that we did. In spite of the fact that we could have many happy moments, I did not participate in your lives as much as I would have liked because we were so caught up in our drama. I regret that our conflicts so negatively affected you. I know that when Robert and I have tension, you yearn for more harmony and resolution. You’ve both told me that our conflicts continue to contribute to feelings of extreme discomfort.

Yet, in spite of the  ways that we failed to nurture you optimally–like being almost constantly short on money (but we never went hungry!) or me working a lot and not spending as much time as I would like with you–or all the times I tried to save the world at the expense of my own children–there have been many ways that Robert, (my present partner, father of Mahriyanna)  Cliff  (former husband, father of Chris) and I have nurtured you.  My perception is that you have turned your trials into opportunities to learn. A big reason for that is when you have felt frustrated, sad, angry and otherwise uncomfortable due to our shortcomings, we were willing to listen to your feelings, try our best to understand, and then work to find solutions.

In spite of conflicts that I have with Robert and Cliff, we have been an amazing team to help raise you in the midst of so many challenges. The biggest challenge was the fact that just about everyone had some issue with some aspect of our parenting decisions.

For example, both Robert’s and my mom worried that we were depriving you because we home schooled and unschooled you. Chris, even though I was not all that excited about you going to college, you have proved them to be wrong in their concerns. It’s not that I want people to be wrong, or me to be right. I just wanted to contribute to your well being. The fact that you studied for the SAT test for about three months, passed it, and were accepted into a four year college, University of Arkansas  was validation in itself. But then, when you went through two semesters in the top twenty percent of your class in spite of taking pretty challenging classes, you really showed that unschooling was an effective way of educating.

Many people were concerned about your schooling, Mahriyanna. The fact that your weren’t reading at age five was cause for worry. When you went all the way to ten, still not reading, even you got anxious. It was hard for you to feel that pressure from your peers and other adults–as if something was wrong w ith you. But you just had no desire to do any formal reading lessons with us. You were willing to do lessons with our dear friend Cheryl, but the time you spent with her was too limited to help you exell. We kept reassuring you that you would do the same as your brother, and reading should not be a struggle. When you really wanted to learn how to read, we got out the trusty 100 days to learn how to read (or something like that) and because the lessons were so clear and easy, even I could help you. I still remember with delight the day you said, “Mom, I’m reading and it is easy. I don’t have to try. This is so exciting!” Now, you read joyfully, effortless, and sometimes more than I enjoy!

Delight. Now that is a great word that describes how I feel when I see you both embracing life so enthusiastically, and compassionately and joyfully. Mahriyanna, when I see you pick up one of your beloved chickens and introduce me to her as if she is the most precious being in the world, I am deeply touched by how you so effortless connect with animals.

Chris, when I so often walk into your room and you are joyfully playing the bass, my heart soars  with happiness. The way you make the strings dance and sing with melodies which I am not used to hearing from your instrument amazes me. The way your fingers fly over the strings so effortlessly inspires me to feel admiration and awe for how easy you  make it look like. And when I think about how far you have come in a short three years, I feel exhiliarated and inspired.

Yes, many people worried other things. We were too permissive, and you would never help around the house or show us respect. BEcause we shose not to give you vacinations, you would die of some strange disease. Because we didn’t make you do chores, you would never learn a work ethic that would serve you. because we didn’t send you to school, you would not be socialized, and be able to get along with peers. Because we protected you so much and you weren’t in mainstream society being exposed to the challenges that are presented there, you would never be strong enough to really live in the world.  Because I nursed you both beyond our societies standards, you would be damaged emotionally. Because we didn’t send you to preschool, you would not learn to be independent.On and on. Ad nauseaum.

Yeah, I have a lot of forgiving to do–something I want to work on because I don’t want to hang on to resentment. You know that aobut me. I still have those challenges. I felt so hurt because I wanted encouragement and suport in my parenting, not critisism and judgement. I don’t know why it is that I have often an ability to discern the truth. Yes, I can get caught up in persuasive arguments about various things. But when it came to parenting you, somehow i knew what to do that would best nurture you. Sure, I made some mistakes. I sure am glad that Robert was willing to set more boundaries than I have been willing to set. And I still wonder about that time when I tried out the holding method–you had a hard time forgiving me about that, Mahriyanna.

