Posts Tagged ‘intentionality’

In the Face of Disaster, We See the Humanity of All

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 09:09 PM
Author: admin

Disaster humanityTime and again we see Americans come together to help one another. In the face of disaster, we see the humanity of all and our perceptions of difference and otherness fades. When an emergency responder arrives, we don’t stop to identify their politics, race or religion before we gratefully accept their help. Let’s sustain this sense of cooperation and mutual respect.

Our last blog written in the wake of hurricane Harvey focused on preparing families for disasters. The United States is reeling from recent weather disasters. Fires in the Northwest. Apocalyptic flooding and hurricane damage in Houston. Now Hurricane Irma has pulverized much of Florida. Mexico–which responded to the needs of Houston area residents after Harvey–is now coping with the ravages of a major earthquake. All of these disasters occurred in less than thirty days!

I’m writing this blog from my home. Heavy aluminum panels still cover all of my windows. While this delivers a sense of security, it also feels, dark, walled off from neighbors, isolated. We are eager to remove the shutters, yet we hesitate because hurricane Jose is still spinning out in the Atlantic. Thirty-two days remain in the “peak” season (Historically, the most intense and damaging storms have occurred between Sept. 1 and Oct. 30. Installing and removing storm shutters is a days-long, arduous process. So, for a while, we’ll wait and watch, hunkered down behind our temporary fortress.

It appears that the horrifying video footage of Harvey’s aftermath motivated Floridians to prepare for the storm. Most forecasts predicted that Irma would race up the “spine” of Florida or hug the east coast. But Mother Nature is an unpredictable force; she had an unanticipated change of heart and veered west. Some played the odds. They resisted preparation and then found themselves scrambling at the last-minute, desperately trying to complete their efforts before Irma slammed into their neighborhoods. The horrible result is still unfolding. Cleanup and restoration will take months and in some areas, years.

What has my rambling got to do with intentional parenting? Once again we’ve been reminded about the benefits of being prepared. This is particularly important for people who have experienced trauma in their lives.

Thus, major disaster events like these strike our kids very hard. They need us to do whatever we can to soften the impact.

Our families depend on us to be proactive and buy the supplies. Before we buy non-essentials, we must make the difficult purchasing decisions, forgo some of the fun items and activities and instead opt to buy stuff we hope we never need.   Disasters often cause businesses to close—some temporarily, others permanently. By buying emergency supplies ahead of time, we can avoid spending money when incomes are most apt to be interrupted.

Review your preparations for the type of weather disasters which typically befall your area. Supplies can be costly. Pick up one item per week and then store them in a sealed plastic tub. Batteries die quickly; consider buying items that depend on solar or mechanical energy. (At the risk of mentioning the holiday season too early…a  well-stocked disaster box might not be the fanciest present you’ve ever given BUT it could be the most important—even lifesaving.) After all every part of our country has their version of challenging weather. Having the security of knowing one is prepared relieves tremendous stress.)

Some of our most vulnerable families struggle to provide food and shelter for their families. Please remember the needy. Support organizations that help. Imagine having to face an impending hurricane or blizzard or other major challenge without the resources to protect your home or to purchase fuel, water and non-perishable food. Heartbreaking… Let’s do what we can to help out. (Always vet any organizations to which you donate; unfortunately disasters also tend to bring out the scammers and crooks)

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Intentionality and Parenting in a Time of Social Unrest

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 02:08 PM
Author: admin

Intentionality and Parenting in a Time of Social Unrest-bullying-social unrest

The tragic events in Virginia this past weekend have left the entire country reeling. Violence has taken root in America at a degree never previously seen. As a country we are at a crossroads. Each and every one of us must determine how he or she will respond. Distinct from any one political stand, the current turmoil offers an opportunity for parents to practice Intentionality.

As Intentional parents we commit to pro-activity instead of reactivity. We must decide how we will walk our families through these challenging days, weeks, years. How will we interpret these events to our children and help them understand what it means for them, our families and our communities?

What will we do to ensure that our country reflects our personal values? The obvious first step is to clarify the values by which we choose to live. Then we must inculcate those values in our children.

