Modeling

Well, it’s Thursday and I still haven’t finished How We Live Our Yoga, but I did start to find some anecdotes that spoke to me. Maybe the back portion of the book is meant to be the best so that if you actually stick with it it will be worth the time?

There was one passage by Judith Hanson Lasater in which she talks about how her yoga changes over the years and about being a “Swami Mommy” As my youngest is starting Kindergarten on Monday and I move into the next phase of my own life, I realize why my kids need me to do my yoga just as much as I need it. They need me to be patient and ever evolving along with them. My life is changing and so is theirs. They also need a mom who is flexible both mentally, emotionally, and physically. I need to grow and change and listen and able to keep up. Continue reading “Modeling”

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Meditation Monday #51 – Impromptu Meditations

Last Thursday my youngest didn’t want to go to school….it’s preschool and to some people that doesn’t “really” matter. However, I have to go to work on the days that he goes to school. I specifically scheduled work while he was in school so that I don’t have to have childcare any more. I also pay for his preschool and it’s not cheap. At preschool he’s learning A LOT of important lessons and by making him go to school (even when he doesn’t want to), I’m trying to teach him another lesson: sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do.

On Thursdays I usually workout after I am done teaching. Sun salutations or swimming are the norm, but this Thursday I had another matter to deal with: parking ticket. I went to the parking office and appealed my ticket. I won. It was a good day. This left me some extra time before the little guy was done with school. Because he hadn’t wanted to go in the first place I had promised I would pick him up early. Once I arrived at his school I thought about the importance of two things: keeping my promise and his need to be in school the full time. I opted to pick him up only slightly early (I’m usually one of the last parents to arrive for pick-up) to meet both.

So, I took a seat on the bench outside the school. It was a nice day and no one was around. I sat in Sukhasana (easy pose), closed my eyes, turned my face up to the sun, and started an impromptu meditation. I haven’t spent enough time meditating lately. I’ve done a lot of journal writing, which has been good for my soul, but is not the same thing as meditating. I decided that day that I needed to just listen to the world around me and within me.

In general I recommend that you have a focus for meditation before beginning. However, I know the need for impromptu meditation is strong; especially in the world we live in today. So, I encourage you to take the time today to be in the moment. Give yourself the present of impromptu meditation…..maybe even this minute. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and listen. Listen to the sounds around you (or lack there of) and be aware of your present surroundings. Listen to the voices in your head (don’t think about them, but hear them passing through). Listen to your body and all the things you ignore that are both good and bad. And, if like me, allow yourself to smile or cry or both.

Life is tough for me these days….hence the reason I stepped away from the blog mostly. However, life is also life and being alive is good. Impromptu meditation reminded me that warm sun, the sound of garbage trucks/traffic flowing by, and the ability to breathe freely are all great things in life because it’s life itself.

Happy Monday! You’re alive!

Please feel free to share your impromptu meditation moments or any other thoughts in the comments section below.

Fave Reads Friday #10.2 – Meritocracy and other Made Up Words

Have you ever heard that word Meritocracy? Did you know that it’s not a real word? More of the many bits of information that I learned while reading The Big Test by Nicholas Lemann.

The word meritocracy was created by Michael Young in his 1958 work titled The Rise of Meritocracy. His work was meant as a satirical piece to pick apart  a system in which children, from a young age, are chosen for their role in society (think something like Giver or Divergent) and that a chosen few are meant to rule based on MERIT; which in this case is determined by intelligence. The word meritocracy is a combination of two unrelated root words, merit a Latin word and cracy (kratos) a Greek word. It is roughly translated to mean that through your worth your are given power.

The idea behind a meritocratic society is that through standardized testing we could best choose who would be successful at what skill and then guide our citizens toward that lot in life so as to be the most productive society in existence. This is what Lemann writes about in The Big Test. However, the main idea gets twisted over time and the use of these standardize tests also gets twisted.