But over all, looking back, I have few regrets about how I raised you and the sacrifices I made. I didn’t want to be a parent not only because of a decision I made in child hood that I never wanted to have kids who would treat me the way I treated my parents–but also because I kenw what  a hugre responsibility it would be. I had big dreams of being successful, famous, and saving the world. NO time for children in that plan. But once I had a child, the commitment to being the best parent I could be was so strong. As strong as was my desire to please people and belong, even stronger was the desire to embark on a grand experiment. Nurturing you in the way I instinctively and intuitive believed was correct was my top priority. The crazy thing was that I almost always had this inner battle going on. Being present with a little baby or kid was so boring and fulfilling. And being present with a little baby or kid was the best thing in the whole world to be doing.

One thing I found greatly fulfilling was to help resolve conflicts with you and your peers. I was constantly trying to find other parents to hang out with and share life with. I didn’t, and still don’t, think it is natural for a mother to be alone with her child or children. Our destiny is to be in a nurturing community.

Not the kind of community where people gossip and pressure people to conform, and where conflicts are swept under the carpet, and being nice on the surface was highly valued. Rather a place where in all ways our highest potential is encouraged, and learning how to express authentic  love is the highest priority.

I yearned to find that community from age twenty one after I married Cliff and also after my 13 month solo travel experience from Europe overland to Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. Both my relationship with Cliff and my transforming enlightening expedition helped me to realize that community was the main way that humans can thrive. When I concieved you, Chris,  I still hadn’t realized that goal having gotten distracted by other priorities. I was deeply disappointed. We went searching for community when you were 3 and we have been basically searching  ever since because I continue to believe with all my heart that this is the way I want to live, and where we all can enjoy each other even more.

Now that we have our own land, and envision creating community where we live, I sometimes wonder if maybe our wonderful Creator saw that we needed our own space in order to, without pressure from the outside, keep going on with living out our values. We tried over and over again to attract  people to join us. I have felt disappointed, and called myself a failure in weaker moments. Yet perhaps now that we have had this precious time to heal, to connect, to learn deep lessons–we are ready to receive others into our intimacy.

Chris and Mahriyanna, I want to conclude this letter by asking for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for al the times I failed to be there for you in any way. Please forgive me for choosing to try to save the world instead of nurturing you. Please forgive me for not being able to heal my inner child, and thus continue to have conflicts with Robert that contributes to disharmony in our

For caring parents and educators who want to empower their children to be optimally healthy on every level.  Agape Parenting courses offers both useful tips and skills, as well as emotional support for parents.

  • Compassionate listening skills
  • Win-win conflict resolution strategies
  • Pro-actively deal with children who are judged as being disrespectful
  • Set clear limits in ways that inspire connection
  • Learn why the consensual, non-coercive approach is more practical than  authoritarian or permissive approaches
  • Support your child in dealing constructively with fear
  • Create a healthy home environment that helps them to cherish family and  resist peer pressure

You will learn what it means to parent in a peaceful manner that keeps your relationship strong and whole, while simultaneously maintaining strong, clear and fair boundaries for your children.

What I offer: We offer

*courses and coaching.

*2 hour talks,

* retreats

*one day seminars, longer one day

*parenting consultations by phone, skype, or chat

*CD’s for children that  help instill and reinforce all the concepts described are available for sale. above.

*email service, where you can send three questions and have them answered by email in return.

*Personal Development workshops and individual sessions to help parents deal with their own issues which lead to them acting in ways that do not nurture their children.  Many people who realize how essential it is for them to develop the ability to respond calmly and confidently to their children’s strong emotions are committing themselves to the gaining greater awareness of their own emotions, particularly the strong feelings from childhood that children’s defiant behavior can bring forward in adults. Because there is a greater understanding now of the importance of interacting more calmly and respectfully with children, parents, teachers and caregivers the world over are committing to providing for their children an environment of true emotional safety and respect. When adults realize the importance and necessity of responding in a more calm and attuned manner to their children, they begin to commit to the healing of their own unmet emotional needs and wounds from childhood and life in general.

The Parenting Journey

Parenting is an incredibly rich, deep and rewarding journey. It is a journey that opens the heart in new ways, a journey that’s ever changing, a journey of growth and discovery. Just as the pregnant mum’s belly begins to stretch and grow, parent’s emotions, self image and self understanding begins to stretch and grow right from the beginning and most parents find that the stretching, growing and changing never really ends.