We do that in two ways. One is through our words. Language matters, has emotional “weight.” When chosen well, language can bridge divides. It can also damage relationships, intimidate and incite violence. Language can be balm or flamethrower, be gentle or cataclysmic. Life-giving or life-taking.

We get to choose and our choices serve double duty. Not only do our words convey our stance to our kids, they provide them the vocabulary to talk about it with others. Our family discussions will provide a forum for them to learn, to test and to question. These explorations will prepare them to hold conversation with others outside the family. Knowledgeable, intentional conversations. That is a good thing.

Intentionality and Parenting in a Time of Social Unrest.Dad talks to sonThe other way we hold and work for our values is to take action. We must move beyond platitudes and lip service. If we assert that health is a family value, the way we live, eat and, exercise must reflect that. If we espouse respect for the earth, our household habits must embody that.

Whatever values we espouse, people should be able to infer them from the way we live our lives. Our actions form the most effective curriculum for teaching our kids and for shaping our country.

Let us take time to pause, reflect, and assess our “job performance” on teaching/living our values. Where are the successes? Where are the best leverage points for change? What will be the first step? What has to stop? What has to begin? What will be the evidence that the adjustments have been effective?

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5 Tips for Course-correcting Family Dynamics

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 @ 02:02 PM
Author: admin

Course correctingLast month we focused on accumulating information to underpin some intentional change-making. Today’s tips can help you implement change even if you didn’t participate in last month’s series. (It’s not too late to follow the exercise outlined in the series, define a goal, implement your resolve and begin. ) We ended the series with a final question: What will be your first action step in response to this exercise ?

Let’s stipulate that your first criteria was tuning into your Core Values. What principles determined which step you decided to take first? Some folks choose the change they think will bring about the greatest shift. Others  select the one that connects with their heart most deeply. Some people elect to begin with one, small step to which they believe they can and will commit. (That’s an important distinction: ability versus intention and follow through.) And some will choose based on the change they expect will get the best “buy in” from their entire family.

All are good options; the essential thing is simply to take the first step.

Tip Number 1: Choose an intentional frame for your selected change. How we view change can also affect our response to it. Pause and seriously consider what metaphor comes to mind when you consider creating changes in your family dynamics. Does it feel like jumping off a cliff? Climbing a mountain? Herding cats? Paragliding over the Pacific? Setting humor aside, one can easily see that viewing change through a lens colors the way we experience it–with dread, enthusiasm or fear–or a combination of similar emotions.

Tip Number 2Remember that change takes time. Allow yourself and your family time to find their new footing and for a new balance point to emerge. Imagine for a moment a large jar stuffed with several balloons. Whenever one balloon is squished, shaken or moved, all of the other balloons will reflect that motion in some way.  Similarly, whenever one person in a family changes in behavior or attitude, every family member responds. Some will welcome the change. Others will feel threatened, frustrated, annoyed or resistant.

Tip Number 3: The only person whom we can compel to change is ourselves. We can invite, persuade and encourage change in others but the decision remains theirs. Even when no one else embraces the suggested change, it is still possible to make a difference in the family dynamic. Merely by focusing on one’s own change process, a shift will occur. Because we behave differently, others will receive different “input.” Consider this example. Decide to remain neutral when  a teen vents and uses deliberately provocative speech. You’re not my real mother and I hate you! 

The most typical parental response tends to be anchored in hurt feelings which then lead to angry words, righteous indignation and “consequences.” While those reactions are understandable, they tend to inflame the situation and to give power to those words. This increases the likelihood that the child will use them again because they succeeded in unloading their pain and anger onto the parent. By not reacting, the inflammatory words lose their power. Thus, it is less likely to be the “go to” phrase they’ll use in the future.

Something even more powerful can happen however, when parents don’t bite the bait and instead listen and then respond with genuine empathy. You must feel very angry. Usually the child will respond with still-angry words. However, instead of arguing about “realness” the focus becomes a validation of the child’s feelings. Things tend to de-escalate. Later, when emotions have settled mother can address the disrespect.