Think about this……when I was in Kindergarten I was given an IQ test which pushed me into the talented and gifted program at my elementary school. The reliability and validity of such tests are often highly debated, but essentially I was chosen. I was bored in traditional school, but never really taught that being able to learn quickly and test well is not the same thing as having true merit. I was involved in talented and gifted programs through 8th grade, breezing through on good test scores. Upon reaching high school I was put on the advanced track for science, math, and language arts. I attempted the advanced track for social science (history) and language, but ended up dropping out of each. When I was in 7th grade I began taking the SAT and ACT exams as part of a program that offered summer camps to students identified as talented and gifted. I scored so well that I went to a camp and studied exercise physiology and biomechanics one summer and genetics in the summer between 8th and 9th grades.

My high school emphasized involvement and I was on sports teams, involved in debate, the lit mag, the yearbook, cultural awareness groups, volunteering at my elementary school and church, and holding part time jobs. I did all that I could on a limited budget and without true guidance as to what any of it meant.

Upon graduating high school, with alright grades and high test scores, I received zero scholarship offers and, because my family was not well off, I attended a state school and proceeded to do fair. I didn’t know how to study and lacked the discipline to perform homework to the fullest. Why? Because I’d always tested well which had been enough to get by in all schooling up until college. I spent time testing out this and that and avoided things that were too challenging or required too much work on my part as far as classes went. I was going to be a lifeguard instructor at one point, but decided that I didn’t have the time. I had a million part time jobs and didn’t stick with any of them very long. I got married and moved around.

In the last couple of years of my undergraduate programs I started to perform better in school and finished with a fairly decent GPA. I eventually became certified as a Personal Trainer and, after moving around a bit more, decided to take a stab at graduate school. (Mostly because a graduate degree “guaranteed” a better job) I studied for about a week and took the GRE; doing well enough to get into graduate school. This attempt at school was much of the same as college…..fair. But, fair is not good enough for graduate school.

I left graduate school for awhile at the end of my marriage and then attempted an MBA. I didn’t want to have to take the GMAT, so I dropped that as well. I eventually ended up at another graduate school where I flourished academically and where my interest in a lot of different things started to grow. I have always though of my journey to where I am today as more linear than it was. I had always considered myself a good student. But, after reading Lemann’s book and considering the true meritocracy I started to really question my own journey.

Last week Evangeline commented about about the idea of two different students applying to college:

This is fascinating. After taking the SAT and a few state mandated standardized tests, the whole system has piqued my interest. The idea of a number playing such a significant role in my future seems a little scary. I know colleges say they look at applicants holistically, but in real life, if person A has a perfect SAT score and person B has an average score, we know who’s getting accepted. I’ll definitely be adding this to my reading list. Thanks for sharing!

Which of these two students has merit? Who should we give the power to? How would you decide?

These are all questions that have been going through my head regarding myself, my children, and the world around us since reading Lemann’s book. How should we decide who goes to college? What is college for? Who should be running our country? What is merit?

Lemann ends his book with many of the same questions and I’m not sure I have the answers. All I know is that being selected at age 5 or 6 did nothing to make me the type of societal member that was going to contribute highly to significant causes….life has done more of that to me than anything…..yoga has done even more. Being identified as having the ability to learn and learn quickly didn’t help me to be successful because there was no guidance in the process. I wrote this post two and a half years ago about education:

TOLT: Book Reviews and The Great Education Debate

in which I talk about a book by Amanda Ripley and the future education of my own children. My children are now starting school (both of them) and we’re not in a traditional school. There is testing to help the teachers understand how the students are progressing, but the schools they go to also focus on grace and courtesy and a universal understanding of respect for yourself, your community, and your environment. These are the types of merits I think we should be basing our decisions on:

  • How kind are you?
  • How much have you done for the good of others?
  • Are you a litter bug?
  • Can you think bigger than yourself?

Maybe if we considered some of these questions before voting our government would look different at all levels. Maybe if we considered some of these questions for ourselves our lives and communities would look different…..

What is meritorious to you?

TOLT – 1 Week Until Preschool!

Today is Thursday and I’m not having to get up and go to work for the first time in many weeks. But it also means that it’s the last Thursday, for awhile at least, that I could have slept in…..because next week my baby starts preschool! And, in the words of Peg Plus Cat, I AM TOTALLY FREAKING OUT!

Thank you, in advance, to Amanda for a place to vent my worries.

