Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Help your kids get from school stress to calm and confident

September 10, 2013

Last month I had a great opportunity to chat and practice visualization with parenting coach Heather Chauvin. She shared a bit of what she knows about school stress so parents can help their kids (and themselves) manage anxiety at the start of the school year and all throughout.

Watch this 18 minute video then use Heather’s practical and helpful tips to ease your kids’ anxiety levels and teach them to calm themselves at home or at school. Oh, yeah, and it works for adults any time we’re feeling off-balance.

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Oh, these fuel-ish thoughts!

March 22, 2013

Please don't feed the monkeys

I sat and waited for my friend to meet me for lunch at a local place. I was trying not to do anything else. I was not succeeding.

When you’re waiting for someone to meet you, or call, or return a text, it’s easy to think fuel-ish thoughts (the kind that adds to anxiety):

Where is she already?

12:30. Wasn’t this the time we said?

It was for Wednesday, right?

Today is Wednesday, isn’t it?

Or were we supposed to meet Thursday?!

Is she trying to call me?

Is my phone on? (Yes!)

Should I check again? (Yes, it’s on!)

Did she forget?

Did she have an emergency?!

Is she all right?!!

All that mental garbage, piling up, muzzling my good spirits of ten minutes ago as I congratulated myself for finding parking so close-by… and with 90 minutes still on the meter!

But now fuelish spores exude from my monkey mind, infecting this happy camper. Downer thoughts. Not worth a damn. Powerless to alter current reality:

I am sitting alone on a wooden bench in a restaurant. My friend, who agreed to meet me for lunch is now… 22 minutes late. Make that 23. Whatcha gonna do about that, monkey mind?

Grass wallpaper. Potted palms. Bamboo fountain. Ah serenity. Except for the noisy diners. But actually, they’re perfect. From every part of the room happy folks enjoy a mid-day break with good food and good company. Eight friends over there (a birthday celebration, perhaps) swap personal updates and laugh it up.

I wish I was sitting with my friend enjoying the same. But she’s not here… yet.

I should just call her! Damn. I don’t have her number!

But you know what? That’s fine. Really it is. She’ll get here when she does. And in the meantime, I’m taking notes for this blog. Trying not to do anything else. Because nothing else is needed. It’s nice to sit here.

Are we out of milk? I’d better…

Shut up! No need to think about what I could or should be doing instead of waiting here. So I’ll just sit and breathe. In. Out. Ohmm. Present moment… Wonderf….

Maybe I made the mistake!

Maybe my friend is waiting for me somewhere else and wondering if I blew her off?

I’m hungry.

Do I grab a table and order something?

Do I want to buy lunch for myself if she doesn’t show?

We’ve got food at home and I’m 10 minutes away.

I don’t need to spend the money. I don’t think I should…

Sigh. Anyone want a monkey?

Filed under: Humor,Meditation,Mindfulness,Yoga — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 3:08 pm
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Guest blogger: Hiking with Daryl

August 14, 2012

by Susan Garrett

Susan Garrett is a Hospice volunteer and a singer with the Threshold Choir

Mt Tamalpais The sleeping princess who does not sleep

I hiked up from my house to the open space high above Red Hill, switchbacking my way through Sorich Park to Tamalpais Cemetery. I was looking for something and I expected I would find it. As I walked, the rhythm of my gait, arms swinging, beat out a poem’s cadence, one I’d learned decades ago, that surfaces in me today:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.

My feet crunch through late-summer eucalyptus leaves and I climb higher and higher until I begin to see the polished granite and onyx headstones of the Jewish Cemetery. Names are readable now: Irwin, Schneider, Haas, Goldberg, Stein, Gluck and hundreds of others. Stars of David and small photographs adorn many of the flat, cool surfaces. Chiseled lettering tells of a “Beloved wife and mother”… “Too quickly taken”… “Son, husband and cherished father,” “Holocost survivor.” Then I see what I came for. Red dirt, newly turned. It is heaped high next to a plank-board covering. (I’d wondered if they’d dig today, this being the Jewish Sabbath.) They did, for here it is, Daryl’s grave, made ready.

I begin singing Oseh Shalom without thinking to do this and now I’m trying to make the tune and the words come out right through my tears. I crumble into a squat but the singing keeps coming, stronger and more sure now. And that’s what is–me here at his grave, weeping. Weeping, even though I know better, know that he is not here–will never be here–will only ever be the fresh scent of bay and eucalyptus that blows through this space, the crunch of the leaves underfoot, the soil and rock and wood that are the materials he was so adept at working and shaping to create his art.

