AntiRacismBooks

Raising Anti-Racist Kids Starts with Educating Ourselves as White Parents

It is important work, raising anti-racist children. We start the job by educating ourselves, but it is important to teach our kids at the same time. If we wait until we know everything, we’ll never do it. If we wait until we’re comfortable, it won’t happen either. This work is uncomfortable, no matter how long we do it.

So, here are some resources for you and your kids. Read together. Have tough conversations when they’re young and don’t stop when they get older. Even when they conversations are awkward or hard or we’re afraid we’re getting it wrong-we have to have them.

Articles & Media

Podcasts

(These podcasts are both 2 parts and they are extremely good at exposing the systemic nature of racism in our schools and the inherent bias in all of us that makes police work hard.)

Books for You

There are so many. These are the ones I have read so far and many I recommend for the same reason I told you to read to your kids-exposure and education. Know these stories. I have included links to other people’s lists as well. While I haven’t read all these books, I trust the people who made the lists to provide excellent resources. The links here are mostly to the author’s webpages. Not only does that give you a chance to decide where to buy the book, but you can also learn more about their other titles. Also, if an author tells you to go to Amazon to buy their book, that’s likely self-published and the only place (for now) you can buy it. You are still supporting them as authors by buying the book on Amazon.  

These are on my shelf for later. I haven’t read yet, but I’ve been told by people I love and trust to read these too:

Books for your little kids

Books for your bigger kids

Lists and Resources From Smart People


Powerless Doesn't Equal Weakness

 

The first step anyone who enters an AA based recovery program takes is to admit they are powerless over their addiction. It’s likely among the top reasons that people who tell me that AA  “didn’t work for them” are resistant to that type of recovery.

Admitting we’re powerless is triggering. It might make us feel angry, or anxious or weak.

The problem is, while it does not make us weak, being powerless over some things in life is our truth.

For some of us, we’re powerless over how we got here. Our past and the way we were treated and taught aren’t in our power to change. Luckily, our reactions and our future choices are.

For some, it may mean we are powerless to change other people. If you are waiting for other people to change in order for you to feel differently, admitting you’re powerless over them is also step one in healing and recovery.

It is quite possible that some of this iscom ing up for you in this time of quarantine, even if you felt like you worked through it before. We all feel powerless in many situations right now and that can start the domino pile of other feelings associated with old stuff and today’s stuff.

The good news is, powerless doesn’t mean weak, nor does it mean out of control.

We still have control of how we heal, how we treat others, and how we treat ourselves. We are not powerless over any of those choices.

Knowing what we need, setting boundaries and asking for help are all within out control.

Take some time to figure the first one out then start taking action on the final two.

The reason I keep pushing mindfulness during this time is twofold. One, the breathwork that comes with meditation is more than just mentally relaxing. Think of it like a way to hack your biology in order to bring your nervous system back from fight or flight and into a state of calm.

The simple act of taking a few deep belly breaths can slow your heart rate, oxygenate your blood and bring your “rest and digest” nervous system back online while “fight of flight” takes a break. This may be hard to remember when we’re in a stressful state. So, write in on the mirror in lipstick. Put a post-it note on your laptop screen. Get a breathe tattoo. Whatever works to remind you of the importance of purposeful, deep breaths, do it.

The second reason I talk so much about mindfulness is that we often can’t answer the question “what do I need?” because we never give time to listen for the answer. We either have created separation as a means of protection or we are simply too tuned in to others to notice ourselves until all we feel is pain.  Mindfulness forces us to focus inward in a way that can serve us best.

During this time where the world slowed down, an antidote to the anxiety and unrest that can come from feeling powerless over things, is to turn in and learn what you need. Then, start to control what you can. You’ll be amazed at how that changes the reaction from feeling weak or angry or anxious to feeling empowered and strong.

 

If you want access to weekly guided meditation and more support, join our facebook group 4C4Women. 

 

 


Mindfulness and Falling in Love

A funny thing has happened during this quarantine: I’ve slowly fallen in love with my house. That may sound strange but stay with me.

