Living Outside the Box with Your Child 

As a young person growing up on a farm in rural Iowa, I lived in an area where many people “knew your business.” It’s a place where you could get a reputation if you stepped outside the box or if someone even suspected you had.

So I tried to fit in, even though I never really felt that I did. I tried to put on a good show so no one would know how isolated and lonely I felt. As you can imagine, this was incredibly restrictive and limiting to me, and , yes, I did get an undeserved reputation from people who had no idea who I was.

Fast forward to becoming a mom at 27 when I made a conscious choice to raise my son in a way that made sense to me. I had observed other parents relating with their children, and I had seen the limitations of the ‘usual approach.’

I wanted no part of it. I knew my son – all children – were much more than the adults around them realized. No more trying to fit in or not stand out as different.

I chose to focus on the two things that really mattered to me –

I wanted Orion to be who he was, not who society, the education system, or I wanted him to be. I wanted to support him in being his own person and living his truth. What I today call his Inner Brilliance.

I wanted to have a great relationship with him, where we were authentic, honest, and trusting with one another as people, not based on a traditional mother – son relationship.

These two priorities mattered more to me than anything, and I did my best to not let his room, schoolwork, friends, clothes, and other minor issues damage what mattered most.

If you ask Orion or I today, we will both agree these two priorities made all the difference as we continue to cherish our honest, loving relationship with one another.

Living outside The Box, parenting outside The Box requires two things:

1. The willingness and ability to think for yourself. To look around you with a questioning eye and to find your own way. Focusing on making your choices consciously and not simply going along with the crowd and fitting it.

2. The courage to trust your child and yourself. The courage to be seen as different and to stand out, most likely inspiring others to reconsider the choices they make as a parent. To be willing to fly in the face of authority and tradition, even when you’re scared and uncertain.

Now it’s your turn. What matters most to you as a parent? What are your highest priories for your child and yourself? I’m talking Big Picture things here. Not academic achievement or achievement of any kind. Not your fears or concerns. Dream big!

What do you really want to create / share / experience with your child?

Then let this be your guide. As you look at the day-to-day challenges, how can you honor your highest priorities as a person who is a parent and create a joyous, honoring relationship with your child?


An Invitation to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community’

Want to chose your highest priorities as a parent and learn how to stay focused on them through your day-to-day interactions with your child? This is exactly what we are going to talk about in our September Community Call on Saturday, September 27.

If you’d like to continue this exploration and discussion, I invite you to join ‘Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community.’ where we explore this and other topics to nurture your child’s and your parenting Inner Brilliance.

This Community is for anyone – parents, grandparents, educators, concerned family and community members – who care about nurturing the Inner Brilliance of our children and who want to nurture them in being who they are.

Click here to learn more and join us today!

Adventure to Scotland + Exceptional Summer Camp for Girls

Adventure to Scotland

Several weeks ago I had this conversation with my 6.5-year-old grandson Sebastian…

Me: Sebastian, you know how I sometimes go to other countries and see and do new cool things? Well, I’m going to go traveling again in a few weeks, and I was wondering if you…

Sebastian: Yes! I want to go. I’ve not been to any other state than Colorado, and I want to see more.

Me: Ok. we’ll be going to another country and there will be a long plane flight.

Sebastian: That’s ok. I can hang with it.

And thus began the creation of our 2 – week adventure, which begins tomorrow. There were a few in-between conversations that I’ll share with you later.

I have our first 3 nights in Edinburgh booked and the last night before we fly home. The rest we are going to create together as we go. I have no idea how he’ll adjust to this kind of trip, what’s going to catch our eye and call us to stay another day.

I’ve got a basic itinerary planned based on what we both want to see. High on the list are castles, armour and weapons, Stones of Callanish, and a 5000-year-old Neolithic settlement on the Orkney Islands. High Adventure — my favorite kind.

I am thrilled to share this with him. Of course, Mommy and Daddy will miss him – and he them. I so appreciate and admire Orion and Nichola’s ability to set aside their own desires for themselves and to support Sebastian to have an amazing, life-changing experience.

I’d love to have you follow our adventures on Facebook. Click here to friend me on FB

Exceptional Camp for Girls

My friend and colleague Aby Ryan is the inspiration and founder of Athena Camps, a summer camp program in San Jose and Los Altos, designed to empower and build confidence in girls, ages 6 to 11 through self-expression and personal connections. Through successful experiences with sports and authentic creative expression, the girls flourish.

A program has to meet very high standards for me to recommend it. I have participated in a camp closing activity and helped with training the college-age coaches who work with the girls. I enthusiastically recommend Athena Camps to all parents who are passionate about nurturing their daughter’s Inner Brilliance.

I promise you and your cherished daughter will love it! I am so impressed with what Aby has created.

Click here to find out more about Athena Camps.

Happy trails!

Celebrating Inner Brilliance!

PS. Please forgive any typos. I’m in the middle of getting last-minute things done! 🙂

What’s the Big Deal about Toothpaste?

(as seen through the eyes of our 6-year-old grandson Sebastian)

Connie and Doug, aka Grandma and Grandpa, are really cool grandparents. They give me lots of freedom to do what I want, they care about me, and they don’t make a big deal out of a lot of things…spilling things, breaking things, not saying “please” or “excuse me” when I burp.

But there’s one thing, until recently, that has bugged them that I don’t understand. You see, I’m a capable, curious boy, and I like discovering how to do things. I’ve watched Mommy and Daddy and my grandparents put toothpaste on a toothbrush ever since I was little, and recently I’ve decided I’d like to know how to do it myself.

It doesn’t look that hard – point the toothpaste toward my brush, squeeze the tube, until the toothpaste comes out, and goes onto the brush. Easy peasy!

