Painting & Parenting 


I’ve been painting and pondering parenting. On Father’s Day. Here’s a gorgeous thought from William Martin in The Parent’s Tao Te Ching~ dedicated to Howard, who’s way better at this, than me:

Reward & Punishment
Be careful of rules for your children. Rules diminish responsibility. Be careful of rewards for your children. Rewards diminish self esteem. Be careful of punishments for your children. Punishments diminish trust.

Let lessons be imposed by the nature of things, not by your own agendas or your own needs…

Don’t tell me this is overly simple. Perhaps the most courageous act of any parent’s life will be that moment when, even though it breaks your heart, you stand aside and let your children take the natural consequences of their actions.”

 

Here’s the final version of this painting, recycling a canvas, with the hand and eyes finally capturing her mood. 🌿

 

Building Your Healthy Couple Bubble

A couple bubble is a power tool.

Everyday, I continue to be blown away at the effects of teaching others–and practicing at home–what a secure couple bubble feels like, and how to care for it.  It’s a very basic concept of behaving reassuringly toward your partner (I apply it as a parent and friend too).  When 2 people commit to providing this for each other…things change fast.

 Here is Eva Van Prooyen, M.F.T., from the PACT group to describe elements of a secure couple bubble:  “Healthy, secure relationships are a source of vital energy…people feel good when they understand how to be successful partners. We are energized by a secure connection to another person. Our need to be securely attached is so powerful that it can get us through the hardest of times and help us float through day-to-day routines with ease, skill, and grace.

 Secure functioning is based on a high degree of respect for one another’s experience. Interactions and shared experiences are fair, just, and sensitive. If your partner feels even slightly unwanted, undervalued, disliked, unseen, or unimportant, he or she will—quite frankly—act weird and underperform in the relationship.

Insecurity and insecure attachment negatively affect brain performance. Development can be slowed down because the brain is using most of its resources to manage being in survival mode instead of being free to move toward evolution, growth, and complexity.  In general, couples can get tripped up in creating a secure and healthy relationship and end up not liking their partners, situations, or experiences because they don’t know what to do or how to manage them. This can leave them feeling badly about themselves as well as their partner.  “….we each have to know our sensitivities and how we move through the world, and also to understand who are partner is, and how they operate. To be clear, that is not how  we wish our partner operated, but how our partner actually operates, navigates, and maneuvers through the world. This knowledge, which requires a healthy dose of curiosity and attention, creates a strong foundation of understanding. It pushes forth the secure-functioning principles that “your partner is your responsibility and in your care,” and “you are responsible for knowing how to manage your partner.” Your partner then holds a sacred and honored position no one else in the world gets to occupy. That said, we often joke that actual wedding vows should probably include, “I take you to be my perfect pain in the butt.”  “…The idea of being responsible for knowing and caring for your partner in this way and putting the relationship first –tends to be the hard sell for some couples. When you truly understand the benefits of adopting this idea, the stance of “but it’s always about them, it never gets to be about me” loses its power as an argument.

My answer is, “You do this because it serves you and it comes back to you. You get your needs met by shoring up the vulnerabilitied in your partner so he or she can in return do the same for you. You both get the benefits of that investment.” 

  Love and genuine connection create libidinal energy—life force energy that can be renewed in an instant through a simple act of friendliness, a glance, a look, a moment, and a knowing that “my person likes me.” Part of creating a secure relationship is making sure you are helping your partner stay connected at an optimal level. To do that, messages that communicate “I’m good at you,” “I’m good at being with you,” and “You are in my care” must be reflected every day.

If you want to put this into practice, one way I encourage that is to pay attention to everything your partner hears you say about him or her. What messages are you conveying? Another thing you can do is to introduce your partner to other people, when you are together in public, in a way that is elevating…”  Go ahead, have a discussion with your partner tonight about securing the couple bubble through these reassuring behaviors. If questions or complaints come up, leave a comment. 😉

Unpredictable Sonnet painting

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I love this looney sonnet so much, I want to marry it. Here’s a painting, that, like all my paintings, changes enormously before it finally reaches a place that I start liking. Sonnets work that way for me, starting dry, intellectual and then warming up into a blaze of emotion and insight.

Sonnet

Billy Collins

All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love’s storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans.
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here while we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
take off those crazy medieval tights,

blowout the lights, and come at last to bed.

*

I loved acting and all things Shakespeare in college. I memorized and performed 3 sonnets to a thoroughly surprised 400 level Shakespeare English class in 1987.  It won me English Student of the Quarter, even though I was just mimicking Ian McKellen. That summer, I played Ophelia in summer stock’s wild west version of Hamlet. Apparently, you can drown in those cowboy boots, “too much of water hast thou Ophelia drunk.”

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