Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Myths -- Cherokee Myth of the Sun

Monday, May 30, 2011
Long ago, in the beginning of time, when the world was still young ... the Sun shone down from the sky, just as it does today. Each day as the Sun traveled on her journey beneath the sky vault, she looked down upon the people of the Middle World. But, as they in turn looked up at her, all she could see was the faces of the people, all twisted up ... as if they were frowning.

The Sun spoke to her brother, the Moon, about the people of the Middle World. She told him she thought the people were very ugly, because of the horrible frowns that they had upon their faces when they looked up at her. But, the Moon laughed. He told the Sun that he thought the people of the Middle World were quite handsome creatures, for, when they looked up in the sky at him each night, they always seemed to have a pleasant smile upon their faces.

This made the Sun very angry and jealous. She grew to hate the people of the Middle World, for she thought they loved her brother the Moon much more than they loved her. She decided that she would kill all of the people ... with heat, and with sickness.

Each day on her journey across the sky the Sun would stop at her daughter's house, which is in the very center of the sky vault, at the highest point. While she rested there at her daughter's house each day, she poured down upon the people below her such great heat, that many grew sick. As day after day passed, the Sun grew even hotter. The hotter she grew, the more the people frowned up at her. The more they frowned, the hotter she grew. Soon, the people of the Middle World began dying in great numbers.

The Thunders looked down upon the people of earth, and took pity upon them... for their condition was pitiful indeed. The Thunders knew if they did not do something to help the people, they would all perish very soon. They talked among themselves, and decided to change two men into great serpents and send them to kill the Sun. One of these serpents was a black rattlesnake, with a body as long as a hundred grown men lying head to toe, and as big around as a large tree. When it shook its tail its rattles sounded like thunder rolling in the mountains. Its breath smelled of death and rot, and was enough to sicken and kill a normal man just by itself. As horrible and as dangerous as the Rattlesnake was though, the other serpent was even worse.

The Thunders changed the second man into a monster even larger than the Rattlesnake. They put a set of antlers upon its head like a deer, and shielded its body with scales so hard and thick that no arrow could pierce them. In the very center of this serpent's forehead, they placed a third eye. Nothing, no matter how fast or how small, could hide from this eye for it was very keen and all seeing. To even look upon this serpent would cause one's death, for the eye would shine and glitter and bedazzle, causing even the most guarded observer to fall into a stupor. Once that happened death was certain, for the jaws of the serpent were then inescapable. This great and terrible snake, this horned serpent it was the most dangerous creature to ever exist.

The Rattlesnake rushed on ahead of the horned serpent, hurrying to get to the house of the Daughter of the Sun first. It coiled itself up into a pile and hid by the doorway of the daughter's lodge, waiting there for the old Sun to emerge and continue on her journey across the sky. But, in its haste to kill the Sun, the Rattlesnake accidentally bit the Sun's daughter, who emerged through the doorway f first to see her mother on her way. The daughter of the Sun immediately fell dead from the poisonous bite of the Rattlesnake while the serpent crawled away to hide.

The Thunders were so infuriated by the Rattlesnake's shameful failure they began raging and thrashing about in the Upper World, causing the most dreadful storm clouds and lightning the people down below them had ever seen. At the same time, the old Sun hid her face and cried tears of grief for her dead daughter, in such abundance, that they flooded the Middle World. Soon the whole earth was stormy and dark, and in danger of being drowned. The storm raged on and on. No one could tell the days from the nights, or the nights from days, for the old Sun had hidden her face and would not shine. She only cried more and more tears. Finally, out of desperation to save themselves, the people of the Middle World held a council to try and decide what to do. They soon decided to have a dance, in hopes of getting the old Sun to look down upon them. They thought that maybe, if they could get the old Sun's attention and make her happy for a while, she might forget about the death of her daughter. Then maybe, maybe she would quit crying. If not, they would all certainly drown.

The people of the Middle World drummed and danced as the rain poured down upon them. They lifted their faces to the sky and smiled and sang happy songs in an effort to make the old Sun happy. All the while, as they danced and sang, the rain kept falling from the sky, and the angry Thunders raged and crashed about in the Upper World with their lightning.

