For Everyone Who Worries About The Kids In Their Lives Who Worry

Monday, May 2, 2011

How Do You Explain Osama Bin Laden's Death to Children?

Lots of emotions in the last twenty-four hours here in the United States! Osama Bin Laden was found and killed yesterday. Upon hearing the news, crowds formed, people cheered, and God Bless America was being sung just about everywhere.

Where did I first hear the news? Where I get all of my news these days - facebook of course! After reading several posts this morning, I turned on the television to see the footage of crowds cheering and chanting "USA!" My kids were still sleeping so I had a few minutes to find out what I could and take it all in.

Since my kids are only 5 and 7 and were not even alive to witness the events of September 11, I turned the news off when they came down for breakfast. When they got home from school, it appeared that they hadn't heard or discussed anything about Bin Laden's capture and death, so I decided not to talk with them about it just yet.

Now after putting them to bed, I am thinking about what I will tell them if they ask or what we will talk about when we discuss it. Not easy. I wonder how other parents in America handled it with their kids today.

First of all, I suppose I will tell them a little about Osama Bin Laden and how he was a very bad man that hurt many people. I can explain that our country has been looking for him for a long time so that they could capture and punish him for having killed so many people. Yesterday, members of our military found him. While they were trying to capture him, Bin Laden and his followers tried to kill these brave soldiers. In order to save themselves and possibly many others, they had to kill Bin Laden.

So that part I think I can make understandable to two young children. But how do you explain what I think is the harder part and the questions many parents may have been asked today: Why is everyone celebrating that a man was killed? I thought we weren't supposed to kill others? Aren't we supposed to forgive? Why is it OK to want Bin Laden dead? Is it OK to wish death to anyone who does harm to another? Is getting revenge a good thing? Is God happy about this?

Anyone got the answer key to these questions?

Many of the posts and signs I saw today contained statements like, "Burn in hell" and "Thank God, Bin Laden is dead." I watched a news report where the man being interviewed described with great joy what the last minutes of Bin Laden's life must have been like and how we can all take comfort in knowing that he was in great fear and died an awful death.

While that might indeed bring comfort to many Americans, I'm pretty sure that information is not going to comfort my kids. It would just scare them!

Then I saw this quote today:  "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." Martin Luther King, Jr

That quote sums up so much of what I try to teach my children every day. But I also know that in this situation, this quote would infuriate many Americans. Many would say that Osama Bin Laden deserved and needed to die after the devastation he caused to so many people. That peace and love are not going to keep us safe from future acts of terrorism.

So, I am sitting here and still so very much confused. I believe in the quote above with all of my heart. And I want my children to learn and live it as well. But I experienced the events of 9-11 and saw the pain of loss in  many people close to me. I can't feel what they feel and would never pretend to be able to. I continue to wish them love, healing, and peace every day.

I think I will just be honest with my children and tell them that (once again!) I don't have all the answers. I can explain to them how I felt today. Sad, relieved, confused, scared, unsure, reflective. How I want to live in a world of peace where everyone treats each other with respect and love. But that I don't exactly know how this will be accomplished. Is it possible to keep our country safe without war or violence?

I will just continue to tell them that in order to change the world, you have to start with yourself. Believe in yourself and in your ability to live in peace. Have faith and believe in what is true for you and in what brings peace and happiness to your soul.

May your heart be at ease,

Angela      सन्तोष

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day or School Day?

Here in Connecticut, we have been hit pretty bad this year with snow storms. Which means we have had many delays and days off from school. I don't think my kids have had a full week of school since before Christmas break!

Personally, I have always loved snow days. Something very peaceful and freeing about suddenly being stopped and forced into giving up the schedule and to do list. And of course my children absolutely adore getting the call that school is closed! An unexpected day off is such a treat.

But lately, instead of waking up and expecting to go to school, my kids are waking up and expecting a snow day. School has become the unexpected surprise. And for a child who already suffers with anxieties about going to school, it is also an unpleasant one.

