Sex Ed: It’s Really Not that Difficult, People

The school system has blown sex ed completely out-of-the-water by making it include various sexual activities, gender options and so forth.  I’m convinced there is a definite agenda to sexualizing our children–at very young ages nonetheless.

When I was in fourth or fifth grade public school, my parents were given a permission slip for them to sign for my going to two brief classes (during school hours): one was about male anatomy and one was about female anatomy. Parents had to sign yes or no for each of the classes (they didn’t authorize my going to the male anatomy–I was the only one who didn’t go).

There was no promotion of various types of sex–only the biological FACTS. It was completely unbiased. The girls and boys were in separate classes so there was no embarrassment around the opposite sex.  As a parent now, I say that was a BRILLIANT way to handle it in school.

Here is what should to be covered in sex education at around age 10 at the earliest. Males and females need to be separated during this class time:

1. Anatomy of both males and females: reproductive organs, their functions, menstruation and ovulation.

2. How to get pregnant and how to avoid pregnancy (abstinence, rhythm method and contraception).

Here is what could be covered at around age 12 or 13 at the earliest. Males and females need to be separated during this class time:

3. A brief discussion about sexually-transmitted diseases and their symptoms–with the approach that abstinence is the best way to avoid these diseases.

Each of the above class sessions wouldn’t need to last longer than half of one school day.

The rest of the information, including values and beliefs, belong with each family; the parents of each family get to handle the rearing of their own children their own ways.

To all the parents out there: Are you raising a stink about the sexualizing of your children, the removing of innocence of your children, in school?  I sure hope so.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Career and education, Parenting | Leave a comment

‘It’s Not Fair for Me!’ Exclaimed a Parent

I recently spoke with a parent who complained about not getting enough time to himself due to his part-time parenting-time arrangement.  ‘It’s not fair’ was his complaint.

I told him ‘fairness’ doesn’t come to play as a parent.  ‘Fairness’ isn’t even worthy of concern.

What is the concern? The well-being of the children, the children’s needs, and the parents healing every bit of their issues as soon as possible.

Truly, healing ones own issues as a parent is a round-the-job task in conjunction with raising ones own children.  What does that have to do with ‘fairness?’  Absolutely nothing.

I’ve been neck-deep in handling responsibility. I’ve been through experiences which stretched me beyond what I thought was possible, all the while, doing everything in my power to be an empathetic, healthy parent.  How I’ve made it through has been knowing that I alone signed up for being a parent–no one forced me into this.  And I alone am responsible for ensuring my kids have a healthy foundation on which to base their entire lives.

The narcissistic, self-absorbed culture we live in requires empathetic parents to have to be extremely strong in supporting and being available to our children.

Now, more than ever, parents need to be there for their children: to love, protect, support and guide them.

It’s good for a person to not easily-escape something of value, purity, and purpose.  Not being able to easily-escape parental responsibilities allows for a parent to learn and grow deeply and to become a better person with character and integrity.

I told the above-referenced parent this: Don’t worry, before you know it your children will be grown. How you are with your children right now is going to directly affect the relationship they will have with you for the rest of your life. Think and act wisely.

Stop worrying about what is fair for you in the context of your family. For the sake of your children. For the sake of the future of our society.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Parenting | Leave a comment

Long-Distance Relationships

There are relationships which are physically-distant from one-another.  And there are relationships where two people don’t live that far from one another, but they might as well be living across the country from one another: they just don’t care to be too involved with the other person, and/or chose to be vague or secretive rather than deeply share themselves, and so forth. Regardless, I see both scenarios as ‘long-distance’ relationships.  Even affairs are like long-distance relationships.

Author Sandra Reihus, in her book titled Oh, no! He’s Just Like My Father, says the about long-distance relationships:

“A distant relationship comprises two people who like the idea of being in a relationship but don’t need or want the day-to-day complications of it. Each lives in another city, state, or country and only seeing each other occasionally works out fine.  They may talk every day and share the details of their lives, but they don’t have to worry about taking turns with the housework or what they are going to do with a free Sunday.  If a bad mood strikes one of them, they simply end the phone call early and don’t have to confront how they take their mood out on the other.

“Every time they get together it’s vacation time, and all is well with the world. It’s like having the honeymoon part of a relationship over and over.  This couple doesn’t need to sort out their differences and personal relationship issues. They each get to have their own personal life and experiences, and basically do as they wish.  If it works for both of them and they don’t want to change, they could stay like this for the long haul.

“Some people, though, have a distant relationship and then decide to live together. That’s usually when the trouble starts, because they haven’t dealt with the details.  Seeing each other every weekend or once a month is quite different than living with someone every day, week after week.

Frank and Terri:  Living the Honeymoon Life

“Living on opposites sides of the country seemed to work for Frank and Terri.  They would take turns flying out to see each other once a month and talk on the phone and exchange e-mails on a consistent basis.  When vacation time rolled around, they would pick a spot they both loved and meet there. For the most part, these meetings were filled with laughter and great sex.  Of course, they both experienced life’s ups and downs, but they tried to keep the negative moods to a minimum because it was such a treat to spend time together in person.

“They talked about one moving to live with the other, but they knew that would require more adjustments than they were willing to make.  Terri had become a vegetarian and stayed up late, working and reading.  She was a night person.  Frank was the opposite and needed his early bedtime and total silence. She liked to attend parties and openings, and he relished staying home with his cat, to which she was allergic.  They couldn’t make it together, but apart they were great friends, and that’s really all they both wanted—to have someone to say, ‘Hi’ to and talk about what went on that day, then to have the rest of their time to do as they pleased.”

- Sandra Reihus
Oh, no! He’s Just Like My Father, pages 101-102

Are there any relationships that you hold on to which feel like a long-distance relationship?  Have you asked yourself what the payoffs are for doing that?  Does it protect you from someone getting to know you on a deeper level? Does it minimize your responsibilities? Does it feel safe?

I’d love to hear from you.

Amy Axelson

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Common-Sense Dating as a Single Parent

I’ve written some very-detailed articles about how to date a single parent, the benefits of dating a single parent, supporting a single parent, and creating a dating relationship with a single parent.

But recently, I was communicating with a single parent who seemed a bit lost about juggling his part-time parenting responsibilities and his shiny, new relationship which he is eagerly pursuing.   I wanted very concise advice to him.  Here is what I said:

When bringing a new person into your life, Single Parent, you say to that person,

“This is how my life looks. Here is how I parent my kids. Here is the kind of relationship I have with my kids. Here is the amount of time I spend with my kids. This is what we do together. Here is how much time I have away from my kids, and here is what I do with that kid-free time.

“Is this a situation you want to try to fit yourself into—EXACTLY AS IT IS RIGHT NOW?”

“No? Okay, then we’ll have to part ways.

“Yes? Okay, great. Are you up for the challenge of figuring out how you fit in and are you willing to go out of your way to do so? Are you clear that my kids and myself, as their parent, come first?

“No? Okay, then we’ll have to part ways.

“Yes? Okay. Now you need to share this with your children and I, with mine. And we have to make sure that they still feel loved and secure, and we’ll have to continuously stay attuned to how they are feeling about having you, an outsider, injected into our lives. And we’ll have to address each concern as it arises.

“We can’t get lost in teenage-like infatuations or develop an ‘us against the kids’ mentality.

“We’re responsible, mature adults who make our children the priority.”

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | 4 Comments

Questions to Ask Your School Board Candidates

I am voting on November 3rd.

As a parent and taxpayer, I have the following questions:

  1. What/how much federal funding has <my city> schools accepted, or will be accepting, and what specifically is the funding for? What has <my city>, in turn, agreed to do for said funding?
  2. What percentage of <my city> schools’ curriculum is Common-Core based?
  3. What is your opinion on the Common Core curriculum?
  4. Do you believe parents should have a say in allowing or refusing this curriculum?
  5. How do we go about requiring <my city> schools to list, online, all the curriculum used in each of the schools for parents and taxpayers to review and approve?
  6. What is your opinion about <my city> students doing most, if not, all of their work on computers?
  7. Do you believe parents and students should have the option to use hard-copy textbooks instead of computers?
  8. What is your opinion about students’ wi-fi and cell phone exposure—is this harmful to children?
  9. Do you believe parents and students should have a say about their being exposed to wi-fi and cell phone electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation?
  10. Is anyone on the board willing to petition for Ethernet-wired internet connection in the schools instead of wi-fi?
  11. Do any of the <my city> schools have cell phone towers on school property?  Are there plans for cell phone tower installation?
  12. Are teachers required to be union members?  If they are, is anyone on the board willing to petition for union membership to be optional and for non-members to be allowed all the rights of members (i.e. not being penalized for being a non-member)?
  13. What are your beliefs about <my city> schools’ funding—do you believe more money is needed within the school system?  If so, where would you like this money to go?
  14. Do you believe the school system is owned by tax payers?
  15. How do we go about requiring <my city> school expenses and financial distribution to be posted online for all <my city> residents, tax payers, to review?

Amy Axelson

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Socialization and The ‘Common Good’


[soh-shuh-luh-zey-shuh n]
1.  a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
2.  the act or process of making socialistic :
the socialization of industry.
1885-90; socialize + -ation Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015

As a homeschooling mom, I hear the Socialization argument a nauseating amount of times.  ‘How will your kids get socialized if they aren’t in school?’

What exactly do these ‘concerned’ citizens fear about homeschooling?  Do they want all children to be trained, coerced, by strangers into conformity–to be like everyone else?  To not think for themselves?  To have their spirits rattled and molded into the latest socially-accepted behaviors? To be separated from the people who unconditionally love them?

Per the definition of socialization, above, my children are developing a personal identity without a school building. They are learning societies’ norms, values, behaviors and social skills from being in our close-knit family; from our endless discussions about society, relationships, beliefs and values; from being out in the world; from making phone calls to get answers they want; from interacting with people ranging from sales clerks to relatives; from their parents’ guidance.

My children aren’t being bombarded with propaganda, indoctrination and conditioning (yes, any institution has this as an undercurrent, if not, blatantly presented) without a caring adult to help them sort through and process it.  They aren’t living in continuous state of flight-or-fight.  They have a good understanding of what healthy relationships and situations are; and they know that walking away from dysfunction and abuse is self-respectful.  They have privacy and space for self-reflection and self-exploration. They are learning time-management by not having every moment planned for them, and are learning to decide what is important to them as an individual.  They are learning communication skills with people who they trust and love the most, because they are happily part of a team/a family.

Without healthy and loving experiences as a child, it can take several years into adulthood to learn that, first, we deserve good; and second, to learn to find and create healthy and loving experiences.

The modern mainstream mindset is an old political mindset:  we must focus on the common good or the good of the whole.  The whole comes before the individual.  Sacrifice yourself, your beliefs, and loved ones for the common good.  But the thing is, some of us didn’t have children to sacrifice them.

What benefits the common good is for people to know, love, trust, and respect themselves.  With that foundation, anything is possible. With that foundation, people can follow their passions; and their joy effortlessly overflows well beyond themselves.

So, indeed, it is the individual who must be nurtured and valued.

“…The desires and goals of the state are secondary to the absolute rights of the individual.  We are free to pursue happiness and personal fulfillment in the way we understand those concepts.  We can choose to be active members of communities or keep to ourselves.  We can choose to work for the common good or focus on personal goals.  We are free to worship (or not) as we please, and raise our children in the manner we deem correct.  And we reserve the right to educate our children within the realm of our personal values, rather than the popular values of the greater community.”
- Conform:  Exposing the Truth about Common Core and Public Education
by Glenn Beck, Kevin Balfe, and Kyle Olson
page 144

Some parents worry that they, the parents, might have too much of an influence on their own children.  What?!  Of course parents should have an influence on their children.  I sure hope that parents have learned and continue to learn a lot from their life experiences so they can share their wisdom with their own offspring.  If the parent fears their influence, I recommend they heal their shit so they are the type of influence they want their children to have.

In many, if not most cases, parents homeschool their kids because they are deeply-invested in raising their own children.  I think it is rare to find such a parent who doesn’t want their children to be able to function in society!

Socialization.  Let’s trust that each family does what it needs to do in order for each family member to live the life they desire to live.  Let’s put the responsibility in the hands of family.  There really is no other way to ensure a peaceful and functional common good.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Parenting, Relationships | Leave a comment

Splitting Things Fifty-Fifty in a Relationship Is Nonsense

How many couples or roommates fight about splitting chores 50-50?

Pre-kids, their dad and I evenly-split our shared expenses and paid our own individual expenses.  We each cooked our own meals or we ate out, and we each did our own laundry.  This worked great as a couple without kids.  This stopped working once we had kids.

Even when we were childless, though, besides splitting expenses and each of us managing our own eating and laundry, we didn’t and couldn’t split anything else.

It’s impossible to determine what would classify as 50-50 in a relationship, in a family and in a household.

Going to a paid job isn’t like being at home with kids: the responsibilities and experiences can’t be compared or served as competition.  Even comparing paid jobs seems futile and not beneficial.

I’ve taken care of my kids around-the-clock since birth (with co-sleeping, extended nursing, babywearing, elimination communication, homeschooling, and so forth); there is no way to find equivalent tasks to what I have done. There’s no way to measure or quantify being attuned and having one’s parenting radar on 24-7.

There is also no way to compare duties with the person who does health and education research for the family, orders and shops for living supplies for the family, manages the finances, sits in a long work commute, deals with the general public, etc.

If the focus could be on relationships with each other and self, then there would be no need to even think about a 50-50 split. Either you are invested in your relationships or you are not.

Each adult can fetch food and feed themselves. Each adult can make sure they have clothes to wear. And the adult in the closest proximity to the children can make sure the children have food and clothing accessible to them.

Everything else, really, is personal preference. Who wants a sparkling bathroom? Well, that person will clean it when they have the time, energy and desire to do it. And if they don’t, then it doesn’t get done. It is irrelevant that the person who wants the clean bathroom is working 80 hours a week outside the home or taking care of the kids around-the-clock; they can either make it happen (by doing it themselves or hiring someone to do it) or not.

I want certain things for my kids, so I make sure they have those things (and it’s not really ‘things’–it especially has to do with well-being and emotional needs). I don’t expect their dad to provide those things for them. There are no ‘50-50’ dreams going though in my head.

To me, the key to happy co-parenting (or co-inhabiting) is for the couple to do the following:

  • be friends
  • enjoy each other’s company
  • listen to each other without defenses up and without needing to ‘save’ or fix the other
  • do the simple, minimal things–things which don’t put a damper on your integrity, dignity and energy-level–that help each other out (Examples: Put the toilet seat down so your loved one doesn’t find herself sitting in the toilet bowl in the middle of the night. Put perishables in the fridge when you’re through with them, uncovered even if need-be.)
  • do not have transaction-based thinking (‘I did this, so now you owe me.’ Or ‘I did 55%, so you at least need to do 45% to balance me out.’)
  • in parenting and household responsibilities: each person do what they enjoy (or at least what they each want to do or to have done) and are good at or, at least, willing to learn from
  • let go of every possible expectation and obligation which does not involve nurturing the relationships with one’s kids, self, partnership and family.

May we enjoy, nurture and learn from our relationships.  May we be free and light in our homes.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | 2 Comments

How to Get to Know Someone

Getting to know someone shouldn’t feel like pulling teeth, coddling, babysitting or conducting an interrogation.

But yet it does when a person is either secretive or vague, or they just don’t think much about what they do and why they do it, or they are concerned about trying to be what the other wants them to be so they wait and then adjust their words and what they reveal according to what they think the other person wants.

When I’m getting to know someone, I like to talk about what I’m thinking and doing. I like to share my ideas, thoughts, and plans, as well as discuss why I believe and do as I do, and what lead me to today and my lifestyle.

In other words, I like to honestly and openly present who I am to the people I want in my life, and to clarify anything people do not understand about me.

Sure, it can be fun and exciting to continue to learn about a person for several years. But the foundation of a person, their day-to-day life happenings, relationships, beliefs and choices should be revealed soon after meeting.

It is nice to know a lot about who a person is at the beginning, within the first few months, because it really sucks to invest a lot of time and energy into a person, only to find out months later that you aren’t a match; and if they would have just told you these things in the beginning you could have moved on right away.

The excitement of learning about a person should pertain to learning their idiosyncrasies and nuances (areas which they wouldn’t even think of in terms of words) as you spend time together, their ‘vibes’ and energy (including yours combined), how they grow daily, and how your relationship together grows and functions.

To help people get to know each other, I have come up with a list of questions. Each person can simply reveal this information to the other–not as someone being interrogated, but as someone who wants to share themselves with another. And, really, after the answers to these questions are revealed, these areas should be an on-going dialog for as long as you are involved with each other. Communication continues well after you’ve originally expressed your answers.

Inner life and personality:

  • What is your personality type, love language, astrology signs (especially sun, moon, and rising)? How do you think each of those assessments are accurate or inaccurate for you?
  • What makes you tick?
  • What keeps you going in life? In other words, why are still here and why haven’t given up? Why do you want to get out of bed in the morning?
  • Do you believe you are worthy just for existing? Why or why not?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • What overwhelms you?
  • What do you have a big ego about?
  • What do you procrastinate doing and why?
  • What are your strengths, gifts and talents?
  • What are your weaknesses, mistakes and downfalls?
  • Has anyone told you that you are in denial or ‘needy’? About what, in what ways? Do you think it’s true and why?
  • Has anyone ever told you it’s nerve-racking to be around you?
  • Has anyone ever told you that you seem lost?
  • What or who do you do your best to avoid?
  • What do you feel guilty about, if anything?
  • What role do emotions play in your life, decisions, choices, and relationships?
  • Are you a dreamer?
  • In what ways are you creative and/or innovative?
  • What personal-growth areas are you working on right now?
  • What do you still need to heal from (emotionally, mentally, or physically)?
  • What hurdles have you overcome (and healed) in life? How did you overcome them? How does this affect your life today?
  • What would you like to change in your life?
  • Have you ever been to, or thought about going to, counseling?  Why?  For what?
  • What are your beliefs and thoughts about the following and why:
    • political issues
    • freedom (personal freedom, freedom as a nation, etc.)
    • religion
    • health and well-being
    • manners
  • Where does your personal-responsibility begin and end (in areas such as your life choices, your relationships, and your health)?
  • Do you consider yourself to be independent?  In which ways?
  • What are your beliefs and thoughts about dating, commitment, marriage, long-distance relationships, monogamy, and open relationships? Which do you want for yourself?
  • What are your thoughts on money? Do you struggle with money? Do you give money away? Do you loan people money? Do people give or loan you money?
  • Does anyone owe you anything? If you do something for someone, do they owe you?
  • How do you deal with favors? Would you consider yourself to be a transaction-based person?
  • Are you a people-pleaser? A doormat? An ass-kisser? A fake?  If yes, for/with whom and why?
  • Is there anyone for whom you would drop what you’re doing at their request? Who? How often does this happen?
  • Do you blame anything or anyone for how you are and how you live right now?
  • What makes you feel valued? What makes you feel important? What makes you feel appreciated? What makes you feel heard? What makes you feel understood?
  • What scares you?
  • What is the very worst that could happen to you?
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  • What is holding you back from getting what you want?
  • If you could be any celebrity, who would you be and why (one male and one female)?
  • What does your dream life look and feel like?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Do you do projects slowly or quickly?
  • Are you type A or B: at work, away from work, at home, in public?
  • How do you feel about going to work?
  • Are you into drama?  If so, what kind?
  • Are you nervous or anxious?
  • What are some of your favorite things to do, and why? How often do you do these things?
  • Where are some of your favorite places to be, and why? How often do you spend time in those places? What do you do with your down time?
  • How do you feel about doing nothing and about silence?
  • What kind of distractions do you have?
  • Are you easily distracted by people walking by, by any sort of motion, etc.?
    How much alone time do you need each day?
  • Do you like to be understood? Do you like to understand the people you invest time in?
  • Do people tend to give you things?  If so, who gives you things, what do they give you, and how frequently?
  • Do some people feel sorry for or pity you?  Why or why not?
  • For what or whom would you fight for to-the-death?

Home life and using your time:

  • What are your daily, weekly, monthly and annual commitments?
  • Do you live with anyone?  If so, what kind of relationship do you have with them and how often do you spend time together?
  • What do you do when you walk in the door from work, from an outing?
  • How do you feel about owning and buying things?
    • How often do you shop, for what, and where?
    • Are you collector?
    • Do you hold onto things in case you might need them one day?
    • Do you hold onto things for memories’ sake?
    • Do you store other people’s items for them? If so, why?
  • What are your beliefs about cooking, cleaning, organizing, decluttering? Do you need others to do these things for you? If so, do you hire them or do you think they should do it because they owe you?
  • How do you feel about running errands?
  • How do you respond to messes?
  • What do you do for exercise, how often and where?
  • Do you drive and/or own a car?
  • Which, if any, social media applications do you use, for what, and how often?
  • If you have a cell phone, what do you use it for and how often?
  • What TV programs do you watch and how frequently? Are you okay with missing those programs?
  • How often do you watch movies? Where do you watch them? What genres do you like and what are some of your favorite movies from each genre?
  • What do you read, including online, and how frequently?
  • What music do you listen to and when?
  • Do you like having company at your home?  Who, how frequently, and what do you do?

Community involvement and social life:

  • What does each day look like for you, from when you wake up until you fall asleep at night?
  • Do you belong to any clubs, organizations, clubs, churches, or religions? Why? What do you get out of belonging to each of them?
  • What rituals, traditions and services do you participate in? Why?
  • Which holidays do you celebrate; how do you celebrate, with whom, and why?
  • How do you celebrate your own birthday? Do you expect others to celebrate with you? If so, whom, how and why?
  • Do you travel? If so, is it recreational or work-related? How frequently? Where do you go, what do you do, and with whom?
  • Do you enjoy entertaining? Who, how frequently, and what do you do?
  • In what ways do you depend on other people and who are those people?
  • Do you enjoy chit-chatting with strangers?
  • Do you need strangers to smile at you, greet you, talk to you? Why?
  • Do you like to people-watch? Do you believe people out in the world are meant to be watched and/or admired, or otherwise judged, by you?
  • Do you have any crushes? Who and why?
  • When you are with someone who you dating or close to, do you like to talk with them about who you find attractive and appealing, or do you like to keep it to yourself? Why?
  • Do you enjoy arguments and debates?
  • Do you zip past traffic or do you wait your turn?
  • Do you hold doors open for people?
  • Are you protective? How and with whom?
  • How important to you is communication with people you care about? How do you define ‘good’ communication? In what frequency? Using which methods?
  • Do you believe there is such thing as creating ‘quality’ time in relationships? Or do you think that ‘quality’ cannot be contrived, and that it’s most important to spend a lot of consecutive time together?
  • What was the longest relationship you have been in?
  • Why did each of your relationships end?  Why do each of your exes say the relationships ended?
  • What did/do you like best about the relationships you’ve had? What did/do you like the least?
  • What kind of relationship did your parents have?  How did they treat each other? Do you admire their relationship, or do you hope to have one better than they had?
  • Do you feel connected with your roots, ancestors, family history? Why?
  • Which relatives do you have daily, weekly, or monthly interactions with?
    • What kind of interactions (phone calls, texts, emails, real-life meetings), when and where?
    • What kind of relationship do you have with each of these people?
    • What do each of them mean to you?
    • What do you have in common with them as the person who you are today?
    • Do you ever interact with them out of guilt or obligation? Why or why not?
  • Which friends from childhood do you have daily, weekly, or monthly interactions with?
    • What kind of interactions (phone calls, texts, emails, real-life meetings), when and where?
    • What kind of relationship do you have with each of these people?
    • What do each of them mean to you?
    • What do you have in common with them as the person who you are today?
    • Do you ever interact with them out of guilt or obligation? Why or why not?
  • Which other friends, acquaintances, and neighbors do you have daily, weekly, or monthly interactions with?
    • What kind of interactions (phone calls, texts, emails, real-life meetings), when and where?
    • What kind of relationship do you have with each of these people?
    • What do each of them mean to you?
    • What do you have in common with them as the person who you are today?
    • Do you ever interact with them out of guilt or obligation? Why or why not?
  • Which coworkers do you have daily, weekly, or monthly interactions with?
    • What kind of interactions (phone calls, texts, emails, real-life meetings), when and where?
    • What kind of relationship do you have with each of these people?
    • What do each of them mean to you?
    • What do you have in common with them?
    • Do you ever interact with them out of guilt or obligation? Why or why not?
  • If you have children, describe the kind of relationship you have with each of them.
    • How often do you see them?
    • Why did you have kids (answer the questions in this blog post)?
    • What have you learned from your kids?
    • What kind of relationship do you want with each of them in the future?
  • What role do animals play in your life?
    • Do you need your close friend or partner to want to be around your pets?
    • Do you believe everyone should love your pets as much as you do?
    • How do you respond when someone doesn’t want your pet on or near them; do you respect that or do you try to force the person to like your pet?

