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Brain matter and other fun facts

 

get things done

First, some housekeeping – figuratively I mean: in response to my coming out column there’ve been some interesting comments and questions, I totally plan to follow up on those I promise – pinky swear even.

But also it’s been kinda crickets from some corners of my life so to answer the conversation I’m having in my head with some of you, I should probably just throw out there that I haven’t been, like, on the bathroom floor doing smack or anything. This whole 12-step thing for me is mental/sanity recovery dealing with habits and patterns formed a long time ago which no longer serve me but I kinda thought I was stuck with them. Turns out? Nope. So, it’s actually good-ish news minus the awkward, uncomfy parts.

All that is just, you know, fyi to whom it may concern, remotely interest or disappoint in a high stakes schadenfreude* situation.

But more on that another time because today I’m writing about what might be the manual to help me conquer the world do some actual housekeeping, write my book and stop being all angsty all the time.

A friend loaned me her copy of David Allen’s Getting Things Done after I asked about her lists. Because I am a noticer, of lists and other things.

Also, I’m an asker. There are all these questions I’m supposed to ask for my job, and then there are the ones I ask just because I want to know. Anyway, this friend is one of those people who makes “it” look easy but I knew there had to be a method to her keeping the madness at bay. She was all:

Nathalie, meet David Allen.

Hello David, if you happen to be a self-Googler. It’s okay if you are. Really, it is. We all do it. Don’t we?

Dear David Allen … totally stoked to read your book. Let me know if you need a blogger to document their journey from pre-David Allen to post David-Allen introduction. Love, Nathalie

Anyway, just flipping through the book I felt compelled to highlight and star pages but that’s not cool so I ordered my own copy.

This book jumped ahead of so many other books in my “to read” pile … because this book is going to create more time for me to read those other books, I think. Maybe. I will keep you posted.

On page xiv (two little kids people, I’m sloooow reading anymore) it says: “I’ll give you new ways to leverage those basic skills into new plateaus of effectiveness. I want to inspire you to put all this into a new behavior set that will blow your mind.”

For real, David Allen?

I want new plateaus of effectiveness. I don’t know exactly what that means for me, but I want that.

It. Is. On.

Let’s blow my mind, one paragraph at a time.

I’m kind of afraid this is going to be one of those things though where you buy the new running shoes and nothing happens because you’re supposed to, like, wear them … while you run.

So I told Matt about this great discovery and how “you have to read this! It will change. your. life. It even says so right here.” And I followed him around the driveway reading out loud from page xiv.

It will blow your mind, I say.

“I think I’ll watch it blow yours first, okay?” He’s skeptical, it seems.

Fine, be left in my dust or the bitty bits of my blown brain, whatever.

But if any of you friends want to blow your minds alongside mine, I get a few pennies here and there for anything you guys buy on Amazon through my link above Getting Things Done. 

Nathalie’s Notes:

*Do you know this word? You should know this word. It’s awesome. Knowing other languages rules because sometimes whichever one you start with lacks the capacity to say all of the things there is to say… luckily the Germans have these cool compound words that say just the right thing and they can become our adopted words, but it helps if more of us know them.

“Some German words are so long that they have a perspective.”

 – Mark Twain

Nathalie’s Notes fun fact: English is my second language, but you probably already knew that? Now I’m learning Spanish. Like, this week– Rosetta Stone lesson numero uno.

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Behind the picket fence: My Messy Beautiful

So I came out in my blog this week as a 12-stepper*, which is something I’ve been wanting to share with you for a long time now.

I was waiting to get “all better” before I mentioned the thing that was helping me so much in my journey to “better.”

And then I had this little trip back down the rabbit hole recently and realized “better” isn’t a place I’m going as much as it is a way of being.

When I started my conscious recovery, something I’d been seeking in multiple ways over decades, I initially felt very, very sorry for myself that I “had to go to these meetings.”

But then after about six weeks, I started to feel sorry for everyone else who doesn’t get to go to them.  That’s about when I wanted to start sharing all the awesomeness with you guys but it was all still kind of raw and I wasn’t ready.