With the routine of going to school Monday to Friday not being the norm lately, my son is having difficulty making the transition from snow day to school day. He absolutely loves being home, staying in his pj's, playing and being with mom. But the fun comes with a price, because it makes going back to school again that much more difficult for him to handle. Some days, it is like we are back on the first day of school with all of the same worries and insecurities that came with it.

The serenity prayer asks that we be granted the courage to change the things we can, the serenity to accept the things we can't, and the wisdom to know the difference. Well, I know that I cannot change the weather. Even though my son now prefers The Weather Channel to Nickelodeon, we cannot stop the snow from coming or the schools from closing. I also know that I cannot take away all of his anxieties for him, and presently he cannot either. So what is there that we can do?

One idea that has helped us a lot this year is to take each day, each morning, each task one step at a time. (Thanks Alice for this helpful tip!) Talking about being scared and upset about going to school has not changed those feelings much at all. Sometimes it even makes them worse. So instead we have stopped and focused on what we need to do at that moment. "Let's read a story together to help you fall asleep." "Go to sleep so you will feel rested for the morning" "Let's just get up and get dressed right now." "How about we have breakfast together." "All you need to do right now is put on your coat."  We keep going at this pace, and before he knows it, he has made it on the bus. I acknowledge his feeling of being scared and upset, but we don't dwell on them at that moment. Rather, we focus on the positive, the now, and what is important at each moment instead of looking at the whole day ahead which is just too overwhelming when you are anxious.

When do we talk more about how he is feeling and why? At calmer, happier times like while having a snack together after school, or cuddling together on a weekend morning. It is during those times that we have started talking about creating a tool kit. (Thank you Alisa for this one!) This "tool kit" contains all of the things that my son can use to calm himself down and build his confidence and security up when he is feeling anxious. I started by asking him what makes him feel better when he is sad or worried. His blanket, some favorite stuffed animals, thoughts of being on the beach in Florida, memories of Seaworld, hugs from his family - these are all some of things he wanted to "put" in his tool kit. Now when he is worried about something, I can remind him to pick one of his tools to use to help him calm himself down and put his mind at ease.

Now don't make my mistake and try talking about this tool kit while your child is anxious and upset. The only thing he will want to put into it then is "NOTHING!" Not helpful I'm afraid.

One last strategy I can share with you is called "changing the channel". If I can get my son to calm down enough to try this, it sometimes helps. I ask him to close his eyes and get as quiet as he can. I then tell him to imagine that his brain is a television set and that his hand is holding the remote. I ask him if he likes what he is seeing on the television now - this scary, unhappy show that keeps playing over and over again. I tell him to instead think of another show he would like to see playing in his head. Maybe one where everyone is happy, enjoying themselves, and acting strong and courageous like the most powerful sea animals (he loves sea animals!). Then I tell him that all he needs to do to get that new show on his television is to use the remote in his hand to change the channel. Whenever he doesn't like what is playing in his head, he can always change the channel to something that he does like and that makes him feel good to watch. Again, I learned to try this strategy out when your child is calm and relaxed. If they are already familiar with it, then they will be more willing to try it during those anxious moments.

As I write this, I just got the call that we will be having another snow day tomorrow due to the ice storm headed our way. Another fun day ahead tomorrow, but the going back will once again be tough. Like my son, I am trying to take it one step at a time.  Hopefully, we will both make it back to the bus stop together  with as little tears as possible.

May your heart be at ease,
Angela   सन्तोष

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mommy....Is There A Santa Claus?

We have finally arrived at the point where my children are excited for Santa and not scared of him. They don't feel the need to hide behind me or under the table whenever they see the big man in red. They actually are excited to go and visit with him and are so looking forward to what he will bring on Christmas morning. My children are 7 and 5 and at such a great age to enjoy all the excitement and magic of Christmas. We are having so much fun this holiday season!

So when I heard one of my son's friends say that someone on the bus told him that there is no Santa Claus, my heart broke. NOOOOOOOOO! Not yet...we are finally at a place where we can enjoy Santa Claus! I'm not ready to start thinking about when my kids won't believe in him anymore. I want years and years more of this magic and excitement for my children. I don't want to worry that one of their friends is going to take this all away from them so soon!

