Teaching Empathy Through Apology

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

So many grown adults don’t know how to offer an apology. We are still only able, if told to, give that simple apology that out mother taught us when we were just three. “Say you are sorry” you mother tells you after you push another child, and the child responds with his eyes down, “I am sorry. ”

It feels like a punishment for the child. There is shame embedded in the apology.

And the receiver feels nothing. They still feel hurt, and they still feel misunderstood. They don’t feel reconnected.

In my life, a strong apology strengthens a relationship and can provide tremendous growth if we know how to experience an apology. An apology takes you past shame or blame. It says, “I did not know, but now I do. I hurt you, and my mistakes made you feel neglected and forgotten. My actions brought you pain.”

I want to take the shame away from “Say you’re sorry.” I want to my son to be transformed through his apologies. Sure, he is two. It will take time. His brain has to be capable of empathy first. The injuries to others will be simple in the beginning, but as time passes the events will become more complex. Hopefully, we will have the connection and trust that he can talk to me about the social conflicts he encounters. And as a parenting team, my husband will probably have more opportunity to offer counsel for these moments.

Probably the most important teaching moments will be when we teach by example. We will apologize to our son when we make mistakes. And allow ourselves to grow and deepen our connection to our son with a thoughtful and empathetic apology. When we put ourselves in his shoes and try to imagine how our actions may have hurt him, he can understand the value of a strong apology.

What we are actually teaching our children with a shameless apology is empathy. We are teaching the greatest gift for connecting with others and ourselves.

Read More

I Prefer a Zero

By | Connection, Sacred Space | No Comments

I had a teacher who never said we had to do the homework. It was always our choice. But if we didn’t, then yes, we would get a zero grade for the assignment. Such a simple concept. But not as easy as it sounds. You have a choice for every responsibility, but it is the repercussions of that choice that matter.

Think about it. Are we doing the homework because we understand the repercussions of the zero on our grade average? Or are we doing the homework, because we want to make the teacher or our parents happy? Or because our classmates all turn in their homework, so it makes sense that we should.

Okay, I know, I definitely want my son to do his homework and am not advising that anyone skip doing their homework. But I am curious about the responsibilities I create for myself and what goal they achieve.

When I am tired and exhausted at the end of the day, I ask myself, are all my efforts to maintain these responsibilities important to me? Are all these tiny daily efforts working to support a life worth living for myself?

I am working hard to reduce my life down to it’s lowest common denominator. I am trying to be really aware of the cause and effect of how my choices create a domino effect of responsibilities. Do I want to make a choice or purchase that will take away time from what is most important to me: myself, my family, and my connections to the world?

Some domino effects are strategic and graceful, a careful line of cascading domino tiles. Then there are my son’s dominos. We have a tin full of dominos to play with family when they visit. My 2-year-old is in this phase where to “play” with something means to dump the bin or bucket’s contents out all over the floor. That’s it. He doesn’t play with them; he just dumps them everywhere. The dominos are his favorite – they make a beautiful sound as they click on top of each other as they fall.

This is the effect of some choices I have made. Boyfriends, my literature degree, possessions I have purchased, and “friends” I have made have all had the opportunity to make one big mess of dominoes in my living room. And they took a lot of my time and contributed very little to my growth and enjoyment of my life.

That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything from my mistakes, but what if I had taken more responsibility for my choices? What if I could design a life, where I had zero obligations to anything that didn’t match the objectives of my heart?

I choose my responsibilities for the most part. It is a daily practice that I am learning.

Read More
Glennon Doyle Melton Quote

The Responsibility of Pain

By | Connection | No Comments

I just finished reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Love Warrior (Oprah’s Book Club): A Memoir. It is a story about her relationship with her heart, her body, and her faith. It’s a damn good look at how our culture’s gender roles damage those relationships. And it is a book about trust that comes from the rawest writing I have ever read. She talks about her bulimia, alcoholism, and her problems with her sexuality. These are topics you rarely come across – especially from a “mommy blogger” and devout Christian. That culture just doesn’t talk about these things. But Glennon does. She is unashamed.

I used to be a person that was an open book. I don’t believe in shame and think it is a nasty human emotion like jealousy and envy. I call out my flaws, mistakes, and imperfections when I recognize them because it helps me deal. I dare myself not to take myself too seriously when I share my weaknesses.

But I found something out this past year. People who are hurting like to take your flaws seriously. They like to divert attention from their own actions and self-hate by judging, rationalizing, and projecting their own self-hatred onto you. I always believed people are all inherently good. But through my experience, I have learned that – yes, people are all good – but when they are in pain, they can do really bad things.

Read More
My minimalist Book Collection

How to Minimize Your Book Collection

By | Archive | No Comments

For some reason, most minimalists have no problem donating and selling everything in their home except a mattress and their books. It seems illogical that they can pare down their wardrobe to just 37 pieces and just a set of dishes for each household member, but getting rid of their books is sacrosanct.

With ebooks, we don’t need printed books anymore, but so many relish the act of holding a physical book. Like an old record or baby blanket, books are sentimental objects. We like the way the object makes us feel.

My husband and I met in undergrad. We were both literature majors. Yes, the biggest book loving whores on the planet. We take pride in how smart we are with our display of books. Well, we did until we got into our 30s and realized we didn’t know ANYTHING and no matter how many books we shelved, that fact wasn’t going to change.

Sure, we love the act of reading like never before, but not the act of owning them.

Read More
Zero-waste shampoo bars

Top 4 Zero-Waste Shampoo Options

By | Archive | No Comments

Having a minimalist cabinet of toiletries is something that I hadn’t even considered until I learned of the zero-waste movement. The zero-waste spokeswomen of the movement, Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer, both like to proudly display their very limited supply of beauty essentials.

It really helped me put in perspective what true beauty really is, and how I wanted to let my beauty shine. My search for zero-waste shampoo was really just part of a bigger strategy to reject what advertisers tell us is beautiful. When I am having a bad day, buying a new beauty product is no longer an outlet for feeling better about myself. Instead, I live my values of loving the environment and loving myself.

Read More

Zero Waste Bedding for Minimalists

By | Archive | 2 Comments

If you are looking to reduce your belongings and consumer habits at first glance, it seems difficult to consider options for your bedding. Like your sofa, you usually want to replace them every few years because the fabric loses its quality.

But it doesn’t have to be that way when you invest in the right materials from the right companies. It is entirely possible to buy one complete bedding set and have it last you a lifetime or nearly a lifetime.

Read More
6 Questions before Buying

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase

By | Archive | No Comments

Desire is a symptom of the belief that you are not enough. That idea if you owned or do x,y,z then somehow you will be complete.

David Hawkins of the book, “Letting Go”speaks of the three levels of consciousness: Having, Doing and Being. “Having” is the lowest level and is predicated on the belief that if I own something, all my problems will go away. That I might be complete in the eyes of others. That I will be successful. Inherent in this state is the mantra, “I am not enough.”

The second level of consciousness is what most Americans are caught up in; if I do more, I will finally be a complete person. The to-do list is glorified and checking the box off the list is cathartic. It gives us that same surge in endorphins that making a purchase does for us. It says I am closer to completeness.

But it never is. The to-do list keeps growing, and the advertisements keep telling us we are not enough.

Read More