Parenting is easy when we’re attuned to our child
Most parents think and hope from the beginning that their love and dedication to their child will lead and guide them through each step of the journey and to a large extent that is true. When our heart is open and we are attuned (in tune) with our child, incredible wisdom comes forth effortlessly and we marvel in the joys of giving our child what it is that they need to thrive.

The challenges of parenting
However, the challenges of parenting, which are immense, also can bring forward huge feelings of frustration, self doubt and confusion. The responsibility of this precious little human’s life being in your hands and the pressure to get it right can weigh heavily on parents and bring up worries and fears. The demands of needing to give so much of our time, energy, focus and head space to our child when there are also so many other places we need and want to focus our attention and head space can cause parents to feel incredibly torn and stressed.

The challenges that accompany change and the new
Parents often find that so many of the things and relationships that brought them so much happiness and fulfillment in their lives previously have been pushed out of their lives because of the 24/7 nature of parenting. The differences in opinion between yourself and your partner, family or friends about what is right for your child can bring up a lot of difficult emotions and even painful rifts for parents. And these issues are only the beginning, we haven’t even started with cultural and racial differences or bringing our children up in a world whose future seems so uncertain.

Accessing heart centered information and support
If you are interested in gaining more information and support in the journey of identifying and healing some of the stronger and more difficult emotions that the extremely challenging job of parenting can bring up for you, you’ve come to the right place. We understand that the journey of becoming the best parent that you can be and want to be and the journey of personal development cannot be separated.

How can parents meet their own emotional needs?
For most parents, they just don’t get enough emotional support along the way and yet can often feel like they’re expected to perform at their best at all times despite their frustrations, restrictions, hurts and confusion. The approaches that we put forward on this site and through our courses and other resources are for parents who want to heal themselves, heal their child, heal their family and even take it further to bring healing to their family tree.

Democratic Parenting – a more holistic, more balanced approach
Many parents are realizing that they need to adopt a more holistic perspective to all aspects of their lives including their parenting. Many parents want to learn how they can get the balance between being strong, clear and confident and remaining calm, caring and loving. There is a healthy balanced approach to parenting that is neither permissive nor authoritarian, but brings forth some of the positive qualities of each and is in fact a new model of parenting that many parents haven’t encountered before.

Respect for your child’s feelings and boundaries
If you’re on the road to learning more about parenting, gaining new perspectives on parenting, learning good quality parenting tips and exploring attachment parenting, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re interested in learning or developing parenting techniques that are based on positive communication skills, respect for your child’s feelings and boundaries and generally parenting approaches that foster peace, trust, harmony and mutual co-operation in your family, again, you’ve come to the right place.

The big picture
Developing a holistic approach to parenting means solving the little annoying day to day issues you have with your child by stepping back and looking for the big picture patterns. To do this means to take a few deep breaths and refrain from shouting, threatening or punishing your child in any way, and instead own and rise above your anger and frustration. Despite your frustration, choose to come into closer relationship with your child when they act out.

When they act out – they need you to re-connect
Rather than responding with anger or coldness, try coming down to their level, becoming calmly focused on their feelings and telling them that you can see that they are really frustrated and that you want to help them. On a day to day basis, begin to practice observing, more objectively, how you treat their children and start to become more aware of the messages that you are giving your child and how these messages impact on the child’s relationship with you, with their self and with others.

The Quick Fix versus the Peaceful approach
The comparison of the two approaches can be compared with the “treat the symptom” (unhealthy behavior) versus the “treat the cause” (the child’s need for emotional connection) approaches. In a parent’s busy day to day life, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing exclusively on what they don’t like about their child’s behavior and then aiming to change that behavior through threats or punishments (e.g. withdrawal of attention). In fact, the majority of parenting advice currently available still advocates these outdated approaches.

When a parent responds to their child in an impatient way, as opposed to slowing down and really listening to and attuning to their child’s feelings, they often miss a lot of vitally important information relating to how their child is really feeling, what was their real intention behind their behavior and why they are feeling the way they are. However, if a parent views their child’s “misbehavior” as being symptomatic of unmet needs and consequently a cry for help to us, then parent will choose a very different response. When a parent sees “misbehaviour” as a symptom of the child being out of balance, the parent naturally asks themselves the question, “how can I help my child deal with those difficult feelings and come back to feeling at peace with themselves and others?”.