Tip Number 4: Value the relationship more than “being right.” Parenting, especially adoptive parenting demands a fierce, intentional love. Because of adoption’s inherent duality–the coexistence of gain and loss, grief and joy–both parent and child have emotional raw points that can trigger one another. When we are in emotional meltdown, like the scenario described in Tip 3, we must remind ourselves of that soul-deep yearning that propelled us to adopt. Remember the impassioned promises we made, if only we could be lucky enough for this child to join our family. We can use that resonant memory to refocus us on how much we value the relationship. Preserving that attachment is far more important than winning an argument at that moment. We are building families for a lifetime. That is the greater victory!

Tip Number 5: We must set aside the traditional parental templates. Most people learned how to parent by being parented. They use that experience as an unconscious template to guide them. But, unless we ourselves were raised in an adoptive family, we have no template for how to deal with this adoption complexity. We cannot default to autopilot (parenting like we were parented in our own families.)  to handle the unique needs and circumstances that adoption imposes  on families. We have no learned experience to tell us how to relate with  members of birth families, and overlapping roles. We find ourselves building the blueprint as we go along. Using threads of love, commitment, mutual respect and empathy, we weave a tightly knit family. How does being an Adoption-attuned Parent* benefits your family? When Intentionality, Adoption-attunement and fierce love, work hand in hand, what amazing things result?

Bonus! Tip Number 6: Consider partnering with an adoption coach. How might your family benefit from working with an adoption coach? What would it be like to work with a coach whose focus was your family, your goals, your needs? Imagine having the guidance of a professional who is also an adoptive parent, who will  listen to you without judgement. How can this common bond help you achieve your dreams for your family?

Money Talks: The Connection between Spending and Values

Thursday, February 2, 2017 @ 03:02 AM
Author: admin

Money Talks: What Is Yours Saying?Americans have a cultural belief: Money Talks. What is yours saying? How strong is the connection between our spending and our values?

After tracking your spending for a week–or more–what useful information emerged? Dissect the information with a Learning Eye. instead of a critical or judgmental one. Using this neutral approach reminds us to look for leverage points for change and to step away from any inclination to fault-find or judge. (Information is power–and our friend–when we allow it to be so.)

In today’s post we will consider several questions. We’ll examine the data that shows how our cash was actually spent versus how we’d assumed and/or intended. Get ready to discover “golden nuggets” to which we’ve been previously blind. (Imagine that.) So …

What did your spending over the last two weeks say? First, the appearance of a disparity between expectation and reality is neither a good or bad thing. It is simply information. So, if your chart reveals this kind of gap, the next step is to identify what drove the financial decision. Was it a response to an immediate but unexpected financial priority to which you intentionally appropriated money? Or, was it an impulse expenditure.

If the latter, dig deeper to identify what drove the choice: stress, hunger, time constraints, loneliness, pressure from family, friends or co-workers, community or world issues, etc. By identifying the reason, the leverage point for creating better decisions in the future becomes clear.

Money Talks: What Is Yours Saying?How well did it embody your Core Values? This can be a more challenging inference to accept. Has habit led us to spend money in a way that does not reflect our Core Values? Which spending choices revealed an abandonment or weakening of our values compass? Examine each choice separately. Get as clear a mental picture of the factors that occurred at the time you spent the money. List who was present. Recall your emotional state as well as any other details that you can. How did that group of factors make it easy to veer away from your values?

When the chart indicated that an expenditure aligned well with your values, ask the same questions as above. This will help identify the thoughts, circumstances and systems that help keep you aligned with your values.

What role did impulsivity play?  Let’s face it. Modern life is BUSY. We never seem to have sufficient time, energy or money. Sometimes it is easier to spend spontaneously without first calculating if it is prudent or not. Once we’ve noted the factors that led to spontaneous (un-Intentional) spending, we can use that awareness to decide with more Intention in the future. Revealing the specific influence opens the door to new strategies.

