Tag Archives: children

Kids are like cows

Kids are like cows

In the last month I have told this analogy 5 times now….  I’ve used it since my first child was born.  It’s been one of my reminders when I think things are crazy.

I have translated it into my classrooms and since a great conversation over sandwiches with friends, I now know that it is very useful in relationships as well.

So here it goes.  PS, if your cows don’t do this, it’s ok, the ones I saw did, my analogy comes from the ones I saw.  Cows are different; kids are different.  Analogy still works.

Kids are like cows.

Everyday when the rancher puts his cows out to pasture, the first thing they do is to walk the perimeter of the fence. They push against the fencing to make sure the fence is stable. They walk all the way around to make sure everything is in the same place.  Once they feel secure within their boundaries, they happily graze in the middle of the pasture. Or wherever makes them happy to graze that day, I don’t know, maybe they like the southeast side, not the middle.

But it’s the same every day.  They walk the fence every day because everyday they need the sense of security, the “today we will be safe, because yesterday all the boundaries were just like this and yesterday we were safe” feeling.  And they are content and happy to graze along once that has been established.




If there is a weak spot in the fence, they will push on it. The fear of what can come in worries them.  A rancher can tell if there’s a weak spot because a group of cows will be mooing away and pushing on it.  The rancher needs to shore up the spot; give it a little extra strength because those cows are going to remember for a while, that spot was weak, and they’ll push a little harder there until they are sure it is strong and safe.

If a cow gets out of a weak spot; if a cow gets loose, that’s bad.  We like to think, being the freedom loving adults we are, that there’s a happy little cow, all free and full of “let’s get out of here”.  But the truth is the rancher knows that a loose cow is one of the most dangerous.  They spook easily.  They’ll charge.  They are in fright or flight because they don’t where they are, where home is, what is out there to get them.  Nothing is familiar and they are scared not happy.  The rancher has to be very careful until the cow is caught and tethered and led back to the corral.

Kids are the same. They require boundaries.  Rules and stability are necessary for happy children.  Boundaries are security.  The stability that boundaries give creates a sense of safety that children need in order to do all the other growing and learning they need to do.  Their minds can focus on learning instead of what might happen next.  And every day they are going to walk the fence to make sure that it’s stable; that it remains the same strong perimeter within which they can thrive.  Every day they are going to test that the boundaries remain the same and remain strong.

Kids who don’t have that safety are constantly testing, constantly pushing on the weak spots.  It’s a fear of the unknown that causes that pushing.  They are trying to figure out at what point the boundary is stable.  When there are no rules, or the rules change, or the consequences change, or it’s not followed through with, those are weak spots.  Those things aren’t built right.  That’s the ranchers/ adults problem, not the cows/kids.

Kids that get out of a weak spot aren’t happy out there.  They spook easily.  They don’t even realize they are in fright or flight, they just know that there is a lot of unknown happening.

The children aren’t bad children for testing, we are not doing a good job of adult-ing if there is excessive testing happening.  That means we’ve created a weak spot.  It doesn’t matter if you “tell” a child something 50 times today.  If you aren’t following through, if you aren’t leading by example, if you haven’t done the adult part, the child can’t learn it because it isn’t safe to learn it.

They learn by what they observe, not by what they are told.  Any teacher can tell you that they can explain what to do very, very carefully, with explicit detail and instruction- but if they don’t demonstrate before giving out the materials, at least 2/3 of the class will do it wrong.  Every time.  Boundaries and consequences have to be demonstrated and adhered to in order to work and stop any pushing.

My daughter got upset with me one night.  She wanted to stay out later than her 10pm curfew.  I wasn’t backing down.  She told me, “all the kids will think I’m lame.”   “So,”  I told her, “blame it on me.  They all know I’m strict.  I can take the hit on this one.  It’s ok.”

They don’t want to look like they are happy in their pasture, that’s ok.  They still appreciate the safety more than they like to bellyache about the confines of it.  They’ll be happier adults.  And frankly, that’s our job – to help them become good, happy, productive, thinking, self-motivated, honest adults.