THINGS I AM WORRIED ABOUT WITH PRESCHOOL 1 WEEK AWAY

  1. The Goodbye – When my first son went to school two years ago, he walked right in and I had to call him back to say good-bye to the little guy and me. This time around it will be the big one and I dropping off the little one on the first day. I’m not quite sure how this will go. Part of me wants him to be hesitant and still need me. Part of me wants him to be brave like his brother and waltz right in like he knows the place.
  2. What to do with Kid #1 – So, on the first day of preschool my oldest son will still be 12 days away from starting school for the year. So, it’s kind of new territory for us. There was just the two of us before the little guy came along, but since then I can’t think of another time in which it’s been just the two of us (unless you count volunteering at his school). So, what will we do with our time together? I HAVE NO CLUE! We have had lots of little moments together, but never 3 whole hours of us time in the last 4 years. I’m thinking I might take him to show him my new work as it’s right across the street. We might go out to breakfast. We might just go crazy….who knows?!
  3. More Friends – Okay, so this really shouldn’t be a worry, but I’ve already found that this summer was harder than any other before to make sure we had at least one play date with each of our friends. Why? Because now we have the friends we made prior to school, the friends from preschool that we’ve held on to, and now kindergarten friends. That doesn’t even account for the friends we’re about to make this year for both kids! I already know one of the families in the preschool class and we like them and have mutual friends, but there’s a reason we throw a large party a few times a year….we don’t have enough time for all of the friends!
  4. No Nanny – Yep, she left us and graduated and moved home and got married and is a grown-up with a full-time job now. The last two years have been a breeze because of our nanny and I can tell you it was the best experience we’ve ever had in childcare. So great, in fact, that I can’t seem to find anyone who lives up to her! And now we’re going to try and do it all on our own without her or anyone else. Already I’m dreading it. What will happen when one of the kids gets sick? Who will be there to help out in emergencies? What about when I need someone to set out something to defrost during the day? Who will eat all of the leftovers?! Really, our nanny was like a part of our family and we miss her dearly!
  5. The End – There will be no more kids at home after this. Granted preschool is only 2 half days per week, but this is the end of being a full-time stay at home mom. I have worked most of the time that I have been home with my kids, but I no longer have kids that are home full-time after next Thursday. It went too fast…..

Fave Reads Friday #10.1 – Testing, Testing….

Have you ever read a kind of older book and when it was finished desperately wished there was a follow up book? I HATE when that happens and it just did again recently when I finished The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy by Nicholas Lemann.

The book is about how standardized testing came about in this country and how much of a scam it is. It takes you through the development of standardized tests, affirmative action, and the whole idea of how we decide (in this country) who gets to go to college. Have you ever wondered about why you took the SAT and/or ACT? Did you ever wonder why some schools accepted one test and not the other? How the scores were calculated? Why it costs so much to apply to college? Why certain schools were free to residents?

This book was published in 1999; ironically the year I graduated from high school and entered college. I wish that someone had given it to me then….

The basic reason that I wanted to review this book for you (even though it has nothing to do with fitness or yoga) is to make you consider the question for the weekend of WHY?

Why do I do the things I do? Why is my life the way that it is? Why?

And in addition to Why, HOW?

How much control do I have over my life? How much control is necessary and how much am I willing to allow others to make decisions for me?

The Why and How questions of the world can be great for guiding you toward your true self and enlightenment. They can also make you want to stand up and shout, THIS IS NOT RIGHT!

At one point in my life I was very proud of my ACT/SAT scores despite my performance on “grades” in high school. I’ve always been a good test taker. I have been lack in commitment to completing tasks like homework. This transferred over into my college career and is shown in my procrastination on this blog. What if someone had taken the time to tell me that test scores were not the best predictor of how well I’d do in college? What if I cared more about actually learning as much in my high school days as I do now? What if I could guide my children down a better path with less focus on testing and more focus on really learning (not memorization) and critical thinking? What if there were a whole generation of kids that got that guidance?

I encourage you to consider these questions this weekend and let me know what your thoughts are. There is a part two to this post….see you next Friday!