For example, daily stops at Starbucks can add up quickly. What is this expense accomplishing for you? Perhaps it a dash of needed self-indulgence. How else might that be accomplished in a less costly way that also aligns with your values? Or it might be a way of denying that money is tight because “It’s only a few bucks” so of course it’s okay. It could be a reflection of many possible factors, e.g. poor time management, unhealthy eating habits, hunger, or a behavior that is part of a group-identity. Whatever the reasons, they provide valuable insight. What opportunities for change did it highlight?

Money Talks: What Is Yours Saying?

To what extent did Intentionality govern your spending? Again, look at the factors and circumstances that supported your decision-making. Identify how you can create those factors more often. Note which relationships and circumstances support your values-based living as well as those which divert you. What can you do to moderate any negative influences in a way that honors your Core Values, yourself and your family? How can you avoid or limit the occasions that draw you off from your commitment to your values?

What will be your first action step in response to this exercise ?  How will it benefit your family? How will you involve the entire family in raising awareness of the connection between your Core Values and your spending habits?
Money Talks: What Is Yours Saying?

Will 2017 Be Smooth Sailing for Your Family Or …?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 03:01 PM
Author: admin

January traditionally motivates us to review the recently ended year and to set our intentions for the new year. As adoptive parents this practice takes on extra significance. Parenting is challenging. Adoptive parenting has additional complexity and responsibilities so we have an intensified need to learn how we did and what we can do to improve. This January scrutiny  is like standing on the pinnacle of a mountain to capture a unique 360° perspective. As we pause to examine the challenges we faced–and handled–we can assess what strategies and decisions served us well and identify the behaviors and decisions that sabotaged our intentions and/or fell short of the mark. We can notice gaps in our skill sets, lapses in commitment, acknowledge times we couldn’t or didn’t put forth our best effort, spotlight missed opportunities and roads not traveled.

With these data points in hand, we can then determine when and how we want to do differently in 2017. As we begin this year, let’s get clear about the priorities which will drive our choices. Resist relying on autopilot and commit to being fully engaged and conscious about any decisions and choices.

Last year many of our blogs encouraged parents to focus on Intentionality and on increasing our commitment to Adoption-attuned Parenting.* We hope that those concepts will continue to significantly influence your choices. Using these two criteria as a rudder makes it easy to decide if something will serve our family or will undermine it. Life is a balancing and priority-setting challenge. Time always seem insufficient and responsibilities ever-present. Still we invite you to try this simple activity. I promise it will take only a few minutes.

Draw two circles on an index card. (A small piece of paper would also work but will be less sturdy.). Use the sample “pie” graphic as a model. Title the first one Priority. Change the tags on the individual wedges to reflect your family’s deeply held values. (Feel free to divide the sample equally (as shown in the sample) or weighted according to importance. Use pencil so you can edit the labels  if you have any change of heart. Be intentional as you name each section with a category that indicates how you want to live as a family. Consider each of the Prime Values that guide you as adults and by which you want to raise your families. No need to fuss or worry about making this graphic pretty. It’s only meant for yourselves. No one else needs to see it. For Your Eyes Only–unless you choose to share it.

Pause and read the labels out loud. Absorb what these priorities mean. Imagine a life truly lived as an embodiment of such deeply held principles. Feel the inspiration, the hope, the reassurance and the energy it calls forth. Hold that vision. Note what you feel emotionally, mentally and, physically.  Becoming conscious of these elements allows us to “package” them as a resource to access in the year ahead. You can connect with them in moments when things become difficult, when you need a boost of hope or a reminder of what you committed to be as parents, as families. A light at the end of the tunnel.

Now we are ready for the second circle. Title this one Time.

For the next two weeks, track the time you spend on each of these categories. Use a simple shorthand –like having each tally mark equate to fifteen minutes. There are innumerable ways to track it on your phone, if you find a tech approach easier. The important thing is to track how you actually spend time versus how you wish you spend your time. Graph your time on the pie. Begin in the center and move out. How smooth is the wheel?

Challenge yourself to make a few predictions about what this times chart assessment might reveal. Will you be pleasantly surprised? Or, will your predictions fall short of your best intentions? The first step to making change is establishing a clear picture of current reality! In two weeks, we’ll look at your results to see what might make your family life easier.

These time/priority wheels were adapted from ©Resource Realizations.