I’m still a little like “whaaat am I doing” but if I can spare one person the angst anguish hell of my darkness by shining a little light on it, perfect.

I’ve been praying a lot about what I’m meant to do next with my work and I know this kind of stuff is what I’m supposed to be writing about even though it feels all vulnerable and awkward and like I’m totally unqualified to be talking about stuff like God since I also still say things like “shit” and “damn.” A lot.

So this happened:

me + a book + kids playing happily in the pool = bliss for like 20 entire, uninterrupted minutes.

Twenty of them.

You guys?

It.

Was.

Awesome.

I have dreamed of this day. In fact, “reading poolside” is a joke I have with a few girlfriends, sort of our version eating bonbons, which isn’t even a thing by the way. You know that right? Bonbons are a joke, so is reading poolside for mothers with young children.

Except for these twenty minutes. Those were no joke. Those were the kind of minutes I will remember for eternity. Just like I remember this one nap I had in the summer of 2011 when Matt had Sam and I snuggled with Baby Jake for a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep.

And I savor these blissful moments as reminders to enjoy them when I get them and to trust that more will come.

But then, you know, this happened too:

party pooper

After the bliss, the poo … or something like that.

All I could think as we were evacuated was thank God it wasn’t my kid. Anyway, the moral is: Every party has a pooper.

Pure bliss punctuated by poo in the pool … isn’t that perfect you guys? I mean, really. That’s the deal right there.

And it’s such a perfect introduction to what happened next. So you might have noticed the book I was blissing out on was “Carry on, Warrior. Thoughts on Life Unarmed.”

The author, Glennon Melton Doyle is the founder of the awesomeness that is Momastary for Truth Tellers and Hope Spreaders.

Glennon is in what my friend and writer coach Christina Katz refers to as my “tribe.”

Glennon is “my people.” I’ve never met her, but I know we belong to each other, and she knows it too. All of us belong to each other. In fact she’s made it her mission to connect like-hearted spirits and this Messy Beautiful blog post project is an example of how she connects people in genuine, inspired ways.

Shortly after the poo-in-the-pool sitch we got back to my parents’ house and I had an email from Glennon inviting me to participate as one of the Messy Beautiful writers. I responded to the initial call awhile back and didn’t expect to get picked so it was pretty cool to get that “Yes.”

Especially because it was bigger than her yes. I had just that morning asked God for some specific direction about my writing to make sure the vision coming up in my head and heart was really a good idea because it kind of freaks me out.

I’ve always been about honesty here and I’ve struggled with that because like I said the other day, our stories are interwoven and while my stories belong to me, they are tangled with the threads of others and I want to be respectful of that while honoring what I came here to do which I think is to be one of the truth tellers. To live out loud, on paper … to be vulnerable in a way that encourages others to be their most authentic, favorite selves … is there anything else worth being?

So, with my heart’s calling and with the invitation to participate in this project – I am leaving the gate propped open, it’s broken in real life actually, to share more from behind my white picket fence.

All is not as it appears, and some days that’s a really, really good thing. Others, not so much. Either way, it’s my messy, beautiful life – welcome.

MBW-285

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

*I know the specifics are important to some of you, and we can talk about that if you ask but really, it doesn’t actually matter. It's an al-anon program to work through old, messy stuff ... I’m working on it and growing into the best and healthiest version of myself as I do.

To like me, I mean really like me - like, on Facebook, click here.

By the way, when readers subscribe to my blog it’s like getting a high five in my inbox. Of course when they unsubscribe I get all self-conscious. Thanks for signing up to get these free updates from Nathalie’s Notes.

 

 

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T is for Transition

Screenshot_2014-04-12-07-18-49

While the screen capture shows I am no longer a reporter at the News-Register, it turns out I am a very slow leaver.

Let me preface this by saying I did this to myself because I have boundary issues and also letting go issues, as evidenced by the fact that I am donating four stories to the paper’s campaign coverage because I wanted to help and because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

At what time? Well at the time I had an office, and childcare of course.

Now I have the contents of my former cubicle spread throughout my dining room and bedroom as I attempt to carve out a space of my own while we attempt to figure out what this new life of ours looks like.