Finally, after a great effort, the people became so weary of dancing they could hardly dance any more, and they became so weary of pretending to be happy, they could hardly pretend to be happy any more. After a long while, the drummers' arms ached and grew tired... so tired they could barely raise their sticks to strike their drums. At last, the drummers finally grew weak and began to quit. One by one they stopped, until only the head drummer remained. Just as his final bit of strength was leaving him, the head drummer changed the song he played to a very slow tempo, "thump ... thump-thump, thump ... thump-thump".

At that very moment, the Sun peeked out through a crack in the clouds and the rain ceased to fall. Gradually, the black clouds in the heavens parted and faded away, and the Thunders grew quiet.

The people of the Middle World rejoiced. With gladdened hearts they looked up to the Sun with smiles upon their faces. Now, in the time which we live today, the old Sun still cries sometimes when she thinks of her daughter but she usually returns to being happy, after a while. And to this day, the Cherokee are careful not to frown when they look up at her.

And, what became of the serpents?

The Rattlesnake is still with us. Because it failed to kill the Sun, the Thunders banished it to the Middle World for all time. It has now grown quite small and much less dangerous than it was in those days. If people do not frighten it or do it any harm, the Rattlesnake will do no harm to people.

And the other serpent ... ?

The Thunders also cast the Horned Serpent down to the Middle World, just as they did the Rattlesnake. It never grew any smaller though nor did it become any less dangerous. The Great Horned Serpent was forever destined to crawl upon its belly in the dirt of the earth, forever filled with anger and hatred. It hated the Thunders for their accursed meddling, and it despised the weak and piteous people of the Middle World for causing its predicament in the first place although at one time, it had been a man itself. This Horned Serpent was the creature that was known to the Cherokee as, the Uktena.

The Uktena haunted the lonely, isolated places of the Cherokee world the bare mountain balds, the deep vine draped ravines. In death-like silence it lay along the trails that passed through the gaps of the highest mountains ranges, in those distant and lofty places where a perpetual draft swept up out of the river valleys and moaned through the scraggled, wind-twisted timber on high. With reptilian patience it waited, waiting in silence for anyone unfortunate enough to pass its way.

The Uktena would sometimes lie in one place for untold ages without moving, until it was completely covered by humus, leaves and ferns until even trees had taken root upon its great body. Lying there, covered by countless seasons of fallen leaves and forest growth, a deer or a man might easily pass in front of its moss-covered head and mistake it for a rock projecting out of the leaves on some timbered slope. Its huge antlers could easily be mistaken for two dead trees. Should the Uktena be aroused, the unwary passer-by was in grave danger.

Many a hunter that had never returned to his village was feared to have fallen victim to the Uktena. For, just a glimpse of the glittering eye was all that it took. Just a glimpse to get the attention and tease the curiosity, and soon, even the bravest and strongest was lured into a hypnotic stupor. Once one became transfixed by the bedazzling eye death in the Uktena's savage jaws would soon follow.

Only one person ever saw the eye of the monstrous Uktena and lived to tell about it a powerful Shawano shaman captured in war by the Cherokee. His name was Aganunitsi, the Ground Hog's Mother. But, the story of Aganunitsi is another story unto itself.

courtesy of telliquah.com

Blessed Be and Happy Storytelling!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Honor the Fallen Dead this Memorial Day

Sunday, May 29, 2011

On this Memorial Day I wanted all of us to take a moment to Honor the Fallen Dead! In that spirit I have put together this ritual. 

Circle Casting

Have all join hands and still their thoughts. Let the first to speak say;

From Me to You; followed by the next person saying
From You to Me
and repeat until all have said both lines.
For the purpose of tonight's ritual have the chant move deosil (clockwise) around the circle of people.

Then when it gets back to the first let them say;

The Circle is Cast and the Temple is raised.
So Mote It Be! (All can repeat)

Quarter Callings

If you would like you can give the children bells and have them ring them after the invocations are spoken.

Start today in the East, the direction for new beginnings. Have a fan here and wave it at all present so that they can feel the presence of air.

In the East we call Air.
Allow us to laugh
About the good times we had

Now move to South where you have a candle ready to be lit. Light it now. And have all focus on its flame. Carefully let them feel its heat.

