How Writing Helps Me With Parenting

Writing has been a sanity saving bridge which has led from processing parenting experiences to peace and solutions. Single parenting two children led me on a journey for which I have no map. Through writing, I create the map as I travel this wild and wonderful parenting safari.

My parenting journey has included many life lessons disguised as sinkholes, road blocks, and dead ends. My daughter, Lillian, was diagnosed at age 3 years old with a rare condition called 18p-. This chromosome deletion only affects 1 in 56,000 people. Her sibling, Thomas, is a strong willed empath who either speaks his mind or holds how he feels inside until he explodes. In 2006 I became a single parent to them, lost nearly everything, and was forced to file bankruptcy.

I have been single parenting Thomas and Lillian for the past twelve years. Lillian is 17 years old now and the main way that 18p- affects her is an inability to articulate words, anxiety, chronic pain, irrational fears, and difficulty processing strong emotions. Thomas is 13 years old with his own difficulties of being a sibling to Lillian and puberty has hit him full throttle.

Writing led me to peace and acceptance of my role as parent to these two unique and beautiful children. Writing brought peace and solid steps to take in regards to medical issues, schooling, and emotional challenges faced by Thomas and Lillian. In some situations, writing was not the only factor; yet, it has been a shining thread of grace that connected my heart and mind along this parenting journey. And still is.

Several factors led to a loosely held practice of writing every day. When I became a single parent I intuitively felt moved to learn the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and journaling.

My practice of going for a walk three times a week also solidified into a committed practice of noticing and immersing in nature. All of these practices combined with the writing practice opened my eyes to a different style of parenting, a more focused and connected style.

My laptop became the couch I rest upon; while writing of my experiences became the therapist. This also serves as a tool for me to sync with life and for giving myself feedback for those experiences. Writing became an avenue to connect with and release the myriad of emotions and experiences of parenting.

The writing becomes an observer of my experiences. One that allows me to step away from the situation by pouring my heart onto the digital pages. I feel we all know in our heart the solution to tough parenting situations; or at the least, what would be the better of available options.

Although I choose to publicly share much of my experiences through writing, one does not have to write with the intention of sharing with others. The very act of writing about experiences and feelings is deeply therapeutic. There are many writing practices from which to choose. Writing with pencil and paper, using a laptop, writing in the morning, in the evening, in silence, while listening to music, at home, in a cafe, in nature … You get the idea.

The how, when and where is a completely personal preference. The portion of the practice I have found to work best for me and those I have mentored is to first get centered in one’s heart. If you find yourself stumbling and no words flowing; this is a sign you are still centered in your mind.

Take three long, deep breaths and gently release whatever thoughts you may be having. Begin to write about the parenting issue facing you. Write about your feelings and thoughts on the issue. Once you feel finished with this portion, stop for a moment. Take three long, deep breaths once again dropping your focus into the heart.

Next, write these six words … “What do I need to know?” Don’t hesitate. Just write. Write until the words are no longer flowing. Write no matter how wacky or scary this may seem. Write no matter what crazy thoughts come to mind. Write those too.

For some of you this may not be concrete enough and seem like “fluff”; and for you, it simply may not work. Yet, I’m betting that more than half of those who try this will at least feel at peace with the situation and at most know what actions to take that are in everyone’s highest and best interest.

I have experienced parenting guidance in this way and have seen others receive peace and guidance as well. If you aren’t accustomed to writing, it may take a while to grease the writing wheels. Don’t give up. Try it for at least a month. No one has to see what you write. Delete it, tear it up, shred it, crumple and stomp on it, burn it, eat it, whatever.

Write. Write and watch the transformation of becoming a more connected and focused parent. Not only that. Write and watch the transformation as you begin to trust yourself and become more at peace with life.

©2019 Camilla Downs

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Amazing news! My 17 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here.

Wonderfully exciting news! My 13 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.

Go here to see latest soul writings. xoxo

Mindful Parenting – A Solution for Sibling Fighting

Let this moment be the teacher.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~Albert Einstein

At times, Thomas and Lillian simply do not get along. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this as parents or with our own siblings or cousins.

My response varies depending on mindfulness, my own emotional state, and timing. One area I continue to work on shifting is my initial internal response to conflict. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, there was a great deal of arguing and conflict. It became my habit to withdraw, shrink, and shut down in order to escape.

I still have times when I choose to escape. This has gotten better. I continue to be aware, catch it when this happens, not “bite” that hook, and know that it can be handled a different way and there’s no need to hold anxiety from the past.

What I have found to be an incredible combination for helping Thomas and Lillian discover their own way out of the tensions is when I stay calm and mindful and use the surroundings of the moment as a teacher. During these times creativity and improvising blossom into the situation.

“My whole life has been one big improvisation.” ~Clint Eastwood

In one instance, the arguing kept going back and forth. He says such and such. She responds with such and such. No, I’m right. You’re  wrong. You’re such and such. On and on.

I spontaneously stood in the middle of the room. Got their attention, and proceeded to act out a one woman skit. I began with this:

“Thomas and Lillian: What I have learned is that is impossible to have an argument with yourself. Watch. Let me demonstrate. I turned and faced to the right and pretended like I was arguing with someone and saying unkind things.

Then I turned to the left and pretended to be this other person facing the bearer of the unkind things. I remained silent and just stared. Then I looked at Thomas and Lillian. I said, See. Argument over. If one person chooses not to respond, not to bite the hook, the argument cannot continue. It ceases.” I did it again just for emphasis.

They were mesmerized. Partly, I’m sure, as I was in such an animated state. Exaggerating my movements and words. I had not pre-meditated this as a response. I did not stop myself when the thought occurred. I just went with it. There was no more arguing for the rest of the evening.

Another time they were not in the midst of an argument, I improvised and spontaneously chose flowers as the teacher. I happened to have a vase of beautiful, amazing stargazer lilies. I was talking to the lilies – thanking them for sharing their beauty and scent with me and for adding to my joy.

Thomas and Lillian were giggling about this and I’m quite sure Lillian told me I was crazy. I told her “thank you” and added that I was extraordinary too. Then, I said to both of them:

“Look at how the flowers get along together. They aren’t fighting and struggling with one another. They are just BEing flowers. See that one leaning against the other one. He’s not saying, “Get your petal off of me. Don’t touch me. You’re gross.” This one is supporting that one. They are happy just being flowers and sharing their beauty with us. Imagine if we could be more like the flowers.”

They still argue. They still disagree. Yet, I know what I share with them is divinely inspired. I know it’s in their heart and mind somewhere. Sometimes they choose to completely ignore what I’ve shared and they both grab the “I’m arguing and not stopping till I’ve had the last word” hook.

Yet, sometimes they choose to remember and use what I’ve shared. As often as I can, I choose to use this as an opportunity for me to practice not falling back into old habits.

“Non-violence in action is a very potent force …. If we have the patience, things will change.” ~Cesar Chavez


See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Did you know I wrote a book? It’s titled “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” and you can read more about it here.

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