Meditation Monday #40 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Annamaya)

Welcome to another rainy Monday at the beach. Do you know I haven’t taken my kids to the beach at all this summer? How terrible is that?! Last summer our beach days were play dates and there were many of them, but this summer our beach buddy is also my running buddy and play dates have been of a different nature. *Sadness*

Alright, enough about the rain….today I’m here to talk to you about meditation again. Why? Because it’s something that I’m making a priority in my life these days. Over the weekend I was in Asheville teaching the NETA PT Review Workshop to a great group of people at the Woodfin YMCA. They were wonderful to hang with and chat with and to work with. I love it when I have great weekends away like that!

I had intended to go and scout the 8K course for the race this fall after I got done teaching on Saturday, but it was raining….and I had left my car windows open….and my lunch from Whole Foods was disappointing. I had also missed breakfast and hadn’t drank hardly anything all day. I think the run would’ve sucked if I had attempted it.

Instead I chose to go back to my creepy hotel (don’t stay off of Tunnel Road) and work on the Inclusivity Training and some NETA writing. I experienced some seriously great meditation practices in this course that I cannot wait to share with you! And that motivated me to start back up with the How to Meditate series again today.

So now, after that seriously unnecessary introduction to this post, I want to talk to you about Koshas….which is not a slang way of talking about Jewish foods or pickles. Koshas are the five layers or sheaths of the body; the outermost of which is called Annamaya or the “Food Layer”.

First off, this has nothing to do with the food you’ll eat (we’ll talk about that layer later), but rather with the fact that we all must die someday and (if buried) eventually become food for the earth and other creatures on it. We liken these layers to nesting dolls with each successively deeper layer representing a deeper part of the self. However, unlike nesting dolls, the layers cannot be separated.

Annamaya is most often cared for where people start their yoga practice….with Asana (postural practice). Both Asana and Annamaya deal with the muscles, the bones, the flesh. Consider your Annamaya layer and ask these questions from Rebecca Pacheco’s book:

  • What physical experiences nourish me?
  • When am I most comfortable in my skin?

For me the obvious answer for both is exercise. But, during meditation I often find more.

When am I most comfortable in my body? When I’m taking care of it. And that includes eating well, getting enough sleep, making time to move and rest. Not just exercise, but when I’m playing with my kids and when I’m not thinking about the body and all the ways in which I’ve judged it in the past.

What physical experiences nourish me? The little things like putting lotion on, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth with a new toothbrush, drinking warm tea, wrapping up in a cozy blanket, hugging my children, snuggling close to my husband, holding his hand, laughing with friends.

My Happiness Project is all about my body and I started with health and now I’m working on eating (again), but I am not neglecting the Annamaya layer in this process. Perhaps you should give your Annamaya layer a little more attention this week?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on/response to the questions posed above.

New Foods

We’re now on the backside of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It’s something that I think a lot of people I know struggle with from time to time and I thought it pertinent to mention. Also of importance is this great post I read over the weekend:

I was looking at my calendar the other day and planning out meals through the end of March and into April. I like to rotate things, especially our staples: Mexican food, something grilled, something seafood, something pasta, and breakfast for dinner. We usually eat something from each category each week because I try to bring a balance of what my kids will already eat to exposing them to a little something new and also a dash of what I WANT from time to time. Continue reading “New Foods”

TOLT – Who Is This Mythical Superwoman?

I haven’t done a TOLT in awhile and I thank Amanda for continuing to host these great round-ups of talented bloggers! I’m writing this post in advance because of the week I’m having. What kind of week is that? It’s a birthday week for my oldest who is officially 6 as this posts! I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting lately on what it means to be the kind of mom who stays at home, works part time, is a fitness professional, etc, etc. All of the roles I play. I’ve written about roles before and you’re more than welcome to read those posts here:

TAG: ROLES

Instead of bragging about all of the things that I can accomplish this week; today I’m going to play a game: What I thought it would be like vs. What it’s really like.

Stay-At-Home-Mom

What I thought it would be like: Soooo much time to get everything done and lots of time for myself. My children would play and interact with me and life would be bliss.