In the South we call Fire.
May it strengthen our will
To honor them in our daily lives

Come to the West. Have a cup of water there and have all take a small drink. Have all think about the water and how much we need it.

In the West we call Water.
Wash us in your healing waters
And wash away our grief

Finally we come to the North. In my practice I like to have a bowl of patchouli here so that we can smell it and be reminded about the Earth.

In the North we call Earth.
May it open the door 
So they may hear our toasts

Either the Father Priest or Mother Priestess can say the next part, holding up a chalice or drinking horn:

We lift this drink to honor the Fallen Dead, those we know and those we do not

Pour a libation for them. Now is a time that you can pass the horn around and all can say a few words over the Well. If they offer a toast then have them drink. 

When you are finished you can do Cakes and Juice to ground or feast afterwards.

Cakes and Juice

Touch the plate of cookies or cakes and say; Flesh of my Flesh
Then touch the juice in the goblet and say; Blood of my Blood

We are of Them as They are of us
Joined in Love and Light
Married in Strength and Truth
Showered in Power and Blessings
We Drink from Her womb
We Eat from His hand

Drink from the chalice and then eat from the plate of food feeling Their Love and Strength.
So that we always remember our Love for Them and Their Love for Us
Pour out a libation and leave some food for the Earth and for the Gods and for the Ancestors.


Return to the North;

Element of Earth we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)


Element of Water we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)


Element of Fire we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)


Element of Air we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

To close circle have all join hands. And the first to speak at the casting releases his grip on his left hand and says; We open the Circle.

Moving widdershins (counter-clockwise) have each member repeat until the chant moves back to the first person. Who says; But we remain a Circle. Family united in spirit. Circle open but unbroken.

Then have all have a group hug. Remembering that we are all one family. Not just those present but all those on the Earth.

Blessed Be!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Litha Crafts -- Pinwheels

Thursday, May 26, 2011
Pinwheels are a great activity for kids to make during the summers. The bright colors and spinning of the spiked disc is representative of the sun.

Materials Needed:
  • A square piece of construction paper
  • Thin wooden dowel
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Push pin

  1. Fold your square corner to corner and then unfold.
  2. Make a pencil mark about 1/3 of the way from center
  3. Cut along fold lines stopping at pencil mark
  4. Bring every other point into the center and stick a pin through all four points.
  5. Stick the pin in the wood dowel.
These are abridged instructions for the full text of the instructions go to leslietryon.com.
Take the time to do these crafts and spend the time with your kids.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Litha Crafts - Wreaths and Dream Pillows

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Litha is a fun time for kids. The Sun and the warmer weather, green grasses all scream for playtime. But there are also fun crafts that you and your kids can make as well. So if you can corral your kids back into the house or at least your patio, here are some things to make.

The first thing to make is a door wreath to welcome people to your Sabbat celebrations and to welcome the good spirits as well.

Items Needed:
  • Small broom, about 1' by 8"
  • Plastic seasonal flowers
  • 3 different colors of ribbon, about 12"-16" long
  • Some thin wire
  • Ornament oriented to the Sabbat
  • Wire Cutters
  • Scissors
  1. Use the wire cutters to cut down the flower stems to a workable height.
  2. Using the wire, begin tying in the seasonal flowers and berries at the base of the broom where the bristles begin.
  3. Manipulate the leaves of the flowers to lie flat against the bristles. (This will give a good background for the color of the flowers to show.)
  4. Lay your berries and or fruits in between the flowers and tie off with wire.
  5. Once you have all the foliage in, wire in the Sabbat ornament of your choice.
  6. To help stop the wire from showing, tie the ribbon in a bow or whatever knot you prefer and let some of the excess drape around and under the the piece.
  7. String a bit of wire through the top of the handle and hang on a nail in the door.
Another fun craft that the kids will enjoy, but will need some experienced parental help is a Litha Dream Pillow. There is a variety of colors that are appropriate. You can go with lavender, blue or even white. Let your intuition guide you.