Does that mean more work for us?  You better freaking believe it.  We took on the job of raising these guys, we don’t get to half ass it.  I never left the house without the knowledge that I may not complete the task I left for.  If one of them misbehaved, we went home, period.  Not after I finished the errand, right then.  I didn’t get to finish a movie or two.  They had to eat leftovers, again, because we didn’t get to finish our shopping.  Did I have to miss my TV shows once in a while, before dvr even?  Yep.  And I knew I had to do it without being angry.  I can’t be angry that I am keeping my boundaries strong.  I can’t be angry that they are testing.  That’s their world we’re shaping, all of us.  What their personal pasture looks like when they are adults comes as much from what they choose to test as how strong I’ve kept their safety net.

Am I a perfect mom? No. I’ve screwed up lots of stuff, but as I meander through my life and try to sort out what I could have done differently, what lessons I didn’t learn the way I should have; I also have to see the things I did right.  Perfect mom, no.  Great mom?


I did far more good than bad, and very literally because I reminded myself all the time that kids are like cows.

And through the wonderful sandwich conversation, adults are also like cows.  But that is for another post.  I will give you the new theme that came from it though:

Boundaries: the NICE thing to do

UPDATE KAZAKHSTAN:  We should know more in the next week.  That is the best I have for now.


Posted by on 16/10/2015 in Uncategorized


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The endeavor to walk in the world: Overcoming

The endeavor to walk in the world: Overcoming


Through a variety of ways, I have healed internally much faster than anticipated.  Mostly, through determination to not stay stuck in a place of fear.  However, there have been some other wonderful helps along the way. That is not to say I am through with the process.  Hell no.   But I’m farther along than I thought I would be right now.  Much farther.

My journey through becoming a shaman is slower than I expected, but far more powerfully healing than I anticipated.  It packs a punch and then I need time to process it all.   But, I am.  AND THAT IS AWESOME.  I am reaching and stretching and seeing life in bigger and better ways.  I am definitely more confident in my own abilities to trust my journey and its processes.  I am more confident in my spiritual strength and ability to follow my own path no matter who says what about it.

I have had to stare down my childhood and many of the ways that my parents, but specifically my father at this point, primed me for abuse in my future, albeit mostly unknowingly.  And I have had to work through the fear, very real and serious fear of confronting him about it.  But I’ve done it.  And he’s listened.  And though it was incredibly scary, it has been equally freeing since.

I am sifting through the book of my life and placing bookmarks between the pages I need to work on.  I am unfolding the page corners that I had dog-eared for quick reference; the stories I keep thinking back on, that keep me from growing.  I am going back and making new notes on the memories to remind little me that we figured out that problem.  And I am holding my book with newfound love, wrapped in my arms, against my chest; whereas before I held it at arms length, always afraid it would open to the wrong page when I wasn’t looking.

I am ready to travel and teach again.  I am ready to meet new people and find more joy.  I’m ready to start being me again.  And it feels pretty damn good.


My research and discovery process is and has been enlightening to both the awareness that is already out there and to the still greater amount of awareness and education that is needed.  I have discovered terms I had never heard of, yet know the details of intimately, like Gaslighting.

Unless you know the term, you can’t find it as a form of abuse.  There’s no Google lookup for the individual terms within the forms of abuse, that I’ve found anyway.  It takes looking through hundreds of other avenues to find the term, then start looking that up. I’m working on changing that.  I’m collecting terms.  In fact, if you know of any, please comment, I need the help.

Boy have I had my fair share of gaslighting!  Look it up, you’ll be amazed, enlightened, and hopefully strengthened in your understanding of abuse, how to spot it and stop it.  And I’m starting my own new term, Halfening, the victim-blaming coddling of an abuser for fear of repercussion, after those that did it to me.


I don’t like to think that I’m afraid of the unknown.  I actually like heading off into some new adventure, not sure what to expect or how things will turn out, who I will meet along the way, but ready to find out.

However, the unknown of where and when my next adventure begins…….   I am not liking this unknown at all.  I actually pretty much hate the interim.  It causes me panic and to make decisions too fast in order to at least be headed in a certain direction.

BUT HEY, I am in learning mode.  So, even though I’ve had a couple different opportunities to just head into the crazy wild blue, I haven’t taken them.  I’ve given more thought, I’ve taken more time.  I am learning.


I’m still working through the fear of trusting myself.  It is frustrating because I know that I made a fast decision to head off to Mozambique, but I also know that I was guided there.  I trusted my guide and I am actually coming out of this far stronger than even I would have guessed.  But, I am keenly aware that I was guided there to find out that I don’t know how to see the signs of abusers.

