More About Deb
The day life got easier for me was the day I realized that all of the people in my life were there for me as a mirror of my own unconscious and unresolved issues – basically there to show me what I need to know to grow. As far as parenting, I realized that my kids are not just there for me to raise them, but also for me to learn more about myself, heal my childhood hurts, and live more authentically and love more fully.
It took nearly losing my marriage and a huge crisis in my life for me to realize that sacrificing myself in a bid to make my kids’ lives better was not working. This was not just about self-care—I was totally good about girls nights, pedicures, exercise, and other forms of self-care. This was deeper.
This was about my Self.
I needed to get to know myself, accept myself, and bring more of myself (my personality, my needs, my opinions, and my uniqueness) into my life, my family, my friendships, and my work. This was about me having hopes, dreams, and aspirations and valuing myself enough to reach for them.
This was the beginning of me making the commitment to show up first for myself and then my family.
I had spent most of the first 8 years of my kids’ lives as a pretty traditional mom with more of a dominant and controlling parenting style. Like you, I was very committed, conscientious, well-informed and very much cared about their emotional health. But I was focused on trying to fix their behaviors and control their little lives. I was totally the mom who sacrificed myself for them in a bid to make their lives better and I never understood how these little people I loved so much could make me so angry and trigger me in a split second.
Those years were really hard, I felt guilty and self-critical a lot, and often I felt like I was hanging on by a thread. I wasn’t always the mom I wanted to be. But the truth is, I don’t regret it. I was doing the best I could with what I knew at the time.
I call those years of parenting the survival years. Like many moms I know, I was also experiencing my own unhappiness and lack of excitement in my life and my marriage was unraveling before my eyes.
Okay, so when my kids were 8 and 6, the shit hit the fan in my marriage and we were in a total crisis. Thank GOD for that, because through our marriage counseling work, I learned a whole new way to experience relationships which ultimately created a massive change in my parenting (and my life).
I started to see that my kids’ behaviors and our difficult interactions were simply opportunities for both of us to grow. So, I began learning and growing alongside my kids, rather than continuing my habitual reactive patterns that were perpetuating negative family dynamics, my unconscious desire for control/dominance, and frequent power struggles.
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself”. ~Joyce Maynard
I believe my kids are here to grow me up, as much as I am there to grow them up.
So I learned how to accept full responsibility for myself and eliminate (well, if I’m honest, this is still a bit of a work in progress) the need to control the outcome of my children. I make a conscious choice, every moment, to replace shame and blame with understanding. Through this understanding, we free ourselves and our children to live authentically.
As a result, I became much happier and more fulfilled, our home became a million times more peaceful and less chaotic, I am way more confident as a mom and I compare myself to other moms so much less. My kids are pretty awesome. It’s not to say we don’t have things come up ALL.THE.TIME. It’s just that we know how to compassionately deal with stuff in a way that feels empowering and connecting. My husband and I still have our ups and downs, but we, too, embrace this way of relating and experience our marriage a path for spiritual and emotional growth as well.
“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.” Carl Jung
A friend of mine recently said, it’s so beautiful that you sort of struggle through life together. It’s really true – we are really real…we allow each other to be imperfect, to struggle, and to grow.
By transforming ourselves, we empower one another.
Living Life, Parenting, and Marriage…as an Inward Journey
Four amazing benefits have come out of me learning to treat my life as an inward journey and bringing more of myself into my life and family:
- I have done my own healing work so I am a much happier, patient, less stressed, and more pleasant person to be around (my husband tells me this all the time).
- I am a better role model. I am more self-aware and step more and more into that “true me,” which means that my kids are free to be who they truly are. Also, as I come more deeply into who I am, I get to enjoy my life more, which gives my kids a roadmap for life.
- I was able to step back and realize that if I am on my own path and life journey, then my kids are too. So I am now able to see them as who they are not who I want them to be. I see my role as the person to help them be their best selves and to reach for their own dreams and hopes.
- We have a much closer connection. I genuinely believe they enjoy being with me and I enjoy them as well. We laugh more, have more fun together, and treat each other with respect and unconditional love.
Are you ready to do your inner work?
I am deeply inspired by and grateful for…
- Danielle Crafton (my amazing therapist and personal mentor on all things spiritual, parenting, marriage, personal growth, and too much else to list),
- Wayne Dyer (the man who got me onto my path…who opened my eyes and my heart to the spiritual way),
- Brene Brown (researcher and author about shame and vulnerability and living life fully),
- Daniel J. Siegal (author of Parenting from the Inside Out, Brainstorm, and Mindsight),
- Byron Katie (author, teacher, and speaker about inquiry work – how to get out of our stories that keep us suffering),
- John Bradshaw (author and speaker about the inner child, reparenting, healing, and shame),
- Steve Bearman (founder and workshop leader at Interchange Counseling Institute, counselor, and social justice educator), and
- Dr. Shefali Tsabury (therapist and author of the Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family – I literally cried when I read this book and finally felt like I had words to describe how I have been inspired to parent and how I believe kids are meant to be parented!)