This is what transition looks like. It can be messy, confusing and a little unsettling.

Also, it is freeing, exciting and an opportunity to create more of what we want as we weed out what no longer serves us – things like rushing.

2014-04-07 07.09.34 - Copy

One of my favorite quotes from this week is Sam saying his favorite thing about my being home with him is “not rushing all the time.” Agreed.

As per usual, last week did not match the image in my head of what coming back home would be like.

In addition to not being all the way done at work, there was some unexpected drama on both a personal and professional front immediately following my handing over my keys at work.

The two were totally unrelated, one stemmed from some misunderstanding about a column I wrote which turned into hours of discussion and sleepless nights as I wrestled with my role in the problem, which in the end I determined did not belong to me. I do however regret that I wrote something that caused any angst, and I learned from the experience so there’s that.

The personal one is trickier to summarize because I strive to walk the messy line between my personal information and that of others in my life, (past/present/future) without crossing it.

That said, here’s what I am ready to say: I’ve been 12-steppin’ it* for some time now to deal with some long, long standing unhealthy thinking and behaving on my part and after finally losing track of my days in recovery, I derailed myself over the weekend by leaning in to some drama that did not belong to me.

A series of bad decisions lead to ugly consequences and I am still kind of bewildered by and recovering from that trip to Crazy Town.

Note to self: Until I just wrote the above summaries I didn’t see the connection between the two energy-sucking situations … at the outset of eachdrama I didn’t ask myself: is this my problem? 

**I know the specifics are important to some of you, and we can talk about that if you ask but really, it doesn’t actually matter. It's an al-anon program to work through old, messy stuff ... I’m working on it and growing into the best and healthiest version of myself as I do.

There really is a lot to that one day at a time business and I thankful to have the opportunity to embrace this one.

With my people.

Thank you for checking in, for caring and for being my people Smile 

Speaking of which, my pint-sized peeps are paging me … something about needing to eat. Again.


Let their gut be their guide

 Nathalie's Notes:  For the record, the school did notify parents, as required and somehow between the school, the backpack and home I missed this particular memo. I love Sam's school and think the world of his teacher so that was not the point of this story at all.  I've added some emphasis to highlight that in no way  did I intend for the takeaway to be that the school did anything wrong. 

By Nathalie Hardy |Apr 3, 2014 |News-Register

Last month, my son came home from school with a flier from Juliette’s House informing me he’d participated in the agency’s Safe Kids informational program, designed to teach children about abuse prevention.

I know this is a sensitive, difficult subject. But I believe it’s one we must talk about — out loud and often.

Though the school did sent notice to parents that this day was coming, I didn't see it.  So, through no fault of the school, I was a little surprised to be finding out after the fact that my kindergartner had been exposed to this information without me having a chance to prepare.  

Prepare who, my husband wondered when I told him how I felt.

Well, me, of course. Because truthfully, I was more comfortable talking to other people about the (insert the worst adjective ever here) reality of child abuse than I was imagining a day when my son would need to hear candidly that bad things not only happen, but they can happen to him.

I’ve lost sleep with worries of what could happen to him. But I didn’t want him losing any over it.

After looking over the program material, and giving it some thought, I understand now that the truth is, he will lose less sleep if he is confident he can handle situations as they present themselves. And frankly, I will too.

If you asked him what he should do in the event of a fire, he’d say, “stop, drop and roll” and “call 9-1-1.”

But if he was on the first floor when a fire broke out at home, he would tell you he’d get out of the house and head for a neighboring house. That’s because we have discussed a variety of what-if scenarios in a calm way, talking through different circumstances.

So I decided to follow up on the school presentation with a little bit of the same. I gave him some scenarios and asked what he thought he could do to stay safe.

“If someone wants to give you a ride, would you get in?” He shook his head.

“But what if they’re super nice and offer you candy?”

“Well, no, I still wouldn’t, because it might have red dye in it.” Okay, that’s not quite what I expected.

“What if they tell you I’m hurt and you have to go with them?”

“Why would a stranger come for me?” Perfect!