I asked for understanding of what happened with Sven.  I thought I had figured out my confidence, my refusal to put up with abuse, my love of self.  And then bam, confidence shaken.  And on the heels of that, Willem Johannes Goosen, aka John Goosen, of South Africa, happened.

This lack of confidence is a layer of the thick blanket of victim blaming that we hold onto.  It is both safe and suffocating.  I need to trust my gut and the results of following my gut.  Sven went against what my gut told me, but he worked until he convinced me.  Mozambique was completely following my gut.  Bad things happen no matter what.  Great things happen no matter what.

During the time I thought Sven and I were moving forward, I was so happy. I was so in love.  I had a great time, and I don’t regret one minute of it.  People ask me if I ever think of revenge; plot for someone to beat him up or something.  I don’t.  Truthfully, the best revenge is that he lost me.  I’m pretty awesome.  Don’t abuse me, and I’m top freaking notch.  That’s his loss not mine.

Mozambicans are wonderful people.  The local people amazed me in so many ways.  The scenery was wonderful and I am so grateful to have been to Africa.  And because of what happened in Mozambique, I have learned what happened with Sven, and what happened with the ex-husband and the few other ex relationships along the way.

I need to trust my gut and press forward with the decisions I make based on my instinct, without fear.  That blanket makes it safe to say, “if only”, “why didn’t I”, “I can’t”, “I shouldn’t”.  Those things feel safe, like they will keep me safe, but bad things happen no matter what.  Hiding from my path doesn’t keep me safe.  Running into or away from, doesn’t guarantee safety.

Just like I keep telling my little step-neice, it’s ok to make mistakes, that’s how we learn.




I need to stop worrying about safe and put my focus on non-abusive.  I had a dream last night.  I was swimming deep in the ocean with a group of whales.  They kept coming over to me and then going up to get air.  Somehow I was not needing to go get air, yet they kept insisting I should.  After I did, they showed me where land was and so I went up.

Everywhere I walked there were snakes. They were mostly out in the open, yet all of them had only their head and part body showing, the rest curled up in their hiding places.  A few were slinked back inside their hideout.  There was a child with me, and we were walking together.

I was not afraid of the snakes, but I knew I couldn’t give them any energy/ acknowledgement/ attention or they would bite.  I had to teach the child to see without giving acknowledgement, to not be afraid, not be curious or get too close.  The scenery was varied as we walked, rocky, grassy, outside, inside, and there were snakes in a snack booth and a book case.  They were talking to us, some trying to be helpful, give advice, offer to get things for us, but we had to remember they were still snakes.  If we gave them any acknowledgement, they would bite us.

There were many blue things as well, blue was a significant color.  There were people, men, women, children all around us, some talking to the snakes, some not.  Some were holding the snakes, some were collecting them, but many just ignored them.

Snakes and whales have interesting meanings in dreams and as power animals.  I’m curious to see what comes of this.  But I woke up feeling very good.

That’s all for now follks.  I’m doing really well.  I’m looking forward to my next adventure.  I’m singing, crying, laughing, and otherwise feeling the feels of life and loving it.   Go be awesome today, I plan to.


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2 days in a row with electricity!!!

2 days in a row with electricity!!!

It is really humbling and amazing when things you have taken for granted most of your life become luxuries to be celebrated.

I got to take a real shower. I got to turn on the tap and brush my teeth! Conserving bottled water and only brushing my teeth once a day, SO glad to not be doing that for two days now.

Running the AC at night and not sweating through sleep-difficult nights is such a rich luxury I want to kiss the AC machine.

Life is good.

It’s an interesting phenomena that even with everything seemingly wrong, I’m learning how to make my time right here.

In Turkey, I had money, I was saving money, I could go see a movie or go to a mall. I had an oven, beauty products, my choice of hygiene products, but I was miserable.

Here, well, I have none of that. In fact, I have the most of nothing I’ve ever had, but, I can do good work here.

The construction company that has me doing their accounting asked me to teach a few of their workers English. We’ve only had 4 lessons but I am being stopped by people on the street every day now, to ask about English classes for themselves or their children. There is a desire to learn.

As far as I have heard so far, there has never been an English school here. And with the tourism industry about to boom here, what with all the hotels and museums currently in construction, there is not only a strong need, but a strong desire to learn.