The thing is, I always seem to squeeze it too hard and LOTS of paste comes out, way too much, and it makes a mess. Then Connie and Doug get upset and tell me I’ve used too much.

I know it’s too much. I tell them I’m sorry, but I can tell they’re kinda upset. I feel bad. They’re relaxed about lots of stuff, but I figure it’s only toothpaste. Is it really that big a deal? How else am I going to learn if I don’t get to try it?

Last night was different. Connie told Doug she would help me with my toothpaste, but I’d already decided to stop trying. I told her, “No. You can do it.” But she insisted and told me she knew I could do it.

She started by making me slow down a bit so she could show me how to squeeze the tube a little bit and then handed the toothbrush to me so I could do it. I was amazed at how easy it was and how I only have to squeeze the tube a tiny bit.

Grandma Connie doesn’t like to get mad or be upset with me. I know she wants me to be happy. I think she figured out it’s only toothpaste, and I’m way more important than that.

I’m growing up and want to do new things. I just need a chance to learn. Every time I’m told ‘no’ or been yelled at or gotten into trouble, I feel bad about me. I feel a little smaller and less capable, and I feel more alone.

You know, I’m a pretty sensitive kid, even though I try not to show it. I’m happy most of the time, speak up about what I want, and try new things easily.

Little things, like toothpaste, can make a big difference.


What are the situations and the ways in which your child of any age wants to stretch and grow, to try something new? Are you giving him space to make mistakes and learn on his own, or are you focused on making him act the be the way you think he should?

If you’d like to continue this conversation, I invite you to join “Our Children’s Inner Brilliance Community”, where we explore ways to nurture our children’s and our own Inner Brilliance.

Click here to find out more and to join.

Don’t Bail on Yourself and Your Child’s Unique Inner Brilliance!

You’re busy. I”d have to have my eyes closed not to see that. There’s feeding, clothing, cleaning, getting your kids out the door in the morning and to be at night, arranging play dates, showing up for sports events, managing the hurts and bumps of life.

Add to this taking care of yourself, which includes all of the above plus your career, staying healthy and in shape, your friends, your parents on both sides, time with your partner, taking care of your home.

I’m sure I left some things out here, but it’s easy to see why you’re often exhausted at the end of the day. These things seem to take all the bandwidth you have.

Yet there are some Big Picture Essentials not listed above: you and your child’s happiness and joy, the emotional connection you have with each of your children, your child’s self-confidence, social skills, her comfort in her own skin, his courage, compassion, and unique Inner Brilliance.

These provide the emotional environment and foundation, in which everything else happens.

When do you find time for these? If you’re like most parents, you keep meaning to get to them, to take some time to reflect and make some needed changes while days and weeks pass by unnoticed.

I believe these Big Picture Essentials are the most important place for us as parents and grandparents to keep our focus. They need to be our highest priority.

You know you’ll get your kids fed and you’ll make it out the door. It’s these Essentials that determine whether you do so joyously and easily or whether it’s a conflict or struggle.

If you’re ready to show up for these Big Picture Essentials, I invite you to be a part of my FR^EE  ‘Nurture Your Family Virtual Retreat’ this Saturday, February 15.

It’s only a two hour process with a short call at the beginning of each hour, in which I share information and exercises for you to do  the remainder of the hour. ..Two hours and you will have spent quality time with yourself, reflecting on what really matters for yourself and your family.

Of course, if you can’t be on the calls live, I will email you the audio links afterward.

We’d love to have you join us!

Click here to find out more and register.


Play Dough ‘Ignited’ My Granddaughter!

I had the most wonderful experience with 3.5-year-old Madison yesterday that filled us both with such joy. In an email I received from The Artful Parent blog, I was reminded how much kids love play dough. Madi and I hadn’t played with it before, so I decided to make some with her.

After a pretty uneventful process of making it (she kept asking if she could taste it, remembering all the yummy things we have made previously!), we dumped all of it on a plastic tablecloth on the living room rug. Within moments, she began making a big, fat pancake with all of the dough and then folding it, every minute becoming more vibrant and animated.

Then she got the idea she’d like to cut it and ran into the kitchen to get ‘her knife,’ which cuts almost nothing but play dough. Together we made fudge and marshmallows, all of which had to be fed to her baby.

The entire time she was breathing more heavily than usual and sharing how much fun she was having. There was an intensity, a confidence, a certainty, a positive power I don’t think I’ve ever seen in her before, and she is not usually a cautious, held-back girl. She was passionately  ‘on fire’ and I was blown away.

Later when we got in the car, she told me, “Grandma, you are the most wonderful grandma I ever saw.” Said with heart-felt appreciation. The play dough was the perfect thing at the perfect time. I can hardly wait to play with her again!

Nurturing children’s Inner Brilliance is the most impactful, joyful gift we can give children, whether it looks like cutting play dough together, listening to their concerns or wants, or setting limits. When we focus on supporting our kids’ Inner Brilliance, we are on-track to bring out the very best in them.

If this is a priority for you also, I invite you to attend my FRE^E annual ‘Nurture Your Family Virtual Retreat’ where you’ll have the opportunity to explore ways you can nurture your child’s Inner Brilliance and create truly joyous relationships with him /her.

We’ll meet via a phone conference line and our three calls will be recorded.  By registering, you’ll be able to  get the recordings shortly after the retreat and listen and do the exercises at a convenient time for you.

Click here to find out more and to sign up.

Feel free to share this anyone whom you feel might be interested. Thanks so much for spreading the word!!

I’m sure you’ve had a similar, magical experience with a child.  Would you please share it with us ?