We may miss many of the gems and insights we can gain through asking questions like “what does my child really need to come back into balance”.

Who and how we see our child largely tells them “this is who you are, this is how you are”
When a parent says that their child “has always been a …. child”, always, their child knows they think that. Even if the parent never says it out loud, the message comes through. Also, the words you speak to your child are constantly programming your child, you are etching into their minds the beliefs, patterns and ways of behaving that will probably stay with them throughout their lives. To heal our hurts and resentments towards our children, we must heal the “inner child”, we must release our unresolved leftover hurts from childhood. Choosing not to heal these patterns, is choosing to pass those patterns on to your child.

Skills for Life: We all want our children to be the children, the teenagers and eventually the adults who can stay calm, logical, open minded and fair in the face of challenges and conflicts in life. We want our children to be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings clearly and equally listen to the thoughts and feelings of others and calmly work through difficulties and confusions until a fair resolution is reached. We don’t want them to be the child, teenager or adult who impatiently skips the process of communication that might eventually lead to clarity and resolution, but instead insist that it’s their way or the highway or simply walk away without ever learning how to resolve their issues with others. We don’t want them to be the kind of person who uses their anger to intimidate others to bend to their will. We don’t want our child to be the kind of person who wins favors through bribes, threats or punishments.

Children do as we do, not as we say: The kind of person we hope that they will become as an adult is the kind of person we need to learn to be as a parent with them and for them, not just when they’re happy and co-operative, but even more so when conflict arises, because that is when they’re hurt and need us the most.

This website offers a very balanced approach to disciplining and setting clear limits with your children in a way that still honors your child’s feelings and emotional needs.

On our seminars, parents learn how they can strengthen their bond with their child, while adopting a more therapeutic approach to dealing with their child’s strong emotions and, just as importantly, their own emotional reactions to their child.  Most of the time, the mood between parent and child is the main factor in determining a child’s “good” or “bad” behavior.

Adopting a punishment free approach to parenting is a key factor in establishing a stronger bond and maintaining a positive, caring and nurturing mood between parent and child.  On the courses, parents learn what it means to be a peaceful parent, while maintaining strong and clear boundaries for their children.

Parent Coaching I can help you with the specific issues you have in your family. You can describe the problems you are facing and answer a few questions about the history and I can help you learn some new approaches that will bring greater harmony to your child, to you and the whole family. Coaching can arranged by phone (which I pay for), skype or in person if you live in my area, which is Northwest Arkansas in the United States.

I remember the very moment I made this decision. I was living in National City, in Southern California. I was only about twelve years old. Running around with some friends in our wonderful neighborhood which was semi-rural even though it was in the middle of a huge city and suburbs, I thought to myself, “I don’t ever want to have kids who dislike me as much as I dislike my parents. So I’m never going to have kids.”

I didn’t have a clue that there was way to parent that would inspire my children to respect and love me. I must have had the idea that it was a natural state of being–kids just didn’t really like their parents. My parents in many ways were fantastic. I loved the way they took us camping frequently. ONe month trips across country every year were so much fun. Being a Navy brat, we moved frequently. But my parents always found homes that had friendly neighborhoods, and we would join a church that had good sunday schools. My mom made a good home made dinner almost every night. My dad took me fishing and told me that  I could do anything I wanted.

But they also believed that they had the right to tell me what to do and demand obedience when they wanted it. I got spanked infrequently, got my mouth washed out with soap a few times, and was yelled at or spoken to sternly more times than I enjoyed. My parents believed that it was their job to raise me in a way that I would fit into society the way they wanted to fit in. They thought they had to send me to school so I could learn. They took me to a regular doctor to treat symptoms instead of figuring out what the cause of the symptoms were.

To them, me speaking disrespectfully and thus questioning their omnipresent wisdom was one of the worst offenses.They didn’t know that sugar and processed foods were very bad for me. They believed that making me go to church would help me to love God and adopt their spiritual values. And worst of all, they had no clue that my feelings were indicators that I had legitimate needs.  Thus, unwanted feelings like anger, disappointment, and sadness were treated as something that needed to be changed by every method except for acceptance and empathic listening–for the most part.