Lucky for me, my kids are still, with out a doubt, believers. Phew! But it got me thinking about what I will say the first time one of them comes to me and asks if there really is a Santa Claus? How will I answer that!

In trying to come up with the "right" answer, I started thinking about how much the story of Santa Claus and of God are closely related. When we are young children, we need to believe in a God who is a white bearded man, lives in the clouds above us, and has angels with white gowns and halos above their heads at His side. An old, wise man who looks down upon us and sees the good that we do and also the mistakes that we make. A God who performs miracles, is all knowing, and powerful enough to be able to give or take away from us depending on our actions.

And when we are young, the story of Santa is so very similar. Like God, Santa Claus is an older, white bearded man who lives in a far away "white like the clouds" land surrounded by his elves to help and serve him. He also can see us at all times and knows when we've been bad or good. And he can use this knowledge to determine if we get a lot or a little for Christmas.

Hmmm.... well, know that I am an adult, I should know that there is no Santa, right? As an adult, I don't believe in a white bearded God sitting up in the clouds watching my every move either. But I do still believe in God - just not the one of my childhood. So then, is there a possibility that I still believe in Santa Claus - but just a different version than when I was young?

Absolutely! know I think I have my answer all ready and prepared for when my children ask if there really is a Santa Claus. Yes, there is! Like God, Santa is not one man, but rather he is a spirit that lives inside each and every person. Every time someone gives from their heart to another, the spirit of Santa Claus is alive and present in our world. Santa Claus and God are a part of each and every person. They are always with us, even if we don't' believe. They are always there, waiting for us to show them to the world. And when we do believe in them and their miraculous power, the gifts we receive in this life are awesome and endless.

So yes, there may come a time when my children do not need to believe in Santa as a man in a red suit with reindeer and a sleigh. But that doesn't mean that they can't believe in Santa Claus anymore. It just means that their idea of him may change. And it will be up to me to show them that Santa Claus IS real - as long as you believe in the power of love and giving to others. If you do, Santa will always be real and living right inside of you. And Christmas will always be a wonderful season full of peace and joy.

Take the time to enjoy this magical season with your children. Try focusing more on being Christmas rather than doing Christmas. And most importantly, remember to just believe.

May your heart be at ease,
Angela सन्तोष

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One More Sleep

This is it. One more sleep. Just one more sleep until I get my new iPhone! Tomorrow is the day that I'm eligible for an upgrade, and off to the AT&T store I will go. I am very excited, right? Of course! I mean...I think so.

For those of you who haven't heard the drama, I lost my iPhone earlier this year in April. It was one of those mornings were I was rushing around and so not in the moment like I want to be. My family had been involved in a car accident the previous weekend, and we were blessed to come out of it with nothing worse than a totaled car and a broken wrist on my part.

That morning I needed to get my son off to kindergarten, and drop my daughter off with a friend while I went and got x-rays on my wrist. As any mom can imagine, nothing that morning went smoothly, and I was in a mad rush to get to the doctor's office on time. I dropped my son off at school and met my friend in the parking lot to hand off my daughter before racing to the doctor's office. Well, somewhere in that fast and furious exchange, I must have dropped my iPhone off my lap and out of the car. It wasn't until a few hours later, when I went to call my friend to check on my daughter, that I realized that the phone was missing.

I did all the backtracking, phone calling, and praying to try and find the phone, but it never turned up. A few days later, I saw the case to my phone lying in the middle of the road under the traffic light by my son's school. Excitedly, I ran out to get it, but sadly the phone was not in it. It was then that I realized that someone else was now the happy owner of a new iPhone.

My immediate reaction was to go to the AT&T store and buy another one. Surely my insurance would cover it. This wasn't the first cell phone I had lost or broken, so I had been through this before. One phone lost in a taxi in the city, another flushed down a toilet (don't ask - I wish I was kidding!). I knew I'd have to go through the annoyance of reprogramming all my phone numbers, but otherwise no big deal. Or so I thought. Apparently, there is no insurance on an iPhone and if I wanted a new one, it would now be $600 due to the fact that I wasn't yet eligible for an upgrade. $600? For a phone? Really? Wasn't there another solution?