I didn’t always love my house. Too small. Too old. Not enough. Maybe you know this drill? Knowing that, you’d think that being trapped in this house with four other people would mean I’d grow to hate it more, not love it.

But just the opposite has happened, and I think I know why.

I’ve really tried to practice what I preach and use mindfulness skills to stay in the present moment to buffer against too much anxiety or sadness. Let’s be real, I say too much because we’re all going to be somewhat anxious and sad. I can’t control the state of the world, but I can control how I attach to those emotions and allow them to influence my thoughts and behaviors.

Mindfulness: the active and purposeful focusing of our attention.

Mindfulness is a popular word these days, but I am not sure everyone knows what they’re talking about when they use it. Yes, mindfulness includes meditation, but it is so much more. I meditate, but I also spend much of my day trying to really take in what is around me. This is to keep me grounded and present. Present when things are good and present when they’re going south, so that I can recognize signs and pull myself back from doing any permanent damage to the people involved.

When we’re grounded and present with our own emotions, it makes us better to ourselves and others. We choose our behaviors wisely. We choose our words for productivity, not pain. We can’t do either if we’re not tuned in to who we are and what we need at any given time.

So, I practice mindfulness.

Somewhere in all the mindfulness of quarantine, I’ve fallen in love with my house. I’ve started to really see it for what it is: a home. It’s small and cluttered and there are far too many tumbleweeds of dog hair. But, it also provides safety and space for all of us to get our tasks completed. It is efficient and well laid out with everything having its place. Best? On sunny days it is full of light in every room. Mostly though, what I’ve come to see is that it is here, inside this house, where I feel most loved.

Of course, I also feel frustrated and angry and sad and overwhelmed inside this house. But when I really pay attention, when I purposefully focus my attention, it’s love I feel above all else.

Where are you focusing your attention these days? Where do you feel most loved? Now, I challenge you to try to use the first answer to get to the second. Shift your gaze. Focus on the good.

If you want a playlist to help with tuning in or even a few guided meditations, you can find them on the Resources for Parents post here. You don't need to be a parent to like either one.


A Revelation on the Yoga Mat

The other day I did a a restorative yoga practice with Yoga Girl mid practice, I had a revelation.

Let me set the stage,  it’s quarantine time and my house is full of people. Somehow, miraculously when I began in my living room turned yoga space,  everyone in my family was occupied,  so if I closed my eyes I almost had myself tricked into thinking I was in a serene yoga studio. I had headphones in with a great playlist going,  over which I could hear Yoga Girl softly cueing the postures and encouraging me to love myself. I was fully zenned out.

Then, all three of my kids came into the next room and my husband got on a conference call. I am admittedly head over heels in love with all of these people, but they are VERY LOUD talkers. When they’re all together, you’d think a crowd of 50 had gathered right in my living room. I tried to tune it out at first, but  I could feel the frustration growing with each passing second. Finally, I broke the third wall of yoga and shouted,

“Can you please all talk a bit quieter? Do you not see me in full yoga zone?”

They got quiet. I felt bad.

So, what’s the revelation? I'm a cranky mom who yells at her kids when they're enjoying each other's company? Maybe but not today. Turns out, although I was fully immersed in the meditation of yoga, I was also in a really uncomfortable position. It was a reclined twist that was difficult for me to do so as I lay there trying to “relax” into a tough position, the irritable feelings were already bubbling up and the added noise of the cacophony of children just pushed me over the edge.

It’s simple really, I was less able to ignore the noise because I was already focusing all my patience on my own body trying to do something difficult. It was like I had poured everything I had into that posture and I nothing left to manage their noise and overall jubilance. I had poured out the entire cup of patience and love trying to do something that was hard for me, so adding in their noise was more than I could take.

This revelation  is really just a long-winded way of saying now, more than ever, it is important for us to keep tuning in to make sure our cups are full. There is a lot in the world trying to drain us right now. It’s up to us to fill back up.

So, find what moves you. Take a YogaGirl class. Listen to some funny podcasts. Watch a show that doesn't make you think. Just recharge however you need to because the world is asking a lot of us right now. We need to be ready for it.