Thank you, Daryl, for coming into our lives when you did. And thank you for letting me stand at your grave and weep. You are mist, and…you are missed.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft star-shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.

~Mary Elisabeth Frye, 1932

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Times are a changin’ so hang on and enjoy the ride

January 7, 2010

Steady in the winds of change

Steady in the winds of change

No way is it 2010 already! Didn’t we just do the Y2K thing? Is it just me or does 24 hours just not last as long as it used to? And what about our kids? They’re growing up at warp speed. Probably a blessing we’re all too busy to notice them morphing into young adults before our eyes, otherwise how scary would that be? Of course, when it comes to other people’s kids you can’t miss the changes, but with your own… most of us have a terminal case of blind spots. Unfortunately, turning a blind eye to reality isn’t the most effective way to parent.

Life is all about change and our ability to deal with it. Our bodies, our feelings, our kids, our relationships, our life situation… all constantly changing. (So are all the molecules on your kitchen table, but we can save that for another time.) The more I meditate and breathe and read and write and think and teach the clearer the changing nature of life becomes. The more I twist my torso into improbable positions (Hey, it’s not painful! It’s yoga.) the more I learn how flexibility is the best tool I’ve got going for me.

“Steady in the winds of change,” my yoga teacher says. Steady as she goes. Steady, strong, centered. Those are the keystones to effective parenting. But steady doesn’t mean stuck and true strength requires insight into what’s needed right now.

Suppose you’ve always had a close relationship with your 12-year-old daughter. She’s been a kid who’s always told you everything she thinks and feels. You’ve prided yourself on the closeness you two share and how it reflects so positively on your parenting skills. Then one day you walk past her room and the door’s closed. You go in. She’s listening to music and reading. “Hi Dad,” she grins, not removing her headphones.

You sit on the bed. “Hi, sweetheart. So tell me, what’s new with you?”

“Nothing.”

An awkward silence follows.

“You want something, Dad?”

You shake your head and slowly walk toward the door. “Dad,” your daughter says sweetly. “Next time could you please knock?”

“Sure, honey,” your smile belies the ice pick skewering your heart. In the hallway your mind reels. Why should I have to knock at my own child’s door?! We’ve never had closed doors between us! She must be hiding something. I’m going back in there and demand that she tell me what’s going on. I couldn’t talk to my father about anything important, but I’m going to make damn sure that my daughter…

WAIT!

What’s going on here? Is this about your 12-year-old’s normal desire for some privacy and respect or is it about your own fear that your relationship with your child is changing into… who knows what?

Should you zig or zag? If you zig only because it’s how you’ve typically reacted when you’re hurt then you’re not paying attention to your child’s needs. Nor are you awake to the parenting challenge in front of you. An unwillingness to change in spite of changes happening all around is a sure-fire formula for unhappiness. The result will be internal struggles and plenty of ongoing conflicts with your ever-changing tween or teen.

What to do? How about going for a walk? An actual walk is great if you can swing it, but any conscious choice to take a head-clearing break will help. While you’re in the self-imposed time out ask yourself:

What does my child need from me now? It’s an essential question whenever you feel stuck in your parenting mission. Children’s behavior at any time, any age, broadcasts a need. Your job is to identify their need as accurately as possible then offer your help. Of course, there’s no formula that will always work because their needs constantly change. One moment she’ll need a hug and an encouraging word. Another moment he’ll need a sympathetic ear and no words from you at all. One time they’ll need you to set clear limits with unambiguous consequences for noncompliance. Another time they’ll need you to respect the meaning of a closed door without taking it personally.

Where do your needs as a parent come in? That depends. You’re absolutely within your rights to have your role, your values, your rules and your property respected. Those are valid needs. But when you need to be needed by your child or you need to use your child to look good in the eyes of others, that’s unhealthy. Always be an adult and take care of your own changing needs as best as you can. Your kids have a big enough job growing up and learning to take care of themselves without having to take care of you too.

Change is our constant companion on this journey we call life. Our kids are the clearest evidence of that. They’re rapidly developing into independent young adults. As parents we’re privileged to have an essential role in their unfolding. If we pay close attention we get to witness parts of the process. We also have the honor of helping them become who they are. Part of the reward is an opportunity to learn and grow along with them.

It’s a new year. A new decade. Change is the air we breathe. The best we can do for ourselves and our family is to remain as steady as possible. It also helps to keep your eyes, your mind, and your heart open. That’s what our kids need most from us.

Filed under: Holidays,Meditation,Parenting,Yoga — Tags: , , , , , , — Annie @ 5:31 pm
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