And it was with that thought, that I stopped. I actually stopped myself for a bit - stopped my thinking, stopped my worrying, stopped my obsessing - just stopped. I was just in a car accident. I just lost my phone. I just lost 4 days trying to locate that stupid phone. What was I doing?

I'll tell you what I wasn't doing. I wasn't listening. I wasn't listening to the Universe that was trying to tell me to slow down. Trying to tell me to look at all the blessings in my life and to be so grateful for what I did have rather than
be upset by what I didn't. Even thought the car accident was in no way my fault, it was giving me a message. The message of how of little importance material things are compared to the health and life of those you love. So our car was totaled? My family and I were fine. The most precious possessions I have were unharmed in that accident. I believe the Universe was trying to tell me to slow down and enjoy them more.

But how soon I forgot that message. So what if I was going to be late for the doctor's appointment? It wouldn't have been the end of the world. But I forgot that. Forgot the message of slowing down and being grateful for all I had, and rushed myself and my kids once again. And once again, the Universe sent me a message. A message to stop. Slow down. Enjoy. Be grateful for the abundance of blessings in my life. Take the time to enjoy them no matter what.

Before the Universe felt the need to hit me over the head with a brick, I decided to listen to Its message. I would try my best to slow down, live in the moment, and be grateful for all of my blessings. And to show my commitment, I decided to put off getting a new iPhone for awhile. Even when I learned of a way to purchase a more affordable one, I decided to wait. Silly? Maybe. But for me, it just felt right. I wanted to try not adding one more thing to my life that would make it harder for me to slow down and focus on the moment. See if I really could do it.

Well, it is November and I made it. I wish I could say that I have been able to only live in the present moment since April and simplify and slow down my life at all times, but sadly that has not always been the case. I can say though that I have made great strides towards this goal and I truly feel more grateful, more content, and more at ease every single day. I am amazed by the joy and abundance that has come into my life simply by taking more time to enjoy, be thankful, and truly be present with my family and friends.

A great ending to this blog post would be for me to say that I have realized that my life is so fulfilled and abundant that I now know that I don't want something as silly as an iPhone in my life anymore. Hmmmmm... sorry, but I'm not quite there yet:)
I have learned that I definitely don't NEED one to be happy, but WANTING one...well, that is a whole other story!

May your heart be at ease,
Angela सन्तोष

Friday, October 22, 2010


So my wonderful husband and I were blessed with the opportunity tonight to go out and have dinner together - alone - no kids! Ahhhh.... Life is good.

During our dinner together, we had time to talk about some of the things that have been going on in our lives over the past couple of weeks. And because I am truly blessed with a husband who cares for me and how I am feeling, I found out that he was very upset about some unpleasant interactions I had to deal with in the past week. He was not only concerned for me and how I was dealing with the events, but he was also confused about how I was handling them. Or in his eyes, how I was not handling them.

I'm not sure when the change in me occurred, but I am much less verbal and much more active in my approach to changing my world. I'm not interested in making people see my opinion and trying to convince them to make it their own. I'm much more conscience of creating change by my everyday life and how I live it. If someone disagrees with me or finds fault with me, I am actually OK with that. I don't have this intense need to prove I am right and they are wrong. I'd rather just continue to let me be me and let others be who they are. If they learn something from me or can become more positive because of witnessing my attitude (at the right moment of course!) than that is so much more gratifying than thinking I proved them wrong in a shouting match, argument, or debate.

I just don't feel the need as much to defend my opinions. If I believe in something or want to change something, I DO something. I don't waste time "preaching to the choir" or trying to get everyone to see things my way. I have found that the best way to make a change is to DO something about it. Not talk about it, preach about it, argue about it, complain about it, debate about it...but do something about it.