9 Things You Might Not Know About Me
#1 – I’m a natural connector, which means I love referring people (and resources) to everyone! The way I look at it: It’s paying life forward in the most rewarding way.
#2 – I’m a TOTAL geek, and I thrive on creatively solving problems. My speciality? Blending big ideas with practical strategy for optimal results. I love ideation and I’m totally a gritty visionary. Because I embrace change, I am giddy over the prospects for our future…I see so much amazingness in these upcoming generations of kids and I want to help parents like you to embrace this new world and get excited about the potential for awesome stuff to happen in our kids’ lifetimes!
#3 – I can be very silly and in my home, I am an uber goofball. I’m learning to bring more silliness into my life outside my home and I’m finding it to be a big edge-pusher for me. But ask my kids and they will admit that I’m totally weird and goofy, and on a good day they will admit that they love it ?
#4 – I am the quintessential multi-passionate entrepreneur and a 7 on the Enneagram. I have way more ideas than I will ever be able to implement in my lifetime. My husband jokes that it scares him to imagine being in my brain. I am absolutely an eternal optimist, I see the potential in everything, I believe wholeheartedly that we can choose happiness and create our lives and I hope that in some way I will positively impact thousands of people’s lives in my next 40+ years in this life of mine.
#5 –In my spare time, I can be found at the baseball field with my boys, jumping on our trampoline, hiking or enjoying a decaf soy latte with friends, voraciously reading crazy amounts of books on my Kindle paperwhite (usually all at the same time), with my own life or business coach, walking listening to a podcast, doing yoga, easy mountain biking with my family, sitting quietly on my cushion, geeking out on one of my way-too-many computers, skiing in Tahoe, watching movies, or volunteering in the community. The three things I’d like to never give up would be my iPhone, my housecleaner (spoiled I know), and organic peanut butter (or Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups!).
#6 – I love being a mom. I think I am mostly pretty good at it. The truth is, I cut myself a lot of slack. My kids eat cereal (and on occasion ice cream sundaes) for dinner sometimes, they skip showers even when they are dirty, I gave my kids iPhones when they were 10 (gasp), I let them sneak in my bed at night until very recently when they stopped on their own (and they totally slept with us when they were babies), I swear and I even let them swear when they are really mad, I am not much of a punisher, they play video games (update: in late 2014 they got their first shooter game – Destiny – I’ll admit that was a tough one for me) and each own their own computers, and I am happy to let them watch extra TV so I can sneak in some snuggles on the couch with them. I am FAR from perfect, and they know I am far from perfect…they watch me mess up, get mad, cry, need help, work hard, slack off, be spontaneous and BE REAL. I own my shit though – if I mess up, I tell them and we work through it together – like adults would in real life. And they know that I love them SO. FREAKIN’. MUCH. And they know that I genuinely love to have them around. The “being real” part, the loving them part, and the wanting them to be around part – those feel most important. I subscribe to a “relationship-first” parenting style. I do the best I can to always ensure that what I say and do is in the best interest of preserving or enhancing my relationship with them and I try to live a life that will inspire them.
#7 – I have been working on this thing they call meditation for 7+ years and, my God, it’s hard. But I am getting better at it and I can sometimes quiet my mind for a few seconds at a time now But seriously, it’s been an amazing addition to my life, but it’s been a journey for sure!
#8 – I am proud of the sweet life I have created and the work I have done on my own journey back home to myself, my essence. It’s been a freakin’ amazing ride and I am super deeply grateful for the coaches, teachers, family, friends, mentors, therapists, and other people who have supported, inspired, and challenged me to be the best “me” I could be. Love them! And of course, thanks a zillion times over to my husband who stuck with me during some really turbulent times and my kiddos who put up with (and secretly love) my weirdness. My gratitude overwhelms me.
#9 – I love kids (and teenagers). I love love love their awesome curiosity and open minds. They fascinate me. I hate to watch them get conditioned out of their uniqueness and into conformity. I want them to be raised in homes where their parents love themselves so much that they give their kids permission to fully be themselves and to reach for the stars! I am on a mission to bring more empathy, consciousness, and authenticity to the world where we all can see each other for our unique selves and allow each of us to BE OURSELVES. No lie, it’s the ONLY path to happiness and the feeling of fulfillment in life. While I am on that path myself, I have seen it time after time so it’s not just my opinion…it’s time-tested and proven.