Potential intimate partner

  • What are your thoughts and needs pertaining to sex?

Do you have any questions to add to this list?  I’m sure I will come up with more questions and will add them when I do.

I wish for all of us to have fulfilling and inspirational relationships with honesty and openness.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Relationships | 3 Comments

Dad Wants Kids to Be Happy for His Leaving

Below is a conversation with a dad who left his kids and wife for a new wife and her kids.

What we all can get out of this discussion is to realize that we cannot make another person feel what they do not feel.  We cannot look to others for our own happiness.

Bill:  I need your help in getting my minor-aged kids to respect my choices in finding a new wife and moving into her home and with her kids.  My kids should be happy for me that I found happiness.

Amy:  Of course we both know that we can’t change other people.  But I would love to talk to you about your side of things, and to support you in feeling better and getting what it is you want.

Bill:  Well, the other people are my kids. They are children.

Amy:  Are you saying that you can force your children to feel something they do not?

Bill:  No, but they have a choice about how they feel. They’ve been choosing to disrespect me, my new wife, my wife’s kids, and our home.

Amy:  Let’s get back to your original statement.  You want your children to respect your choices and to be happy for you that you’ve made those choices.

Bill:  Yep.  They should.

Amy:  When you believe they should, how does that make you feel?

Bill:  It makes me angry.  It makes me think my kids are selfish and spoiled brats.  I don’t care about not seeing them because I don’t want to be around selfish kids.

Amy:  How does it feel thinking your own kids are selfish and spoiled brats?

Bill:  It feels shitty.  It makes me wonder what I can do to make them see the light.

Amy:  So, your believing your kids should respect your choices and be happy for you makes you feel angry, shitty, out-of-control, and detached from your kids. Is that correct?

Bill:  Yes.  But they are detaching themselves…

AmyWho would you be, what would you feel, without your thoughts, ‘My kids should respect my choices and be happy for me’?

Bill:  <after a long pause>  I would be more relaxed.  I would be happy for myself.  I would be able to see my kids just as they are, regardless of what I’m doing.

Amy:  Do you think you’d be more inclined to want to see your kids if you were more relaxed, happy for yourself, and if you saw your kids just as they are?

Bill:  <another pause>  Yes.  I think I would.

Amy:  Now can you see where you have all the control: right there in your mind, with the beliefs you are holding onto?

Remember a few moments earlier how you said your children ‘have a choice about how they feel’?  Remember you also said they have been choosing to disrespect?

Can you see how it’s you who has a choice in how you feel?  Can you see how it’s you who has been choosing to be angry, shitty, out-of-control, and detached from your kids?

Bill:  But…

Amy:  Bill, take a look inside.

Bill:  Yeah, what you said is true.  I don’t want to deal with that. It’s easier to blame the kids.

Amy:  Do you suppose you are blaming your kids to distract yourself from some guilt you might have for leaving?

Bill:  I hate to admit it. But I think that’s what has been going on.

Amy:  That’s understandable.  I suggest you deal with the guilt you feel because, as you are experiencing, it creeps into other areas of your life and blinds you to what is really going on.  Check out my blog post called ‘The Basics‘ for a little more on this. And contact me if you want any assistance processing guilt.

Bill:  So now what do I do about my kids?  I think I’ve made a big mess.

Amy:  Meet with your kids away from your new family and new home, and ask them what they want.  Really listen.  Say very little because sometimes speaking can make us focus on our own words rather than listening.

Bill:  Okay. I will give it a shot.

Amy:  Thank you for your vulnerability. And for being there for yourself–because if you won’t, who will?

Bill:  Yeah. I’m starting to realize that. Thanks.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | 1 Comment

Weaning from My Smart Phone

I’ve had my smart phone for about 1.5 years, since December 2013.  At first, I used it for texting, checking email, and reading blogs.  It turns out, I haven’t needed long-distance service much at all–which was one of the main reasons I wanted a cell phone.

Later, I stopped using my cell phone to check email.  So, I have only been checking email when I’m at a wi-fi location (I don’t have wi-fi at home)–usually twice a week.  This has been wonderful: eliminating one more distraction, as well as having one less thing to do.

Over the weekend, I decided I would stop checking blogs (which also meant I would stop commenting on blogs) from my cell phone.  I was getting addicted to, daily, reading my favorite blogs and the readers’ comments on them.  It was so tempting for me to comment on the blogs from my phone as well.

Yesterday, I told a few people who I text with pretty frequently that I won’t be texting anymore. Instead, I will be communicating via email, landline phone calls, or in-person.  Like with deleting Facebook, this keeps communication more intentional and not so ‘twitchy.’  And again, it eliminates another distraction.

Now, I turn on my cell phone quickly in the morning to see if there are any voice mails (I don’t have an answering machine or voice mail for my landline).  I do the same mid-day and before bed.

In just two days, without my cell phone on and being away from wi-fi, the swelling in my neck I’ve been experiencing has gone down drastically.  I think my cell phone has been causing issues with my neck–including my thyroid.

I’m considering switching back to a flip-phone eventually.  But in the meantime, I’m sticking with keeping my smart phone off most of the time.  For my health, for my well-being, to continue to streamline my life, to be intentional about what matters to me, and to allow myself to stay present with those who are in my life (myself included).

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Simple living | 1 Comment

How I Would Do “Career Mom”

This is a big stretch, because if I loved my career so much that I would leave my children for it, I wouldn’t make babies.

But because I often see working moms out in public and online, I have imagined what I would do if I did not have the belief that I am the one to raise my own kids, I was completely in love with my career, and I didn’t want to leave my career to raise my children–yet, I still wanted to provide my kids with everything I believe they need.

So here is what I came up with.  Here’s what I would do as a career mom:

  • Hire a live-in nanny to be a parent to my kids.  The nanny would be into gentle, conscious child-rearing and would love and learn from caring for children.
  • The nanny and I would hire a few back-up babysitters to help her out in our home, or for shopping (food, clothes, and supplies) when needed.
  • I would have the nanny present at my waterbirth homebirths so she could bond with my babies right away.
  • The nanny would be a wet nurse to breastfeed my kids around-the-clock, on-demand.
  • I would pump my milk so I could breastfeed when I was home (when I was not too tired from giving my all to my job).
  • The nanny would wear my kids until they didn’t want to be worn anymore.  I would do the same when I was home (when I was not too tired from giving my all to my job).
  • The nanny would do elimination communication with my babies.
  • The nanny or I (if I was not too tired from giving my all to my job) would co-sleep with my kids.
  • I would have a housekeeper come in a few times a week so the nanny could reserve her energy caring for my kids.
  • The nanny would also be in charge of managing my kids’ homeschooling.  She could hire any help (tutors, instructors, field trips) she wanted to.
  • I would also hire someone to research health and education topics applicable to my kids and our family.

Note that this list seems pretty unrealistic even to me (unless I made some major bucks from my career).

Except that I have done all of the above–without a nanny, housekeeper or back-up babysitters.  This is a great example of why I wouldn’t have kids and keep my career: it would require for me to give up on providing to my kids with what I believe they need.

Also note this scenario is based on if I had children fully-knowing I wouldn’t stay home with them.  Being a mom blind-sided into being a single mom would require a different plan all together.

I happily will support any single moms who want to find ways to have more time with (and energy for) their children. But in the meantime, check out Annie Brewer‘s blogs and e-books: Annie is a single, work-at-home, simple-living mom who has been through hell and found her way back into joy and freedom–with a lot of time at home with her daughter.

Lastly, I will add that most of the bullet points above could work with the non-birthing parent as the at-home parent.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Dealing with Overwhelm: Pick Just One Thing

My brain can overload with all the things I need and want to do.  Sometimes I get paralyzed with being overwhelmed.

This happened as recently as today.  I have several things I want to get done soon.  How can I get it all done?  How can I find the physical energy to do it all? How can I find the mental focus to concentrate on it?

The answer:  Pick just one thing.

That’s it. Just pick one thing to complete.  Because one thing complete is one less thing to do.  Chipping away at my to-do list one item at a time gets things done.

Additionally, when I pick just one thing to do, I have made a decision.  I don’t have to go over and over in my head with my ‘How…?’ questions.  I don’t have to figure out how, because I’m already doing it.  Letting go of the ‘How…?’ questions saves me so much energy!  And actually doing something towards my goals recharges me.

Also, once I start just one thing, it usually leads to my picking another thing.  It snowballs. Rather than my worry snowballing (into overwhelm), my accomplishments snowball.

Pick just one thing.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being | Leave a comment

Allowance for Kids

I give my kids a weekly allowance of three dollars each.  It’s a small amount, but seems to add up quickly for them.

I don’t give allowance in exchange for them doing anything.  I don’t want to equate ‘being a family and part of a team,’ ‘living together,’ or  ‘living life‘ with money or as a reward.

Doing things around the home, for the family, is just part of us living together and loving each other.  Granted, my kids don’t always feel like helping with the things I could use help with. I don’t push it because I don’t believe in home life being stressful.  I want for them to see on their own how helping can be enjoyable; and for them to have the pleasure of choosing to contribute without coercion.  I am fine with doing most of the chores myself; that just means they get done when I feel like doing them, my own way, and at my own pace.  I learn and grow from choosing this, and not feeling like a victim about it.

I give my kids allowance for the following reasons:

  • To share my income with my kids, with the energy of abundance
  • To let my kids have the experience of managing money before they get jobs of their own
  • So my kids can have the responsibility to decide what they want to buy or what they want to save up for
  • To take some pressure off of me from deciding what extras (non-necessities) I want to buy for them

Just this week, my younger child said as I was giving allowance to her, ‘I like having my own money because it makes me really think about what I want to spend it on, instead of just asking you to buy things for me.


Amy Axelson

Posted in Money, Parenting | Leave a comment

If I Were a Millionaire

Penelope Truck wrote a blog post called ‘Play this game: What would you do if you were a millionaire?

I love this game. My kids and I have already written stories describing our dream lives as if they are happening now. But it’s also fun to do a list of what I would do as a millionaire, thinking in terms of having large amounts of money.

If I were a millionaire I would do the following:

  • quit my weekend gig
  • pursue my coaching business and blog-writing in greater depth
  • pay off kids’ dad’s home
  • pay off kids’ dad’s car
  • buy some land on one of the great lakes in the U.S., equipped with a well, septic system, solar and wind power
  • invest some of my money
  • rent a little cottage on water, near a functional, pedestrian-friendly little town
  • buy mopeds for my kids and me
  • buy a new, hybrid car and a little pull-behind camper and hire someone to maintain them
  • buy a houseboat and hire someone to maintain it
  • lease a horse for my older child near where we live
  • get all the alternative (and some conventional) health care my kids, their dad and I need
  • get regularly-scheduled massages, facials, manicures and pedicures
  • eat at from-scratch, local restaurants three times a week (or more)
  • travel the world with my kids…and a fun, knowledgeable, helpful assistant
  • attend Esther Hicks and Byron Katie seminars every-other-month
  • attend any classes or educational programs we are interested in
  • fund my kids’ start-up businesses
  • hire someone to create seasonal capsule wardrobes for me (probably design and create my clothes for me)
  • hire someone to clothes shop with my kids
  • hire weekly housekeeper for scrub cleaning
  • hire someone to create and care for an edible garden with my kids; and teach us to cook with the produce and herbs, and how to use the herbs for health
  • hire someone to teach auto mechanics to my kids and me
  • hire someone to teach us how to forage off the land and other survival techniques
  • hire a consultant to help my kids with their college and/or career paths (creating transcripts, resumes, etc.)
  • hire an on-call driver when needed

Investment in Community:

  • donate money to families wanting homebirths
  • donate money for postpartum doulas to provide free services to families
  • start and hire people to run a mentor and job-shadow program in my town and its outskirts
  • build and hire people to run and maintain a cost-free family-friendly/family-focused community and learning-resource center, outdoor market, and activity town-square in my town (all privately-run, without a non-profit status)
  • develop two co-housing communities with childcare exchange, clothing exchange, edible garden, playground and recreation center, and support groups/coaching for single parents (perhaps one for mothers and one for fathers)

Like writing a dream-life story, making a list of what I’d do as a millionaire helps me to know myself better–without limits or fears.

I can take this list and begin creating some of what I desire.  Can I barter or exchanges services with people?  Is there any space I can create out of my current schedule or current location to make room for that which is closer to what I desire?

I believe in matching our vibration with what we want.  I do my best to act as if what I want is happening right now.  So, for example, when I clean my apartment, I feel like I’m cleaning my water-front cottage.  It feels enjoyable to care for my cottage and I feel like I’m practically living my dream already.

Have fun with this.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Money | Leave a comment

Self-Exploration During Challenging Times: Advice from Rob Brezsny

I read Rob Brezsny’s  horoscopes almost every week.  I look up these three of my signs:  sun (most obvious part of personality, in newspaper horoscopes), moon (emotional life; primal, subconscious self) and rising (the work we were born to do).

This week, Rob posted on his website some really great advice for dealing with challenging times, without knowing anyone’s specific situation.  I think this advice can also be applied to when one is ready for a change.  I want to share it here since I agree with it:

“…The only thing I’ll suggest, as you seek to clarify your situation, is for you to arrange to go on a retreat. During that time of withdrawal from the world’s everyday madness, I urge you to avoid all media and to be as silent and relaxed as it’s possible for you to be.

“During the first part of your retreat, spend hours visualizing in your mind’s eye the entire story of your life, from the earliest memory to the present moment.

“During the second phase of your retreat, begin your meditations by establishing contact with the highest source of wisdom and love within you. You can call this source God or Goddess or your Guardian Angel or Higher Self. Spend luxurious time in dialogue with this source, making sure to ask these questions:

1. ‘What is it I want more than anything else?’

2. ‘What is the best way to serve the mission I came to Earth to carry out? What are the very best gifts I have to offer other humans?’

3. ‘What path will allow me to ultimately learn the most about wise love?’

4. ‘How do I need to change in order to get what I want, carry out my life’s mission, and learn about wise love? What influences and attitudes do I need to eliminate?’

“During the third phase of the process, write out a mission statement: what you want to accomplish by the time you die many years hence. Then create a master plan of the actions you will take in order to make that mission statement come true. Include three actions you will take in the next month to get more serious about accomplishing your mission.

“During the fourth phase, visualize the following scenarios in lush detail: that God/Goddess loves you, that the entire universe is conspiring to give you the lessons and blessings and kicks in the ass and liberations you need exactly when you need them, and that you are ready to welcome that love and guidance with all your heart.

“P.S. I’m a big believer in trusting your intuition. Even if it doesn’t lead you to what your ego thinks is a successful outcome, your intuition will always guide you to the experiences that your soul needs.”

- Rob Brezsny
Astrologer, writer, poet, and musician

Lately, I’ve been reading books by Joan Anderson.  Check them out from the library to learn about one woman’s journey back to herself.

For parents who are still raising children, remember that a retreat can be as simple as getting up before the kids in the morning, segmented into small amounts of time.  You don’t have to leave your children to get a retreat or care for yourself.  As a matter of fact, learning to care for yourself while still being there for your children can be some of the most powerfully-healing times full of deep, life-lasting growth for all involved.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Spirituality | Leave a comment

Appreciation versus Gratitude & A New Attitude

Gratitude and Appreciation: is there a difference? I have listened to an Esther Hicks clip about this topic. And I really can feel the difference. I shall paraphrase what she said:

Gratitude is being thankful that we’ve overcome some sort of obstacle, some sort of struggle; while feeling grateful for that, we are still focusing on the struggle. It’s a motivation to try to make ourselves go somewhere.

Appreciation is ‘to increase the value of’.  It is seeing the love and flow in all we look at–and being drawn to go with that flow.  It’s being inspired and in sync with the power which we are. ‘Look for the thing you like the best…give it your undivided attention.’

Now that this distinction has been made, I want to share how feeling appreciation is creating a new attitude within me.

I have done so much intentional healing and growth in my lifetime.  So much so that I feel I have very little to heal from, and I’m mostly down to just being curious about myself, my life, my loved ones.  It’s a wonderful place to be in life.  I’m glad I’m not using up anymore of my precious life in despair and misery.

Even so, I have felt there was another layer for me to deal with.  Just like wearing an itchy sweater, I knew I needed to address it sooner than later in order for life to feel even better.  But I have learned in my growing process that Life will show me what I need to work on next: I don’t need to struggle to find it.

I just finished the book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  Some of the author’s tips might seem silly–especially her implying that inanimate objects have thoughts and feelings.  She talks to homes (both her own and her clients’), her clothing and other items.  But the thing is, she talks with appreciation.

And that is where I don’t think Marie Kondo is so odd.  When we experience appreciation, life flows. Life feels good.  And even inanimate objects seem to be on our side.  Verbalizing, or even intentionally thinking, words of appreciation is the easiest way to generate an energy of appreciation.  It makes perfect sense.

So, between Maria Kondo’s book and listening to Esther Hicks, I finally decided a few days ago to start generating a feeling of appreciation.  I realized this might be what I was missing, what was giving me the ‘itchy sweater’ feeling.

A few days ago, when I got home, I walked around my home admiring it and feeling appreciation for how wonderful it felt to be in it, and thanked it for providing shelter for my kids and me.  I felt appreciation as I looked at the items I selectively chose to have in my home.  Before going to sleep, I thanked my body for getting me around and for being healthy and strong.  Before getting out of bed, I thanked time for starting a brand-new day and appreciated all that would unfold in the day.  While walking to my car, I smiled at it and felt excited to get inside of it.  I patted its dashboard and said, ‘Thank you for running so well, and transporting my kids and me to wherever we want to go.’  I felt appreciation for my close friend who is so patient and appreciates pretty much anything and everything.

Wouldn’t you know it, my days have been going so smoothly.  The typical irritating things about my weekend job sort of faded into the background.  I’m only noticing and responding to good-energy.  Tasks feel effortless.  I catch myself before I say something snippy to my close friend. And for the first time in weeks, my car didn’t stall out when I started it up.

Yes, intentional and frequent appreciation is the answer I was looking for.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Homeschooling (and Raising Kids) Isn’t Expensive

Some people say that they can’t afford to homeschool.  Or that they can’t afford to have kids.

I have found it actually isn’t expensive at all to raise and homeschool kids.  We choose to live simply and to focus on healthy relationships with ourselves, each other, our inner circle, and the world around us.  We seem to have everything we need and want in any given moment, and don’t experience lack.

Food:  Our biggest expense is food.  Sure, I could cut this cost drastically; however, I have chosen to do what I need to do to feed my kids and myself healthy foods in the easiest ways possible for my sanity. Anyway, I think we would have a large food expense even if my kids were in school. Though, if they ate the school food, it would be cheaper than lunch at home.

Clothes:  We save money by my kids not needing to have all the latest trends in clothing for school, or a lot of them. I was bullied in school for not wearing the ‘right’ clothing; my kids don’t have to deal with that. No one around us notices or cares if we repeat outfits during the week. The same goes for my working two long shifts on weekends, rather than a full-time job spread out over five or more days.

Study Materials:  The library has free books, DVDs, CDs and internet. has inexpensive test-prep workbooks by grade so we know what to study and research more extensively in order to keep our academic pace, and to do well on the state-required annual tests.

Driving:  I don’t put much wear-and-tear on my car and don’t spend much on gas due to homeschooling and my not working full-time.  We set our lives up so almost everything we need is within a few miles.

Classes and Activities: If my kids really want a class or activity, I find a way. But usually they thoroughly enjoy not having a super-structured schedule. And they are motivated to study and experiment on their own to learn hobbies and other things they want to know. Living in the moment and being self-driven is inexpensive for us.

Keeping up with the Joneses:  Like with clothes, we don’t have the pressure to keep up with the Joneses in technology, knowing what is on TV and social media, busy-ness, activity and club enrollment, and owning stuff because we aren’t surrounded by superficial relationships. We have no cell phone, cable or internet bills.

Relationships, Health, and Well-being:  We don’t hang out with people who don’t feel good to be around.  This saves on health expenses. Also, my kids aren’t locked up with hundreds of strangers which also saves on health expenses–emotionally and physically (kids in school and daycare seemed to get sick a lot more often than my kids).  Because our schedules aren’t booked up and monopolized by others’ requirements on us, we have plenty of time for bonding with loved ones, privacy, self-reflection, rest, recharging, and pursing our own interests–which all contribute to our good health.

You can see how lifestyle choices and mind-set can save a lot of money and stress–without sacrifice.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Money, Parenting, Simple living, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Parents Don’t Have to Pay for Kid’s College

I have heard often of parents who work while raising their children mainly to pay for their children’s college.  I don’t understand giving up time with ones child, and especially the children’s time with parent and at home, while they are growing up (when they are most dependent on their parent) in order to save money for their college tuition for when they are a young adult.

When a person is eighteen-years-old, they generally have a lot of energy and zest for life. They can be working to pay for school and going to school at the same time. (I did that for years–until I had my first kid.)

And really, doesn’t ones adult choices take on a whole new meaning when one is footing the bill? For example, college might be a learning experience rather than a big party, so choose wisely. Maybe paying $40,000 a year doesn’t seem so great.

Plus, I am a believer of being out in the world, job shadowing, finding oneself as an adult, before choosing a degree. And maybe they will decide college isn’t for them, or they can climb ladders faster without it.

Sure, if I have extra money when my kids are grown, I will gladly help them out. I will likely be giving by letting them live with me as long as they want and being an emotional support–both areas to which I would love to be given as an adult, especially as a parent.

Some will say that paying for college is giving their kid a head-start. I don’t believe life is ever a race. And I value personal growth, well-being, and enjoyable relationships more than anything else–areas which tremendously help with living life no matter what, and which enable a person to make things happen for themselves.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting | Leave a comment

How I Manage Bill-Paying

Online banking:
I have all my bills set up to pay automatically: through the bank, credit card or utility companies.

Cash rewards:
I use a cash-rewards credit card for almost all my purchases except for rent and utilities, which are only electricity and a phone land-line. My bank pays the cash-rewards credit card balance automatically.

I receive a hard-copy statement in the mail for the credit card and utilities because I like to check their numbers. I recycle, or save for taxes, the prior month’s copy.

Once a week, I print the latest transactions for my checking and credit card accounts to check the numbers–I cross-match the printouts with my receipts; and then I recycle or file (for taxes) the receipts. I keep only a month’s worth of transaction printouts, or until I get hard-copy credit card bill which I cross-reference with my printouts.

I keep the above-mentioned hard-copies clipped together in a plastic closable folder (which cost me $1). The plastic folder keeps things all together, protected, and is portable.

I keep a spreadsheet where I quickly log in the bank & credit card transactions to keep a running tally of the balances and make sure the banks have the same balances.

Additionally, I keep a spreadsheet of all my expenses by month and category; and I log in when each are paid: amount and date.

For expense categories where there are several payments in a month, I set up a simple formula in each month’s cell to add spending together for one total. Ex. Food: =30+44+123.40 and then I keep adding the numbers for every food expense that month.

I set it up so each of the category amounts get added automatically for an annual total and also it figures the average monthly cost for the year.

Expense Categories:
My bill categories are the following:

  • rent
  • electricity
  • landline
  • cell phone
  • car gas
  • car maintenance
  • car insurance
  • food
  • personal items (which are sometimes purchased separately from food shopping such as supplements or tissue, otherwise they fall under the food category)
  • credit card
  • kids’ allowance
  • cash
  • laundry money
  • medical expenses
  • clothes
  • haircuts
  • kids’ birthdays/holidays (gifts and party/food)
  • entertainment
  • AAA
  • car registration
  • website domain

Also I keep a spreadsheet for all my tax-deductible items for the year (medical, educational) and log those in this process as well. Tax receipts go in the file cabinet folder designated for this year’s taxes. Come tax time, I can just print the year’s tax spreadsheet.

Financial Routine:
I do the must-do actions (printing the latest online credit card and bank account statements) once a week when I have both internet and printer use. This helps me to not forget: same time, same location.

When bills come in the mail, they go in my plastic folder after I recycle the envelopes. Receipts and online purchase copies go in there as well until I do my logging, recycling, and filing.

I do my spreadsheet logging, etc. anytime during the week.

Mailing bills:
If I had snail-mail bills, I would just write the date-to-be-mailed under my return address, have it stamped and sealed, and hang envelopes by my car/house keys so I see it when I head out.

