Experiencing a hiatus from the scheduled life we live, brings a newness and freshness to our inner landscape. The kids have been off of school for a full week. We are all ready to return to our daily routines. During this period, where the world has literally come to a halt, we have found exploration and connection still viable.
My daughter and I talked about her start of high school next year, as she now has decisions to make regarding electives and a language. In the course of our discussion, she decided French would be her language of choice, for the school language requirement. Working with technology, we are studying French, through an App. She loves competitions, so we are learning together, one day at a time. We have bonded, while acquiring a new skill.
While raising children, it is important to continue your growth, as they change. Find a subject or a sport in which to engage in with your child. Maybe it’s new to you, or something that you love, that you can offer your child. I find, the time it works best for me, is when my children have an interest of their own and I follow suit. Challenge yourself to discover a link with your child that could last a lifetime. My daughter and I are already making plans to travel to France, after high school graduation.
Susan J. McFarland
January 31, 2019
My daughter turns 14 this week. Her birth changed my life. Parenting starts at conception and lasts a life time. There is no vacation and no break. Continuously my mind is concerned for her and my other daughter’s safety. I don’t think this ends at high school graduation. My eighty year old mother still tells me to “watch for deer” every time I leave her condo. Ever bonded by love, the ties and connections run deep.
When she hurts, I hurt. When she celebrates, I celebrate. We are united in body, mind, and heart. The world tells us to detach. Removed from physical interactions, we hide behind our phones and computers. In the background, I hold space and place. When needed and called upon, love can be activated and active. Similar to energy, Love is unseen, but always present.
A parent’s love is like no other. It is deep and abiding. A village can help and support a child. It is necessary to have strong schools, churches, and friends, but I parent’s love goes beyond that which institutions and others can offer. A child needs a parent whether biological or adopted.
Knowing someone is present in their lives brings security and safety in this dangerous and changing world. Stability of home, family, and love are the cornerstones that uphold the wobbling teenage structure. Be the parent that your child needs. In steadiness, strength, and balance, continue to raise your child as the parent you know you are. The Universe thanks you. I thank you.
Susan J. McFarland
December 7, 2018
Love is deep and enduring. Its presence, often missed, runs in the backdrop of living our lives. Yet, there are fleeting moments, when it sparks.
Holiday shopping with my girls, in our charming little town, sparked this love. It was there throughout the night. While driving home, as we were singing along to a song on the radio and laughing, love sparked. Breathing in love and gratitude, I stopped to notice this magical moment in time.
It sparked again this Thanksgiving, as family and friends gathered. Sitting in the space of love’s presence, I watched it spark, as conversations flowed and hugs exchanged. Its presence made itself known again, during the laughter from stories past, to the sharing of children’s accolades, of days present. Love weaves itself throughout our days, sparking here and there, hoping to light our way.
As the holidays approach, where can you notice “sparks of love”? It is there, sometimes in the quiet, but often in the noise and chaos. Look beyond the surface. Feel it beneath the trimmings and decor. It is subtle, but profound. As gifts exchange, they become tokens of these “sparks of love”, igniting the world with light. May your holy days be filled with infinite “sparks of love”, brightening your heart and those around you.
Susan J. McFarland
November 25, 2018
When computers overload, they shut down. Our human bodies can have the same reaction. This happened to me, at least three times. Suffering from physical stress and mental anxiety produced unexplained seizures in my brain. High sensitivity and extreme empathy causes my system to shut down, literally, when it becomes overloaded. Having experienced this during periods of my life, when balance wasn’t a priority, I now find it imperative to maintain a stable and steady life.
We are all different. Anxiety creeps into my system when I don’t have a plan. I feel ill ease when I can’t control situations or outcomes. When life is busy with activities that keep changing and people are stressed out around me, my nervousness skyrockets. Whether it is a messy room or an over crowded environment, I feel unbalanced. I know this about myself now. In the past, I ignored it. Pushing through the feelings, I overdid it, until I couldn’t do it any longer. I don’t do that now.
My daughter is completely the opposite. She hates schedules and plans. They stress her out. She loves her mess. She loves crowds and busy places. Hanging with people discussing life’s dramas is her favorite pastime. What works for one doesn’t necessary work for another, when finding balance. Know thyself is key.
I sit and write, with a cat on my lap, drinking tea, after a walk in the woods. Yoga, healthy foods, reading, and music offer relief from everyday stresses. Incorporating a few of these into each and every day, keeps my teeter from tottering These are my balancing tools.
A teeter-totter needs to go up and down, back and forth, before it finds the sweet spot of balance. Some entities bring both balance and stress. I love my friends and family. They are a great source of comfort and calm. They bring happiness and joy, but like any relationship, they provide a dynamic that needs daily adjustments. Similar to water, friends and family can be both a source of life and at the same time, can be detrimental and destructive. Understand the people, places, or situations that are both life affirming and life retracting.
Use the tools that work for you to step in and help restore peace to your nervous system. Managing balance is a constant job of checking in with yourself and adjusting as necessary. You mind, body, and spirit will thank you. Living in harmony is the reward.