To stuff the sachet you can use any herbs good for dreamwork. Lavender, lemongrass, cedar or mugwort are good choices. They all do different things, so here is a link for some more options and their correspondences.
  • Small square of fabric in the color you picked
  • Matching thread
  • Needle
  • Herb(s) you have chosen to fill the sachet
  1. Take the piece of cloth and fold it over so that it makes a square
  2. Sew up all sides, except one, so you can stuff your pillow
  3. Turn the pillow inside out
  4. Stuff with your herb(s)
  5. Sew up the final side
  6. Put under your pillow and go to bed
Happy Dreaming and Blessed Be!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grilling Season is Here -- How to get Ready

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
courtesy of photos8.com
I am going to start back on my grilling recipes for this Litha season. So I figured I would rerun this article from a few years back.

There are a couple of different options available to you, as to what kind of grill to use. Gas and charcoal are the main types of grills.
The summer prep for gas grills you need to clean the grids, grate and briquettes. A link with detailed instructions can be found here at grill-tips.com
With charcoal grills the summer prep is much easier. You only need to clean out any cobwebs and scrub the grates and inside clean. Then you can lay the charcoal and light it.
So what kind of tools do you need to have if you don't already have them. Here is a small list of things I have found to be essential.
So Good Luck and Happy Grilling!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Children's Story for Litha

Monday, May 23, 2011
The old man laid resting in his favorite chair, feet propped by the cold fireplace. His eyes closed and a half smile showing around his favorite pipe, which of course was lit. But then he felt something a small tug at his pant leg. He opened one eye and peered down at his youngest grandson, who was looking up at him with love and adoration. "Grandfather," he whispered, "Can you tell us another story. We want to know what happened next to the Gods."
At this the Grandfather opened both eyes and lifted his head and now saw all his grandchildren and some other children, that he didn't know, all looking at him expectantly. "Sure," the grandfather said as he took his pipe from his mouth and smiled wider. "Of course now comes next the time of marriage for the Gods. For wedding day was coming quick upon them.
"If you remember last time the Gods had come together in the first marriage but what you may not know is now the Holly King was here. A mite small, mind you, but he was there inside the Mother Goddess, continuing to grow.
"So the Gods and the faeries knew that marriage must be next. For that was the way of things. So the faeries pulled out the dress that they had wove at Imbolc. You remember? It was made of spider silk and the morning's first dew. And presented it to the Goddess, with three more gifts.
"These gifts were given in private, so that not even the God knows what they were, even to this day. The first gift given was a gift of something new, given, so they said, that She may begin to get used to her new life.
"The second gift was something used. So that She may never forget who she was before that day and where she came from.
"Something blue was the third gift. To keep her safely through this new life and through the birth of her new child. And afterwards, well the blue would help her to keep her temper in check. For as we all know children can try the patience even of the most patient.
"So the day came for the Gods to become one in the eyes of all. All the faeries of the land came to honor them. The children came to scatter flowers an to vie for the right to carry the sacred rings.
"And the rings, set with diamonds that sparkled like the stars in the firmament. The most beautiful rings that any had seen. They stand for the Circle that the married couple enters into. Bound together for as long as love may last.
"The Ceremony was simple; The God spoke of his journey for his love and of the depth of his commitment. The Goddess, well, she also spoke of her commitment. But she spoke with sadness in her voice, as if she knew something that the others there knew not. But it passed quickly as she talked of her Love for the God.
"When they were married they went on a holiday together to celebrate their love and enjoy each other.
"So you see children, this is what you have to look forward to when you get older. But it won't seem so bad, when you get to that age. But run along now and let me go back to my pipe. Come tomorrow and I will tell you the story of the First Harvest."
The children sat for a moment still thinking about the story that they heard. They had images of flowers scattered around a hall of splendor and they had visions of shimmery dresses or rings of gold behind their eyes.
Then they all left their grandfather by the fire, the older ones to dream the younger ones to play at the games that all little children play.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Family Crafting

Thursday, May 19, 2011
This is a topic that my opinion on has changed in the last two years. I originally believed that a child should not have religion until they were old enough to choose, this probably comes from the fact that I had no choice in religion growing up and when I got old enough to choose, I chose Wicca. Then as I started this blog, I started thinking that a child needed spirituality and could do without religion. Yet lately I have come to the realization that spirituality alone is not enough in most cases. Oftentimes spirituality needs a "framework" to grow on. I think that the best framework for spirituality is religion. As long as that religious choice is up to the child when they get old enough to make their own decisions.