Other tips:
Delia, who has a blog called Semi-Domesticated Mama, wrote a very helpful article about bill-paying.

I am interested in reading about how you manage your expense tracking and payments.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Home management | Leave a comment

Giving up Career to Raise Kids

I quit working full-time while trying to conceive my first child. And I quit my independent contracting work right before she was born.

It was a huge adaption to not have the rush of a career, of being an ‘important’ adult. It really was like going through withdrawals, like missing my drug.

I would say it took me about twelve (12) years to completely sink into full-time parenting–meaning to be at peace with it, to fully enjoy it, to not be bored or lonely, to not feel anxious to find exterior things as distractions.

But I kept at it. I kept seeking fulfillment and contentment while being present and with my children.

The thing is, I have seen this as my job to do since I am the one to chose to be parent. I know once my kids are adults, this tremendous opportunity for my personal growth (by parenting full-time) will be over.

I will never regret sticking with this and finding my way. This learning and growing experience will be with me for forever. (And this isn’t even addressing what it means to my kids and our amazing relationships with each other.)

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Parenting | 3 Comments

Where Are the Moms and Kids?

I need to research post-World-War-II and women’s liberation.  It’s a huge topic, so it might take me some time.

So here is my naive mind at work.  Please correct me where I’m wrong:

World War II sent away most of the young and middle-aged men, leaving women and children behind.  Someone had to help with the war effort back in the United States.  So women went into the work force.

The men came back from World War II and women assumed their housewife and full-time mom roles again.  But things were stirred up.

Back in those days, being a full-time homemaker and stay-at-home mom also meant being an ‘assistant and servant to husband‘.   So not only did the mom run-the-show at home, 24-7, but she also made sure the spouse was greeted at the door with a smile, the kids were clean and quiet by the time he got home, and his warm dinner was served.  After, he kicked his feet up and the wife continued to tend to his needs.

Also, back then, most kids had a parent home to greet them after school.  And the neighborhoods were full of kids playing pick-up games in the street, running from yard-to-yard, hanging out at their friends’ homes (which had adults present).  There wasn’t the push for long school days or to bring school home (homework) until bedtime.  Kids played.  Families hung out.

Additionally, neighborhoods were communities of support.  If one of the women had to run an errand, there was a back-up community to watch her kids.  The social life of the women was just out of their front doors.  There wasn’t much need for formalized daycare, organized play-dates, organized little-kid sports, and penciling in coffee for months down the road.  Things flowed naturally and spontaneously.  Direct parental involvement (being a cab driver, being forced to do kid activities and be in kid-centered groups so their kids could have a social life) was minimal–all the while, the adults were present and available.

Additionally, when people are actually living in their space, using the trails, sitting by the bodies of water, walking through the neighborhoods, hanging out in their yards, they are more likely to care about those spaces: their space becomes an investment; they might even advocate for and create positive changes to meet their and their surrounding neighbors’ needs. If the neighbors are home, and aware of their surroundings, it feels safer–people tend to watch out for each other even if they don’t hang out together.

The women’s liberation movement kicked in about 1.5 decades later. One of its big messages was that women could go to work just like the men and also have a family if they wanted to.

So women worked their way into the work force.  They indeed have showed everyone that women can ‘have it all’ to some extent:  having a career and making babies.

It’s my theory that two-income families, which started with the women’s liberation movement, played a huge part in upping the housing prices.  And of course, it increased the demand for more than one car per family.

Having more money tends to equal more demand.  More demand equals raised prices.   So two-income families basically swallowed themselves up and painted themselves in a corner.

Instead of kids being with their moms until they start school, kids are put in daycare shortly after birth.  Instead of kids having a parent home after school, they are in after-school programs.  Instead of street-games, parents are shuffling kids to organized sports–adding even more to their already jam-packed schedules.  Parents want kids in school longer so the parents can work longer hours.  And then families, instead of playing and enjoying family time, play school-patrol forcing kids to do even more school work to appease the school bureaucrats.  And then it’s early bed-time so they can do it all over again.

Houses are vacant most of the time. Playgrounds are mostly empty until the weekends, if at all.  People, young and older, are just plain beat.  And crabby.

Sure, it’s parents’ rights to raise their family how they want.  If both parents want to work, it’s their right to do so.  It’s parents’ rights to have their kids booked from morning-to-night.

And I think it’s fantastic that women have the opportunity to work, if they choose to, in jobs besides fetching coffee for males.

But what I would like to propose is a revamping of women’s liberation–for women to feel empowered as stay-at-home moms.

Where the pre-women’s-liberation (after the start of industrialization) times went totally and completely wrong was the limiting and dis-empowering belief that homemakers needed to take care of another adult (the husband/partner) in addition to the children.

Of course, for many of us women, a paid job outside of the home seems a heck of a lot better than having a spouse who comes home wanting to be taken care of–especially in addition to our caring for the children.

Those of us who choose to stay home with our kids don’t have the supportive neighborhood communities.  Our kids don’t have the pick-up games.  There’s a lot that’s missing from the days of old.  Too bad we can’t take the good stuff from being an at-home parent in the pre-1960s, and ditch the husband’s servant thing.

I wonder if more women would want to be stay-at-home moms then.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Career and education, Parenting | Leave a comment

Distinctions: Homemaker, At-Home Parent or Housekeeper

There are some interesting societal assumptions and expectations directed towards stay-at-home parents and homemakers. I think that these assumptions and expectations play a big role in some parents deciding not to be an at-home parent, and also cause some homemakers to be ashamed about their role.

The main societal assumption and expectation is that at-home parents are also housekeepers.  I know so many people who look down on themselves for not being able to care for their kids and keep a perfect home at the same time.  They think that since they aren’t making money then they should handle anything and everything to do with home and children.

One of my mama friends used to hear my stressed-out cries regarding my trying to take care of young kids plus trying to manage the home at the same time.  She told me, “I tell my husband all the time, ‘I’m a mom.  Not the maid.‘”  I admired her for holding that belief with confidence; but it took me several years to believe that for myself.

Homemakers are also talked down to about not doing their ‘fair share’, not contributing, by making money or doing enough housekeeping tasks.

A dear couple I know, close to retirement age, is well past their child-rearing days.  For several years, he worked full-time while she stayed home as a homemaker.  She isn’t much into cooking or cleaning; but that didn’t bother him one bit.  In fact, he was blissful knowing his best friend was there for him when he wasn’t working.  He willingly ran errands, cooked and cleaned.  His focus was their relationship and his appreciation of having her in his life.  This is true love. This is relationship.  What an inspiration.

There are many homes which would be much more enjoyable if their occupants would take on these beliefs:

  • Making money is not the only way to be a contribution to people’s lives.
  • Cleaning, cooking and errands aren’t everyone’s forte or interest. Sometimes doing the bare minimum in these areas is quite enough.
  • Doing ones fair share is doing whatever the person can handle without losing their sense of well-being; and it is up to each person to determine this for themselves. 

For the well-being of those of us who are invested in home-life and child-rearing, we really need to start separating out the duties for the three-distinct roles of homemaker, at-home parent, and housekeeper.  Here are my definitions of each–keep in mind each of these  roles is immensely, individually valuable:

Homemaker:  A homemaker is a person who is a presence in the home. Since this person is at home more than they are at a paid job location, their decor taste and living style is usually most represented in the home.  Their presence sets the tone for all those who live with them.

At-Home Parent:  The focus and the energy spent as an at-home parent are about relationships with their children:  closeness, affection, intuition, and attunement.  Along with this role is caring for the health and well-being of their children and themselves.

Housekeeper: A housekeeper does the cleaning, cooking, shopping, driving, and errand-running.  Also included in the duties can be budgeting and book-keeping.

How will these new distinctions and definitions reshape your life and the lives around you?

Amy Axelson

Posted in Home management, Parenting | 4 Comments

Gitter Done

I have about one hundred ideas for articles I want to write.  It’s just a matter of getting my thoughts together and organized into an essay format.

What’s the problem then?  The problem I have is from not starting the momentum.  The problem I have in getting the momentum started is from not dedicating the time to start the momentum.

If I devoted two hours a day to writing, I would crank out blog articles left-and-right.  Instead, I find myself distracted reading other blogs; I find myself commenting on articles in those blogs. My comments can easily be converted to my own blog posts.

Courtney Carver wrote a great article called ‘3 Vital Steps to Conquer Information Overload.’    She invented these three steps:  limit the input, create time to process, and limit the output.

Applying Courtney’s steps to my problem, I can limit my blog reading during the day, I can leave blank space (i.e. not reading blogs) in my life to process whatever is going on in my life, and I can limit my commenting on other blogs.  This alone is a huge step towards dealing with my problem.

Leo Babauta’s article titled ‘An Addict’s Guide to Overcoming the Distraction Habit‘ reminds us to think about what is really important to us, and to take action in creating a distraction-free space for that which is important.

What’s important to me are my kids, my health and well-being, my home, coaching people, and my writing and self-expression.

Better Things is an article written by Patrick R. Hone in which he gets down-and-dirty about to-do lists. He states we need to take our to-do lists and ask ourselves exactly when are we going to do the tasks:

“You see, when the things you hope to do are on some long wish list of things you hope to do, they are telling you a lie. They are telling you that you that every single thing on there is of equal importance. They are telling you that you have infinite capacity and infinite time. They are telling you everything needs to be there and should, at some point, warrant 100% of your attention. That it is completely possible and reasonable that you will do all of these things and have all the time in the world to do them.

“The beauty of forcing the essential question of “When?” is that it also forces you (and the things) to face a hard and undeniable truth — time is finite. Each day has 24 hours. Six-to-Eight of those you are sleeping. You have many other obligations that will take away from the rest of your waking time — both on your calendar and not. My guess is that for a lot of us, at most and on the best days, we have about 2 hours to honestly dedicate to any of the things on our list. Most days, that is much, much, less.

Now that you are going to make those things part of your day, week, or month by taking a look at your calendar and deciding when you plan to do those things and scheduling those things at a time, you can see exactly how much time you have to work with. Suddenly, you go from having the lie of infinite capacity to the truth of having known constraints. With this knowledge, and only with this knowledge, you can focus on doing better things with that time.”

- Patrick R. Hone

The forth step (added to Courtney’s first three, above) is to gitter done.  It’s time for me to actually block out a few hours a day, every day, to write.

Figure out what is important to you and then gitter done.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Simple living | 2 Comments

What Do You Need from a Rocky Relationship?

I had a rough relationship with someone close to me when I was growing up.  Now, mid-life, the relationship is all but nonexistent. First, because I finally generated enough self-worth to let it go.  And secondly, after I was able to be around this person without being emotionally-invested, I simply don’t get any benefit out of being around them.

The lack-of-benefit stems from not being able to have real, authentic communication with this person.  I have forgiven, but there are ignored elephants in the room; discussing these areas would create a tremendous amount of growth for both of us.  And I haven’t felt any sense of growth from this person; a lot of their childhood coping mechanisms are still in-tact–including and especially not wanting to discuss our relationship issues and desires.  So instead, I end up feeling exhausted listening to them talk at me about surface-level things at a million miles a minute, while making my best effort to be a good listener. I do this for 24 hours a week at my general-public job; I don’t want to do this on my free time.

I have asked myself what would be helpful to me for this person to do now. It would be for them to do these things:

  • take responsibility for what they did
  • ask me what I have to say about it all and ask if I have any questions for them
  • validate my experience and feelings
  • share their feelings about it (guilt or whatever)
  • forgive themselves and let it go

The idea is to recognize this will likely never happen. And to not need it to happen either because of having done my own healing.

But it’s beneficial to identify my own needs in such a circumstance.  I learn more about myself and I can see how I can do these things for myself and for my loved ones right now.

I do the above list with my kids all the time, in a light, easy manner.  This helps me to not carry guilt around, and to be gentle with myself.  It keeps the lines-of-communication open.

It is important to point out here that we need to also trust our children are competent. Treating them with pity isn’t helpful to anyone.  And loving ourselves benefits everyone.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Relationships | Leave a comment

Pot of Soup Makes Life Easier and Cheaper

If money was no object, I would spend three hours a day at a good-quality restaurant, slowly and attentively eating several courses with pleasure.  Or if I had a partner who loved cooking, I would spend hours assisting them in the kitchen creating such courses.

But the fact remains that I don’t enjoy cooking alone or being the leader in the kitchen.  So, I opt for quick-and-easy these days.  My kids and I do our best to eat mostly organic foods which isn’t cheap.

I have found a way to do all of the following in one dish:

1.    Spend minimal amount of time in the kitchen cooking
2.    Spend minimal amount of time in the kitchen cleaning
3.    Cook a meal which makes days of leftovers for my family
4.    Have a meal which is hearty and nutrient-packed
5.    Use all organic ingredients
6.    Keep the costs low

Perfect!  Here’s how I make my inexpensive and easy pot of soup.

Cooking supplies needed:

  • Large stockpot
  • Large spoon
  • Cutting board or plate
  • Chopping knife of some sort


1.  Turn stove burner on low-to-medium.
2.  In a large stockpot, do the following; be sure to stir as you go so nothing burns to the bottom:

  • Add a chunk of butter and cover bottom of pot with oil (coconut oil is the ideal because it’s healthy and can withstand high heat, otherwise olive oil)
  • Sauté a chopped onion.
  • Add in any kind of meat to brown: chopped, not chopped, or ground.
  • Add garlic powder, Celtic sea salt, freshly-ground pepper, and paprika on top of meat.
  • Add jar of salsa or chopped tomatoes on top of browned side of meat.
  • Add chopped potatoes and any kind of vegetables.
  • Add water, or a mix of water and any kind of broth, until everything is covered and a few inches beyond that.

3.  Throw in any herbs or other seasonings you want.
4.  Simmer with lid on until everything is the consistency you prefer.

Other little tips and suggestions:

  • After the first meal, I just put the whole pot with lid in the fridge and warm it back up in the same pot until it’s gone.
  • My family likes to add the following in their bowl of soup:  butter, cheese sticks, grated Parmesan cheese, croutons.
  • Some of us put our serving of soup in the blender and we eat it pureed.
  • Potatoes are high-packed with nutrients and are filling so I always like to include them–five pounds worth.   I leave the skin on the potatoes for nutritional value.
  • The only chopping I do is for the onion and the potatoes.  I throw directly into the pot two bags of baby carrots and two packages of frozen greens.
  • As you get used to the basics, above, you can begin to experiment with other ingredients, spices, and herbs for variety.
  • With cumin and cilantro, you could add black, pinto, or kidney beans; and serve with cheese, chopped scallions, sour cream, and fresh or dried cilantro.
  • Plain yogurt can help with tenderizing the meat. You could throw some yogurt on the meat while it’s browning (though, it’s usually recommended to marinate for hours in the fridge). Yogurt also adds a nice consistency to the soup.
  • Freeze leftovers in 1 quart containers for camping or eating at another time.

If you try a version this soup, please share your experiences in the comments.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Home management, Simple living | 1 Comment

Do Good for Yourself

Saving the world, obsessing about volunteer work, putting energy into that which we can’t change, being politically-correct:  all of these can distract us from ourselves.

Sometimes we can use volunteer work and helping others outside of our personal lives as an escape from our responsibilities close to us. Because close-to-us is much, much more intimate, it consists of in-our-faces responsibilities, and reflects ourselves back to us no matter where we go—it can be painful and super uncomfortable. Out in the world, we can be the heroes during a set amount of time, from point A to B; it’s so much easier…temporarily.

Before you look outside of your personal life, see what there is you need to do for yourself, your inner growth, your gentle healing.  Find ways to do good for you.

I consider our children to be extensions of ourselves, so if you have children, doing good for yourself applies to doing good for your kids as well (plus, they will ensure you know what inner-work you need to deal with); and doing good for your kids applies to doing good for yourself.

Be in the moment.  The moment is filled with abundance.  We need to be conscious to feel it and live it.  Distraction, being everywhere but here, takes away the gift in right-now.

I love these two books, both are about caring for ourselves and about being in right-now without changing one thing:

All in due time is a great mantra for those of us who are anxious to get on with our big dreams or those of us in an 18-plus year parenting commitment.

While raising kids, I’ve learned to keep life as simple as possible. I do my outside-of-my-home passions in simple ways and only that which I can do with ease. Blogging is how I do it. Additionally, I realized that when I blog, I write for myself.  I trust that people who want to read what I have to say will find me.  But regardless, I do it for me.  And one day, I will be able to expand my coaching business to a liveable income. But now isn’t the time.  All in due time.

It’s been so freeing to accept where I am because it allows me to be at peace right where I am.  Peace is doing so much good for myself.

Do good for yourself.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Heath and well-being | 4 Comments

Preparing for Parenthood

This article is still in-progress.

Choosing to become a parent is the biggest decision a person can make. Being a conscious parent takes a lot of will, strength, back-bone, and resilience because you are pretty much a pioneer in the wilderness.

Join me in this blog post as I shatter mainstream Western thinking and beliefs about parenting. However, if you like mainstream, you need to look no further than the car or house in front of you; but you can read this post if you want to learn of other ways.

I would have loved to see a compiled list like this prior to getting pregnant, and to have handy to read again when I needed some encouragement and validation.

Parenting Objectives:
Before getting pregnant, figure out why you want to be a parent. Discuss with your partner their parenting objectives as well. Figure out if there are any discrepancies between both of your objectives, and spend a significant amount of time figuring out how to compensate for the discrepancies. For example, if one parent wants to have a very attached relationship with the future child and the other wants plenty of time away from the future child, then figure out a way for the attached parent to be supported in being close with the child, and the less-attached parent to be able to get time away from the child.

I, personally, recommend a four-year gap between kids to allow for nursing and bonding time with toddler (a three-year-old is still a baby in my eyes), and for the mom’s body to recover from pregnancy and nursing before making another baby. My two kids are almost four years apart and are best friends.

Parenting as Partners: Understand that, after going through pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping, all your plans for having a romantic marriage and an organized home might completely get blown out of the water. Make sure your partner is okay with the unknown, as well as sharing your attention with children. Partnership pre-kids is nothing like partnership with kids. Read together my post called Partnership While Parenting for a pretty realistic idea of how it could be.

At-Home and Working Parents: Figure out which of you is going to stay home with the children–until the children start full-time elementary school or else until they are adults if you decide to homeschool. Note that I never even considered homeschooling prior to having kids; but once I became a mom, it just made sense as a continuation of the relationship with my kids and our family. So, be sure you both are aware and agree to the possibility that the at-home parent might not bring in any income until the youngest child is an adult (even in the case of divorce).

If the mother is going to be the working parent, take into account the amount of rest needed during pregnancy (sometimes sleeping is really difficult while pregnant, plus ‘morning sickness’ symptoms sometimes last the entire pregnancy), recovery time needed from pregnancy and childbirth, and a lot of time to establish a strong nursing relationship with the baby. Skipping recovery time will likely bite you in the butt later. Sleeping while the baby sleeps (and with the baby) is advice to take heed to. Also keep in mind that most of the working world isn’t female-issue friendly; this probably makes women reject their bodies as well as have invasive procedures done rather than healing slowly, naturally, and in privacy.

Downsizing: Begin living on just one income, the designated working parent’s, prior to getting pregnant. If it’s tough to manage with one income, then make all necessary adjustments to make it comfortable–including downsizing your home, getting rid of a car, selling extras, skipping daily runs to the coffee shop, discontinuing paid memberships and subscriptions, etc.

Save the extra income for your homebirth midwife, a doula experienced in both homebirth and hospital births, waterbirth tub rental, a body pillow (makes sleeping during pregnancy easier), a kangaroo fleece pouch, a wrap (you can make your own), an Ergo-type carrier, a nursing pillow (works great for the quick moments you need to set baby down and for nursing a newborn upright), cloth diapers and cloth wipes, bulk clothes soap, a lot of baby t-shirts, baby socks, baby hats, baby blankets, an extra bed (not crib–see section, below, called ‘Co-sleeping’), a car seat and cover for the car (not to keep the baby in outside of riding in the car)–that’s about all you really need. A bonus would be a cleaning person for the first month or so after the baby’s birth.

Finances: Along with downsizing to one income, combine your finances and sort out your bills. Streamline payments. It’s helpful to keep track of, in a spreadsheet, where your money goes, organized by month and category: food, rent/mortgage, insurance, utilities, car loan, car maintenance, gas, personal and toiletry items, medical expenses, non-tax-deductible health expenses, education, clothing, haircuts, and entertainment. Also log in the date each bill was paid.

It’s important, here, to note that raising children isn’t expensive. My biggest expense is food because we buy a lot of organic products. We don’t spend a lot on clothing or entertainment. Classes, educational materials, and medical expenses are usually tax-deductible.

Heal Your Issues: If your partnership has issues, deal with your problems as soon as possible. Any problem you have in your relationship will be blown up 100 times once you have kids. The book called Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg is helpful in learning to communicate in relationships. A great book to read together is called Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. Hendrix also wrote a book for parenting called Giving the Love That Heals which is really helpful in beginning to heal areas in you which will affect your parenting. Recognize that you will still have many issues come up, including some you didn’t know existed, once you become a parent. Children are little mirrors; be ready to have everything about you turned inside-out when you take on parenting.

Find a Support Team: Find people in your area who are supportive of attachment/conscious/natural parenting, homebirth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, and homeschooling. You are fortunate if you have relatives or a social circle of people who are unconditionally-supportive. I let relationships go due to my being ridiculed for my choices. I spent a great amount of energy early-on in my parenting to try to find my own supportive community; but I found that many of us who choose to raise our kids differently than the mainstream got to where we are because of the crap we’ve been through in life–which means many of us are working through our issues and sensitivities which doesn’t always jibe well and sometimes creates more work than less. Additionally, as time as gone on, I have learned to be my own support.

Find a family practice doctor and a nurse midwife who aren’t going to harass you about having a homebirth or about your other natural-parenting choices–including co-sleeping, breastfeeding, vaccinations and so forth. Mothering magazine’s discussion board has a ‘Finding Your Tribe‘ forum where parents post to find local practitioners and maybe even nearby like-minded friends. Although, even a locally-known ‘natural-friendly’ doctor might not be as natural as hoped.

A doctor I saw pre-pregnancy had her nurse call me to say they refused to see my baby for three months after my upcoming homebirth (even though the only thing I inquired with them about, via phone pre-birth, was getting a PKU test in their lab; some homebirth midwives do this in-home, by the way) because my having a homebirth to them meant I was putting my and my baby’s lives in danger. What a bunch of baloney.

Also, beware of information collected by physicians these days that really have nothing to do with the realm of health they are addressing (for example, personality and mental-health data and information for ‘research’); I suggest researching international databases being kept on us and our children. More below.

Stay Informed about Issues Affecting Families, and Children & Our Freedom and Rights:  Dig deep.  And then dig even deeper.  Beware of red herring issues–which many people seem to fall for.

Know and Trust Yourself: You might not be able to find a support team. And even if you do have one, only you can live your life and go through each moment with your child; plus, you still get to raise your kids your own way. Know and trust yourself, your gut, your instincts. There will be plenty of people who will tell you how wrong you are and how much you suck. Turn off the TV–you don’t need propaganda coming at you. Dump people-pleasing and co-dependency. You don’t have to justify or explain your parenting choices; don’t discuss birth and parenting with people who make you get your defenses up or otherwise upset–only share with people who think you’re awesome or are like-minded (this will save you so much grief and pain!) Don’t expect empathy from those who can’t give it. Don’t complain to people who aren’t supportive of attachment parenting.
Do not let anyone make you feel like crap for caring for and about your kids and your family.

Keep Your Choices Sacred: Save your ‘Natural Parenting Ambassador’ role for people you sense are open; it helped me to believe that everyone is on a different journey in this life and I really have no idea if a kid crying in a crib all night is part of that family’s journey–but I certainly don’t need to stick around that sort of thing. The book called The Power is Within You by Louise Hay is so good.

Nutrition and Cooking: Stop dieting to get ‘skinny’, and start eating to prepare your body for making a baby and breastfeeding. Weston A. Price Foundation has a great list called ‘Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers‘.

Also, come up with seven simple and nutrient-dense meals to make all the time even if you’re used to eating out. Come up with about seven hearty, energy-boosting snacks to make all the time as well. The meals and snacks should be so predictable and easy—no-brainers. Make sure you both know how to make the meals and snacks so whoever has the energy for it can do the cooking. Meal plan with an accompanying master grocery list, organized by the layout of your grocery store.

Make enough food in a meal so you have leftovers to freeze. Store leftovers in individual servings. Also, Amy’s Organic and Evol make decent frozen meals in a pinch.