Resources for Parenting in Pandemic

Resources for Parents During the Pandemic

I started this list week one of shelter in place for the Corona Virus Pandemic. I've added to it every week. Now that many of us are in week 5 of working and schooling from home, it seemed this list needed it's own place on the internet. I'll keep updating but now it's easier to find. Some are for kids, some are for parents and some are good for all of us. Take care. Know you're loved and never alone.

      Resources for This Strange Time (that’s what I’m calling it)

I'll keep adding to this list as I see new things. If you want access to updates quickly, sign up below. I'll send right to your inbox.


What Happens When You're Fine But Everything Else Isn't

“Yes, I am fine, but everything else isn’t.”

This was a text message from my youngest child the other day when I checked in from another room. This is how we’re communicating sometimes, via text while we pretend we are at school and in an office rather than on the couch and two feet away at a desk.

I found his text to be really profound and full of insight he likely didn’t even know he was offering. In that moment, he was fine.

He isn’t always fine.

Sometimes he’s weepy. Sometimes he’s angry. Sometimes, I find him sitting on the couch staring straight ahead with a blank look in his eyes. Can anyone relate? I know I can. My emotions seem to shift by the minute some days.

The thing is, sometimes, more often than you’d think actually, the boy is perfectly fine. You could even say he’s good; laughing at a funny show we’re watching together or celebrating a win on his new video game, or even relishing in a bike ride around our neighborhood on a warm day.

I can relate to this too. I find moments of real joy in being surrounded by my family even if the outside world is scary and stressful. I find the slower pace of this quarantine life actually suits me some days. I don't miss trying to keep track of 5 different schedules and all the details they entail.

Other days aren't as good. I feel sad and anxious and angry and scared.  But, there are moments of grace and beauty, even in the darkness.

Moments where I am fine, even if everything else isn’t.

We can all choose to look for those moments to help us through this time. Find the joy on television or the internet or even in your own living room. I asked last week on Instagram, “what small thing had you taken for granted before that you may be really thankful for now?”.

The answers I got told a story of a lot of people who are spending good time with people they love and being mindful of the small parts of life that make them feel happy. I’ve found, if I look hard enough, I will find things to be grateful for, and that makes carrying the weight of all the rest of this uncertainty a little easier.

I’m sharing some of what I've found below to lighten things up in this darkness.  Use these resources when you need a little light. All the other time you have, just look around you. I bet you’ll find your own joy. So you can be fine, even if everything else isn’t.

Remember you are not alone. Remember, you are loved.

 

Resources for Joy

  • John Krasinski’s Some Good News YouTube Show. I promise, you’ll laugh!
  • If you’re not on TikTok (yes, that thing your 10-year-old has been talking about for all of 2019) you’re missing out. There is some really funny stuff being produced there right now. I’m partial to Tatum the Talking Dog.
  • The last three episodes of my podcast, Conversations with Cristie, may be helpful right now. Two are specifically quarantine related and one is about choosing happiness at times of great change. They can listen right here or you can find them wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • If you’re on Instagram, I’ve been publishing 5 days a week on IGTV all about parenting through a pandemic. Check out those even if you’re not a mom because there is plenty there for everyone.

Resources for parents

Pandemic Strategies for Parents

Before I go any further,  I want to check in with you. How are you? I mean, really. How are you? This COVID-19 Pandemic is a time of unprecedented stress. Now, I don’t mean to insinuate that you’ve never lived through a time of great stress before, but for real, a global pandemic? Unprecedented for people currently alive on this planet. Or at least everyone reading this. No one here is old enough for Smallpox or the Spanish flu? Correct?

I’m being a little silly, but only to make the point that what we are currently living through is no small thing. Whether you’re trying to maintain work now from your home with children small or large, or you’re a regular work from home person who has had their space invaded by new “colleagues”, or your newly minted retirement days are ruined by a spouse that’s now working from home, we are ALL struggling through some unwanted changes.