What it’s really like: Nothing gets done on the schedule I expected. When all I had was my one infant son I could easily clean our small apartment, walk the dog, and make dinner for my husband and I sometime before midnight while also breastfeeding, doing laundry, etc. But now, with two headed in two different directions and with the stay-at-home part dwindling little by little each year, I don’t know how things will ever get truly finished or caught up. Some of this is my natural ability to procrastinate and some of it is that we expect too much of any one person in our household. The kids don’t always play when you need them to, they want your attention when it’s least convenient, there needs to be time for you alone, you and your husband, you and your friends (not just during play dates) etc.

Working From Home

What I thought it would be like: Nap times are the perfect time to sit down at the computer and magically get it all done in about 2 hours….right? And I would get so many job offers because of my ability to work so thoroughly and quickly.

What it’s really like: Sometimes nap time doesn’t happen and Word World has to babysit for a few minutes while I review a course, type an email, post grades, etc. I used to teach online courses and my students would complain about the amount of work I gave them….as if I didn’t understand what it was like to work, have a family, have a life, and do schoolwork……who do you think is grading all of your assignments people? And developing them? And answering your emails/texts/phone calls when you have questions/complaints/computer errors?

Working Outside of the Home

What I thought it would be like: Total sadness and missing my babies at every waking moment. They would cry without me and no one would take care of them as well as I could. Something bad would happen at every moment and I would be riddled with the guilt of being away from them.

What it’s really like: Well, part of that is true for me. I do feel guilty and sad when I miss things that I enjoy with them, like tucking them in at night and reading to them. I do not think that anyone feeds them as well as I do and I’m sure they watch way too much tv when I’m not with them. However, there’s a flip side to that. I actually get to be grown up me when I’m at work. There are people who see me as me and as a professional in the field that I have worked in for so long, gone to school for, and care so deeply about the standard of! There are moments of bliss when I’m meditating and imparting wisdom to others. There are moments of bliss when I’m learning from others.

Being a Fitness Professional and a Mom

What I thought it would be like: Because I have all of the knowledge, I would be incredibly fit throughout my pregnancy. I would feed my babies all organic and homemade food. We would do Mommy & Me yoga together from Day 1. I would jog with them in the jogging stroller and win races and still have a beautiful two piece swimwear body….forever…..with no softness or stretchmarks or signs of aging…..EVER!

What it’s really like: I don’t know how the women who meet that ideal do it, but I know I ate Taco Bell more than once with each of my pregnancies. I napped a lot during the first one and gave up running during the first trimester when I thought I would throw up and have a migraine headache from listening to my mp3 player while I ran. I did exercise and teach until he was born and I did make him baby food (most of the time) and I did start back to jogging with him as soon as I was cleared to. What didn’t happen was my stomach never returned and was even more destroyed with the second child (see here) and we did Family Yoga with the big one, but the little one hates it. I do have two very active kids and I have pushed them in the stroller, pulled them behind my bike, and encouraged them to help me with my workouts as much as humanly possible. I lost a lot of weight each time due to breastfeeding, and currently weigh in around 140lbs (more than before each of them), but I’m okay with that (see here). Having “all of the knowledge” means squat in the middle of labor and cravings and tired mornings when your baby cried and nursed all night while teething. It means nothing when it means not putting yourself first in other ways.

I guess this is the one area in which blogging has helped me to realize, it’s okay to not be perfect….

I mean, Who is this mythical Superwoman of a Mom anyway?!

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Meditation Monday #26 – Reflections on Parenting

I plan to meditate on something else as well this afternoon, but lately I’ve been reflecting on my parenting and being the parent I want to be. I have made mistakes already along the way; I think we all have and all do at some point. So, I have two choices:

  1. Keep going and flying by the seat of my pants as I have been doing lately….or
  2. Go back to what was working when things were good

I’m sure you can guess which option seems more appealing to me at the moment. This is kind of like a pro’s/con’s list when it comes to changing your yoga/fitness/lifestyle routine in any sense. What’s easiest? Usually the answer to that is to stay the course we’re currently on. What’s best? That one is a little harder to answer.

For me, what’s best is to go back and re-institute the parenting techniques that were working for me when I had the best relationship with my children. Right now there’s a lot of fear of time-out and having things taken away and of other “punishments” in our house. Fear is not the place that I want to live from and I don’t want my children to live from a place of fear either.