Having your food prep and choices set in place well-before kids will make things so much easier later. As a couple, start working together in the kitchen, cooking together and cleaning up together–this will help your learn to enjoy these necessary tasks together and to get bonding time no matter what you’re doing (a must in parenting).

Along the lines of eating, baby food isn’t necessary until your little one starts grabbing your food. I kept my baby and toddler on my lap, so that transition was totally natural. And I let her taste anything except cow’s milk products and honey (neither are good before age 1).

Remove mercury fillings before getting pregnant.

Exercise: Start some sort of movement every day. Walking can be done during pregnancy as well as after the baby is born with baby in a sling/pouch/wrap. Practicing squatting and other stretches will help you in childbirth and beyond (check out this stool for proper toilet posture). Good posture and doing a lot of hands-and-knees poses helps to make sure baby is in the right position for book (See Spinning Babies).

  • Laps in yard or playground with stop watch to break up walks
    Stretches with kids climbing/nursing on you
    Belly dancing
  • Give up pre-kid hardcore workouts.

Natural Childbirth: Read every book you can get your hands on about natural birth. The books should get you excited about birth, not afraid of it. Educate yourself. Forget what you see in movies about birth and being told you need to breathe a certain way. (Look at these photos!) Plan on being in whatever position your body tells you to be in during labor. Have your partner shake your hips during contractions (called ‘Shaking the apples’ by Ina May Gaskin); and have someone else massage your shoulders to keep you relaxed.  Plan on feeling powerful and for birth to change you. The book titled Hands of Love : Seven Steps to the Miracle of Birth by Dr. Carol J. Phillips is a great place to start.

Birthplans: After doing some reading about childbirth, you will be able to start writing your birth plans. Here are my birthplans which I created from doing a lot of research–please feel free to use these, editing to your own preferences. Even with a homebirth, it’s a good idea to have hospital birthplans for your own peace-of-mind. Here’s a copy of my Baby Moon sign for my front door.

Homebirth Midwives and Doulas: Here is a list I compiled for interviewing midwives. Note that if you hire a licensed midwife, they are legally-tied to protocols not unlike some of the hospital protocols (this is the main reason I chose a lay midwife instead of a licensed midwife). There’s a chance that your insurance company will cover the fees of a licensed midwife, but not a lay midwife. To me, it was worth the $2,000 to have a lay midwife and to keep my insurance company out of my business. By the way, I know people who have had amazing unassisted homebirths. My metro area has monthly meetings for parents to meet doulas and to talk about childbirth; see if your area has anything like this. There are also post-postpartum doulas for after-birth help.

Breastfeeding: Go to La Leche League meetings to learn all you can about breastfeeding. Additionally, you can establish relationships with the leaders and other moms so when you have your baby, you will feel comfortable calling them for help. Also, ask the group if anyone can help you with babywearing (I had my La Leche League friend come to my house to help me with wearing my newborn.).

Sure, the first time breastfeeding might seem difficult. Bleeding, painful nipples don’t last for forever. Painfully-full breasts work themselves out based on the baby’s demands. Yes, for a little while, you might leak milk all over your bed and clothes; wear sports bras with washcloths stuffed inside the cups.

Nursing is a round-the-clock event and is for comfort as much as it is for nourishing baby. If your baby barely moves, hardy makes a peep or if you even think about nursing, try nursing first.

Nurse while laying on your side in bed, with baby laying on or next to you. (I would have saved a lot of back aches the first time around if I would have done this.) To switch breast sides, you just adjust your body without even having to lay on the other side of your body; plus moving baby from side to side is easy (baby doesn’t break from this). Have your nursing basket, see below, next to your bed so you don’t feel the need to rush on with your day, you’ll have what you need all in one area. Install a corded phone in your bedroom so you can talk whenever you want.

It’s helpful to have a nursing basket which you can bring with you where ever you are, filled with nonperishable energy snacks, drinking water, cloths (for squirting and dripping milk) and a book or magazine–keep technology away from your baby and you. A breastpump is unnecessary for at-home moms. You can breastfeed where ever you want to; no, you don’t have to hide it!

Attachment Parenting Books: Read some books which are supportive of attachment parenting. The book called The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff is a must–it changed my life; there is also a discussion board for readers of the book you might be interested in joining. I’ve own the books Your Competent Child and Hold On to Your Kids. The book titled The Attachment Parenting Book : A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby is a nice ‘beginner’ reference book to have on hand. The Natural Child Project with coach Jan Hunt and parenting coach Scott Noelle are great resources. Natural infant hygiene (also known is ‘elimination communication’) is amazing for bonding and so babies don’t have to deal with sitting in their excrement.

Co-sleeping: Invest in a second mattress or futon and put the mattresses together (on the floor or in a frame) so your child, partner, and you can all sleep in the same room. Most babies and toddlers can sleep with noise around them. Scheduled naps are unnecessary; my kids fell asleep in my arms where ever we happened to be whenever they were tired.

Prepare for Many Starts-and-Stops: One thing that was really hard for me to get used to when becoming a parent was not being able to do projects, anything really, from start-to-finish without stopping. If you have any lingering projects you want to complete, do them before kids. Practice minimizing your to-do lists to the bare essentials, and learn to be at peace with just being. Parenting works best when you can just be in the moment, without thinking you need to accomplish a bunch of tasks or get onto the next (more ‘exciting’) thing.

Lower Your Standards: Raise your standards for your relationships and what you have to give your child. But lower your standards for what you accomplish in a day and what image you’re portraying is. Especially the first months after birth, consider sleeping, eating and breastfeeding to be big accomplishments!

Routines and To-Do Lists: Come up with morning and bedtime routines for yourself. Ideally, get used to going to bed early and waking early–while getting as much sleep as your body needs. Babies wake around-the-clock to nurse; but if you are used to retiring to bed early, rather than late, this will help you ensure you get enough sleep with many wake-ups (especially when nursing half-asleep in bed with baby). Make chore, errand, and shopping-supply lists so it’s obvious what needs to be done. Make sure you don’t have Martha Stewart/Suzy Homemaker expectations of yourself–keep it simple and easy and streamlined. Developing these household habits now, to the point where you don’t even think about it, will help so much later: pick up immediately after you take something out, pick up on the way to another room in your home, and do daily scrub cleaning so you really never have to dedicate hours at a time to deep-cleaning. I’ve found, when becoming a parent, it has been so easy for me to procrastinate the boring tasks to ensure I get at least a little bit of personal pleasure (reading a chapter in a book, for example); I wish I would have established habits when I pretty much had no responsibility (in comparison to parenting responsibility).

Minimalism: Along the lines of downsizing to one income and streamlining your to-do lists, come up with a very simple wardrobe. Own a few of each type of clothing items, mix-and-match, which are comfortable and make you feel good while wearing–both around the home and in public. This will make getting dressed a breeze. Get rid of any extra items in your life which bog you down and use up a lot of your energy.
See Project 333, My Green Closet and Light by Coco

Quit Your Addictions: It will be a whole lot easier to quit your addictions before becoming a parent, a time when ‘escape’ will be all too appealing. Untie yourself from the twitch of the internet, social media, and texting; and start using the landline corded phone (no electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation for baby or you) and seeing people in real life.

Parenting Is Not a Race: Parenting is enjoyable when you focus on being in each moment and being curious about what is unfolding and how you are unfolding right along with it. There’s no hurry to get past any age or developmental stage. Your child will learn to walk and read all in due time. Your child will be an adult just like the rest of us. It’s not a race. Relax, breathe and appreciate.
Don’t plan on lots of driving with baby. Not all kids like to be in the car. When you do travel by car, have mom in back to nurse while riding (lean over car seat to nurse).

School Readiness and Separation Anxiety: The trend these days is to have infants trained to get ready to be in school. Nothing gets children ready for school better than having a strong bond with their parents. Kindergarten should be for fun and games–not for learning to sit still and reading before children are ready (they are busy learning millions of other things without coercion). Check out the books by John Holt, especially How Children Fail. Don’t worry about not attending community education ‘baby-and-me’ classes which usually want to try to get your kids to learn to be away from you. My older child wouldn’t leave my side until around age five; years later, she’s very independent and competent and we still have a loving, close relationship. Let your children cue you as to when they are ready to be with someone besides you and your partner.

Give Yourself a Massive Permission Slip: Absolutely have a homebirth waterbirth. Absolutely co-sleep with your children until they don’t want to anymore. Absolutely nurse to, or beyond, age 2 years. Absolutely hold your baby all the time. Absolutely follow your toddler (or older) kid’s cues for when they are ready to be away from you; and if they don’t want to be away from you, then don’t make them. No, crying isn’t healthy for babies. No, your baby doesn’t need to learn to be without you or to be okay with someone else holding them. No, you don’t need baby-and-me classes or preschool or all the little kiddy programs and play-dates during the week. No, you’re not lazy if you aren’t running around town, or otherwise staying busy, all day long. No, you don’t need to dress your little ones in the expensive, cutesy, brand-name clothes. No, you don’t need to bathe your kid every day. No, you don’t need to bring your kids to the doctor for every little ailment; find natural care books and maybe a good herbalist, chiropractor, naturalist, homeopath and/or cranial sacral therapist. Research vaccinations, whether you want to delay or spread out vaccinations (differently than the conventional cram-em-in schedule) or not vaccinate at all. Let your son keep his foreskin. No, you don’t need date night (or a vacation) with your partner, away from the kids. No, not all women want sex while caring for young kids. Yes, your house is going to get messy and you don’t have to spend all your time cleaning it. No, you don’t need to save for your kids’ college if you don’t want to. No, you don’t need to learn to be crafty and knit and sew your family’s wardrobe. Yes, women can be intelligent, powerful, and admirable as stay-at-home moms–without the career and business suits. Yes, it’s a challenge to stay at home with kids; and, yes, you’re going to have to give up on your pre-kid dreams for a long time. If parenting is nothing else, it is a time to learn about yourself and your life and to give–in ways you never thought were possible.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Blogs I Read

I like to have one location for the links to blogs I like. So I’m using this space here to keep track of the links. I don’t subscribe to any blogs now because they fill up my in-box–which I like to keep empty.

coaching / life support

minimalism and simple living

I’m just starting to read these and/or haven’t read enough to know what I think:

minimalist / uniform  / capsule wardrobe

fluff & design

Amy Axelson

Posted in Simple living | 4 Comments

What Do You Want to Feel?

I learned from inspirational speaker Esther Hicks about reaching for a feeling, asking ourselves what we want to feel. And that what we are feeling is more important than what we are doing, per se.

Once we decide what it is we want to feel, we can then ask ourselves this question:

As someone who feels _____, what would I be doing/saying/being right now?

The doing, saying, being then becomes practically effortless. It also takes away the feeling of despair, such as, ‘What am I doing here, in this life, in this relationship, at this job, in this town?’  It brings consciousness to this very moment rather than being swallowed up by details and to-do tasks.  And it generates a sense of empowerment over circumstances:  you are running the show, not your tasks or your despair.

Here is an example scenario:

I’m currently feeling overwhelmed with my life and my not being where I hoped to be by now. Having a messy kitchen reminds me of one more task which makes up my life, one more thing I have to do which I don’t love doing.

I ask myself,  ‘What do I want to feel?

I want to feel free, ease, light, anticipation, organized and put-together.

As someone who feels free, what would I be doing right now?

  • I would be breathing calmly and smiling.
  • I would be calling my best friend to talk to while I’m doing my dishes.
  • I would be listening to music or a podcast I enjoy while doing the dishes.
  • I would be washing my dishes while daydreaming.

Immediately, I feel free. And the actions, even washing dishes, seem like part of my life-purpose; and so I begin the actions with a feeling of freedom.

Then, from the feeling of freedom, I begin to lighten up, I feel like I’m becoming put-together and organized, and I anticipate all the possibilities that my daydreaming will present to me—all of which I wasn’t able to access while being weighed-down and overwhelmed.

What do you want to feel?

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being | Leave a comment

Making Memories or Creating Connection?

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the importance of making memories.  The idea is to create memorable situations in one’s life or in one’s family in order to have something to look back on with fondness.

For me, the idea of ‘creating memories‘ is very much like having a bucket list or creating ‘quality‘ time:  contrived to-do lists.

I don’t know about you, but my life doesn’t work like an institutional high school:  as if a bell rings as a sign that it’s time to have ‘quality’ time; so like Pavlov’s dog, my behavior turns to that of ‘quality‘.  The bell rings again, and my personality shifts to that of ‘adventure‘ and I scan my to-do list to see what bucket item I’ll complete so I can cross it off my list.

Life is right now.  In each moment, we are making a choice in how to live our lives.  If ‘quality‘ is missing from our lives, and we have to carve out time for it, then it would seem that some life changes are in order.

Perhaps we need to minimize our schedules, or busy-ness, our stuff, our keeping-up-with-the-Joneses envy, our addictions to pop culture and other distractions which keep us from what and who we really care about.  Perhaps we need to learn to create a sense of appreciation for who and what we do have and love so those people and things fulfill us–present-tense and consistently.

Our brains automatically store memories, planned activities or otherwise.  And somethings we simply forget with time.

What is timeless, ingrained, and always with us in every moment of life is the experience of connection in relationship.  Connection happens when two people are important to, invest time and energy into, and care about, each other.  Connection happens by simply being together as two people who authentically matter to each other: doing nothing, washing dishes, climbing mountains, going to amusement parks–the activity really is irrelevant.

Memories just happen.  Connection is created by intention and togetherness.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Giving Away Our Privacy

Here are some lyrics to a catchy pop song:

‘ I’ve got bi-polar disorder
My shit’s not in order
I’m overweight
I’m always late
I’ve got too many things to say
I rock mom jeans, cat earrings
Extrapolate my feelings
My family is dysfunctional
But we have a good time killing each other

‘They tell us from the time we’re young
To hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves
Inside ourselves
I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else
Well I’m over it
I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are)
I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are) So-o-o-o-o what
So what’
- Mary Lambert, Eric Rosse, Benny Cassette, MoZell

I agree with the assumed sentiments of the song:  I don’t have to be ashamed of who I am.  I don’t have to stuff my feelings down.

This is the stickler.  With any cultural message that comes at us, there is always some truth to it.  But we need to not stop there; we need to look even deeper.

The above song also says that the world, not exclusively loved ones, can know her secrets and that is acceptable to her.

Even that might seem like not-a-big deal.  After all, since the 9/11 tragedy, how many people have said, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ out of fear of being accused of being a terrorist?

‘I cherish my privacy, and woe betide anyone who tries to interfere with that.’
- Jeff Beck, Musician, songwriter, actor

Little by little, we’ve all gotten used to sharing a lot of information about ourselves because we ‘have nothing to hide’, because that’s just what people do now, because somewhere along the way (in school, in the media, in our corporate jobs, at medical facilities), we’ve grown accustomed to putting it all out there.

So we don’t even blink when we fill out cute little surveys about our feelings and beliefs, we keep our cell phones (volunteer tracking devices) turned on and with us all the time, we feel a bit snub with pride when we have professionals come into our homes to access our energy usage, we fill out ‘health’ questionnaires for mystery sources, we go to pro-community / environmental / ‘sustainability’ meetings assuming that the beliefs and ideas we share are actually welcomed and there are no other motives involved, celebrities convince us that being half-naked (or fully naked) and promiscuous is acceptable and normal, we are directed to reveal our beliefs at ‘politically-correctness’ seminars on our personal or work time, we let our kids be indoctrinated at school with who-knows-what by who-knows-whom, and we don’t even notice that every human detail is being tracked in databases to follow us the rest of our lives.

Of course, we plaster private photos all over instagram et al, Facebook, and cell phones. We email, text and post every detail of our and our families’ lives–even our exact locations.

Every electronic purchase is tracked, all to save a few bucks on their cash-reward spending program.  Using online banking is commonplace.  Google keeps track of every internet single search we do.

Hey, what the hell, let’s implant chips into our loved ones and ourselves.

Our friends and strangers bully us if we don’t sign up for any of the above.  We have nothing to hide, right?  Right, the majority of us don’t.

But we have a lot to protect and cherish:  Ourselves. Our loved ones.  We aren’t commodities.  We are precious.

‘Once you’ve lost your privacy, you realize you’ve lost an extremely valuable thing.’
- Billy Graham, Evangelist

The sticker, the truth in the first layer, about loss-of-privacy is ‘safety’ and convenience.   But what is lost is ourselves.  Let’s start thinking.  Let’s keep our eyes open and pay close attention.  The disclaimer is this:  Once we know, we can’t pretend we don’t anymore.

‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects [items of property], against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’
- Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights

May we stop allowing ourselves to be boiled like frogs and start protecting our privacy, freedom, individuality, personal-responsibility, our loved ones and ourselves.  Let’s shift what’s going on in our society by respecting and loving ourselves.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Heath and well-being | Leave a comment

Why My Coaching Is Inexpensive

Sometimes we equate inexpensive with poor quality. However, in the case of my own coaching prices, I chose amounts that I myself would easily pay a good-quality coach.

Marketing experts say that coaching prices should be the equivalent monetary value of what the coaching adds to one’s life.  I understand that.  If having coaching prompts me to, and supports me in, changing my entire, the coaching value could be in the thousands of dollars.

Yet, sometimes I’ve spent the going-rate on coaching and have been disappointed that the 45-minutes or hour of coaching time was incomplete for me.  If the price had been lower, I would have had three sessions instead of only one, spread out over a week so I’d have time to process the coaching session and practice the changes.  And then I’d go back to another session ready for more depth and new questions.

I’m a complex person and I do a lot of digging into my issues and so forth; so, it usually takes a coach some time to figure out where I’m coming from, what my value system is, and to realize perhaps he or she will have to use a different angle than what they’ve used with the majority of the other clients.

Lower coaching prices makes me feel more secure in making the initial coaching appointment, knowing I will have more than one opportunity to get what I need from the coaching.

I want the decision to be easy in choosing to have coaching with me and for the financial investment to hardly be the deciding factor at all.  I want the risk of having coaching to only be in seeing things in new ways, in having a different perspective.

Even if you have only an inkling that something isn’t quite right in your life, likely coaching with me is going to be very beneficial—as long as you are open to it.

The only commonality my clients and I need to share is the belief in personal-responsibility, that we each are responsible for making our lives how we want them to be.

Contact me to schedule your coaching session.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being | 2 Comments

Protection and Loyalty

It wasn’t until well into parenthood that I recognized what I value in relationships.  Prior to that, I tried like crazy to ignore my needs in relationships and made my focus ‘fitting in’ and ‘being liked’–which, for me, meant trying to conform to what my loved ones needed from me.

Finally, after forty years of futile attempts, I gave up the insanity.  Thankfully.

At the very foundation of my parenting is protection of, and loyalty to, my children.  I protect my children with my life.  I am and will remain loyal to them for as long as I live.

My protection and loyalty entails my ensuring they have all the wisdom and knowledge they will need as adults so they can, in turn, protect and be loyal to themselves.

Recognizing what is at the root of what I give my children made me see that I want the same thing from any relationship I am in, platonic or otherwise:  protection and loyalty.

Our families and our selves are all we have in this life.  Those who don’t have family or don’t have closeness with family sometimes have loving, dedicated friends who are just like family.

It’s important to have allies in life. We don’t trust that the federal government is out for our best interests. Even some relatives and so-called-friends turn against their own.

I don’t believe that we must keep disloyal or non-protective relationships just because they are blood-relatives, or due to the length of the relationship or a shared history, or things were once good but are no longer, or due to proximity or convenience.

The relationships worth holding onto are the ones with people who protect you, who are loyal to you, who have your back, who believe in you, who hold you dearly in their hearts, who are honest with you and with themselves.

If you don’t feel protected by, and feel loyalty from, the people in your life, my opinion is it’s better to go about life alone until you find this type of relationship. Using energy to protect yourself from people close to you is a tremendous waste of energy and hurts your well-being.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | 1 Comment

How to Break Up

You made a promise to each other, in front of everyone you know, that you will stay with your partner ‘until death do us part‘.

Or you moved in together.

Or you declared a commitment to each other.

Or your relationship just naturally became exclusive after knowing each other for a period of time.

Committed relationships:  We commit to invest in a relationship with another person.  We want to know the other person is as determined to be together as we are.

When both parties voluntarily want to stay together, it can feel safe, secure, warm, and loving.

But when one person doesn’t want the relationship any longer, the tie once shared is over–even if the other person still wants it.

Once in a while, both parties can agree that things aren’t working.  But more likely, one person is going to be devastated.  And this devastation can come in many forms.

It’s the fear of hurting another that makes it difficult to verbally end the relationship.  And sometimes, the person wanting to end the relationship is fearful of what the future will bring if they end the relationship.

If the person ending the relationship feels afraid for their own safety, it’s a good idea to first come up with a safe plan for the near future.  For example, a stay-at-home mom might need to find a place to live for her kids and herself prior to verbally ending her committed relationship.

If personal-safety for both adult and children isn’t a concern, this general information can apply:

  1. Don’t bring a new relationship into the mix.   It might be tempting to have someone waiting for you on the sidelines so you can skip over being lonely and the fear-of-the-unknown.  But, as we all know, wherever you go, there you are.  You’re going to need some time being on your own, figuring out who you are outside the context of this relationship.  As you heal, you will be a different person than you are at the beginning of the breakup.  The next time you pick a partner, you want to pick them as a healed and whole person.  Give yourself time and space to be alone.
  2. Write down the reasons the relationship no longer works for you.  This will help you clarify your feelings, as well as keep you centered when you talk to your partner.
  3. Understand that breaking up is a death of sorts.  Be prepared for your partner, and maybe even yourself, to need to work through the stages of grief.
  4. Write down what you want your next steps to be.  Make it your intention to have a win-win scenario as much as possible–this will help everyone’s healing process, including your own.  Don’t use the kids as manipulation tools; figure out who is emotionally-equipped and willing to be primary caretaker and make sure the caretaker has what they need to be available to, and caring, towards the kids.
  5. Arrange a time when, and a space where, you can talk privately.  Make sure you both have eaten and are well-rested.
  6. Let your partner know that you don’t want the relationship anymore and why.
  7. Just listen to what your partner has to say.  Don’t expect them to agree with you.  If your partner’s response is extremely difficult for you to handle, arrange a meeting with a mediator so you both can communicate with some guidance; if your partner won’t go, keep inviting them but go alone.
  8. State what you want the next steps to be.
  9. Work together to come up with a plan.  Figure out together how to tell the children about the breakup.  Figure out a parenting plan.  Figure out how you will divide up your stuff, home, and finances.  There are forms lawyers offer for free to aid with this process.
  10. If you don’t have kids together, it might be best to just walk away and not look back.  But if you have to continue to deal with each other due to kids or a shared business, go to a counselor, mediator, or coach together to learn how to do a new relationship: as acquaintances and business or parenting partners.

Once all of the above has been worked-through and you’ve had enough time on your own–working past the loneliness and learning to love yourself and your own company–then you will be more equipped to pick a new partner.  The next-time-around, create a relationship where open communication is the basis of the relationship–where you check in daily to see if you’re each still happy and addressing what needs to be addressed rather than hiding your feelings for months or even years.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Relationships | Leave a comment

Socializing: In-Our-Faces

Being a highly-sensitive person, I find it extreme the frequency of having to adapt to new people, places, and situations just in every-day life. It takes a great amount of energy for me to attempt to tune out the stimulation and surroundings in order to maintain a sense of peace.

There have been people in my life who do not understand personal space whatsoever, and who were extremely intrusive, loud, and otherwise insensitive. I encounter this in my general-public job as well.

Am I an oddball? Well, of course; but not because of being sensitive to this. Check out this quote from the book called The Continuum Concept which describes how one culture adapted to new people and a new setting—even with their own people who were away for a while:

“The Yequana [an indigenous South American tribe] taught me far more refined ways of dealing with people than the ones I had known in civilization. Their way of greeting visitors struck me as particularly sound.

“I saw it first when I arrived in a Yequana village with two Yequana travelers from a distant village. I was not then expected to know how to behave, so an old fellow who had been among Venezuelans in his youth and knew some Spanish came and greeted me with the customary Venezuelan pat on the shoulder and after some conversation showed me where to put my hammock.

“But my two companions received very different treatment. They seated themselves not far away under the great round roof without a word to or from anyone, and they did not look at, or speak to, one another. The residents came and went at various distances in the course of their normal business, but none gave so much as a glance to the visitors. For about an hour and a half the two men sat motionless and silent; then a woman came quietly and placed some food on the ground before them and walked away. The men did not reach immediately for the food but after a moment ate some in silence. Then the bowls were taken quietly away and more time elapsed.