Now don't get me wrong. If I need to, I can take a stance and stand my ground very strongly. And don't even get me started when it comes to my kids. I'll fight for anything for them. But there really is just this huge shift in me as of late that doesn't want to prove that "my thinking is right and yours is wrong." Because the truth of the matter is that some of the things I was convinced were absolute truths five years ago are complete falsehoods to me now. I grow. I change. I see the world with different eyes. And my opinions, my outlook, and my beliefs sometimes change with the tides of my life.

I've always found it funny when people yell at a football coach for being awful or blame a president for all of the country's present woes. Really? Are you strong enough - brave enough - crazy enough to run an entire team; and entire country on your own? Are you telling me without a doubt that you could do better? Until you are in someone else's position completely, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

So, do I have my own opinions and beliefs? Of course I do! Will these opinions and beliefs be the same five years from now? I don't know. But that is the beauty of being a listener and a learner - and not a fighter and an "all knowing" debater. I am willing to grow, and learn from others. I'm not afraid to say "I don't know" and use that to explore further. And I don't need to prove someone wrong in order to feel validated or secure in my own beliefs. I'm a soul living in a human body and I am on this earth to make it a better place for all souls - not just for me.

Maybe this makes sense to you, or maybe it does not. That is OK. It is just the way I feel at this present moment. As I told my husband - my loving partner who was afraid that I was not standing up for myself and that I was being treated unfairly - I just don't want to spend any more energy on being negative. I don't want to waste my time trying to change others by telling them why they are wrong and I am right. I know who I am. I know what I value and what I believe. I choose to focus on the positive. I'm not going to let negative energy bring me down. I don't want to use my time in this world to keep fighting off that negative energy. I'd rather give out as much positive energy as I can. That is my strategy for standing up for myself and fighting back. I don't want to live at that lower negative frequency. It doesn't do me any good to build my strength or power with that kind of energy.

And besides, being positive about everything really annoys the hell out of negative people. What better revenge in this world is there than that!

May your heart be at ease,
Angela सन्तोष

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friends are Forever

Seriously. How can I be this lucky? I had friends over tonight that I haven't seen in over a year. One thing led to another and we weren't able to get together lately. But we got together tonight. And you know what? It was like we have never been apart.

Conversation flowed easily and we laughed and talked like we saw each other just yesterday. Our kids played with each other like they have seen each other in class every day. What a great night!

Why? Because these are friends who cared. These are friends who were there when life was tough. These friends have seen me through the worst of times and the best of times. These are friends who have cried with me, rejoiced with me, and have been deep down, stripped down, honest with me. They have lived with me through life's transormations. They have had their experiences in life that bring you so far down that the only place to go is up. They have experienced that the challenges we face in life are the ones that make us grow....that change us into the wonderful beings we are now.

How wonderful it is to have friends that understand that life is crazy and that everyday contact sometimes gets lost. It doesn't mean you don't love them and aren't thinking of them. It just means that you are doing what you talked about for hours on end...being married, having children, building a family, loving life.

The universe gives you people in your life for all the times in your life. But the divine also gives you people that are meant to stay in your life. These are the people who won't leave you no matter what. The people who have learned that having the most impressive house, the finest things, or the the most prestigious job mean nothing. But having the family and friends that will stay with you and support you through anything is what matters most.

One of these friends told me once that my dream was coming. It was just on a local train rather than an express train. I will never forget that. Because I have since gotten off the express train and am very happy to be on the local train. To live life day by day and enjoy all that each day brings.

So thank you to all my dear friends. Thank you for being my treasured friends even if we aren't able to talk every day, every week, every month. Because you know that I, we, are always there for each other...a thought, a prayer, a phone call. Because when you have this kind of connection, there really is nothing that can break it.
I love you. Thank you for all you have done for me and continue to do for me. My hope is to continue to give back to you.

May your heart be at ease,
Angela सन्तोष

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me?

Wow. 41. Crazy. How did that happen??? I don't feel 41, so it doesn't really affect me that much. I'm just happy to have this day to celebrate with my family and friends, and to be thankful for all the wonderful gifts I have been given in my life. I am truly blessed.