I’m trying to find ways to make a living here while doing research into the needs. It’s a struggle, like I said, everything is seemingly going wrong. I wasn’t able to exchange my Turkish money, so I have none. My visa is setting up a daily fine that I can’t pay, plus the cost of the new visa once I get the fines paid. I have to figure out how to pay that while not making any money. My work at the construction company is paying room and board, so I have a roof over my head and food to eat, (with electricity I also have running water again !).

Luckily for me, being dirt poor is not new, I can do this too. Especially when I get to see some of the most beautiful scenery of my life.


the office


My room


More of the wonderful things I get to see each day


I got desperate for something sweet and wanted to make some cookies with my last egg…. I tried, that’s good. Right? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s funny, I asked my mama to send me some goodies while I was still in Turkey. Now those things seem so trivial, salsa, dried green chile, comfort foods. I still want paint, mosquito repellent, crayons….

I haven’t worn a stitch of makeup since I left Turkey. My needs to get by have been drastically altered, for the better I think. I look around me and see such poverty, yet such joy in life. People of all ages sing as they go down the street. It is not unusual to see people dancing wherever they are.

But it is also not unusual to see people just sitting. There is very little work here. The schools on Ilha are the best in this part of the country and many children are bussed in to attend. But the local children can’t afford it. They walk around the island all day, rolling tires with sticks, drawing in the sand, but just meandering around until night time.

I know I can do good here.

As I continue my research, I hope to begin posting more about the history of Ilha de Mozambique…. a place I am beginning to love.


Posted by on 14/02/2015 in Expat, health and healing


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Thinking through my decisions – An education rant of a blog

This is going to be a random stream of my thoughts….. no real symmetry will happen, and I probably won’t connect one thought to the next with precision, but….I need to write this out as I think it out.

One life is not enough to learn – not even to learn what we don’t know or still need to learn, but if we build each other up with what we have learned,  – we can make a better dent in the whole affair.

Why do we as humans persist in believing that power can only be grown if it is taken from others?

It’s just not true – light is more powerful as it is multiplied, energy is more powerful as it is amplified, strength comes from adding muscle – everything we know tells us that we must “add to” in order to gain.

But still we insist on reducing the power of others in order to feel more powerful.

I am a mother – I am a teacher – I am a woman – I am educated enough to know I need more.  As I think through my decision to become not just a teacher of English in other countries, but an aspiring change in the world of education, I am consistently reinforced by the amazing, near-cruel stories of bigotry and racism that are actually denying the children of our country an education that is effective in creating a desire to learn.

Though it creates an austere reflection that defies any way of making it sound better – I must recognize that I may do my all-out best to create something that does effectively create a desire to learn in children, but that I will only be able to make as much progress as the general population can stop taking power away from children.

Throughout time, from Aristotle to Skinner, we are warned that we need to educate our children or face certain calamity.  History tells us that those in power keep the masses only educated enough to make the people feel as though they are making informed decisions, but uneducated enough to not know what’s really driving the decisions.

Those in power propagate the idea that education is not that important and make it too expensive for the larger underclass.  Why?  Because educated constituents will have more opinions, look more closely, and expect comparable treatment.  I may be putting myself into a world of chaos by choosing this path.

Am I going to create real change or do I have my head in clouds that they don’t belong in?  I feel it’s right.  I feel so powerfully motivated to get out there and research the hell out of teaching, learning, and creating desire to learn.  I worry that I’m going to get out there and find nothing better than what I just got at UNM.  I don’t believe that is true, but I worry about it.  (No slam against UNM intended, merely noting that it’s the only education on being a teacher that I have, so far).

At work today I have met 6 different families from 6 different countries.  As I generically chat with them we discuss why they are visiting Albuquerque, what they do back home, and what they plan to do with their lives.  It’s a small, highly packed store.  That gives them tons of browsing to do, all in conversation keeping locations.  When I told them I am going to teach out-of-country they have been excited and each asked if I was going to teach English when I get back home.

Of course, yes, it’s even the reason I am going to teach out of country.  I want to find a way to teach our many English Language Learners more effectively.   Then I get wonderful stories about their experiences in learning English, but then the same – “I’m glad I didn’t have to learn it in the US.”

We can’t keep taking away the power of our children.  No matter what language they speak as a baby, no matter what culture they are raised in at home, if their home is in the US, we need to allow them to keep their power as humans, not strip them of dignity, not enslave them through racism, not keep them in a state of without through social propaganda, and certainly not deny them education.  They are kids, children.  We become stronger as we educate ALL of our children.