“Eventually, a man approached in a leisurely way and stood leaning against one of the roof poles behind the visitors. After several moments he spoke, very softly, a few syllables. Easily two minutes passed before the elder visitor answered, also briefly. Again the silence closed over them. When they spoke again it was as though each utterance was referred back to the reigning silence out of which it had come. The personal peace and dignity of each man suffered no imposition. As the exchange became more lively, others came, stood awhile, then joined in. They all seemed to have a sense of the serenity of each man, which had to be preserved. No one interrupted anyone else; emotional pressure was absent from any voice. Every man remained balanced on his own center.

“It was not long before laughter blossomed among the talk, bringing the dozen or so men into rising and falling waves of unison between their speeches.

“At sunset the women served a meal to the assembled men, by now every one in the village. News was exchanged and there was a great deal of laughter. Both residents and visitors were perfectly assimilated in the atmosphere without having had recourse to falseness or nervousness. The silences had not been a sign of the breakdown of communication but a time for each man to be at peace with himself and to be assured that others were the same.

“When the men of the village went on long trips to trade with other Indians, they were received, on their return, with the same procedure by their families and clansmen: left to sit in silence long enough to recapture the feel of village life, then casually approached without pressure or demonstrations of emotion.”

- The Continuum Concept, by Jean Liedloff, Pages 141-143

Can you imagine how lovely this gradual adaption would feel? There would be little reason for cortisone stress hormones to soar. Authenticity and inner peace would be fostered.

Reading The Continuum Concept helped me appreciate my sensitivities and to see that how I am is perfectly natural. It helped me begin to trust my instincts and intuition. I do my best to honor and respect others’ space and integrity in my own home, with my children, and out in the world; and I’m understanding with myself when dealing with life amongst strangers and in public places.

Be gentle with yourself and your own needs—even when no one else understands.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Parenting, Relationships | 2 Comments

Attachment Parenting My Way

From the birth of my kids, I’ve chosen to be an attached parent. During infancy and toddler-hood, I was at my babies’ beck-and-call. I was also alert to their gradual need to explore outside of my arms. All along, I’ve followed their cues.

My older child didn’t leave my side until around age five—my attempts to get her to play with the other kids on the playground were futile.  I did my best to be patient; though, it didn’t come easily for me. Looking back, I wish I would have just enjoyed pushing her on the swing, like a sweet meditation, for all those hours instead of aching to talk to other adults.  The best things I’ve learned from parenting is that each moment holds all that I need and that being with my kids is such an honor.  Thankfully, I still get to push my kids in the swings and push them for as long as they want me to, knowing I’m not missing out on one thing!

My younger child was much more into exploration at an earlier age. I don’t know if this was due to her personality or due to my being a much-more at-ease parent who trusted the (child-led detachment) process much easier the second time around.

Now, my older child likes a lot of time to herself.  The more at-ease I feel in life, the more at-ease she feels–she’s always mirrored my internal life.  It’s fascinating to see how she has grown to be so independent, calm, sure and at-peace.  For a while, even when I originally posted this article, I thought she was quiet due to not feeling comfortable sharing her feelings with me; but since, I’ve realized that she’s simply content with not having to talk all the time.

I want my children to feel free to be themselves—including not talking about their feelings if they don’t want to. I recall my own childhood, and even into adulthood, when I was so afraid to communicate about my feelings because I would get reprimanded. That is what I fear for my own kids. So I tell them that. I tell them I’m afraid that they don’t feel safe to share some things with me; and as a result I can’t help them. And I then try to back off.

I was told from the birth of my first child, by people who I had thought cared about me, that I needed to put my baby down, it didn’t hurt her to cry a little bit, and all sorts of other comments including how I was screwing up my child.  These people seemed resentful towards me for being an attached parent. I assume it’s because observing me tapped into their own pain and insecurities surrounding ‘being nurtured’—if they were truly concerned for me, they would have helped me with the other things in life so I could have more energy for my baby and myself.  People seem angry about putting kids’ needs first.  I let go of important relationships because of lack-of-understanding and flat-out hurtful comments; I certainly didn’t need to feel like shit anymore than I already did.  With no role models, let alone emotional support, for how I’m raising my kids, it’s easy to get down on myself.

Attachment parenting isn’t to be confused with being an obsessed helicopter parent. I don’t think any kid–or adult, for that matter–wants to be smothered, or for the parent to hyper-focus on everything the kid says and does. Kids–and adults–also don’t like being talked to like they are idiots and hard-of-hearing, or to feel like the parent doesn’t want to provide guidance (‘Should we leave now, two-year-old Billy?’). I cringe when I hear the helicopter parents at the library talking loudly to their child, proudly showing the world what instructive, poster-parents they are. Like a dog hearing a silent whistle, I can hear their teeth clenching; and yes, after a while, they can’t maintain their show and they ‘lose it’ on some level. Authenticity in parenting goes a long way. There’s really no one to impress but yourself; it’s a thankless job.

I find that many parents don’t come across as emotionally in-tuned with their kids; yet they proudly hound their kids over grades, force the kids into activities, insist on blind obedience of strangers, make them perform to show off their skills, dress their kids up for show, and otherwise police their kids’ every move.  Evidently, this is acceptable in our culture, but being emotionally-attentive is not.

Conscious, attached parenting is a dance.

The recollection of my own traumatic childhood makes me hyper-aware of how I am parenting: careful to not do the extreme opposite (which can result in more-of-the-same), attempting to be aware of the here-and-now and seeing my children as completely different people with completely different life experiences than I have had:

  • Being present and available, but not being smothering.
  • Being conscious and tuned-in, but not writing stories in my head about what could be wrong or how I am screwing them up.
  • Referencing my experiences, but not wanting to overshadow their own with mine.
  • Knowing them well, but seeing them new each day.
  • Wanting to teach them what I know and to impact their lives with my beliefs, but also wanting them to think for themselves and form their own beliefs.
  • Being open to all that they teach me (so, so much), but not wanting them to feel responsible for me or feeling insecure that I am not guiding them with my experience and wisdom.
  • Wanting them to not feel like weirdo-outsiders and to learn to set their own limits and boundaries, but also pointing out the bullshit, shallow commercialism, pop-culture, mind-control messages and all-consuming techy stuff.
  • Letting them speak their minds and express themselves, but teaching them to also be conscientious towards people they care about and others’ space and things.
  • Getting them to want to pitch-in because they care about our family and themselves and because they are intrinsically-motivated, but not having to play barking-policewoman or else giving up on any sense of order.
  • Being encouraging and fostering self-motivation, but not trying to manipulate behavior or to be behavior-focused.
  • Wanting for them to be self-driven, curious learners, but also teaching them what I know they will need, based on what I have needed, when living life and being out in the world.
  • Fostering the beliefs in abundance and that we can have all that we desire, but also fostering simple-living, pausing prior to spending, and budgeting.
  • Allowing space, but also engaging with them in things they enjoy doing with me.
  • Letting myself be me, but also being aware of being watched and listened to all the time by my kids.
  • Wanting to model powerful, intentional female, but feeling overwhelmed a lot.
  • Freely sharing about my struggles, but also sharing my triumphs, skills and passions.
  • Wanting them to believe that life is good, yet not believing that myself sometimes.
  • Being expressive and open with my feelings so the kids know me and know what’s going on (not doubting what they feel in the air, their intuition), but not stressing them out.
  • Having my own interests, but being okay with many interruptions and putting ideas on hold in order to be available for the kids.
  • Giving all of myself to my kids and our lives, without making them feel like they owe me anything.
  • Teaching them that sacrifice is bullshit, but being totally aware that I wouldn’t be living how I do if I wasn’t responsible for them.
  • Doing what I don’t love (shopping, cooking, cleaning), but not making them feel guilty for, or stressed out about, my lack-of-enjoyment.
  • Allowing and trusting them to have relationships with the people they enjoy, but also pointing out when things aren’t healthy so they don’t blame themselves or think abuse is normal and acceptable.
  • Giving them freedom and space, but not making them feel badly for how much I miss them when they are gone.
  • Keeping myself going by reminding myself I won’t have this massive sense of responsibility for forever, but also embracing and appreciating each moment right now.
  • Feeling proud that they don’t need to talk to me much when they are away from me, knowing that everything I’ve done and given through this moment has paid off and is apparent in my kids’ independence and in-the-moment-fulfillment, but not crying my eyes out with the realization that all that’s really left is me.

I am the only one here, the absolute only one who I can expect, to pat me on the back.  I am the only one who can find fulfillment in my life as it is right now.

And that’s what it’s all about. Surrendering to parenting is really surrendering to myself.

When I became a parent, it was so difficult for me to let go of my career-minded focus, to let go of trying to show the world how ambitious and smart I was, to stopping working my way up the ladder without a bachelor’s degree (‘I’ll show them I don’t need a flippin’ degree!’), to give up being able to work on something obsessively from start-to-finish with only myself to tend to, to let go of my old definition of success and productivity, to not be able to hide behind my job, to have to balls-to-the-wall heal from all of my shit because of my kids reflecting myself back to me, to keep going when it’s felt like the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, to find my peace doing something which swallows me up whole, to do this venture alone and give all of myself to doing it, to transform everything I ever knew and believed, to listen to my gut and heart—to believe in myself–when everyone around me thinks I’m insane, to tap into my power and my courage and my resilience and to stop looking outside of myself to be saved or for my worthiness and value to be proven.

No one can tell me that I’m sacrificing for my children. I’m being myself, in the raw.  I am standing alone and standing strong with who I am and what I believe in. I’ve never been more true and authentic to my soul. That’s scary as hell. But that ain’t no sacrifice.

Only conscious, attachment parenting could have brought me to where I am now, to who I am now: Mama lioness. Protector. Space-creator. Relentless-giver-of-love. Powerhouse. An inspiration to myself. My own best friend. My own hero. Unstoppable. Unmovable.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting | 2 Comments

Partnership While Parenting

When deciding to have children with someone, or choosing to be in a relationship with someone with children, each adult is volunteering to make the children the priority.

The children didn’t choose to be here; the parent made that decision. In making the decision to bring another human into the world, the parent is automatically signing up for being responsible for that child and ensuring the child has their needs met. It’s a big deal.

Most adults of child-rearing age can meet many, if not all, of their own needs. Obviously, children cannot.

So, who do I think comes first?  The children. And, simultaneously, the main caretaker of the children. The one with the least contact with the children needs to find a way to fit into the mix; it’s really in everyone’s best interests for that person to be supportive to the main caretaker and to not create additional stress for the household.

What’s in it for the caretaker’s support person? Love and growth. If that doesn’t rock their world, parenting is going to be even more challenging. I touch on this at the end of this article.

If feeling and giving love to the people who care about you, and growing and learning about yourself, doesn’t make life worth living for you, you probably don’t want to have kids or to be involved with someone who has kids…

…Unless you want to pass most of the child-rearing to others to do on your behalf. If you choose that route, and want to make your partner your priority, invest time and energy in hiring your childcare team together.

I will speak to those who have chosen to do most, if not all, of the child-rearing themselves.

How do two adults with children maintain a close relationship?

  1. Be in agreement that raising kids is a huge and important responsibility you willingly chose. Continue to choose it in each moment.
  2. Discuss your parenting objectives and your living styles.  Find out which areas and tasks you each enjoy doing. Don’t expect the other person to do stuff you believe in, yet you hate doing yourself.  For the things neither of you enjoy doing, there’s no need for it to feel like a punishment; decide to do those things together, make it fun, use it as bonding time and even as a date (more on this below).
  3. Live your beliefs.  When both parties are doing what they believe in and enjoy–or at least are open to growing from, and letting-go-of-resistance to, those areas–then the likelihood of resentment is significantly less and appreciation is authentic.
  4. Let go of anything and everyone else which stands in the way of your peace.  Parenting takes a lot of time and energy.  Add to that, being conscious with your partner, and you can’t afford for anything to drag you down.
  5. Don’t critique.  If you’re not the primary caretaker, don’t critique the performance of the caretaker and don’t make them feel guilty that they aren’t working a paid job. Just as it wouldn’t be helpful to you if they showed up at your job, assessed everything you do and say there, critiqued how organized or not you are, and determined if you do your job up to their own standards.
  6. Don’t nag.  If you are the primary caretaker, don’t harp on the other parent when they get home. Let them do what they need to do to recharge and switch gears. Reference your discussions about what you each like to have and do in parenting and lifestyle.
  7. Look at the other adult as a person. Look in their eyes. Be curious about who they are and what they want in life. Appreciate that you get to be in their presence and do life together. This doesn’t require much time or effort–just a minute or two out of your whole day. You don’t even need to say the words (sometimes words can be exhausting when being pulled in all directions), just feel it.
  8. Be in communication.  After I just said how hard it can be to form words while parenting, this deserves a chuckle. Don’t expect deep conversations as you all are switching gears and transitioning. When the work-for-pay parent gets home, the energy in the house changes. Or when the family has been busy with errands, the energy changes once home. Allow things to settle before diving into discussions. Make sure everyone has eaten; low blood-sugar can equate to crabbiness and bickering.  The best time to talk is after the kids feel like they’ve established connection with both parents. Be creative about when and where you can talk. Here’s an example for how to fit in communication: Go to a playground where the kids can play or you can push them on the swings; you can talk as you roam around the playground.  Check in with each other frequently about your relationship, feelings, concerns, and needs; this helps to ensure that neither of you will disappear within your partnership.
  9. Don’t expect each other to be Barbie or Ken. If she never wears makeup, so what? If you wear sweats to work, so what? Find beauty in each others’ dedication and loyalty; there’s nothing hotter than that.
  10. Be affectionate. Affection while going about day-to-day life is not only a great expression of love and appreciation towards each other, it is easy to do with kids around or on top of you. Frequent affection can also act as long-going foreplay. When you eventually have sex (if you both want sex, that is), it won’t feel as hurried because the sex itself will be just one part, a continuation of, the intimacy you share the rest of the time. When you get some spare moments, you can dart into the bathroom or other private space. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to dart; but one day, the kids won’t be around you all the time. And then you can lay in bed together for days if you want.
  11. Give up the idea of ‘quality’ time. Quality cannot be contrived or forced. You either are together or you are not. You either are present in the moment or not. Be authentic with who you are. Remind yourself that this moment is really all there is; and you get to choose how to live each moment. But don’t waste your time feeling guilty; just fully take responsibility for all of your choices and change what you don’t like.
  12. Alter your definition of a date. After having kids, to me, a good date is washing dishes together or sitting next to each other holding hands. To some, this might sound pitiful. To me, it sounds heavenly and fabulous that I can find value and love in such simple things (read: low-maintenance and efficient). Sure, I love eating at a foodie-friendly restaurant; but that’s not as important to me as just being together and especially simultaneously being available to my kids and getting things done (such as chores or rest and relaxation).
  13. Redefine what it means to love someone. Let go of your teenage and pre-kids definitions of a good relationship.  Recognize that raising kids can force one to slow way down in life and to completely surrender to each moment. Children are great teachers and show us exactly what we can address within ourselves in order to love ourselves and have authentically-fulfilling lives. Think of parenting as a several-year Zen retreat. And feel blessed that you get to do this together.
  14. Remember that life isn’t segmented: family time is also couple-bonding time. Fall in love all over again with the person across the field carrying your kid on his shoulders. Look in awe at the woman who can read the subtlest of cues from your kids.
  15. Make learning about yourself be your main objective in life.  This helps to appreciate any and every moment. Even during a sucky moment, I know at least I’m learning about myself. Learning about myself is never a waste of my time.
  16. Remind each other that this phase in life won’t last for forever. It’s just one chapter of many. Eek out as much growth from it as you can while it lasts. Your growth, self-knowledge and self-love stay with you for forever.

What if you’re interested in a single parent, but none of the above sounds good to you? Move on. That’s the best advice I can give you. Find someone who doesn’t have kids or who doesn’t spend much time with their kids.

What if you already have kids, but none of the above sounds good to you? Put your energy into staying out of the way, taking care of your own needs, and not making things harder for the caregiver and kids. Figure out things you do enjoy doing with the kids or with the caregiver; and let the caregiver know those will be the ways you can contribute and that’s it. If you have money, hire help for the caregiver in ways they would like help. Get a second job to contribute financially.  It might be a good idea to go to a mediator, coach, or counselor to have this discussion. In the meeting, you can ask for help in coming up with a feasible plan to turn the situation into a win-win.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting | 4 Comments

Judging People

If you have an opinion about anything, you are judging.

If you said you had no opinions, I’d judge you as being boring.  If I think your hairstyle looks good with your face shape, I’m making a judgment, right?

I, like any other Christian-raised person, was taught it was sinful to judge others.  The irony was that any Christian I knew judged people up-and-down. ‘I’ll pray for you,’ declared to someone who isn’t asking for prayer many times feels like a passive-aggressive way of saying, ‘Just so you know, I disapprove of you based on my judgments of you. I will ask God to change you so I feel better.’

As a result of being told judgment is wrong, I felt guilty when I judged people.

I no longer buy into the idea that I can’t be human and feel what I feel.

But what could I do about my being upset when I saw what I determined to be an injustice and mistreatment, or something otherwise disturbing? How could I not want to advocate for change? That ate me up inside for a long time.

This is the answer I came up with:

I don’t have to stop judging people. I don’t have to think that every way is the best and most-healthy option.

Instead, I have chosen the following concepts:

  1. I deeply believe we all have free-will and options.
  2. I choose to believe all experiences are in support of why we each chose to come to this planet in the first place.
  3. I appreciate the hell out of being me and no one else. I especially appreciate not having to be the people I don’t admire and who upset me—encountering them reminds me how much I love to be me.
  4. I don’t have to hang out with the people I don’t look up to. I allow, in my life and space, people who I admire, respect and enjoy.

With those intentions, I can judge others without needing to try to change them, without needing to explain or justify my viewpoints, and without fear consuming me. I can just allow people to be whoever they are, where ever they are, as I go about my own life with my own people.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Relationships, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Ditch That Which Bugs the Crap Out of You

Being agitated, yet not letting go (i.e. not walking away, shutting it down, quitting, moving on, and focusing on that which feels good) is self-imposed misery.

I’ve done this a lot:

  • obsessively noticing societal issues which upset me and make me doubt my power
  • staying in locations or situations which overwhelm my senses
  • going back, more than once, to Facebook pages and websites by people who I don’t like
  • feeling like I need to be politically-correct, ‘nice’, or ‘enlightened’ with people who insult or correct me
  • keeping hopeless, irritating conversations going
  • responding to dumb, wastes-of-my-time texts and emails
  • taking calls from and talking to people to whom I don’t want to talk
  • reaching out to or updating people about my life with whom I share no connection
  • sending seemingly-applicable-to-the-person’s-interests youtube clips, articles, and photos to specific people with whom I can’t even share an enjoyable conversation and who won’t involve me in their lives
  • getting together with people with the hope that we will eventually feel comfortable around each other
  • spending my time discussing topics near-and-dear to my heart with people who think I’m nuts or a joke
  • expecting emotional support, empathy and helpful input from people who don’t have that to give me
  • trying to prove my worthiness and value to a person who thinks I suck
  • defending or explaining myself to people who really don’t care about me and/or don’t want to understand me
  • all but begging for someone I like and admire to share their thoughts, ideas and time with me
  • holding onto relationships which obviously aren’t working
  • believing I have to stay for my growth

I have seen glimpses of what being irritated, stressed out, and ignoring my desires does to my body.  I know what it does to my well-being.

Relationships and situations can’t be forced. Either it works or it doesn’t. When paying attention, I see there really is no in-between. If I have to shut down part of myself or spend a great deal of energy trying to ignore things, that means it’s not working; imagine holding a beach ball underwater—how long do I want to do that?  Even trouble-shooting, finding-a-middle-ground, and chit-chatting are enjoyable and easy for me with the right energetic match. With the wrong match, it sucks.

So, I practice letting go, letting go, letting go, letting go.

It’d be different, I suppose, if I had absolutely nothing else to do and hated being in my own company. Then I could justify to myself why I don’t let go of annoying situations—they would keep me company and keep me distracted.

But I love my own company, my kids’ company, my home, my hobbies, my learning and growing, my life. There’s no justification for creating and allowing annoying situations for myself.

A big part of my healing involves my realizing that I don’t have to feel like shit, or to try to turn shit into diamonds. I don’t need to stick around shitty situations for my growth. My growth comes in the letting-go, the walking-away, and in the appreciation of the people for whom I willingly and joyfully invest my life—including myself.

Don’t misinterpret letting go to mean being intimidated into silence, conforming and subservience. If you have something to say—especially because expressing it makes you feel better—say it. But if lingering on the discussion or situation takes away your peace, that’s a sign to let go and move on.

Do that which feels good and let go of the rest. You’re the only one that can do this for you.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | 3 Comments

The Summary of Life in Any Slice of Time

I had a near near-death experience. Meaning, I didn’t see a white light; but the possibility of death was closer than I had realized.

Knowing that, at any moment, I could have keeled over initially shocked me. But then, as I chose a somewhat risky, but potentially life-saving, medical procedure, I was acutely aware that I could die at any time as a result of the procedure.

Yet, I felt peace. I didn’t feel like there were any relationships I needed to clean-up or last calls I needed to make. I didn’t have a bunch of unresolved issues pertaining my finances, household, and relationships. I wouldn’t be leaving behind a bunch of stuff for my kids or their dad to deal with.

Everything I had created in my life up to that very moment was intentional and absolutely in-line with who I am.

What a relief it is to know that. What a relief it is to feel like all-is-well. How wonderful it feels to know my simple life, my conscious living and parenting, and my close and important relationships are perfect within any slice of time I choose to look from—especially right now. And now. And now. This moment is perfect.

Your life is now. Take a look. This is it.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Spirituality | Leave a comment

‘Unplugged’ Update

Since January 2013, I haven’t had internet service in my home. I also deleted my personal and coaching Facebook accounts. I’ve been without a TV since February 2012.

I thought that getting rid of the internet and Facebook would ensure that I’d have real-life friendships and connections, that the people who I corresponded with on-line would begin to show up in my real-life—even just over the phone, and that we’d be more motivated to see each other and talk in real-life.

None of this has happened. Most of people who I interacted with on-line have slipped away.

I have a couple of people with whom I still email regularly because that just works for our relationships and because I get a lot out of our written interactions. I’d gladly see these people daily if it weren’t for proximity from each other.

Emailing people with summary-updates about my life is exhausting and uninteresting when they don’t show up and participate in my day-to-day life. I think my blog is a good summary of what’s going on with me.

Texting is a huge waste of my time and energy; and I usually end up annoyed and frustrated trying to communicate in random short phrases. I’d like to do without texting all together and just pick up the phone to say what needs to be said.

Doing without social media has made it undeniably-clear which relationships are authentic and match who I am today. After the initial disappointment over who no longer is in my life without my being plugged-in, I have felt much relief to really know and respect myself, my needs and my choices. There is space in my life if someone I’m interested in wants to step into it. Trusting that the people who are relevant and beneficial to me will be the ones who show-up in my life has made life so much easier and my relationship with myself and with my kids so much more fulfilling.

In December 2013, I caved in and got a smart (fancy) phone. My rationale for switching over from my primitive flip-phone are these reasons: I wanted to be able to have an unlimited-long-distance phone for coaching calls since my basic landline doesn’t have free long-distance, I wanted to be able to check emails and look up businesses instead of having to go to a wifi spot every time, and the no-contract service ended up being cheaper than my pay-as-I-go flip-phone.

I’ve really enjoyed having a smart phone and don’t regret getting it. I’m practicing keeping the phone off more frequently and never on when I’m in bed. One reason is that I don’t want my kids and I exposed to the electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation. Other reasons are these: I rarely am waiting for something time-sensitive: most voicemails, texts, and emails can wait until I check them hours later; I don’t want the mindless-twitch to look at my phone with no practical objective; and I like being a good example for my kids.

My main obsession regarding my smart phone occurs when I’m involved in a really interesting email discussion or my brain is swimming with ideas for writing or life-improvements and I want to look up something relevant to those thought rampages. But really, I don’t feel much of an addiction-itch these days.

I have a to-do spreadsheet which I divided in categories:

  • To do in real life
  • To do on the internet
  • To do at a location with a printer
  • To do at work
  • To do for coaching

So, when I think of something non-pressing that I want to research on the internet, I just add it to the spreadsheet. This way, when I’m at the library or other wi-fi spot with my laptop, I can look at the list and do something from it which makes better, more efficient use of my internet time.