Imagine, if you will, a viny plant (something like ivy) without a trellis to grow on, it will grow out everywhere and be wild and out of control. This vine is very much like one's spirituality, without religion to grow on and be supported by it can become wild or unfocused. But with that trellis it can grow up and up, with no limit but the sky. Becoming stronger and harder to cut away.

On the other hand, I know that some of you may be trying hard to see how the two can be separated. I know that at one point I saw no distinction either, but I have found that spirituality is best defined as the belief in something greater and larger then ourselves, something not of this physical plane. On the other hand religion is the worship of that greater and larger thing, a belief that Deity is there to guide us and help us. With these definitons it is easy to see a separation between the two.

In relation to family, I hope that you do decide to include your child in your religion. If you are Pagan then you should not be worried that they are going to feel obligated to stay here, since our religion is about personal choice and lacks the concept of guilt over "sin". Then again they may stay after they "shop" around the other religions, for I like to think that we have more fun in Circle.

With my family I plan on exposing my youngest, who I am homeschooling, to all of the religions in an objective manner when she approaches the age of choice. This age of choice will be determined upon her maturity.

Now if you do decide to include your kids remember to regard your children's ages when you do so. They have different levels of attention spans, adjust your rituals contents and length according to that. I have a five year old that I include in ritual, and my rituals are fun and short. No long invocations or elaborate rules, just an acknowledgement of the elements and a conversation with the Gods. Then a small explanation of what that night's ritual means and then a quick closing. Short, Simple, Easy.

To close I wanted to leave you with a quote from a friend of mine, Jon Edens of Blackberry Circle in Texas, "The Family that Circles, Together Stays Together".

Sunday, May 15, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents - They Show Love

Sunday, May 15, 2011
Just three simple words, but books of meaning. They Show Love. Nothing is more powerful then the love from a parent for their child. So many articles about this topic tend to fill themselves full of cliches and I made a promise, to myself, not to do that. Since I made that promise you are going to have to bear with me as I try to explain Love and its importance without the use of cliches.

If you look back at the other 7 Habits of Highly Effective Parents you will see that they are all summed up and reliant upon this final Habit, as well as each other.

Since we Love we choose to be Present and attend to our children. To not just be a parent who is there and doesn't act like they care, or show Love. It is our Love that allows us to be Patient and understanding with our children. And it is that which allows us to Listen without anger and with great Patience.

We are involved in our children's lives also because we Love them. We want that Love to pass down to the next generation so we Build Traditions and memories. It is this reason that we also strive to be Always Teaching, so that they can learn all they can to be the best that they can.

Like it brings patience and understanding, Love brings us a Sense of Humor and the ability to show this to our Children. To have that Rubber Fish just around the corner.  You know that ability to bring the humor that makes everything better.

Love really is the most important Habit of Highly Effective Parents. Without it the whole idea of parenting becomes kind of pointless and ineffective. Love is what makes us care to have children and to raise them into well-adjusted and complete adults.

So to answer the question I asked back at the beginning of this series; Yes, I think that I can call myself an effective parent. I have two great children that I think will turn into even better adults.

Thank you all for joining me on this journey of introspection. I would love to hear any thoughts that you all have on these 8 Habits.

Blessed Be!

Friday, May 13, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents - They Always Teach

Friday, May 13, 2011
I have always said that we are not raising children, rather we are creating adults. And today's post ties directly into that. I have met many parents, and I am sure you have as well, that put their parenting on auto-pilot. They are the ones not worried about what their kids for the most part, as long as they aren't bothering them. The parents that let things go and let things go until they snap and scream at their children. But an effective parent takes every opportunity given to teach a lesson in becoming an adult. Whether it is their behavior or the behavior of other people around them.

Now this doesn't just apply to behavior. It can, and should, apply to every part of everyday life. When you go grocery shopping, teach them to bargain shop and compare products. Or how to pick out good produce or meat. When cooking, take the opportunity to teach them fractions and especially how to prepare what you are guys are cooking. Any life skills you can impart to their young minds is one more step on the road towards them being self-sufficient.