First thing is to allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. A part of you is grieving your old life, while another part may be full of anxiety over the future. You might also feel ok most of the day because your routine has actually loosened up now that there aren’t 14 baseball games and ballet recitals to drive to and from. I bet there may be a little guilt that crops up with that feeling though, so it’s ok to feel that too.

It’s also ok to feel totally overwhelmed, or angry, sad or deliriously giddy- maybe all in one day! And it’s definitely ok to not have it all (or any of it) figured out. The key is, by allowing yourself to feel whatever comes up, you can more easily move through it. If you try to soldier forward without feeling anything, you’ll eventually be too full of unprocessed stuff to handle anything.

So, laugh. Cry. Scream into the pillow. Talk to your people about how you are feeling. Talk to a professional about how you are feeling. My client load has multiplied this week and I applaud those folks for taking care of themselves (via video chat). None of this is easy. Do whatever you can to take care of yourself through the process.

I’ve included some links to resources in a post on the blog. I update the list every change I get so go check it out.  Some are good for you. Some are good for entertaining (ahem, I mean educating) kids from home. Some are good for both. Above all, take it easy on yourself. Your best is THE best right now. Remember that.

 

 

 


Tips for Managing Stress During Social Distancing

These are strange days. The social distancing required to flatten the curve of the the COVID-19 pandemic can leave us feeling all manner of feelings that may be hard to manage. I sent my therapy clients a note updating them on practice procedures and I included some suggestions that I thought may be helpful to everyone. So, I'm sharing them here with you as well as an opportunity to gather in community. Read all the way to the bottom for more information.

We are all facing new and confusing territory with this latest move toward flattening the curve. While I don't have any personal experience with global pandemics, I have learned a thing or two about crisis response. Here are some suggestions for keeping yourself mentally well during these trying times.

  1. Practice patience with yourself and try to stay calm. Remember, the immune system is controlled by the nervous system and when the nervous system is free of interference, people can more easily ward off and adapt to viruses such as coronavirus. So, now is the time for the breathing and meditation we talk so much about. A few deep breaths go a long way.
  2. Get as much outdoor time and sunlight as possible. Fresh air and sunlight is beneficial to your overall well-being, especially in times of crisis.
  3. Support and community is so important at times of high-stress. That is made extra difficult when we are meant to be social-distancing. So take advantage of technology to connect with family and friends that maybe you don’t have time for when life is proceeding as normal. Remember the good old fashioned phone? Try picking it up again. You just may be surprised how much better you feel!
  4. Limit your media intake. Too much exposure can heighten anxiety and depression. Find the facts you need. Leave the rest behind.
  5. Exercise-movement of any kind really-will help keep your nervous system in check.
  6. Rest. Take advantage of this time to do less and rest more.
  7. Stay hydrated, wash your hands, comment below if you need some support. This isn't therapy, but it can be a place to come for comfort and hope. That's what I'm here for, as you are  in my thoughts throughout this time.

Part of this list includes community. We often seek community when we are in times of toil. That's much harder to do when we are supposed to keep social distance. Thankfully, we have the internet!  If you haven't joined our Facebook group and are interested in doing so, I will be providing regular meditations and even more content than normal around supporting each other through this time.  So, go request to join and come be a member of our community.

Finally, if you are looking for this kind of content more frequently than once a week, sign up for my mailing list below and get meditations, support and community all in your inbox! We can't wait to meet you.


Growing Pains

I don't remember growing pains as a child so it came as a surprise to me the first time one of my kids had them. I used to think it was just a figure of speech-growing pains. But then I had my first sleepless night with an adolescent who was writhing in pain in both his calves and knees. I called my doctor in the morning just to be sure I wasn't dealing with some horrible unknown disease (yep, I still have those fears, even nearly 18 years in) and once the doctor ruled out injury (and I ruled out meningitis or bone cancer-seriously stay away from google at 2am), he informed me that what my kid was experiencing were indeed growing pains. His bones literally hurt from growing.

The more I work with people, the more I realize we all experience growing pains long after our bones have reached their final destination. It hurts to grow emotionally almost as much as physically. Change is hard and sometimes that means people will avoid it at all costs.