If I have a long email or a blog post to write, I will write it on my laptop when I’m not on the internet. Later, I paste it into an email or my website. This is another method which keeps me from feeling tied to, and distracted with, the internet for long periods of time.

Around the time I got my smart phone, I also got an MP3 player. Being able to listen to podcasts, audio books, and music while I walk or do other individual activities has been a great use of my time—rather than being glued to a screen to watch youtube videos and audios.

With practice and intention, my need for the internet, and otherwise being plugged-in, has gone down significantly. Opting instead for borrowed hard-copy books, CDs, and DVDs as well as letting go of the frantic need to be in-the-know about ‘everything’ and ‘everyone’ has helped tremendously in minimizing internet and cell-phone use, as well as in being a minimalist in-general.

I’ve been much more at-peace and able to enjoy what is, and those who are, in front of me and to honor and nurture these relationships and experiences. I’ve been able to home in on things I really enjoy doing, and focus on making a peaceful home and life for my kids and me without being pulled this-way-and-that by that which really doesn’t support me, my intentions and my values.

How we live represents what we believe in, our values, and our priorities.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Heath and well-being, Home management, Relationships | 4 Comments

Dreaming-Big Changes Perspective

When you feel hopeless and helpless about your life, or otherwise see no other way to be able to live, I recommend dreaming about your ideal life. The same goes for when you wonder what your next steps are.

Imagine no limits to what you can do.  Think about your dream life as if it is happening right now: either write it down or tell about it to another person.

The future is wide-open for my kids and me.  To see where my kids and I want to be, and to get ideas about steps we can take right now to work towards that, I interviewed my kids about some of their beliefs and about their dream lives.

I wrote my own story about my dream life after I interviewed my kids.  Of course, we can change our minds at any time.  See below for what we all came up with.

This exercise was so inspirational and exciting:

  • I feel like I know my kids and myself better.
  • I feel like we have a direction to head towards.
  • I am looking for evidence that some of things we want are already happening and part of our current reality.
  • I am excited to create some of our dreams in our present lives.
  • I feel like we are already on our way to where we want to be–which motivates me to keep on trucking.
  • Ultimately, it raises our vibration to one of hope and joy.

This is what a simple change-in-perspective can do!

My Younger Child’s Beliefs and Dream Life

1. What’s important in life?
     Good food, good relationships with family, fun friends

2. Define what a good relationship is, what does it entail?
     Not fighting and bickering

3. What do you want more of in your life?
     Doing hair stylist stuff: hair, nails and makeup

Younger child begins dream-life conversation:

4. Who are your typical clients for cosmetology?
Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, guests on the Ellen show

5. Tell me more about working with your celebrity clients.
     I have my own jet. On weekends, I pick up my clients in my jet.  While we fly to their destination (concerts and events), I do their hair, makeup and nails. They always give me front-row tickets to their concerts. While I’m sitting in the front row, I take photographs which I sell to magazines.

6. What other side-jobs and activities do you do?
      I am a part-time independent photographer, and take photos of celebrities (on stage and other events) and of nature. I sell my photos to Life magazine and National Geographic. I also sell my photos online which can be purchased in all different sizes, including ‘doll’ sizes. My photographs are displayed on the walls in the beach café I own (more on the café below).
     When ideas come to me, I design and sew dresses and gowns at home. I sell them to stores; but I’m not depended on to make all the clothes for anyone.
     Sometimes I volunteer at a fancy restaurant where I set up the tables and do their food design.
     Occasionally, I work at a pet shelter where I take care of the cats (feed and carry them) and sometimes puppies.
     I play ice hockey and do gymnastics when I feel like it.

7. What kind of vehicles do you own, if any?
     I have a bicycle, a moped, and a car. My convertible car is half light-pink and half blue. The rear-view mirror is framed by heart stickers, and I have miniature high-heel shoes hanging from it.

8. Where do you live?
     My main home is in Hawaii. I have a little home in Australia which I rent out.

9. Describe your home.
     I live one block from the ocean in a large, rented condo. I have a large screened-in balcony to eat on. I can see the huge pool and hot tub below the balcony. At night, the condo employees put floating lily pads with candles in the pool. I have bean-bag chairs with black-and-pink cheetah print. Some of the walls are pink in my home. I cook my own food; but there is also the option to eat in the dining room in the building. I use the condo’s cleaning service to clean my home. I have two puppies and two cats who are indoor-and-outdoor pets.  My mom lives in the same condo building. My sister lives about 20 minutes away near horses.

10. Who are your friends?
     My coworkers. I don’t have roommates or a partner.

11. Describe a typical day.
     In the morning, my two puppies and I walk to the beach. I look at the restaurants and shops along the beach, sit on the beach, or put my feet in the water. I take photos and videos of the beach and under the water. I put the videos on my website along with the photos I have for sale. I also dive for shells and to take photographs. Sometimes I eat at a restaurant during my walk.
     I own a café on the beach with outdoor seating. We sell snacks and drinks. Sunday is steak-day when we sell steak meals. I work at my café from about 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. My assistants work in the café when I’m not there.
     After I leave the café, I bring my puppies home for lunch and I go to my cosmetologist job. I rent a chair at a beach-front hair salon. I work there about four hours a day. My clients are both local people and people who fly in for my services.
     After the salon, I go home and eat on my balcony. Sometimes I have friends over to my home.

My Older Child’s Beliefs and Dream Life

1. What’s important in life?
     Family; friends; having a good, happy, and healthy life

2. Define what a good relationship is, what does it entail?
     Being able to talk to each other

3. What do you want more of in your life?
     Time on vacation and exploring

4. What vacations do you want to go on?
     To the ocean; Australia; California; Monte Carlo; and Madeline Island, Wisconsin

5. What’s the appeal about being on Madeline Island?
     No traffic for my mom. There are horses, few pollutants, it’s by water, and it’s still in the U.S.

Older child begins dream-life conversation:

6. Where do you live?
     I live in both Greece and Australia.

7. Who are your friends?
     The people at the horse stable. I see my sister, mom and dad about five times a month. I don’t have roommates or a partner.

8. What jobs and activities do you do?
     Every day, I work at a horse stable taking care of other people’s horses as well as my own horse. I have a college degree which helped me get my main job (I don’t know what that is yet). I work part-time at Best Buy for some extra money.
     I volunteer at a pet shelter and also do fundraisers to help homeless people. Every two weeks, I travel to different places for two weeks at a time. Each time I travel, I stay in one spot and explore near-by.
     I play baseball, tennis and do gymnastics. I go diving three times a year. On my own, I read and sing. I enjoy eating by the ocean.

9. What kind of vehicles do you own, if any?
     I have a bicycle, a moped, a hybrid energy-efficient car, and a truck for the horse stable.

10. Tell me about the horse you (are going) to have.
It’s a Quarter horse or Arabian Quarter horse mix, 15-16 hands, color and gender don’t matter, 7-13 years old, broken, strong, healthy (of course), calm but not lazy, has energy, likes to ride (or at least is okay with it), good on the ground, good with kids and adults.

11. Describe your home and home environment.
     It’s important for me to have people around me and to not to live in a lonely area such as out in the country. I cook and clean for myself. I have my two cats, Tommy and Timmy. My main home is in Greece in a fancy apartment building where I live 10-minutes from a horse stable. My apartment is simple and I don’t own a lot of things. My huge dream house–which includes an indoor water park and a lot of indoor slides–is located in Australia. I don’t rent it out, but my family can visit there.

My Own Dream Life

How I want to feel and be:  Free, Peaceful, Calm, Flowing, At-Ease, Light, Empowered and Strong, Inspired and Inspiring, Conscious, Alive, Vibrant

     I live by the water (ocean, lake, or river) in a studio apartment, in the same complex as my kids and my best friend.  My studio apartment has one large room for the entry way, kitchen, dining, living room, office, and sleeping area. My bed is a simple, but cozy, cot which I roll up every morning. I grow herbs and a few vegetables on my balcony. The restroom is serene, bright, spacious and easy-to-clean with a floor drain so I can hose everything down, and windows for air circulation. But nonetheless, I hire someone to come in every other week to clean the floors, windows, bathroom, and kitchen.
      My material possessions are few. The ones I own are functional. I have only a few sentimental items which also serve in both function and beauty.
     I use my moped, or sometimes bicycle, to get around the village when I’m not on-foot. If I need to use a car, my kids let me borrow one of theirs.
     The walkable village I live in has many water-front shops and restaurants, outdoor markets, walking trails and an independent movie theatre where anyone can request movies to be played.

     My day begins with a sun-rise walk next to the water where I breathe in the fresh air, stop to do stretches and jot notes in a small notebook I always carry with me.
     At the end of my walk, I stop at a water-front café for a big breakfast and to chat with the other inspiring entrepreneurial and artistic regulars. Sometimes I pick up bouquets of fresh flowers at the waterfront market for the 3 of us and my best friend.
     Once home, I sit at my desk which is situated in front of a wall of windows facing the water. This is where I do most of my writing as well as take coaching calls. After about five or six hours of writing and coaching, I eat supper either alone or with the company of my kids and/or best friend (aka ‘my people’) on my balcony or on the apartment-complex patio in front of the shaded pool.
     I shop daily at the outdoor market for food which I prepare once a day; I cook and eat simply when I’m not eating out.
     My day ends with a sunset walk with my people or by myself and a glass of wine on my screened-in balcony. Many times, I sleep on my balcony which has a comfortable hammock.
    My kids and I have very close and authentic relationships with one another. We can tell each other anything. We all are empathetic listeners and have great input to offer each other. We are all free to have our own lives without pressure or guilt to be together; but we choose to see each other at least a few times a week. We talk on the phone almost daily.
     My best friend and I talk and get together frequently– spontaneously dropping by each others apartments, running errands together, picnicking on the beach, listening to outdoor music, going to movies. We have a good group of adventurous acquaintances who we join about once a week for some sort of adventure such as snorkeling, sailing, hiking, fine dining, clamming and fishing, dancing and grilling on the beach with a bonfire. The people in the group have plenty of money to fund such adventures and are happy to bring us along for our company, enthusiasm, and authentic appreciation.
     Sometimes my best friend and I volunteer in the community garden or will hop on our mopeds to deliver produce to people in need. We also pick up trash on the beach or throughout the village during our walks.
     I get massages twice a week, facials every other week, and manicures and pedicures every month.
     About once a year, my kids and I travel somewhere out of the country for a few weeks. They do all the planning, and I happily join whatever they arrange.

Dream big and see where it takes you!

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | 3 Comments

What Color is Your Pee?

I can usually tell when someone is dieting for weight loss.  They are the people carrying around massive, pitcher-sized mugs full of drinking water.  I have to pee just at the sight of all that water.

We are told by doctors, health and nutrition gurus, the media, acquaintances and strangers that we need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

I have planned my life around being near restrooms.  Liquids make me pee frequently.  My sleep is interrupted by having to pee.  Also, I’ve always had to pee when I’m nervous.  I just assumed I have a small bladder, if there is such a thing.  Diabetes is predicted with frequent urination; but I don’t have diabetes.

As I began to heal my anemia and fibroids, I started drinking a lot of nettle and raspberry leaf tea.  I thought I was helping my body by keeping it hydrated and with beneficial herbs.  Before my anemia diagnosis, I drank a lot of cans of water–partially, frozen carbonated water because I loved eating the ice.  Hello.  Sign of anemia: craving ice.

Since my blood transfusion episode, I was having frequent anxiety attacks.  My feet were feeling tingly and cold.  I felt ‘wobbly’.

I’ve been communicating with my friend, Josefina, about my health stuff.  She asked what color my urine is.  It’s clear.  She told me I need to cut back on my fluids until my pee is yellow. She suggested, ‘If your metabolism [or metabolic rate] is really low, you may only need to drink one glass a day.

I was likely flooding my body and blood with fluids (hyponatremia is the extreme condition of this).  Josefina referenced someone she’s been reading for a while:  Matt Stone.

Per an article by Matt Stone plus his book, here are symptoms of being overly-hydrated:

• Cold hands and feet
• Low body temperature
• Frequent urination, clear urination, or urination at night
• Headaches or migraines
• Anxiety or panic attacks
• Dry skin
• Blurred vision, mood changes, and other symptoms that many falsely believe to be ‘hypoglycemia’
• Heart palpitations or otherwise abnormal heart rhythms
• Strong cravings for salty foods
• Low blood pressure, dizzy spells, or episodes of blurred vision
• Dry mouth [not to be confused with being thirsty]

I’ve had most of those symptoms.

I’m reading Matt’s book called Solving the Paleo Equation.  In it, he says we should only pee roughly once every four hours and not at all during our sleep-time at night.

He also says that, ‘Stress hormones are diuretic in nature and tend to trigger a sense of urgency–even after having just urinated, or without any sense of pressure building in the bladder prior to a sudden need to urinate.

Matt says healing over-hydration and its symptoms involve ‘reconcentrating body fluids to a metabolically stimulating level’ by eating more calories, carbohydrates and salt in proportion to fluids.

I haven’t had any anxiety attacks since cutting down my fluids. I feel much calmer.  The times when I’m not needing to frequently pee, I feel a new sense of freedom and peace.  I still am addressing my other symptoms, and know I need to cut back on the fluids which naturally-occur in food; but it’s been such a relief to learn about over-hydration.

As always, I recommend doing your own research on the subject. There are a lot of details to examine about hydration.

But the main tips I want to leave you with is to look at the color of your pee and to notice how frequently you pee.

  • If your pee is clear or really-light yellow, you’re likely over-hydrated.
  • If you pee more than one time per four hours and during your sleep-time, you’re likely over-hydrated.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being | 2 Comments

Benefits of Dating a Single Parent

After reading my three posts about dating and supporting a single parent, you might be wondering ‘What are the benefits of dating a single parent versus a kid-free adult?’

Good question!  I will speak to this from the perspective of a conscious and very-involved, attached parent. Of course, one doesn’t have to have children in order to offer similar traits and circumstances:

  • They simply are awesome:  You need to really like and admire the person for who they are and what they value. And you need to enjoy talking to them and being in their presence. These feelings need to be very strong and undeniable, otherwise don’t waste anyone’s time.  Hopefully, this is your biggest motivator for dating this person.
  • Best of both worlds:  If you like time and space to yourself, in the peace of your own home, you could still have this plus a deep, close and committed relationship with a single parent.
  • Dedicated:  Single parents are very dedicated to that which is, and those whom are, in their life; after all, parenting a child is signing up for at least an eighteen-year responsibility with (usually) no healthy option to walk away or give up.  They are determined to make things work out for themselves and their family out of pure love and necessity.
  • Keeping it real:  Because of the demands of parenting, the parent is always learning ways to streamline, simplify and let go of that which they don’t love and doesn’t work.  Generally, the result is no-bullshit, no games, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get.
  • Deep and authentic:  Some parents have been able to grow and learn to a place of depth and authenticity as a result of being depended and relied on for not only physical needs, but emotional, mental and spiritual well-being as well.
  • Deal and heal:  There is no hiding from issues when being an involved parent:  children are like mirrors.  So conscious parents will deal with, and heal from, each issue as it comes up.
  • Be inspired:  If you are inspired by people who trouble-shoot, function well under pressure and with many interruptions; protect and are loyal to those who matter to them at all costs; stretch beyond what they thought was possible; yet manage to create lives they love, perhaps a single parent will inspire you.
  • Strong bond and value:  If you value being an ally to someone with whom you are close, a single parent deeply appreciates when someone authentically-caring is there for them–especially when they don’t have anyone else helping them out (even just listening and talking can be a lifesaver and provide some relief to their day). This could create a really strong, trusting, valuable bond for you both.
  • Define your involvement:  Also, in being an ally to the parent, you can choose in what areas you want to be supportive—à la carte so to speak. You’re not the other biological/adoptive parent or ex-partner. You are someone new, in a new relationship which you both can form together. Likely you both have learned much from your past relationships and you are going into this new relationship with maturity and wisdom.
  • A part of the future:  If you have wanted a loving family or you appreciate the parent-child dynamics and raising the future generation, this could be a reality for you in dating a single parent.
  • Personal growth:  You, yourself, can heal, learn and grow by being close with someone who has all of the above. Your life can become richer, fuller, and more fulfilling.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | 5 Comments

How Our Loved Ones See Us

Our loved ones each see us in their own lights, through their own eyes.  We don’t have to try to change how they see us.  Instead, we can appreciate their unique opinions and viewpoints.  If they see us in ways which make us uncomfortable, we can examine ourselves to see if we are being inauthentic or resisting something.  Sometimes they love us in ways of which we weren’t even aware.

Let yourself be loved.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Relationships | 3 Comments

Ideas for Creating a Dating Relationship with a Single Parent

This post expands on my post called How to Date a Single Parent.

It is possible to establish and foster a relationship with a single parent even while the parent is busy with their child(ren).

But time and energy are precious: it might be hard for the parent to relax at dinner-and-a-movie when they know they could be using their kid-free time getting things done or resting.  It can be quite a dilemma when they also want to be with you!

Think in terms of creative and functional dates: incorporate the must-do, day-to-day stuff into your relationship.  Trouble-shoot together.  Keep in mind that it’s your presence (not the idea of you) that they want to fit into their life.  Here are some examples; ask the parent if they like these ideas and if they have more to add:

  • Be in contact; that’s the whole point of having a relationship, right?  Have daily communication with each other. More on this below.
  • Exercise together–especially exercises you can do while talking.  Many parents will find a way to get some sort of exercise, especially when their children can be alone for an hour or two or the fitness center has free childcare.
  • Ride together.  Rather than meeting somewhere in separate cars, traveling together to your destination is another way to spend time together.
  • Run errands together.  Errands are way more fun with a friend to talk to and be with, and are full of many opportunities to learn about each other: your mannerisms, social skills, taste, styles, preferences, and idiosyncrasies.
  • Hang out together for chores and home projects. Help as desired, otherwise just keep each other company and talk while the parent is working.
  • Work on projects next to/near each other.  Examples:  computer-type stuff, homework, or other table-top/floor handwork activities.
  • Work together:  Work at the same company, or help them with their at-home business.
  • Go to the same church, clubs, or organizations they belong to.
  • Attend the same group functions, happy hours and parties.
  • Bring ingredients to their home, or grocery shop together, so you can cook or BBQ together.  Clean up together too.
  • Do nothing. Rest, relax, snuggle.
  • Watch movies or read aloud to each other.
  • Take classes together.
  • Go to ‘pampering’ appointments together. Examples: pedicures, massages, hair cuts.
  • If the setting allows and the parent has okay-ed it, stop by their place-of-employment to say ‘hello’. Bring lunch for you to eat together on their break, or a beverage or snack if you can’t stay.
  • Talk on the phone while doing chores, driving, taking a break, and just before drifting asleep.
  • Text and email while at work or doing some other structured/restrictive activities, just before drifting asleep, and wishing a quick ‘good morning’ with your coffee.
  • Meet them at family-friendly group activities.  Because there will be other people participating in the activities, you can still interact with each other without it being really obvious to the kids that you’re a ‘couple’ and without having to introduce you to the kids yet.  Check out for established family-friendly groups. Examples:  volunteer work, community gardening, picnics, roller or ice skating, sledding, amusement parks, field trips, outdoor concerts and festivals, indoor expos, fishing, hiking, geocaching and camping.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | 6 Comments

Ideas for Supporting a Single Parent

This post expands on my post called How to Date a Single Parent.

You could be one of the parent’s biggest allies if you made life smoother and not-so-alone.  Your care and efforts could make you even closer emotionally; and you could grow and learn more about yourself.

Here are some suggestions for ways to support a single parent and to foster your relationship.  Ask the parent if any of these ideas sound good to them and if they have more to add:

  • Make things easy. Don’t be indecisive and wishy-washy—that only makes things unnecessarily more difficult.
  • Be known. Don’t waste the parent’s energy and time by hiding, being secretive, vague, and mysterious.  Say what you think and feel.  Be direct.  Be up-front with your needs in the relationship.  If you don’t know (about <insert any topic here>), you can start a dialog about not knowing.  Don’t expect the parent to think for you or read your mind.
  • Show up in their life.  Don’t be passive about this!  At minimum, have some form of daily contact with each other.  Creatively figure out ways to be part of their day-to-day life.
  • Be spontaneous when you can.  Having more things to schedule in advance might not be appealing to the parent; and they can’t predict what their energy level and mood might be in the future.  Plus, you never know when the parent might be able to eek out some free time to be with you–jump at these chances whenever you can.
  • Be inclusive.  Some parents don’t have their kids on holidays, and end up spending holidays alone; the same goes for other random times the kids might be elsewhere.  Invite them to your family gatherings, holiday events, happy hours, and other social functions.
  • Don’t give up: keep inviting them/offering until they tell you to stop inviting them/offering (or until you aren’t interested anymore, of course).
  • Listen.  Even if you don’t understand what they are going through, surely you can tap into times where you were stretched beyond what you thought you could do.  Get to that place and then empathize.  Use this as an opportunity to learn more about them.
  • Be affectionate without an agenda. Remember that being a parent usually entails children being literally on top of, or holding onto, the parent. Be mature about affection, not grabby or groping. Be respectful and attentive.
  • Don’t give parenting advice unless they ask for it.  Instead, ask questions so you can better understand why they do what they do.
  • Come up with ideas for dates to choose from so they get relief from decision-making all the time.
  • If you can easily-afford it, pitch in to cover the cost of the dates.  If you can’t easily-afford it, go dutch; and research free and inexpensive date ideas.  If you want to go dutch, let the parent know this in advance.
  • Don’t say things like, ‘I’ll pay for this round. You can get it next time.’ The parent doesn’t need one more thing to keep track of or budget for. Either cover it or go dutch.
  • Also, if you can easily-afford it, pitch in to cover babysitting costs during your dates.
  • Take the parent out on dates which suits their current mood.  Do they want a wild or a peaceful date?  Do they need an escape from being so responsible, or to just chill out, unwind and recharge?
  • If you are invited into their home, don’t be one more person they have to ‘tend to.’  Make yourself at-home. Get what you need (a glass, beverage, snack, toilet paper from the closet); and let them know what you’re taking.  Clean up after yourself.  Replenish what you use up.
  • Show them new places, hobbies, and concepts.  When parenting young kids, it’s sometimes difficult to find the time and energy to explore new places and activities which aren’t centered around the kids.
  • Do the driving if you enjoy driving and if they like to be the passenger so they can get a break from being ‘taxi-driving parent’.
  • If you enjoy doing any of these things for others (voluntarily or at a discount), all could be really helpful: cooking, cleaning, running errands, fix-it projects, car or tech equipment repair, trouble-shooting, researching, coaching, organizing, budgeting, time-management, decluttering, offering interior design or feng shui ideas.
  • Pick up and drop off, on their doorstep, a few needed items for their family which the parent just can’t seem to shop for because of caring for the kids (are they out of milk or toilet paper?).  Of course, they can pay you for the items.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | 3 Comments

Tips for Preparing for Being Old

I work part-time in a nursing home.  From observing families at my job, having interacted with and observed my ex-parents-in-law and their adult children, noticing areas that could easily be improved with awareness, plus getting my own life in order, I have come up with suggestions for making life smoother for yourself and your family—benefiting everyone involved right now and later.

Get rid of your a lot of your stuff before you get too old to make your own decisions about it.  Find pleasure in not having stuff surrounding you, smothering you, and serving as an illusion of your security and identity.  Don’t have a bunch of stuff for your family or Power of Attorney to have to deal with, haul around, and then decide what to do with it.  Focus on having healthy, enjoyable relationships with the people you love; and let that be your legacy, not your stuff.

If you have secrets or very personal things you don’t want on display for the world when you pass away, I suggest having a sort of good-bye, letting-go ceremony with yourself in front of a bonfire.  Burn your private journals, love letters, hate letters.  Delete emails and texts.  Release it all and feel good about the emotional and fresh space you’ve created.

If you’re saving certain items for people to have after you die, why not just give the items to them now?  Make sure they actually want the items first, and certainly don’t guilt them into it.  Remember that something which is sentimental or valuable to you isn’t sentimental or valuable to everyone.  Keeping a thing doesn’t keep the person around; the person being around, or your memory of them being around, keeps them alive.

Storing Others’ Stuff
If you’re storing other peoples’ things in your home, those things have got to go too.  Let the respective parties know they have x number of days to pick up their stuff.  If they don’t remove the items after a reminder notice, call a non-profit to pick up the items; and recycle and trash the unusable items.

Junk Mail and Subscriptions
Remove yourself from all junk-mail lists and cancel any magazine and newspaper subscriptions–the ones which you don’t finish reading and recycling prior to the next one coming to your door.  Don’t worry about missing out on saving 49 cents on an item; coupons can be time, space and energy suckers and absolutely not worth saving 49 cents, or a dollar, or sometimes even ten dollars—your peace is priceless.