“What if they had a Lego Ninjago set for you?”

Sam paused before answering, “Well, that’s a tough one, Mama. Because I am trying to add to my collection, you know.”

Clearly, some more discussion followed.

You never know what a kid is thinking until you have a conversation like this. So I would encourage anyone who has a kid they love to have a similar one, and sooner rather than later.

Eventually, as I danced around the main point, my husband blurted it out: “Look, buddy, there are some adults who hurt children. On purpose.”

It was heartbreaking to watch my 6-year-old process that reality. We sat at the table quietly as it sank in.

“So who are those people?”

“That’s the problem,” I said. “You can’t tell by looking. We have to use other clues to figure it out.”

Then we talked some about intuition and what it means to let your gut be your guide.

I think children come into the world with keen intuition, and that survival tool is actually scrubbed away over time by mostly well-meaning adults.

So by the time we are adults, many of us ignore little signs of danger, then big, waving red flags, until it’s too late. As a consequence, we get incidents like the one occurring on New Year’s Eve in Sheridan, where a 4-year-old was beaten nearly to death, allegedly by his mother’s boyfriend.

According to police reports, the boy started biting his nails and wetting his bed shortly after his mother moved in with her boyfriend — a police officer, no less. The mother told police bruises started showing up, as well, and her boyfriend refused to let her bathe the child. Her child.

Education and awareness are the key to abuse prevention. After all, you have to learn the signs of abuse before you can look for them and flag them.

Plenty of kids bite their nails and wet their beds for reasons having nothing to do with abuse. However, I’d bet my life the sudden onset of both in this boy’s live were signs he’d come under danger, long before the more obvious ones were missed or dismissed, whichever the case may be.

If that little boy could talk, what would he say? Would anyone listen?

I ask because in 2012, an estimated 686,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in this country, and 1,640 of them died from it, according to the National Children’s Alliance.

We need to be listening. We need to be talking about this, even when we’d prefer to pretend it can’t happen to the kids we love.

And one more thing, please. For the love of all that is holy, let’s stop silencing our children’s intuition in the name of good manners and convenience.

For the most part, I tend to let people be when they interact with my kids. I think it’s good for the boys to know the meaning of, “It takes all kinds.”

However, when someone uses shaming language on them, or uses language designed to override what I know to be my child’s intuition, I step in.

Yes, it can be awkward. But I don’t care, because I’m the mom.

Common interactions include others authoritatively instructing them to “be nice.” My kids don’t have to be nice. They have to be polite, but not necessarily nice. If they don’t trust someone, for whatever reason, I expect them to project that.

Also, I cringe at forced affection of the kind, “Give uncle so-and-so a hug.”

Early on in this kind of familiar social setting, we adults unintentionally start sending messages validating, or overriding, a child’s innate sense of safety.

The most obvious way I see it happening is the forced affection. My view is, if the kid’s not feeling it, don’t force it.

The other adult will either understand or be offended. Either way, it’s his or her problem. My job, as a parent, is to protect my kid’s right to set physical boundaries with people.

As most of us know, children are more likely to be abused by someone they know than a perfect stranger. They need to learn early and be reminded often that a parent will back them up, and it’s OK to say no.

I tend to use the, “OK, we’re leaving. Let’s give uncle so-and-so a hug or high-five.”

This gives the boys a choice and falls within my manners threshold.

I know this is going to freak some people out, so to be clear:

I’m not saying that if a child doesn’t feel like giving auntie a kiss there’s some sort of  problem afoot. It could just be that the child is in a bad mood.

Perhaps the kid is holding a grudge because of an earlier denied cookie. Who knows?

My point is simply that we don’t always have to know why a kid isn’t comfortable with something. We just have to let them learn to process those feelings without forcing them to accept ours.

A final word on the forced affection issue:

If you’ve ever been on the painfully awkward end of watching a parent try to force a child to hug you, it pretty much sucks. Could we just all agree not to do that anymore?

For more information about the Safe Kids program, call Juliette’s House at 503-435-1550.

Contact Nathalie Hardy at nathalie@nathaliesnotes.com.