Both my parents are dead. I honor them this moment, grateful that they did the best that they could with the knowledge they had. I know that they were influenced by society and peers and their ancestors. Why I chose to so tenaciously parent in the way I did, against all odds and at times with little support except by my children’s fathers–is really a miracle.

So why did I have kids when I made the decision never be a parent? I wish I could say it was because my parents never taught me about the birds and the bees. But the story of how I conceived my children is so personal, so mysterious, so amazing–that I am choosing not to share publicly because of other people who cherish their privacy.

The only thing I can figure out is that we have this amazing Creator who loves me so much. My beloved Creator who only wants the best for me knew that the best thing for me to do was be a mother. The Creator to whom I did my best to surrender to was given permission to direct my life in a way that I would have never chosen. I am SOOOOOO glad that this mysterious, loving, omnipresent Creator inspired me to perform actions which resulted in two beautiful babies–one now thirteen and the other twenty. Wow! is all I can say.

I love the way I relate to my thirteen year old Mahriyanna and twenty year old Chris. They feel safe enough to share with me their deepest feelings. They still can cry, express anger, and get out all the emotions that often are uncomfortable in my presence. We have great times of laughter. We work together. They both accept my mentoring and advice when they want to. They appreciate me. I love our hugs. If we have conflicts, we talk it out. Sometimes I speak in ways that I do not enjoy because they are unhappy with what I am doing.  Sometimes I speak in ways they do not enjoy because I am unhappy with their actions. Yet we refuse to stay in tension, and always find time to talk it out, find understanding, and return to connection.

I love that I have proven wrong the scores of people who told me when my kids were pre-teen, “Wait until they are teenagers–then you’ll have problems with them.”  Sure, we have had different challenges as they get older–but in an astmosphere of deep listening and deep respect, there is nothing to rebel against.

I love the fact that I have never spanked my children. I celebrate the fact  that I can count the times I have yelled at them on two hands. I rejoice  that I can’t remember punishing my children because they did something I didn’t want them to do–yet they have grown up to be responsible, helpful people.

In spite of me having as my deepest need to belong, I have resisted the temptation to change my parenting in order to gain approval from others. I have been fired from two pre-schools, kicked out of a community, rejected by countless parents because people evaluated my parenting as being permissive and a bad example for their children. And I have left countless situations, because I did not want to compromise my parenting style and values.

Using a combination of non-violent communication; a healthy, wholesome diet; unschooling and homeschooling; attachment parenting my children and I learned to cooperate and nurture each other in ways that I have yet to find with any adults. I love  my partner, Robert. He is my best friend. Yet he is wounded as I am, growing up with parents, teachers, and other care-givers who hurt us in ways they often were not aware of.  Yet my children continue to amaze me with their degree of awareness, intelligence, compassion, insight, generosity, responsibility, spontaneity, funniness, and ability to love.

I want all parents to have this relationship with their children. I feel so sad when I hear countless stories of parents alienated from their children. I yearn to share practical ways to help parents have a thriving relationship with their children as well as feel the joy that comes from empowering their children in every way.

I know. I should be telling you how great I am if you are going to be inspired by me. But I want to reassure you that much of my parenting was sheer will power, motivated by  knowing that if didn’t follow through with the parenting techniques I knew to be effective–I would lose out in the end.

The reason I am a lousy mom (and I really hate adjectives and labels–but I can use them on myself!) is because I have always had an inner battle going on. The way I am naturally made is to want to save the world. Up until about a year ago, helping my family was not all that satisfying to me. I was much more fulfilled when I was doing something like saving trees (when Mary Lightheart did her tree sit that I instigated) , or helping the Gay family (no, this was not a gay rights issue) save their orchard from the Springdale School Board; or most recently, helping with the Ron Paul revolution.

I am a natural born organizer, and when I discovered that I had some talents in political organizing back in 2000, I was sure this was what I was meant to do. I felt so much happier when adults were telling me how valuable I was when I used my communication and networking skills to help inspire a ground swell of passionate involvement by Fayetteville residents to fight the violation of their tree ordinance.  I would be on the computer for hours, and gave my three year old daughter minimal attention. No,  I didn’t abuse or neglect her–but it was hard for me to present with her when I knew I could be on the computer or at a rally. I also just enjoyed being with adults more–it was hard for me to feel fulfilled hanging out with a three year old. My ten year old son was very independent having lots of friends–so he didn’t need my attention so much. Okay, he did need my attention, but he was demanding it so I didn’t give it.