Get your finances and bills in order, in one convenient spot, with an easy and traceable system.  Know where your money comes from and where it goes.  Pay off your debt.  Spend less as a way to enjoy more (by the way, no sacrificing or playing-the-victim about money is allowed).  Do automatic bill-pay where ever you can.  Make a list of all your bills and insurance, account numbers and contact information. I keep a spreadsheet list of all my bills and expenses, and annotate when a bill has been paid and the date paid.  Only keep hard-copies of receipts, pay stubs, and W-2s for tax purposes and only for the required length-of-time.  Don’t leave a huge mess for others to have to sort through and figure out.

Will and Power of Attorney
Get a will written for peace-of-mind.  You can periodically edit it as needed.  Here’s an easy-to-use free will-generator site; if anything, you can just see what information is in a will and then type up your own.  Also, add information about what you want for your funeral arrangements, if anything; remember that the funeral or memorial is for the living people who want to mourn their loss and celebrate your life. Communicate plans with loved ones and eliminate financial or emotional strain pertaining to your service or burial.  Consider a green/eco-friendly burial.  Think about who you will want to act as your Power of Attorney. Don’t select someone based on not wanting to offend anyone; select someone based on how responsible they are with their own life and finances as well as their sensitivity to you and your needs.

Photos and Paperwork
Gather all your photos and store them in one place. Let interested parties know where the photos are in case they want to see them. Perhaps set up a viewing table next to a bookshelf where you can put your photos.  Also, include on the table pens and permanent markers so viewers can annotate any information they recall on the back of the photos. Create a photo album with the most-current photos of the people who matter to you.

Purge unnecessary paperwork. Store necessary paperwork in hanging files in a small file cabinet or bin. Let the people you trust know where the paperwork is and explain why you need each of the files.

Scan all your important documents and photos and store on external hard drives.  Be sure to physically label the hard drives, and store in a safe and dry space.  Update: I’ve changed my thoughts on scanning items; unless you have ways to encrypt your information and securely store it, I would no longer recommend digital storage.

To-Do Lists
Start to take action each day to knock off items on your to-do list.  One of the actions can be to delete items on your to-do list!  With practice, you’ll begin to see that not everything on your to-list is really necessary.  Make a game out of trying to have the shortest to-do list you’ve ever had.

Dump the Bucket (List)
I don’t believe in Bucket Lists.  Live in the moment, nurture yourself and whoever or whatever is in front of you.  Life is now.  Life isn’t a to-do list of things to get over with.  This is it.  Embrace the belief that right now is all we have.  Yes, you can still go to Bali or Machu Picchu or Vegas in the future.  But you don’t need a list to continuously remind you of what you haven’t done and to distract you from where you are right now.  If anything, make a dream board full of images and key words and phrases which inspire you; just looking at your dream board will generate the feeling of possibility and you can start to identify how your current life is matching up to what is possible.

Cleaning Up Relationships: with Yourself and Others
Do you have regrets about anything?  Are you holding grudges and resentments that feel crappy?  Have you held back what you need to say?  Are you being controlling with anyone in your life?  Do you speak without consciously thinking?  Do you blame others for that which is your own responsibility?  Do you mentally or physically abuse anyone (or at least have been told you do)?  Do you drowned yourself in guilt, obligations, restrictions, rules, fear, self-loathing, body-loathing, or people-pleasing? Clear these things up right now.  When you’re old, these things will come back to haunt you; and you won’t necessarily have the zest and language to clear them up then.  Plus, you don’t want to spend another minute of your precious life in resistance.  I’m not talking about confessionals and beating yourself up; I’m talking about creating freedom where there currently isn’t any.  Learn to live consciously and love yourself unconditionally.

Healing Your Parent-Child Relationships
Address your relationships with your children now.  Are you manipulating, controlling or interfering with them?  Do you expect them to coddle you and feel sorry for you?  Do you let them walk all over you?  Do they expect you to appease or still parent them?  These issues need to be addressed as soon as possible.  Get whatever help you need in order to tap into why you created these type of relationships and how you can heal your deep-rooted pain in order to respect yourself and respect your children as competent, capable, free, and separate-entity adults.  Create brand-new healthy relationships with your children before you are old.

Creating Simplicity in Relationships
Create simple, drama-free relationships with your loved ones, where just being together is enjoyable.  Learn to be affectionate so holding hands or an embrace feels natural.  Be approachable and make it easy for the people you love to express themselves and to be themselves with you.

Stay Curious
Don’t stay in a growth rut.  Keep learning about yourself, be curious, plan to be surprised. Being curious about ourselves can bring us back home, the home within ourselves, and can keep us from being needy. There’s a difference between truly needing help and being high-maintenance needy.

Briefing Loved Ones about Aging
Start a dialog with your children about the end chapters of life.  Tell them that when you’re old or on your death bed, you might not want to or be able to speak much at all, and might even seem like a different person.  Remind that your spirit will still be alive regardless of your condition; so speak to your spirit rather than just your body. Just being present with them, being read to, listening to calming or memorable music together, touching their hands, having your face touched, or your head rubbed might be all that will be needed express and share love and appreciation with each other.

Elders in Traditional Cultures
Study traditional cultures and the roles their elders played in their community.  For example, many elders were a contribution to, and honored by, their tribe:  they spent their waking hours amongst their people, watching, telling stories, and mentoring the young.  Think of ways to begin to foster similar-type settings for yourself—such as finding a multi-generational community-friendly living environment instead of only hanging out with people your own age who will also be old the same time as you will.

Be a mentor.  Start building a new community of people who find great value in knowing and learning from you.  All of us have something to joyfully offer another.  These will be the people who will want to invest their time in you when you can no longer go to them.  The experience of being-a-contribution makes us feel alive!

Cell Phone and Address Book Use
Get set up with a decent cell phone and inexpensive cell phone plan.  Learn how to work the address book; make sure you have everyone you care about in your address book/contacts.  That way, you’ll be able to reach people from all over the world with ease in your old age.  Note that I recommend using a corded land-line as much as possible for your health.  So, also keep a legible address book near your main phone; also put a copy of your address book in your hanging files.

Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to your body, its cues and its needs.  Notice when you need fuel (low energy, irritability, hunger) and eat.  Rest when you’re tired.  Move when your body tells you to move.  If you feel pain or exhaustion, take heed; and address and heal underlying emotional causes now.  Appreciate and speak kindly to your body.

If you aren’t already walking every day, start.  As long as your body holds out, you can walk your whole life.  Start walking while it’s still relatively easy so you can build up muscle and endurance now—which will help you later.  The same goes for stretching; being agile and flexible is so important as we age.  Squat instead of bending over whenever you think of it.  Simple yoga poses and tai chi might be good options.  Strength-training is great for keeping your bones supported; get a consultation with a personal trainer to learn how to use weights and equipment (you can apply the instructions to using every-day household items as weights—plus your own body and gravity).

Alternative Transportation
Get used to getting to places on foot, bike or transit.  Get some items delivered, if you can, for minimal or no fees.  Don’t make your driving a car your only source of independence and pride.  Make peace with the fact that eventually you could be a hazard to yourself and others if you try to drive when you’re old.

Simple and Lively Interests
Find other interests besides watching TV.  Find joy in simplicity, nature, stillness.  Even people-watching, with its sporadic interactions, can bring joy and make you feel more alive than watching a box with massive visual and audio stimulation (this is especially noticeable when you’ve lived without a TV for a while).

Handwork Hobbies
Handwork provides movement for your hands, hand-eye-coordination, and simple entertainment.  See if you can find one handwork hobby to learn which you could bring into old age and still continue it as long as your hands are able to work.  Examples:  knitting or crocheting or hand-stitching, painting, assembling kits, making rope knots, tying flies for fly fishing, creating clay sculptures and pottery, gardening and pruning.

Easy-Living Home
Well-before getting around your own home starts to become more challenging, start making plans for living in a home and lifestyle that works for you and your aging body.  Some examples are opting for one-level living, outsourcing yard work, renting instead of owning so you don’t have to tend to and pay for every little thing that needs fixing, moving to a warmer and/or dryer climate, live where you have plenty of close-by activities and shopping which you can get to on foot, bike or mass transit.

Spiritual and Emotional Well-Being
While, in your older years, you might lose some of your physical freedom, you will still have free thoughts, feelings and spirit.  Begin to nurture your spirit now.  Embrace your emotions now; honor your emotional life now.  These are the only areas you’ll be able to bring with you where ever you go, at whatever age you are.

Take care of yourself and your life starting today.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Home management, Money, Relationships | Leave a comment

Sexless Intimacy

I have begun to question the beliefs that attracting a partner or friend equals sex, being treated better equals sex or sexual attraction, relationship equals sex, keeping a partner or friend equals sex, and especially this one: intimacy equals sex.

My theory is that many people are motivated by sex, in friendship, dating and partnership.  They are interested in a person based on if they want to have sex with the person or otherwise find them sexually-appealing.  They stick around a person, first, for the possibility of sex. And they will stay if they know it’s a guarantee they will get laid. In many marriages, sex is used as a manipulation, as a threat.

People, females especially, are made to feel guilty if they don’t help their partner with their sexual desires.  I remember, back in my teenage years, hearing guys complain that they would get ‘blue’ balls if the female they were interested in or dating wouldn’t have sex with them.  As if they wouldn’t and couldn’t masturbate to remedy their physical problem.

Heck, even strangers are expected to look hot and sexy for the visual pleasure and fantasies of strangers.  And if they don’t, they are joked about for being ugly, old-maid-like, fat, out-of-style, gross, and deemed undesirable, unworthy to be known and appreciated.

My own grandmother couldn’t gush enough about how great I looked whenever I got myself down to a very thin, American-approved look.  Before I healed myself from my eating disorder and poor body image, I took this to heart.  If I put on weight, I would avoid seeing her or other family members.  I just couldn’t face them.

A male friend of mine who I’ve known for years wouldn’t stop talking about how I looked much sexier when my hair was long (I cut it), and that my belly is bigger than it used to be. I said, ‘I don’t care what you think about how I look. It’s not your business. When I talk to you, I’m thinking about what you’re saying; I don’t care how your hair is or if you have a belly or not!’  It seemed almost unfathomable to this 50-year-old person that he shouldn’t be able to critique my level of sex-appeal, and that I wouldn’t want to make myself look sexy for him to lust after.

A woman I know and respect, who has a business as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, wrote a blog post called Saucy at Every Age where she addresses physical health affecting women’s sex drive and so forth.

Of course we all want to be physically and mentally healthy.  However, the article prompted me to ask, ‘Do you think all women even want to feel interested in sex? Or do you think women feel like they should be interested in sex for their partner?  Why should a sex drive equate to good health?

When I was in marriage counseling by myself and hired a coach for help too, both people warned me that if I didn’t have sex with my then-spouse, he would find it elsewhere.  I even had a few friends who made that statement.

This is how it sounded to me:  ‘Unless you do your obligation as a masturbation tool for your spouse, and completely disregard your emotional and mental needs, your spouse will leave you.  It doesn’t matter what kind of friendship you have together; if you don’t have sex, it will all be over.

I won’t argue that sex between willing parties can be temporarily enjoyable.  In the context of pleasure, I don’t see much difference in sharing sex and sharing a good movie or a delicious meal with someone I adore and enjoy.  All these experiences are temporary and aren’t necessarily adding much to the relationship.  Also, all of these experiences can be done alone.  What makes doing it together different than doing it alone is potentially sharing energy and communication with another: connection.

Though, I don’t see sex as a way to authentically keep two people together–no matter what the therapists, society and the bible say.  Sex, in and of itself, doesn’t create connection.

To say that a relationship can only work if there is sex involved is as absurd as saying a relationship can only work if there is moving-watching involved.  ‘If you don’t start watching movies with your partner, they are going to leave you.

It’s common sense, but also scientifically-proven, that human touch is beneficial, if not essential, to our well-being.  Equating touch with sex, or as means to ‘getting off’, is disadvantageous to everyone.  From birth until death, human touch needs to be equated to non-sexual adoration and appreciation; thus, fostering security, trust, and love.  Touch and affection between consenting people would then become a socially-acceptable and nonthreatening for expressing care towards others.

Sex needs to be considered as being completely different from affection; and when sex is involved, authentic communication needs to take place to confirm that sex is, indeed, wanted by the persons involved–no mixed messages, no manipulation, no pressure.

As a woman who respects myself, I am open to a friendship in which I can share a strong bond.  I am attracted to who a person is, how they live, what their priorities and values are, their energy, how they treat me, and the connection we share together.  I want shared adoration and affection.  I want to be wanted as a whole person:  for my heart, soul,  mind, strength, wisdom, intuition, common sense, and humor.  I want to know this friend is with me not because of how I look, and not for sex; but for me, because they just enjoy me and because they know we both struck the jackpot when we found each other.  This is intimacy.

And if our connection leads to evenings spent watching a great movie, or eating at a fabulous restaurant, or making love, that could suit me just fine.  But there will never be the experience of obligations, expectations, ultimate goals or threats-of-desertion pertaining to any of these activities or lack of them.  Because friendship is oh so much more.

Your heart is beautiful.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Relationships | 3 Comments

Body Appreciation

When my kids are (rarely) sick, I massage them and I say a thank-you to their bodies.  ‘Thank you, body, for being so strong.  Thank you for working so hard to get better.

A week ago, I went to the doctor’s office:  a place I hadn’t been for about three years.  My calf and ankle were swollen a week before, so I decided to get it checked out.  I also wanted to discuss the shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and exhaustion which I’ve been experiencing for probably three years.

The doctor sent me to the lab for blood tests.  I then waited in my clinic room for the doctor.  Swiftly, the Nurse came in with an apparatus on wheels and said, ‘The doctor wants you to have an EKG.’

Um.  Okay.  The test took only a few minutes.  She left and I waited.

The doctor came in, sat down, and calmly said, ‘You need to go to the hospital for a blood transfusion.’

I laughed at her light-heartedness.  She continued, not laughing, to tell me my hemoglobin was at 4.8 and she has seen only one other patient with it that low in her 20 years as a doctor.

What?!  I fumbled over my words and asked what would happen if I didn’t go into the hospital.  I am not a medical / hospital kind of person whatsoever.  The doctor warned me that I could easily have a heart attack.  Hemoglobin brings oxygen to the organs, including heart and brain; and my organs weren’t getting much oxygen.

My kids’ dad drove my kids and me to the hospital.  I asked the risks of, and alternatives to, a blood transfusion.  I opted to trust and get the red blood cells intravenously.  The kids and their dad went home while I spent the night in the hospital.

In the middle of the night, I received two bags of blood.  I felt such warmth towards the anonymous blood donors.  I wished I could hug them.

The next morning, two different ultrasounds revealed an  enlarged uterus and several fibroids–3 large ones.  This explained my heavy periods for the past years.  I felt a tremendous amount of relief in knowing why I have felt like crap for about three years.  I had assumed it was because of all that I’ve been through and worked past in my life…that it all simply exhausted me, I am getting older, and this is just how life will be until my kids leave the nest.

I left the hospital with my hemoglobin still under 8 (normal hemoglobin ranges from 11.1-15 g/dL).  Afterwards, I received a blood work report in the mail which showed my iron level (Serum Ferritin) was only at 2.  I am, indeed, in recovery mode.

So now: I am working on getting my iron up, and finding natural ways to remedy my heavy periods.  And I’m listening to my body during this recovery time.  Being tough and resilient, my typical way-of-doing-life, isn’t the answer right now.  Allowing my body to speak to me and responding with what it needs is where my healing will happen.

Through all of this, I say thank you to my body for giving me an extra push to go to the clinic.  Thank you, body, for keeping me alive these past years when all the odds say I probably shouldn’t even be alive right now.  Thank you, body, for sticking with me through all the years of dieting and body-loathing; and for coming through on the other side of that in the past year.

Thank you, body, for being so strong.  Thank you for working so hard to get better.

Thank your miraculous, beautiful, most-perfect body.  Just as it is in each moment.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being | 2 Comments

How to Date a Single Parent

Dating a single parent isn’t for everyone.  If you are interested in someone who is a single parent, find out as much as possible up-front to see if you even want to ‘go there’.

Ages and Needs of Kids Matter
Of course, there’s a difference between dating someone with adult or later-teen kids who don’t alter the parent’s schedule and time much, versus kids who still need and want a great deal of parental involvement.

Values and Desires for a Relationship
Like with any relationship, make sure you share the same values and desires for a relationship.  This will help you determine how worth-the-effort it will be to have a relationship with a single parent.

How You Feel about Children
To date a single parent, you don’t have to have kids of your own, you don’t have to be an over-the-top kid-lover, and you don’t have to want to be a parent.

But you do need to

  • Respect children as fellow humans.
  • Understand that the child-parent bond is strong.
  • Appreciate that caring for younger children takes precedence over tending to competent, capable adults–such as yourself.

If you agree and are still interested in dating a single parent, read on.

Parenting Objectives
What you need to find out, first of all, is the parent’s answers to these three questions–I will call the answers ‘parenting objectives’:

  1. Why did you choose to be a parent?
  2. What kind of relationship do you want with your child(ren)?
  3. What do you want for your child(ren)?

If you don’t comprehend and respect the parent’s ‘parenting objectives’, that is a red flag.  I highly-recommend you do not date this person.  If you try to change their answers, you are doing both parent and child a huge disservice and creating unnecessary strain and stress.  Move on.

How You Fit In
Find out where you would fit into the parent’s life–both with and without kids.  State what you are able and willing to do to fit in:  1-as a supporting role and 2-with your effort to be together and to stay in contact.  More on this below.

Your Supporting Role
Parenting requires a lot of energy and, depending on the parent, can take up a lot of the parent’s time. Find out what kind of support the parent already has: their relatives, friends, groups and organizations. If they already have a lot of support, you likely won’t be filling as big of a role for them in this area as you would if they don’t have any support.

Find out what your support-role would be to assist the person with their ‘parenting objectives..  See my post called Ideas for Supporting a Single Parent for some ideas.  If you want no part of being supportive in their parenting journey, then tell them that and ask them if they are still interested in dating you.

Before You Meet the Kids
It’s my suggestion that kids aren’t brought into the dating situation–unless it’s a family-friendly group setting–until a strong friendship is established between the two of you.  Let the parent decide when the time is right, not you.

Kid-Free Time
How much kid-free time do they have?  How do they feel about overnights on kid-free time?  Are they willing to hire a sitter so you can spend time together?  Can they take any vacation time with you?

Your Relationship Needs
Are you okay with the amount of real-life time you will have together, on the phone and texting/emailing; is this enough togetherness for you to want to have a committed relationship with this person?  Will you need to supplement the relationship elsewhere because you need more?  Let the parent know all of this.  See my post called Ideas for Creating a Dating Relationship with a Single Parent so you can see how it is feasible to have a close, committed relationship with a single parent.

If You Want Your Own Kids
If you don’t have kids, but want your own kids, discuss this right away–the parent might not want to make/adopt and raise more children if they already have their own.  Be sure to ask how their children would feel about having half-siblings.

Do You Want a Parenting Role?
If you are open to eventually having a parenting role with their kids, make sure that is okay with both parent and children.  Then you need to find out if you agree with parenting styles.  If you don’t want a parenting role, let the parent know that.

There are partnerships in which the biological parent does the parenting and the new partner stays clear of that and focuses on being an emotionally-supportive role for the parent.  My aunt remarried when her younger two children were still at home; she and her partner each raised their own children in their own separate ways.  It was successful and happy for all.

Where is the Other Biological/Adoptive Parent?
Remember to find out what kind of role the other biological/adoptive parent plays in both the parent’s and children’s lives; what do their relationships look like?  Are things bitter and violent between them?  Do they have a revolving door in each other’s homes and lives?  Where do they live, how far away? How often do they see each other?  Will you be welcomed as the parent’s friend?  Make sure you are okay with their co-parenting situation before getting involved.

Honest Communication is a Must
As you can see, open, honest and thorough communication is a must when dating a single parent.  Don’t get too involved before you’ve discussed everything in this post.  It can be easy to say, ‘Yes, I can do it all!’ when you’re still riding on the excitement of meeting someone new.  So, make sure you are real and honest with yourself and the parent.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | 5 Comments

Dealing with Anxiety

This week, I decided it was time for me to face an over-three-year physical problem I’ve been having:  With the simplest of movements, I get sensations of shortness-of-breath, heart palpitations, and exhaustion.

The obvious: I started adding some foods and supplements to my diet; and I am making it a point to walk almost every day.

But I’ve also been looking at how anxiety is affecting my health.  My intuition tells me that the physical problems are directly related to anxiety. And my anxiety has so much to do with feeling alone in this life and raising my kids, and wondering how I can mentally and physically keep going.  I also obsess about my home not being clean enough, yet not having the energy to keep up with my perfectionism–it feels like failure is eating me alive.

So a few days ago, I started saying mantras as soon as I began feeling the physical sensations, or during the times when I normally notice the physical sensations occurring.

First I started out with the mantra, ‘Life wants to take care of me.’ I needed to begin with believing that Life actually wants to help me out. There is a Life Force flowing through me (otherwise I’d be dead), and that Life Force is connected to the entire Universe.  Note:  I personally find no comfort with the belief that ‘we are all one‘.

Then later in the day, it felt good to switch to this manta: ‘Life is holding me.’ And I’m continuing to use this one.  With this mantra, I visualize literally being held, carried, cradled by a Love Force. (I don’t concern myself with knowing the science, theory, or religion behind the Life or Love Force.)

I already notice a dramatic change in my physical symptoms–so far, they are now minimal.

I anticipate that, as I continue to say these mantras, my life is going to change in a direction towards pleasure and less of depletion.  Of course, I will wrote a blog post about it.

Life is holding you.

“Oh, sweet little boy, beloved little girl, you are so overwhelmed by life, I know, by the enormity of it all, by the vastness of possibilities, by the myriad perspectives available to you. You feel so pressed down sometimes, by all the unresolved questions, by all the information you are supposed to process and hold, by the urgency of things. You are overcome by powerful emotions, trying to control, or at least influence, everything and everyone around you, trying to hold yourself together, trying to make it all ‘work out’ somehow, trying to get everything done ‘on time’, trying to resolve things so fast, even trying not to try at all.

“You are exhausted, sweet one, exhausted from all the trying and the not trying, and you are struggling to trust life again. It’s all too much for the poor organism, isn’t it. You are exhausted, you long to rest. And that is not a failing of yours, nor a horrible mistake, but something wonderful to embrace! For the exhaustion is pure intelligence, and it says, let go, let go! Stop trying so hard!

“Stop pushing for answers right now. Allow everything to rest right now. Take a sacred pause. Allow questions to remain unanswered, for now. Allow space for yourself to breathe today. Allow everything to fall out of control today. Allow yourself to not be able to hold it all up today. Allow yourself to not know how, to not know at all. Allow the heart to break, if it needs to, and the body to ache, and the soul to wake. Everything is so okay, when you get down to it. So okay, here.

“And know you are loved, little one. Know you have always been loved, long before you were named, long before you were even born, long before overwhelm came to show you the way.”
- Jeff Foster

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being | 1 Comment

Leaving (Rejecting) Because You’re Rejected

I’ve touched on dealing with rejection already.

I want to take the discussion further and discuss another form of rejection that can really mess with one’s mind.

Have you been in a relationship with someone who would stay with you for forever, who would never actually end things with you; yet, within the context of the relationship, you consistently feel rejected?

There are valuable attributes to the relationship, which is why you’ve stayed; but the attributes don’t cancel out the pain of being rejected no matter how hard you try to ignore the pain or to distract yourself.

Since they won’t leave, you need to decide if you are going to trump their rejection with the rejection of leaving.  Double rejection.

Wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier if they said, ‘Listen, you feel rejected because I really don’t want to be with you.  I just don’t have the guts to say it, to face it’?

Since they won’t, you wonder if you have a mental problem which has created the sense of rejection.  You wonder what therapy you need, what pill you can pop, to get over whatever the hell your problem is.  But really, the only problem is that you’re sticking with someone who rejects you.

It’s like being in a toilet-bowl-spinning-water-around-and-around.  It takes a lot of gumption to bust out of the toilet bowl.  It’s a risk to get out because you don’t know what’s waiting for you outside of the toilet…maybe nothing.

Nothing can be scary.  Nothing also means you need to start over from scratch–which is both good and sucky.  Familiarity can be a numbing comfort.