Some people have told me that children are not little people and I’ve wrestled with this idea a lot over the years…..what is it that they’re truly lacking that doesn’t make them as “human” as adults? When doe we develop it? And lately I’ve been watching a documentary series on Netflix called The Beginning of Life: The Series. Image result for the beginning of life the seriesIt’s six different episodes and each one breaks down a different element of the young human child (including loss of childhood due to other circumstances). In watching this series there are a wide variety of experts in the field of child development who are interviewed; including teachers in Montessori schools. My oldest son currently attends a Montessori school and he went to a Montessori preschool last year that my youngest will attend this fall. So, I started thinking about Montessori and all the other things that were being presented in this series and a light-bulb came on for me. It was an AHA! moment…..enlightenment in yoga.

At my son’s school he treats his teacher’s with respect and they do the same. He is taught how to express his emotions and thoughts verbally. He is taught to talk it out when things are not going his way. At home he is a much different person and it is a much different environment. At home, recently, respect has been demanded and consequences many. This is not how it always was and now I see more defiance in his attitude toward me. I see him physically getting upset and jumping up and down when I let the shark music take over and I refuse to listen to him. We are in a struggle for power when truly, if I were to respect him I would have the power I feel I need. He would cooperate if I would listen and show him he is heard. I used to do that…..

When my son was first learning how to speak I did not demand that it was perfect. I helped and I listened and I tried to communicate with him in many ways so as to understand what he wanted and needed. I think we forget that part of parenting once language is developed, as children become more and more self-sufficient. But, I need to remind myself of all of the ways in which his self is still developing, his brain is still developing, his happiness is still developing. At almost 6 he is not self-sufficient and he has needs for love and attention and to explore his world just as he did at 6 months. He still needs protection and patience.

So, be it wrong or right, I plan to turn back to my old way of parenting….of talking….of showing respect and patience for a journey that is nowhere near complete. It will be hard to break these habits, but anything worth doing is worth doing right. We all have our struggles in life and currently mine is understanding how to be a better parent to my children. As I meditate, I cultivate patience and understanding of who I am, how I am, what I want out of this life with them….what I want out of life for them…

If you’re looking for some good books to read on this subject, check out my post here

Meditation Monday #8: Relations

and other books by the same authors!

Have you checked in lately on your parenting?

Do you think that children are little people or not?

What is your meditation for this week?

Limited Choices and Holiday Eating

My son’s school sent out this article that I think you all should read. At the bottom I have some thoughts related to the article and the upcoming holiday season and specifically eating during the holiday season.  This article is super applicable if you have children, work with children, interact regularly with children, or know adults that are like children….Enjoy!

LIMITED CHOICES

By Chip DeLorenzo, M.Ed.