Susan J. McFarland
October 5, 2018
Clouds cover the sky. Rain looms in the forecast. A sleepy cat rests in my lap. The end of the week is here. A sigh of relief billows up and out. Tired from the upstart of school and traveling this past weekend, I sit. One daughter finished golf season last night, the other is still busy with cross-country. October offers a relief from the whirlwind of September’s schedule.
The last days of summer are drawing near, as leaves begin to change and release their grip, flowing seamlessly to the ground. At the same time, this season of parenting is changing. My children are releasing their grip on me. They are finding their way to the ground, flowing from one direction to another, not sure where they will end up. I am their tree; stable, steady, and strong. I am here, in the forest, waiting to see where they land.
The tree does not help the leaves let go. It does not pluck them off and throw them to the wind. It does not pull them down and toss them away, while they are still green. Its grip does not tighten, with every impending storm. It allows them to mature and transform into brilliant colors, then gently and with ease, delicately descend to the earth.
Nature provides brilliant lessons for us, if we pay attention. All that we need to know, is not solely found via a search engine. This innate wisdom can be located in our environment, if we stop, rest, and listen. The tree and the leaves are teachers of truths. Information that is felt from the heart, not the head is the lesson. School is in session. Kids are growing. Whether they are ready to let go and shine on or they still need to hold tight for another season, is up to them. You, are the tree. Remain grounded, firm, and flexible, as you nurture and prepare them for their next swirling and twirling adventure.
Susan J. McFarland
September 21, 2018
After surviving another stint of music camp, we picked up my youngest daughter this past Sunday. Arriving early, her bags were packed and we loaded them into the car. Waiting for her concert, we set out to check her art. It is a rustic camp in the woods, known for its artistic education, rather then comfortable camping.
Blue Lake is a magical place, set among the pines of Michigan, nestled near a quaint picturesque lake. Electronics are not allowed, leaving space for creativity and relationship building. The cabins are rustic, lacking water and electricity, but they are filled with laughter, fun, and friendship. Girls gathered together sharing experiences from the day, while preparing to settle in for the night. Spiders and mosquitos share the space covered by the moon and starlight.
After hours of practice, free time involves reading, sketching, or perhaps a friendly game of Uno. Life is simple at Blue Lake. It is regulated with a creative flair. The stage is set, and the players are in place. Learning about punctuality, preparedness, and professionalism, they come together as one unit, an orchestra.
After checking the art, we head to the performance shell. Still outside, seated on wood benches we locate a place to see my daughter on stage, careful not to be blocked by a pine or a person. She is present, ready to begin. This group of teens, together for only a short time, begins their musical journey.
She has learned much from two years of camp. Her skills on the cello are increasing, but what’s as important are the life skills she is gaining. This year, she made friends and stayed positive during the transition. She’s already anticipating a return visit next summer. This year was easier for me too. I missed her, but I was confident in her abilities to manage her world.
Big growth requires big moves. Leaving home for a week and a half, living in a bit of discomfort, and working towards a goal brings ultimate satisfaction. Staying comfortable, brings immediate ease, but for long term satisfaction, a challenge is needed.
Susan J. McFarland
August 6, 2018
You can’t make every team or have all the experiences. My daughter has practiced her sport for a solid two years. She has played in middle school, attended camps, had private lessons, and played for clubs. Yesterday, after grueling tryouts, she found out she didn’t make the freshmen team. The school and the pool of girls this year is very competitive. She says she’s good, happy the pressure is off. Still, my mind in swirling with the next steps. What to do? She wants to play club again, but without a practice and games, she will lose her momentum. She has three months to wait while the others will be playing nonstop, putting her further behind.
Trying to be a supportive parent without intertwining my life with hers can be difficult. While I wasn’t excited about daily practice runs or weekends filled with tournaments, I’m sad about the interactions I’ll miss with the mothers of the other girls and the experiences my daughter could have had, but won’t. Reconciling my own emotions with the situation is tough. I want to fix it. I want to put an immediate plan in place to help her achieve her goals. Realizing her goals are more about the friendships and fun, over actually mastering the sport, I step back. Volleyball is one of her vehicles to a social experience. She plays primarily for that reason. Understanding this and being satisfied that this is enough is hard.
As a parent my goals and my child’s goals differ. When they are young, we can push our agenda onto them. I’m certainly guilty of this behavior. As they grow older, they begin to determine what’s best for them. I am still here to offer suggestions. Guiding and directing, as needed, but no longer being the decision maker, is my next step.
High school starts this year. It is a new era to test out different paths. My path is to let my daughter figure out her life, supporting her more in the background. Her path is her path. I’ll let her decide on that.
Susan J. McFarland
August 10, 2018
Little growth happens daily, in preparation for the big days. Driver’s training starts today for my oldest daughter, ready or not.
Sometimes we are ready for change and it just feels right. Often we are met with change and we just have to move forward. What we practice daily can prepare us for these moments. Relying on walking and yoga, to maneuver my way through the little and big changes in life, helps to steady my internal balance.