One of the things that I am planning on doing, when she is old enough, is include my daughter in the decision making in the house. While she won't be able to make every decision (I can see ice cream for dinner every night) it will be a good opportunity to teach her on how to make good decisions. To weigh the choices and the potential consequences and then make informed decisions. Much like they did in tribal days, in preparation for adulthood, the children were included in the village councils. I feel comfortable doing this because I would like to think that I have taught her well enough by this age so that she can make mature decisions.

I would love to see if you all disagree with me or even agree. Please comment below and let me know.

Blessed Be!

8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents - They Always Have a Rubber Fish

Or the equivalent. What I mean to say is that they exhibit a sense of humor and teach it to their children. Are you a serious parent, who expects serious children? If so, why?

Life is to difficult and way to short for us to not have a sense of humor. And it is our job to pass it on to our children. We all know the old saying, 'laughter is the best medicine'. This is true because it triggers all kind of responses in the body that lead to good health. From stimulating the heart to the release of endorphins.

I am remembered of a story from a friend of mine. She has two children, a daughter and a son. And one day while at the store in the checkout line, the son looks at the daughter and says in his best Vader impression, 'Africa I am your brother'. Now this led to varied responses from the surrounding customers but the general reaction was laughter. This mother has a fantastic and easy relationship with her two children, one where openness and personal responsibility is valued and encouraged. Would you also believe that both of her children are teenagers? Yes it is possible, despite what we see on TV, to have an easy relationship with our teenagers.

The key to this is humor. But it has to start early and be continued on through all the years from birth to the adulthood.

Any comments or funny stories would be greatly enjoyed. So don't hesitate to comment below.

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents - They Build Traditions

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One of the cornerstones of a strong family is the traditions that they hold and practice. These common activities are the glue that holds a family together through all the problems that they may face. Whether it is something as simple as breaking bread together just once a week or as complex as that Yule time trip to see relatives.

As I have always said we live in a hectic world, one that is counterproductive to the idea of family and the idea of creating routine and structure. Both of which are important to the creation of a strong family. So if we can take, or make, the time to carve out some of these traditions then it will help to instill family values into our children. This also gives us the much needed opportunity to talk about our lives in a relaxed environment.

The benefits of building family traditions reach far beyond the present and even the near future. Research shows that children raised in families with traditions are far less likely to do drugs or engage in other risky behavior. These traditions can become their “escape” from the struggles that we all face in growing up and just living. 

In my own family, I have strived to create traditions that I hope will outlast my children. Something that my children, when they get older, will want to repeat with their children. I know this seems like this should be the definition of traditions but I have seen many parents, with good intentions, focus more on activity than on making the traditions fun. The fun part is what is most important, get the children engaged and they will want to do it over and over again.

The holidays are an easy time to create these traditions. Whether we make candles at Imbolc or hunt for eggs at Ostara or carve Jack-o-Lanterns at Samhain, there are countless things that we can do that our children will remember for years and decades to come. But what about the time between the Sabbats and other holidays?

These times are just as important as the rest. The question is, what to do? For as we all know in our modern world, and the world many of us grew up in, we do not have our own family traditions to fall back on. We do not have that legacy passed down to us from our parents or grandparents. This leaves us at a loss as to how to begin.

So here are some suggestions:
  • Read to your kids
  • Have at least one meal together each week (that includes all of the family)
  • Pray together
  • Take at least one day a week for family fun – whether it is outside or inside just have fun

This is just a small list of ideas and your list can be much longer. The important thing to remember is to just get started.

So take some time today and have a family meeting tell them what you are trying to do, you may want to talk this over with your partner before you start, just to be prepared. But start today on the journey of building traditions. You may have to float a small armada of trial balloons to find something that sticks but don't be discouraged just keep at it, your kids will eventually thank you for your efforts.

Monday, May 9, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents - They Are Involved

Monday, May 9, 2011
So far in this series I have talked about being present and patient and on the importance of listening and hearing your children. Today I wanted to talk about actually being involved. So many parents I know don't spend enough time engaging with their children. They take them to events and sporting matches and leave the kids there but they fail to make themselves part of the children's lives.