After I burned out emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I promised myself I would never throw myself into another cause again because I saw how much I lost, and how much my children lost. (I was separated from my present partner then–so he didn’t need much attention)

But when someone suggested that I help the Gay family save their orchard (knowing how I helped save a few trees), I could not resist the temptation of joining in the fray. Besides, my daughter and her father (we were now reconciled) were going on a week long trip, and my son was with his father. Yes, it was exciting, thrilling, invigorating.  When the school board meeting was packed with standing room only after I and a few other people facilitated a strategic planning meeting the night before. I had taken the bull by the horns and pulled out the stops to get as many people fired up as possible. Whe the school board refused to make a decision that night yes or no, I threatened to do a petition drive to get them to stop all efforts to get the government to force the Gays to give up their land. Do you think I felt powerful and just a bit full of myself when the day after the press conference to announce the petition drive, the Springdale School Board officially announced they were withdrawing their efforts?

But after feeling burned out and once again alienated from people) (same thing as with the tree sit, I sure was glad to return to my family and know that my children loved me unconditionally even though I preferred saving the world over spending time with them.

My last big effort I had to really justify. I sincerely had wanted to make my family top priority in my life. But when Ron Paul announced that he was running for president and there was a huge amount of interest in Fayetteville, I could not resist. After all, there was no one else to step up to the plate. I was the only one who could get people organized in Fayetteville.

I really had the greatest reason. If I didn’t get involved with the Ron Paul Revolution and fan the flames of freedom in the US and in the whole world, my children would not have a free country where they could have good lives. They accepted my reasons with grace. They even got involved to a certain extent. They loved Ron Paul and the whole freedom movement. But once again, I burned out. And I was so glad to have my family who still loved and accepted me.

It was only about three months ago in April 2009 when I got permission from my family to travel indefinitely in search of community and people to work with who were making profound changes in the world. But when my daughter shared that she felt torn about me leaving, I made a profound shift in my consciousness. She shared that on one hand, she wanted me to be happy, and wanted to let me go. But on the other hand, she felt sad because she really wanted and needed me. In spite of all my flaws, she wanted my presence  in her life.

Something about her reaching out to me made me realize that more than anything, I wanted to nurture my children. I wanted to give myself permission to let go of the burden of being responsible to save the world. I wanted to step fully into this role of being a mother, and help my children through that very challenging place of making the transition from childhood to adulthood.

And, I just plain old wanted to enjoy them because they are my favorite human beings on the planet!

I will be writing more about how I have nurtured my family and contributed greatly to my children’s health on all levels. Without my partner, Robert, and my former husband, Cliff, I believe my kids would have serious problems. I just want to encourage you with my story to reassure you that you dont’ have to be the perfect parent in order to have great kids. However, I believe strongly that if many ingredients are in place, including non-violent communication, healthy diet, and home schooling or unschooling–you are going to have a much easier time raising kids that are healthy on all levels with whom you have a loving, deep, fun relationship.

Really…It is a miracle that I was able to pull it off. I mean, being a parent was the last thing I wanted to do. I decided from an early age that the solution to never being like my parents was to never be a parent! Now don’t get  me wrong. Compared to most kids, I had it pretty good. But let’s face it. We have a long history of parenting that has not been conducive to producing healthy people.

So how did I end up having a thirteen year old girl with whom I am very close, and a twenty year old young man who didn’t need to rebel–yet is still quite independent.  What did I do that empowered my children to be healthy, vibrant, compassionate, creative, clear thinking people who dearly loved by their friends, parents of friends, and adults alike?

The combination of  ingredients is unique, yet ones that I would recommend to any  parent. Non-violent communication. Attachment parenting. Unschooling. Healthy wholesome diet.  Home birth. Living in safe, friendly, rural neighborhoods. Two former husbands–father to each–who were very present  in their lives…totally into playing with the children from birth on.  A spiritual outlook based on following Jesus teachings of agape love. Clear values. A deep desire to be authentic.

This blog will describe how this rich  combination of parenting values helped shape Chris and Mahriyanna and their parents–especially me–so that you can decide for yourself if these outlooks might be ones you might like to apply.

I hope I can help parents to raise children with  whom they  have wonderfully close, intimate, and cooperative relationships which can help save the world one family at a time.