One of the first classroom management tools that many of us learned, to redirect or set limits with children, is limited choices. This month, I’d like to explore this topic in some detail. I have found that the term limited choice is used frequently among Montessori educators, but just as often, it is used without an understanding of the principles behind the discipline tool that make it a respectful and effective way to interact with children and set clear and appropriate boundaries. Without an understanding of the principles, a discipline tool simply becomes a technique. Techniques fail because they are focused on the adult and the adult’s priorities, rather than on the child. The child becomes an object rather than the subject when the adult tries to employ a discipline tool as a technique. Let’s first explore the principle behind limited choices. Using limited choices is a respectful way to set limits with children while honoring their right and capability to make appropriate choices for themselves, while respecting others. Limited choices let the child know that they are part of plan, but that there are limits that are developmentally appropriate and respectful to everyone involved. Next, let’s explore what a limited choice is. A limited choice is simply a decision, given to a child by an adult, between two or more alternatives. The alternatives should be developmentally appropriate, reasonable, respectful and acceptable to the child, the adult and for the situation. Some examples of appropriate, respectful and acceptable limited choices: “You may eat the lunch your mother packed you, or you may make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for yourself. You choose.” “You may put away your yogurt first, or your cracker first. Which one do you choose?” “You may scoop the beans off the floor with your hands, or with a whisk broom and dustpan. What would you like to use?” “You may finish your math now, or after you eat snack. You choose?” “Would you like to bring him the Peace Rose, or put this on the class meeting agenda?” “You may write a report on any of the fundamental needs of the Ancient Romans. Please make your decision by tomorrow before lunch.” “You have four overdue assignments. You’re welcome to do them after school while I’m preparing my lessons, come in early and work on them in morning care, or bring them home for the weekend. Which would you prefer?” Adults, without realizing it, can find themselves in power struggles with students when they misunderstand the principles behind limited choices. This happens when an adult gives a student choices that are not developmentally appropriate, reasonable, respectful or acceptable to the child, the adult or the situation. Here are some examples: “You may put your lunch away or go sit in the office.” (This is a threat, and not acceptable to the child.) “You may come inside with the group, or stay on the playground by yourself.” (This is also a threat, and most likely an empty one that the adult cannot follow through with. It is not acceptable to the adult or the situation.) “You may put your lunch away, or leave it on the floor to be stepped on.” (This is not acceptable or respectful to the situation and the community.) “Would you like to do your math now, or during recess.” (This may not be respectful or acceptable to the adult who has other responsibilities after school, and not respectful to the student who needs time outside.) “You may write a research report on anything that interests you.” (This choice is most likely too broad for the student, and therefore not developmentally appropriate. Some children may choose topics that are not acceptable to the adults, or the situation, and this will lead to rejection of the idea later by the adult. It’s not a choice in the end.) Limited choices for younger children will be more concrete and limited, based on their developmental readiness. As students get older their choices will, appropriately, be broader. For instance, an adolescent may be given a much wider range of time to complete an agreed upon project, because they hopefully have developed the executive functioning to allow them to manage their time, make choices and experience the consequences (positive and negative) of those choices. Sometimes, children will push back, with a response to a limited choice, like, “I don’t what to do either of those.” If this occurs, we can simply respond with a statement like this, “That’s not one of the choices,” and then just remain silent, warm and present! If the child persists, just remaining silent and waiting for them to respond, without reacting, sends a powerful message: I care. I trust you to follow through with your responsibilities, and I will do the same. Until next time…
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Each year we head into this time known as the HOLIDAY SEASON and everyone panics about food. I hear so many people go on diets, start restricting, and demonizing foods because of the holidays and the massive amount of comfort foods/sweets that go along with this time of year. I say, forget the stress! This time of year is about celebration and if you celebrate with food, so be it.

How does this apply to the document above?

Well, since we don’t want to go crazy and eat until we’re stuffed, but also don’t want to give ourselves a million rules about eating so that we feel so restricted and set up for failure (you know you’ll eat the pie no matter what…). What if we gave ourselves limited and appropriate decisions?

I’ve written a lot about Mindful Eating in the past and I think that this approach goes along with Limited Decisions. So, let’s look at it this way:

I am eating Thanksgiving dinner and I’ve tried a little of everything…but I’m still hungry and I’m really digging the mashed potatoes and, yet, we haven’t hit dessert time yet. What limited decisions could I give myself?

Inappropriate decision making would say:

I have to stop eating all together because I’m trying to be good this year and I really shouldn’t have eaten as much as I did already.

or

I can wait and eat pie, but tomorrow I will have to hit the gym for at least an hour of cardio in order to make up for it and I definitely have to skip lunch.

Limited decision making with Mindful Eating tactics might say:

My two choices are that I eat the mashed potatoes because they are good and then maybe have dessert later when I am hungry again

or

I choose to wait for dessert because that’s what I really want anyway

or

I am here to celebrate and enjoy this moment, so I will have a small helping of more mashed potatoes and then a small piece of pie, enjoying the best of both worlds without feeling guilty, overly full, or caring what others think.

I think the whole thing about limited decisions is to give yourself appropriate choices. Choices that feed your body, your soul, your preferences, and the moment you choose to be in while being aware of the forces guiding the decision making process. I’m not choosing to wear “Thanksgiving Day Pants” and stuff myself to the max, but I’m also not denying myself the enjoyment of celebration and the good taste of food!

 

How do you eat on Thanksgiving and during the holiday season?