As someone who not only embraces change, but often in the past went chasing it, the fact that growth hurts me too would like surprise some people. It is true, I do love new experiences and often relish in differences and change. I mean, there is a reason I named myself Reinvention Girl all those years ago.

But the fact is, change and growth aren't always the same. I learned that I chased after new things often to avoid the hard work of growing. Newness and transition were may safe places where I could hide from actually looking inside. Chaos was comfortable. The peace is what scared the heck out of me.

Years later, after enough time to look inside myself to heal and really grow, I can safely say that the pain is short-lived. It can be wildly uncomfortable to look inward and address our own reasons to change. Being stuck is awful but can also feel safer than moving forward, because moving forward means looking back.  With physical growing pains, massage and stretching often help relieve the pain. It's the same with emotional growth, softness and stretching out the uncomfortable both bring freedom from the pain. This is why I promote time and space for self-care. Taking time to really examine ourselves helps us know what areas we need to grow. Taking time to be kind to ourselves helps us to heal in a way that allows that growth to take place. It's hard work, but it yields great results.

Yes, growing is uncomfortable, but the payoff is totally worth it. I think my 6ft son would agree.

 


Sensory Moms with Cameron Kleimo


Does your child have sensory processing issues? If so, do you keep second-guessing what you're doing, and the way you're doing it? Today's conversation is with Cameron Kleimo, from Sensorymom.com. Cameron is a mom, and she's also an educator who works with children with sensory integration issues, and their parents. 

"I think that there's a widespread lack of awareness about issues with sensory processing within the western medical system, and it's also a problem in our education system as well." - Cameron Kleimo

Cameron lives in San Diego with her husband and two young sons, and she has a website called Sensorymoms, through which she educates and supports the parents of children with a sensory processing disorder. For the last four years, Cameron has also been teaching a mindful parenting class. In today's episode, she talks about what it's like to parent a child with sensory integration issues, and what it's like to work with the parents of these children. Even if you don't have kids, you might still enjoy listening to this authentic conversation, so be sure to tune in!

Show Highlights:

  • Cameron talks about her background and explains why she was drawn to work with children with a sensory processing disorder.
  • The red flags that showed Cameron that something was not right with her five-month-old son.
  • Cameron shares her entry point into the world of sensory processing.
  • Cameron had a hard time finding someone who could help her understand what was going on with her son, and explain what she could do to help him.
  • There are very few resources available relating to sensory processing issues.
  • Kids with sensory processing issues are usually having a nervous system problem. It's like their nervous system is over-responsive.
  • Kids in flight or flight mode tend to appear as if they are having temper tantrums so parents often think they are doing something wrong, that's causing it.
  • There appears to be a widespread lack of awareness around issues of sensory processing within the western medical system and within the education system.
  • It's hard for families when their child doesn't fit into an acceptable diagnostic box.
  • Cameron believes that all children's behavior is communication.
  • Sometimes, a simple reframing can help parents to open up their perspective, and become more curious about their child's behavior.
  • Mindfulness helps parents cope with their child's difficult behavior.
  • Parents need to recognize that their kids are not throwing tantrums or having meltdowns on purpose.
  • It helps if parents can keep their own nervous systems steady, and remain calm when their child becomes dysregulated.
  • Mom-guilt is common, so as parents, you need to understand that what is going on with your child is not your fault. You should have compassion for yourself, and allow yourself the space to make mistakes. And cultivate empathy for others.
  • Your children are your teachers, so become curious about what is going on with their dysregulated behavior and you will learn a lot about yourself.
  • Take an intentional step back to see the whole picture.
  • Self-reflection, and examining the impact of your childhood on your adult life, will allow you to show up for your child in a present and loving way. This is hard work, and painful,  but it's worth it.
  • There's a lot of strength in becoming vulnerable. It's okay to reach out and ask for help.

Links and resources:

Cameron's website - https://www.sensorymom.com/

Cameron has a digital course on developmental red flags, and when and how to intervene, available on her website. 

Cameron on Instagram - Cameron Sensorymom

Cameron on Facebook - Sensory Mom

Cameron loves Brene Brown's work on vulnerability.