Now I know that this is tough when they reach the teenage years but we need to at the very least make the effort. Whether they show it or not, the really do appreciate it. The reasons for this are multi-fold;

  • Studies show that children with involved parents do better in school and stay out of trouble more often
  • Through them we can oftentimes better learn right from wrong
  • We will be better able to spot crises long before they become a problem and can act to help prepare our children on how to deal with them
The question that can arise from this is, "Where do I find the time?"

There is no single answer to this. Instead you can focus on quality, rather then quantity. A single involved minute, where you are present can be better then an hour of your distracted time. Which is often just you and the kids in the same room, yet at the same time a million miles away from each other. 

So take some time with your kids, take them out for a picnic or maybe their favorite activity. Engage in some play and have some fun. They will wind up thanking you for it. 

Blessed Be

Sunday, May 8, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents - They Listen

Sunday, May 8, 2011
This is the third of eight habits of Highly Effective Parents, which is 'They Listen'. However, listening alone is not enough: for to truly Listen one must also Hear. Oftentimes words alone can not accurately describe the true intent of what is being said. Just remember that Listening and Hearing aren't always just about words. The silence and the silent movements of a person, more often than not, mean more than the words.

I'm sure we can all think about conversations that we either have walked away from or been tripped up by later, that we wish had just gone better. Maybe we had not listened well enough or maybe we wish the other person had done the same. If you are anything like me, then it was more probably both. We are so wrapped up in our own lives, and our own sets of problems that we often fail to pay attention to anything else other than our own solutions.

I think that we can all see how this could be a problem in creating a Stronger and more Spiritual Family. If we cannot understand each other and refuse (or do not know how) to listen to each other then how can we be on the same page? And if we can not find the common ground through conversation then how can we set family goals and be united in accomplishing them and supporting each other through all the trials and tribulations?

A failure to Listen can also cause us to miss out on possibly better solutions to our problems, that other people could possibly share with us. This can also cause huge misconceptions and possibly marital grief or strife. The solutions to all these problems is a simple one, easily said; 'Learn to cultivate the act of Listening and Hearing'.

Now the question come up, "How does one go about cultivating the act of Listening? The act of Hearing?"

Well here are some tips that I hope can answer those questions adequately.

First, you need to be present in the conversation and avoid distractions. If it helps, cut off the television and/or the radio. Take a moment to breathe and refocus, and remember that your focus should be solely on the other person.

Second, you need to keep an open mind. Do not let your preconceptions or misconceptions cloud how or what you hear your children saying. I'm sure we can all think back to conversations that we have participated in, where one of the parties (or both) swear up and down that they heard something that the other person knows they didn't say. This is particularly frustrating when it happens between two partners, because if it is not caught early then they both act under false assumptions.

Third, we need to take a moment to refrane or rephrase. You can say something like, "I believe I understand you. Did you mean to say..." and then rephrase what they said. This helps to clarify and solidify understanding, which is important to effective Listening and Hearing.

I know that this seems almost like pandering or catering to our children, but we need to Listen to and actually Hear them if we are to help mold them into young adults. 

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 
Blessed Be!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents - Be Patient

Thursday, May 5, 2011
I must admit that this is one that I have struggled with in the past. With our busy lives and the stress that comes with it, it is difficult to find time to deal with the concerns of others. Yet as parents that is exactly what we are called upon to do on a daily and often hourly basis.

Now for those of us that have no patience there is a few things that we can try.

  • Take a deep breath. When your kids hit your button and I remember as a teenager it became a goal, I'm sorry to say just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Then come back to the situation with a fresh and clear focus. 
  • Count to 10. I know it is an old cliche but it oftentimes will be all that works. 
  • Walk away separate the parties involved and come back with a cooler head. 
  • Meditation. Okay I know that you won't be able to stop in the middle of something and meditate but if you meditate on a regular basis then you will find that your patience will grow. 
Don't confuse being patient with being a door mat. Children, of all ages, need rules and guidelines. So don't be afraid to put your foot down but try exercising a little patience. I have met many parents that yell . . . a lot. Their kids learn to just hide their misbehaving better and not get caught. They are the kids that are also afraid to talk to their parents and let them into their world. As I have talked about in the past they don't have an open door relationship. My children feel free to tell me anything and because I try very hard to exercise patience and not yell and scream, and I try very hard to be fair in punishments. And as I continue with this I hope that they will continue to do this into the teenage years and beyond into adulthood. 