Sending my daughter to a friend’s house, I will not even be there to drop her off or pick her up on this momentous day. It is a weird feeling, not being needed, after ten years(she was adopted at age five) of constant care. I handed her the receipt and sent her on her way. This is a sign of things to come. What control I thought I had is vanquishing and I’m left holding space. My daily practice must stay steady, in order to quell the unsettling feeling I have as a mother releasing her child into the world.
This is where my growth is happening, as I watch her mature. We both must try new things, separately. For each journey is unique and different. We can both grow, but it is an individual process. I must let her move forward, in order to ensure my own forward motion. I will meet this movement, as I face everyday on my walking path, with steadiness and anticipation.
Susan J. McFarland
July 9, 2018
Planning to Pause
Summer breaks starts today. Tomorrow my husband and baby girl travel to Japan for a week. Mom and I, along with my older daughter and her friend are heading Up North for a short getaway. From one day to the next, life is in motion. It never stops and neither do you. Moment by moment, breath by breath, we move through our life. Sometimes we notice the changes, often we don’t. They are subtle and easy to miss, if you aren’t paying attention.
Walking in the morning watching the world wake up, I gaze at the sun rising and see bunnies hop away. I smell the fresh morning air, and admire the beauty of each wild flower. Somewhere between prayers and wondering thoughts, I stop for a moment of mindfulness, appreciating the pause in my life. This is why I love to walk, outside, early.
Plan your pauses. A pause is a decision to make to choose the moment over reliving the past or anticipating the future. Sometimes I plan pauses, such as a yoga class or sitting out on my deck. Often the pause you take, amid the activities of the day, are the most beneficial. The planned ones are grounding, but the spontaneous ones bring you back to your life and the reflection of the beauty that lies within it at each and every moment.
- Susan J. McFarland
And Then There’s Me
We are hitting a milestone today with the final day of middle school for my eighth grader. She has come far and I am proud of her. I’m also proud of myself, for my growth as a mother and a parent. Today is a day of pause and reflection, in this busy thing we call life. Looking back on her first days of school, not speaking English or knowing her colors, she is now ready for high school. Am I?
Am I ready for more freedom and less parental responsibility? Am I ready for less communication and more holding space? Am I ready to let go, a moment at a time, praying that she will make the best choices? She won’t. She will falter. She will learn. I’ll get anxious and upset. We will disagree. But in the end, I will be there for her, with love, behind the scene.
When she was little we would go to lunch, then ice cream the day school ended. Today, she’s riding a bus home with friends and I won’t see her until tomorrow afternoon. I am no longer her first choice of companionship, but I am her first choice for a mother.
What’s left is me. I’m here now. Taking in the precious moments as they pass by. My younger daughter will be in eighth grade next year. I know what to expect with school. But, she is different then her sister, the trials will test my strength. The journey continues with both of them. Finding me is part of the process.
- Susan J. McFarland
Motherhood is Enough
Celebrating Mother’s Day this past Sunday with my 82 year old mother and my teenage daughters brought tears to my eyes. It was a simple day. We traveled to mom’s condo, played cards, took a walk, and ate dinner.
It was one of the best days. The girls were happy and engaged. Mom was healthy and content. I loved the simplicity of it. We didn’t exchange extravagant gifts, a card and chocolate was enough.
Tears came to my eyes reading my oldest daughter’s card. Motherhood and is about being there, in the moment, as it is. This day required little to no planning, yet it was more profound then the ones I have exerted over in the past. In our culture, more, bigger, and better appear to be the goal. This is a falsehood. Simpler, easier, and less, actually bring greater lasting happiness. Appreciating the moment for its own sake is enough. You have enough. You do enough.
You are enough.
Middle school for my eldest daughter will be over in less than fifteen days.
It’s the end of a chapter for her and for us. She has come far from her elementary days. As this cycle ends, new opportunities await. Friendships are changing. Our relationship is changing too. This is not a time to hold on or hold tight. I loosen the grip, without letting go. She knows I’m there, in the background, called upon when needed. My role as a mother continues to evolve, as she evolves. Together, we grow, a process that is never complete.
Teaching her all I know and believe, she is now closer to being ready to handling life herself. At this point, pushing and prodding has decreased. Checking in without directing or controlling has become part of the transition. Learning to ease up on her and ultimately on myself is a point of growth in my own chapter. Our race is individual, but our score is collective. I can’t succeed without her, and neither can she, without me. Through all the adjustments, I’ll remember that no matter what, we are always united.
Life requires us to tackle that which we may not want to do. Waking up to ants marching around my kitchen this morning, I was in a tizzy before the day even began. My daughter, feeling the same energy, with an upcoming science project which required touching an animal heart and an evening concert, had us both feeling frazzled early. Knowing meditation, writing, and yoga were on the horizon, brought light to a stressful situation.
Life is not filled with perfect moments. On the contrary, it is a mix of both bliss and anxiety. Neither last forever. Both are fleeting. The key is being aware of this while in the space offered. Appreciating a sunrise while it is rising or not letting the cause of stress rule over you in the moment is the necessary response.
A new month brings newness. Anything can happen and will. Awareness and appreciation can help you maneuver any situation.
- Susan J. McFarland
Susan J. McFarland