So blessed, that at the age of 41 I still was able to spend the day yesterday with my mom and dad. We went shopping for some clothes for me and out to dinner together with my kids. When the wine was poured and the order was taken, my parents ever so wonderfully began to offer up a toast to me. But here is where being 41 and a mom of two children has brought me. I didn't feel that I should be the one getting the toast on my birthday. Even though I am honored to feel their love and their pride in me, on the anniversary of my birth, they are the ones that deserve the toast. For it is largely because of them that I am, who I am, today.

So on my birthday, I want to give that toast to my parents. Only now that I have been blessed with two beautiful children of my own, can I fully appreciate all they have done for me - and in awe, say thank you.

Thank you for choosing to have me. For the extreme pain it took, mom, to get me into this world! For getting up with me in the middle of the night when I was still a baby and needed your constant care. Thank you for feeding me, changing me, and keeping a roof over my head. Thank you for working hard and providing for my every need. Thank you for selling some of your treasured possessions - your wedding gown, class ring - when times were tough and your family was in need. Thank you for giving me sisters and a brother to share with, fight with, grow with, and love.

Thank you for taking the leap to move to a house when the apartment got too small for the five of us. For helping me to get on the bus that first day and know that I was strong enough to face that big school all on my own. Thank you for sacrificing so much to send all five of us to Catholic school for a chance at a better education than the one being provided for in our hometown. Thanks for having family dinners with us every night and giving us the chance to sit together and talk about our day. Thank you, thank you, thank you for listening to the five of us whine, cry, complain, fight and tattle every day - and then still tuck us in, give us kisses, and love us every night.

Thank you for figuring out how to take five kids in a small car anywhere and everywhere. And also for agreeing to bring a friend along for the ride. Thank you for taking us on vacations every summer and not strangling us for saying 100 times "are we there yet?" Thank you for spending everything you didn't have to give us fabulous Christmas's every year - even though it is really the traditions that you gave us that our now most important and dear to our hearts.

Thank you for coming to all my school concerts, plays, fairs, parent nights and shows with a big smile on your face like you would rather be no where else in the world. Thank you for sacrificing your own time to make sure that I had the perfect dress to where, science project, Halloween costume, book report....

Thank you for having the patience to teach me how to brush my teeth, ride a bike, hit a ball, write my name, curl my hair, play the guitar, tie my shoes, read a book, drive a car. And for being so excited when I did.

Thank you for finding a way to pay the medical bills when I was constantly sick as a kid. For rearranging your life to be with me and take care of me at home and in the hospital when I was ill or in need of surgery.

Thank you for making every birthday so special. With a decorated house to wake up to in the morning and a favorite dinner to eat together at night. Thank you for continuing to play the role of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny even when your children were coming home from college to celebrate.

Thank you for encouraging me to reach for the top in high school. To overcome my fears and see that I could do it. Thank you for supporting me to go away to college and then always providing a home to come back to. For making me feel that I could accomplish anything and for being so proud when I did. Thank you for helping me to move 10 times in 10 years and for being there through all of my triumphs and disappointments.

Thank you for my beautiful wedding day. For waiting 28 hours in the waiting room for your grandson to be born. For treating my children like they are God's gift - and for truly believing they are. Thank you for always being only a phone call and a car ride away. And for always saying I love you before saying goodbye.

Thank you for giving up so much to raise my siblings and me. A bigger house, a new car, vacations, dinners out, new clothes, financial security. For sharing one bathroom with five kids for 20+ years. Thank you for the sleepless nights spent worrying how to pay the bills, and for the second and third jobs that would eventually pay them. Thank you for giving everything you had and more so that I could have a wonderful life full of love, family, friends, and treasured memories.

You gave up part of your own life so that I could have mine, and for that I am truly grateful.

For all of these things and for so much more, I send my birthday wishes to you mom and dad. For you deserve the congratulations and good wishes on this day. 41 years ago you started a long, hard, wonderful journey - and I am so very thankful and blessed that you did. My gift to you is to now do the same for my own kids. I can only pray that I do as well as you both did.

I love you with all of my heart.

May your heart be at ease,
Angela सन्तोष