If any of you have any tips that I haven't listed don't hesitate to offer up some comments and let us all know. Click here for the rest of this series.

I also need some input from all of you that have downloaded my free ebook (available for subscribers). I believe that the time has come to update the book for the second edition. So I need to hear what you have liked and haven't liked. And even what you think is missing if anything. You can email me or comment below. Thanks in advance. 

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

8 Habits of Highly Effective Parents - Be Present

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
The first Habit of Highly Effective Parents is to be present and mindful. There is a Zen saying, that I often quote; 'When walking walk, when eating eat'. But we can extend this to say, 'When Parenting, parent'.

What I mean to say is when you are there with your kids put away the phone, the computer. Simply put away everything and just be there. How can we expect our children to respect and respond properly if we can't treat them with the same respect. I am sure that we all know someone that just can't be present in a conversation. They, often in the middle of your sentence, pull out their phone to check a message or an email. If it bothers you don't do it to your children.

The respect factor aside, this small habit also helps us to focus on the non-verbal cues that our children show to us. Are they really OK, when they tell us that or are they worried? Now I am not going to list a set of these cues because each kid is different. But you know your children and should be able to read them.

I think that you will be pleasantly surprised that if you begin to really pay attention to them that they will begin to pay attention back. This is especially true for teenagers but can apply to all ages.

And like most of these habits that I will be talking about, being present will apply to more then just your parenting. If you can stay focused on a task, like your job, then you will be able to do it better.

As we go forward from here, try a simple exercise, either with your kids or at some other time. Better yet do it at both occasions. Turn off the TV, the radio, the phone and yes even the computer. Then sit down to do one thing and one thing only. Whether it is write for business or pleasure or to just play with your kids or any other singular task. You will find that after you get started that time will cease to be. In fact you may find that hours have gone by in what feels like minutes.

We oftentimes experience this in ritual. The sole focus on ritual tasks shifts our attention into being present at only that moment and none other. So try this exercise out, your kids will appreciate the attention.

When you try this habit out make sure to comment below or send me a message. I would love to hear your experiences.

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Am I an Effective Parent? Definitions and Habits

Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I have been thinking a lot lately about parenting, and what makes a good parent. I think it must be this time of the year. So I wanted to rerun a series from last year. I hope that you enjoy.

During my normal day I read quite a few blogs, some Pagan and others on varying topics. And a few weeks ago I came across a post titled The 8 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers and this led me to think about myself as a parent. Am I an effective parent? If so why is that, what makes me one?

So I sat down and begin to brainstorm. Starting with what exactly does all that mean? The definition of an effective parent I came up with; is a parent that has good kids. I mean obviously they have managed to do a good job competing with the world around us. You know these kids, the opposite of the ones that we see in the restaurant or the stores screaming at their parents and throwing tantrums. But the definition just doesn't stop there; An effective parent puts their children first, takes time to teach them and to be involved. But they don't go so far as to make their children think that the world revolves around them. It is a fine line between an effective parent and an ineffective one. Children need to feel important but not set before their own well being or beyond what is good for them. Again these are those children that throw tantrums and scream in the stores.

Then I looked at myself and my family and realized that I was describing myself and my wife. Now we are not perfect, far from it, but we are effective. We don't have to yell or even punish most of the times. Our children for the most part are well behaved and respectful. They are happy and well provided for with a strong sense of self-esteem. This has been drilled into them from the earliest ages that they were capable of understanding.

As I continued with these thoughts I decided to follow this path to its logical conclusion; What habits do we and others, as effective parents, practice? Here is a list of the top eight that I came up with;

  1. They are Present
  2. They are Patient
  3. They Listen and Respond
  4. They are Involved
  5. They Build Traditions
  6. They Make Everything a Lesson
  7. They Always have a Rubber Chicken (aka find the humor in all things)
  8. They Show Love

As we go forward into May, starting this Thursday, I am going to talk about each of these habits more in depth. So subscribe to get all the updates over the next few weeks. And don't hesitate to comment and agree or disagree. I know that all of our parenting styles will vary and the point of this is not to make anyone feel like less of a good parent but rather to help us all strive towards being more effective parents.

Hope to see you all around.