What do you think?


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Are mommies super heroes?

I used to think that we women turned into super heroines, that somehow the title of MOM gave us powers we had never possessed before.

…Able to catch falling cups from hitting the floor, able to leap over “accidents” of pee, and able to …get manipulated by the tears of a two-year-old.

I have come to realize that we are just women, just humans, We could do all of that before, maybe without as much finesse, but we’re really just women who love our children and keep doing the same stuff day in and day out. There are no magic powers that give us more insight, we are just older than our children, there’s no magic that helps us see when they are pouring Cap’n Crunch all over the counter when we’re in another room. We can just hear the little buggers ‘tink’ing onto the counter tops and floor and their marble like rolling around sounds followed by the ‘uh-oh’. And there is no special mommy potion we drink that helps us to calmly talk about sex when that age comes around. We just muscle through it all with love and devotion.

I have noticed the difference when my children call me by the various titles of motherhood.  Sometimes it’s ‘mom’, sometimes it’s ‘mamma’, sometimes it’s ‘mommy’, and of course the classic ‘mother’.  Within each of those categories there are also differences that can range from making me smile to the tips of my toes, to raising the hair on the back of my neck.

  • Example 1 Mom: ‘Mom’, the basic greeting and attention seeker, often prefaced by Hey, as in ‘hey mom’.- ‘M AAAHHHHM’, the long distance attention seeker, shouted from two rooms away which means, ‘hey my butt is glued to the seat in front of my computer/ tv and my legs have forgotten how to walk, the only things working are my throat and my mouse/ remote hand’ and I want you to do something for me/ see this. -‘Mu ah mmmmm’, the bubble mom, always good for a giggle and the sweetest thing babies can do with snot. -‘Mah ahm’, the classic ‘could you stop embarrassing me now?’ ‘mom’.
  • Example 2 Mommy: There’s the ‘MOMMMMMMMYYYYY’ that only a pre-schooler can say the right way and is usually at pick up. It is one of those down to the toes smiling kind of ‘mommies’.  -there’s the ‘mommyyyyyyy’ that precedes the ‘will you do this ridiculous favor for me because I really want to be growing up but I still want you to talk to other grown ups for me, cause they’re scary’. -Then there’s the heart breaking ‘mommy’ that is generally followed by an hour or so of cuddling, more snot, and hair with an unnatural part.

I remember the first time I realized that the birthing process did NOT grant me super powers, I was SO pissed! I was really planning on those kicking in!  Eww, but the worst is when they figure it out for the first time… ugh. Luckily a child’s memory can be short lived in that department, because even my 20 year old still thinks I know everything, sometimes.  He called me one day from his college campus – insert note* he was ON campus, I was at home*- and asked me if I knew if the computer lab was still open.  “Hmmmm, no.  You should ask someone there or walk downstairs and look”.

I have no super cape or clothing that makes me impenetrable either.  Damn it. I find that I sometimes I could really use one, because hearing ‘ahhh I haaaate you’ screamed from behind a recently slammed door can sometimes sink in. The  ‘Mom, mom, mom, mom,mom, mom,mom, mom,mom, hey mom,mom, mom,mom, mom,mom, mom,mom, can you hear me mom,mom, mom’, would be much easier to take with a sparkly, reflective cape. I could rock the cape, I think.  The tights I’m not so sure about.   Instead we mom’s have to just say “yes, I hear you, no you still can’t”.

I have a quote that sits on my desk.  I have no idea who it’s from but it keeps me grounded.  It says, “If only we let them”.  These are 5 of the hardest words to follow through with and they are applicable to everything.  They will learn to think for themselves If Only We Let Them.  They can have safe fun If Only We Let Them.  They can talk to me about anything If Only We Let Them.  Really, insert whatever is going on after they can and follow it up with If Only We Let Them.  I have to remind myself that, let does not equal make, and I learned that because someone let me.

I have also learned to say “it’s ok if you hate me right now, you’re gonna be glad when it counts”, and “I am perfectly fine with being the bad guy, blame it on me”.  But that comes from experience not super powers. Would have been a lot easier if some Super Hero trainer guru had telepathically mentioned that a few years earlier, but hey I got it eventually, much to the dismay of my youngest 🙂

H’mmm maybe the real super power is that we do all these things gracefully and keep up the pretense of superpowers so well 🙂

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Posted by on 14/08/2010 in parenting


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