However, starting over is an opportunity to create something new, empowering and a match for who you are today.

In my own experiences with this type of situation, I just didn’t want to accept that a person I wanted and shared my life with could stay with me but still reject me.  It’s such a disempowering feeling.  It made me want to yell (and I did say things along these lines), ‘Hey!  Look at me! Don’t you understand how cool I am?  Don’t you know it should be an honor that I care about you and invest my energy in you?  Do you know how picky I am about who I invest my time in?’

Cue the cricket noises.  The empty echoes.  Nothing.  No quality feed-back.  No hashing through any of it together.  Blank stares.  Shrugs.  Hopelessness.

Walking away meant I was admitting that I wasn’t wanted.  Shit.  Sad but true.

Come up with an empowering mantra to use while you process the relationship you want to leave.  ‘I am safe’ might be a good one.   Or ‘I don’t know what’s next; but I know I will be there and that’s enough.’

The only way out is through.  I’m giving you a virtual hug.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | 1 Comment

Be Inspired by a Daring Person

The dilemma with blogging is wondering what to say and what to hold back.  Isn’t this the dilemma surrounding relationship as well?

Do we focus on trying to be likeable and relate-able to everyone?  Do we avoid ticking some people off?  Do we avoid seeming too opinionated?  Do we avoid being too known?

Holding back feels like a sort of waste, a disservice, because I think we all have something to say, we all have a view on something or a lot of things, we all have experiences with something.  And someone can benefit by reading or hearing what we each have to say.  It’s because of others stating their alternative viewpoints that I recognized my options and live as I do now; these people helped me change my life to be a match for who I am.

Additionally, I think we need to respect people enough to let them apply their own discernment in who they listen to.

When I feel drawn to say something, I take heed.  And I say it.  When I hit the ‘publish’ button in my blog, it’s like throwing a penny in a pond and making a wish.  I send a wish that someone will benefit from my post.  And I let it go out into the world to land as it does.

If I feel a cringe of uneasiness, I recognize that just it’s a just a life-long anxious feeling.  And I won’t die from saying what I think.  I soothe myself into trusting.

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”
- Mary Oliver

What else helps me deal with the anxiousness of sharing–or really, the fear of not being liked–is frequently reading a blog by someone who is really, really daring.  I follow the controversial and courageous Penelope Trunk.  She has some major backbone.  And I tend to agree with a lot of stuff she says.  I tell myself that if she can say what she does, plus I find her work so helpful to read, then I will be alright with what I say.

Find your daring muse.  Even if you aren’t a writer, being inspired by someone who unabashedly puts it out there can help in relationships with others.  Rest easy as you admire and appreciate someone who lets it all hang out.

“We don’t need to earn the right to lead. At least in this culture, leadership is there to be stepped into. For so many of us we’re concerned we don’t have something of significant value to offer and so we withhold from the world. But the only way to check the potential impact is to step up and step in.

“Leadership is not something that you arrive at, but something that is developed by actually taking a stand and letting others know. Waiting to be perfect before offering your wisdom is just ripping the world off of what you’ve got. No leader in history has ever been perfect because every leader has been human. What are you leading?”
- Chela Davison

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Heath and well-being, Relationships | 1 Comment

Using EFT to Feel Better

EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, is a psychological acupressure technique to help bring relief to problems:  physical, emotional or mental.  It’s really simple to do to yourself, doesn’t take much time, and it actually works.

I typed up the following ‘cheat sheet’ to use during the process.

Watch this video for a visual.


  • Is it a physical pain, emotional trauma, or limiting belief you wish to remove?  Who did it involve?  When did it occur?
  • Rate the intensity of problem from 0-10 (10 is the most intense, 0 is no problem at all).


  • Come up with a short phrase to name the problem. You’ll be using the phrase below.  Fill in the phrase where I’ve typed ‘[this problem]‘.
  • Set-up phrase: ‘Even though I have [this problem], I deeply and completely accept* myself.’
  • * Note: I prefer the word ‘appreciate’ instead of ‘accept’.  So I use ‘Even though I have [this problem], I deeply and completely appreciate myself.’

Reminder phase:  ‘[this problem]‘


Tap each of the following areas with pointer, middle and ring fingers:

  1. Side of the hand.  Say, ‘Even though I have [this problem], I deeply and completely appreciate myself.’
  2. Top of head.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  3. Eyebrow point.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  4. Side of the eye.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  5. Under the eye.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  6. Under the nose.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  7. Under the lip.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  8. Collar bone point.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  9. Under the arm.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  10. Top of the wrist.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  11. Under the wrist.  Say, ‘[this problem]’
  12. Deep breathe. Let go.  Reevaluate the intensity of problem from 0-10.

Keep tapping until you reach a severity of 0 (zero).

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being | Leave a comment

Parenting: These Three Answers Determine Everything

The answers to these three questions determine every choice a parent makes:

  1. Why did I choose to be a parent?
  2. What kind of relationship do I want with my child(ren)?
  3. What do I want for my child(ren)?

With these three questions in mind, we can better understand why parents do what they do.  This has helped me feel emotionally at-peace with whatever parents choose for themselves and their children.

I wasn’t going to have kids. Having a life partner and a career (or, ultimately, my own business) were all I wanted and needed.  Also, I thought childhood was horribly vulnerable and scary, and the world wasn’t that great—so, why would I voluntarily subject another human to that?  And being as sensitive and conscious as I am, I wondered if I would be able to meet my own standards for what I believe every child deserves—especially since I had never experienced or seen the type of child-rearing I would want to emulate.

But when I was around age 30, my grandfather was dying.  It was about a six-month process and I was honored to be able to spend time with both him and my grandmother during the very touching, loving chapter in their lives.  From the experience, as I began to appreciate the circle-of-life, a lot of my fears of both living and dying were transformed.

I decided that I would like to put my career on hold to be a parent, that I could do it, and that I had some very valuable, unique things to offer a child.

The reasons I chose to be a parent are two-fold:

  • For my own growth and healing; ultimately, to break the chain of several generations of dysfunction.
  • To use my sensitivity and awareness, all that I’ve gone through in life, my own efforts in healing, and my resulting wisdom to benefit someone else in a deep, deep way.  Thus, being able to send my children out in the world as healthy, whole and wise adults—blessing the world and making it a better place for all of us to be in.

The type of relationship I want with my kids is one of closeness, trust, and security.  We freely communicate.  I use my experience, awareness and knowledge to provide guidance. I teach them about relationships and situations, and about what is healthy and what is not. We trouble-shoot life and relationship issues together.  Many times they have great advice to offer me for something I’m working through.  I am their friend as much as I am their mother.  I am their soft-place to fall. I protect them from physical, emotional and psychological harm. I foster their self-respect, self-knowledge, self-love, self-trust, self-expression, self-drive, creativity, peace, privacy and freedom. We are allies.  We are family.

What I want for my children is for them to unabashedly live as an expression of who they each are, whoever that may be, in any given moment. I want them to live consciously and authentically, to be personally-responsible for themselves and their lives, to accept only healthy and loving relationships, and to fearlessly stand for what they believe.

We all get to choose what we each want in our parenting.  That freedom and opportunity is tremendous and precious.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting | 6 Comments

You Don’t Have to Answer Questions

Being a homeschooling mom, people who aren’t invested in my children, or me, sometimes ask me questions about why we do what we do; but more often I’m asked questions implying I should be doing what the mainstream does.

A frequent query, as most homeschoolers know, is ‘What about socialization for your kids?’

If someone sincerely wants to understand what the heck I’m thinking because it seems so interesting, unique and cool, and they want to expand their mind, sure, I will get into the details.

Or if someone authentically cares about my children to the point where they are establishing a deep, meaningful, mutually-enjoyable bonded relationship with my kids, I will certainly discuss why we do what they do so they can appreciate it too.

Or if someone wants to get to know me, I love to discuss my choices, vice versa.

But otherwise, I just don’t have to answer any question I don’t want to answer.  I don’t have to answer any questions about anything I don’t want to get into or defend.

Neither do you.  Try it.


Here is one trick I call ‘Avoiding the Question‘:

‘Concerned’ Citizen: <Gasp!> What about your children being socialized?
Me: Hey, is it going to rain today? Oh, I gotta go. Bye!

Or another trick in my book I call ‘Agree so they don’t know what else to say‘:

‘Concerned’ Citizen: <Gasp!> What about your children being socialized?
Me: I know!  Crazy, isn’t it?

‘Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.’
- penguins from the movie Madagascar

“If you don’t meet resistance with resistance, it dissipates dramatically. It just softens. Try it! Next time somebody says to you, ‘I’m right, and you’re wrong,” say, ‘Pfftt, you’re right. You are right. You’re right.’ And mean it. In other words, don’t mock them. Don’t be sarcastic. ‘You’re right.’ And then watch how, all of a sudden, their legs almost go right out from under them. They don’t have the energy to blast you, because you just took the fuel away from the fire.”
- Abraham Hicks

Amy Axelson


Posted in Career and education, Heath and well-being, Parenting | 3 Comments

Quick Checklist for Approaching a Stranger for a Date (or Friendship)

I observe people.  I think that I can sense things that most people can’t.  I could be delusional; but I don’t think so anyway–I haven’t been proven so wrong that I have had to completely revamp this opinion of my sensory skills.

So, while observing people, I see when someone is interested in another stranger.  I watch these instances in the same way I enjoy watching when a cat sees a bird through a window.  The ‘hunt’.

I’ve compiled the following checklist for approaching a stranger for a date. To do this, you are going to have to be counting on your instincts, observing non-verbal communication, eavesdropping on their nearby conversations, referencing your own past experiences, and being really honest with yourself.  If you’re unsure about the answers to any of the questions in the checklist, you better ask sooner-than-later.  But first, make it through this checklist before you bother.

Yes, you can always take a risk even if you don’t seem to be a match; it’s up to you how you want to use your time and energy.  Just be sure to read social cues.

  1. ‘Do I share the same sexual orientation as this person?  What do my instincts say:  gay, straight or otherwise?’  Gay or straight is likely to be much easier to detect than is ‘otherwise’.  But if you feel fairly certain that you are a match this way, move on to the next item on the list.  If it’s clear you are not a match, move on.
    • If they don’t seem to match your sexual orientation, but they are coming on to you, you still could be a match.
    • If the person is bi-curious, you need to find out if they are looking for an experiment (the ‘curious’ in bi-curious), or if they just want a strong friendship with someone they click with. If you’re fine being an experiment, keep going through the checklist.  Otherwise, move on.
  2. If you are not into polygamy or open relationships, ask, ‘Is this person single?’
  3. ‘Do I have a chance with this person?’  Think in terms of age, looks and appearance, image, financial and social status, lifestyle, beliefs, social and communication skills, intelligence, and personality. If no, move on.
    • Wait.  Isn’t some of this pretty shallow?  Yes, I think so.  Different strokes for different folks.  If you’re not into shallow, you likely want to, for example, avoid someone who seems really into their appearance and image.
  4. If yes:  ‘Does having a chance with this person mean I would have to keep up a certain level of façade to keep them interested?’  If yes, move on.
    • Example:  If you are interested in someone who seems really into their appearance and image, it’s likely they will want your appearance and image to be up-to-par with theirs.
  5. If no, talk to them. ‘If I won’t take the chance to talk to them, then there’s a chance I’m just being creepy ogling them.’

I look forward to reading your feedback if you give this a try.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Relationships | Leave a comment

How to Have Brief but Valuable Conversations

The best way I can explain this subject is to show examples.  Be sure to contact me if you have comments or questions.  I can use your feedback to tweak this post (or write a new one) if I need to delve even deeper.

Here’s an example of someone not taking full-advantage of their contact with me (i.e. missing value):

Amy:  How’s it going?
Someone else:  I’m really frustrated about how much money I spend on gas every day.
Amy:  You don’t have any kids or a partner to consider.  Why not just move your solo self closer to where you work, function, play?  What is keeping you in a long-commute situation?
Someone else:  Well, annnnyway… What do you think of this weather?

Here’s that same conversation resulting in value for both the someone else and for me in a very short amount of time:

Amy:  How’s it going?
Someone else:  I’m really frustrated about how much money I spend on gas every day.
Amy:  You don’t have any kids or a partner to consider.  Why not just move your solo self closer to where you work, function, play?  What is keeping you in a long-commute situation?
Someone else:  I’m scared of change.
Amy:  When I mentioned your relocating, what thoughts came to you?
Someone else:  I don’t want to do all the work to relocate only to find that I don’t like the new place.
Amy:  How about just renting month-to-month or even week-to-week?  That way you can get a feel for living in the new area, where you tend to hang out most of time and which locations might be more of a match for you and your life?
Someone else:  That feels like something I really can consider.  That doesn’t feel so scary.  I also fear I’m going to move where I don’t fit in with the people who live there, that I’ll be too out-in-the-open.  Because where I live right now I can sort of hide out.
Amy:  I can relate to needing a lot of personal space.  Maybe you could adjust your out-in-the-world times to when most people are at work or settling in for the night.
Someone else:  That’s true.  I thought something was wrong with me for not liking crowds.
Amy:  I believe it’s unrealistic to expect every person to want to be around large groups of strangers at any given time.
Someone else:  Whew.  That’s refreshing to hear.
Amy:  What about your frustration regarding what you’re spending on gas?
Someone else:  In this short time, I went from feeling frustrated to feeling much less frustrated.  I can see where I’ve got more control in my life than I thought I did—that alone has taken away a lot of frustration.  Also, I can spend some time thinking through if spending money on gas is worth not having to change my life around.  Or if I think changing my life around will be just what I need to grow a bit and learn more about myself.
Amy:  Awesome.  Any other thoughts or things going on with you?
Someone else:  Hmm.  Not right now. I feel like going off by myself to contemplate all of this.  See you later.
Amy:  Thanks for sharing.  That interaction feel great.  Bye!
Someone else:  Oh, by the way, how are you?
Amy:  I’m fine.  Go contemplate!

Here’s an example of a conversation which wastes my time and energy (i.e. isn’t valuable)

Someone else:  How are you?
Amy:  Super tired.  Overwhelmed.  Kind of sad.
Someone else1:  Suck it up.  A lot of people have it harder than you.
Someone else2:  The bible says, “It’s better to give than receive.”
Someone else3:  Then quit making your kids a priority.  Put them in daycare and go make some money.
Someone else4:  I don’t see what’s so hard.  What’s your problem?
Someone else5:  Jeez, you’re negative and a whiner.
Someone else6:  Just take the kids on a playdate or x,y,z. That will fix everything.
Someone else7: Oh, you poor, pitiful person. I feel so sorry for you. You should get counseling and get on meds ASAP.
Someone else8:  Oh, yeah?  Well, if you’re dying in a fire, I’ll be there to help you.  I’m here for ya, babe.  Until then, see ya!

Here’s the same conversation turning into empowerment and connection in a short amount of time:

Someone else:  How are you?
Amy:  Super tired.  Overwhelmed.  Kind of sad.
Someone else:  Oh?  Tell me more, those are some big feelings going on.
Amy:  There isn’t anything out-of-the-ordinary going on.  It’s just my day-to-day life.
Someone else:  Yeah, I understand.  You don’t get much time to yourself.
Amy:  Yeah, that’s for sure.  I still haven’t mastered ‘feeling recharged’ while caring for others and not getting enough solitude.
Someone else:  Do you feel like your life will always be like this?  Like there’s no end to it?
Amy:  I know there’s an end to it.  My kids will eventually not need me much.  And I will be able to put a lot of energy into finding an exciting job any day of the week instead of just the weekends.
Someone else:  So it’s just getting through right now that gets tiring, overwhelming and sad?
Amy:  Yes, exactly.
Someone else:  If it’s any consolation, I understand how you feel that.  I would too.  What can I do to make it feel better?
Amy:  Well, you could walk with me so I have an adult to talk to, plus get my exercise.
Someone else:  Okay, let me know when you can go walk.  Anything else?
Amy:  Call me when you need someone to talk to, when you need someone else’s input.  Because I feel valuable when I can help someone feel better about themselves and their lives.
Someone else:  Perfect.  I need to talk to you about finding the right job and also about dealing with my cousin.
Amy:  I would love to talk to you about that and see if my perspective will help you feel relief.
Someone else.  Great.  Anything else you want to say before I get called into my appointment?
Amy:  Nope.  I feel a million times better already.
Someone else:  I feel good too.  I’ll get back to you after my appointment to schedule our walk and phone call!

Try bringing value to your brief interactions–and ultimately to your and others’ lives.  (Paying attention to social cues is part of this process as well.)

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | 3 Comments

Dealing with Strangers: Shiny, Happy People Holding Hands

I want to alter the old beliefs about what it means to be kind and what is expected when dealing with strangers–including those in Service positions.

“Everyone around, love them, love them.
Put it in your hands, take it, take it.
There’s no time to cry, happy, happy.”
- R.E.M. (music band)

I drive by a church sign every weekend which says, ‘A few kind words can make someone’s day’.

There’s a common bumper sticker stating that we should ‘Practice random acts of kindness.’

Customer service job ads demand for bubbly, friendly people with endless tolerance (robots?).  People are offended if they aren’t smiled at.  Or if someone’s tone isn’t just-so (it’s all relative as to which tone each specific person is particular to).

‘Karma is a bitch’, some say.  Others say, ‘You better sacrifice for others or you’re going to burn in hell.’  Same message.

‘Be nice!’  ‘Say thank you!’ ‘Smile!’  ‘Say hello!’  ‘Hug him!’  ‘Kiss her!’  Such instructions are demanded by endless parents (instead of the parent simply modeling authentic appreciation and love in front of their children!).

All of the above, all of these old beliefs, scream the message, ‘SUFFER FOR ANOTHER.’ Or, put another way, ‘Drop what you want and be what I want.  Follow my rules.’

What?!  No.  I don’t want anyone suffering for me. I want people to be responsible for themselves and for their own choices.

Needy Friendliness

I have had restaurant servers who seem really proud with their kindness and friendliness; but my experience of them was this: my precious dining date turned from being for my pleasure, to my needing to appease this very-needy person in order for me to try to eek out a bit of energetic and physical space from them.  Customer and Service person switch roles.

Frequently, I encounter customers in my general-public-centered weekend job whose friendliness really is neediness.  I feel them tugging at me, energetically, wanting more and more.  I think they truly believe they are being helpful and extremely nice to me; but really they are wanting attention, praise and coddling.  These are ‘Be my mommy’ kind of customers; talk about high expectations from a stranger!

“If I want love, I can’t have it. I am love, and as long as I seek it from you, I can’t know that. To love you is to separate. I am love, and that is as close as it can get.”
- Byron Katie

Here are my tips for being a Customer:

  • Don’t look to a stranger to make you feel good about yourself; that has to come from you.
  • Pay attention to social cues: if the customer service person is obviously busy with other people/paperwork/computer, not making eye contact, or giving brief answers, they probably aren’t interested in talking about the weather or answering the ambiguous question, ‘How are you?’
  • Be un-offended, brief and move along.
  • It’s not about you, it’s about getting the information you need so you can go on with your life, and the customer service person continuing with juggling their duties and attempting to keep their sanity.
  • If you get really amped about chit-chatting with strangers, and trying to make someone’s day with your friendliness, I highly recommend volunteering at a senior facility where many residents are craving human interaction.

Here are the ways in which I am kind: my ‘random act of kindness’:

  • I don’t jeopardize peoples’ safety.
  • I respect boundaries and I am not intrusive.
    • Example of both of the above: I slow down and move over for pedestrians and bikers. This is for their safety and also to respect their space.
  • I don’t stare at or ogle people.
  • I read social cues and have common sense.
  • I leave when I am unwanted.
  • I leave when I can’t be beneficial to another (for example, if they bug the heck out of me).
  • I don’t feel obligated: if I do something, the person can trust I want to do it and I am not playing martyr, I’m not expecting paybacks.
  • I have and will do endless life coaching for those who want it and are open. I even do it for free. Because I love it.
  • I accept money for my coaching because I believe giving and receiving is part of a circle of appreciation:  it’s an honor and win-win for both parties when done by conscious, guilt-free choice.
  • I am a hardcore-supporter of people feeling good. I can even coach, with success, people I don’t particularly like and wouldn’t hang out with–as long as they are open for newness in their thinking.
  • I don’t make others responsible for me.
  • I trust people are competent and powerful (even if it’s deep-down). And they really can find their way, their own way, in their own time.
  • I believe everyone deserves all they desire simply because they exist, and that the source from which this comes is endless and not always defined.

Sure, be kind.  But be kind in your own way that doesn’t deplete you.  Give to others when it gives back to you, when it is a powerful expression of yourself. We are here to be expressions of ourselves.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Heath and well-being, Relationships | 4 Comments

Who Are Your Inner-Circle Friends?

Who do you let into your inner circle?  What is necessary in a relationship in order for you to want to be with, and to put energy into, another person on your precious free time?

By inner circle, I mean people who are not strangers you encounter by being out in the world, or people you encounter in your employment (hopefully these are enjoyable interactions, or else you’re in the process of getting a different job or learning to use discernment in accepting clients).

Our inner circle can include partners, family, relatives, friends, acquaintances, and fellow club or institution members. We all have a choice to let these people in our inner circle or not.

“You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.”
- The Minimalists

I write about this to show that it’s okay to be different and to want what you want–including the kind of relationship(s) you uniquely desire.  It’s not about right-or-wrong.  It’s about feeling good and enjoying your life.

“Desire summons Life Force. If we must continue to be alive, we must continue to have new desire. You are not willing to let yourself outrageously want because when you outrageously want something that you haven’t found a way of getting, it is too uncomfortable, and the risk feels too great. We’re wanting you to hear that there is no risk at all! Fantasize and watch what happens.
- Abraham Hicks

Values and Desires in Common:

In order for me to be close to someone, to invest my energy in them, and to allow them in my personal space, we need to share the same values pertaining to the relationship, and life in general, and to desire the same things out of the relationship.

I’ve learned that what I can lovingly and freely give loved ones is what I, too, want to receive in a relationship. If someone can’t or doesn’t want to give freely in this manner, we simply aren’t a match.  This frees us both up to move on and get what we do want.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do.  I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
- Frida Kahlo

As *individuals* living in this world, my loved one and I each are…

  • Unabashed, Unconditionally-Loving Ourselves:  People-pleasing isn’t our thing.  We love and honor ourselves and those close to us.  We are here to learn about and love ourselves, to experiment, and experience life as the person we each are.
  • Personally-Responsible:  We know our own power, and that we can create whatever we want in this life.  We’re responsible for ourselves, our choices, our lives, and our feelings.  We speak our truth.  We don’t believe in putting up with things that don’t feel good.  We let go of that which doesn’t serve our well-being.
  • Deep and Consciously-Living:  We don’t live in the realm of appearance, commercialism, image and drama.  We don’t need to hoard things, people, or activities because we trust we will always have what we need when we need it.  Home is our refuge, and we are at-ease with just being.  We don’t need to be entertained.  We’re bit skeptical and definitely nonconformists. We live off-the-grid a bit.  We’re not oblivious, though we don’t wallow in the despair of injustice.  We live with intention. We live our priorities.

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
- Robert Frost

  • Minimalistic in Our Social Lives:  People who need many friends and acquaintances, and who spread themselves so thin that they can’t be present on a deep level, aren’t going to last long with either of us.  This includes those who have little down time, reflective time, and time to learn about themselves.  We both want to be around people who make time for us–and are excited to talk to and be with us; and who are self-aware so they have as much to offer us as we have to offer them. We are discerning–not everyone belongs together; not everyone is our cup-of-tea, vice versa.
  • Always-Evolving:  We are always curious to learn more about ourselves. We are always healing and growing: we are living with our eyes open.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
- Socrates

  • Emotional Beings:  We have rich emotional lives and pay attention to these emotions as our ‘guideposts’ (as Esther Hicks calls them) to feel out if we are being true to ourselves and to determine if we are heading where we want to go.  No emotion is considered ‘bad’.
  • Passionate:  We each have some sort of inspirational interest we are passionate about.  We love the hell out of it.  We do it for ourselves, but our enjoyment and love of our passion effortlessly overflows to the rest of the world.

“I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.”
- J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

  • Humorous:  We both are serious, but also goofy in non-annoying ways.

As two people *in a relationship together*, my loved one and I each are…

  • Wanted As-Is:  We’re not in our relationship to be a savior or to change the other person.  We want each other ‘as-is’—just as we each currently are.
  • Non-Compromising:  Giving up something for the other person doesn’t make sense to us.  Trouble-shooting and being creative on how to create flow and prioritize is how we function together.
  • Full of Adoration:  We deeply value who we each are and what we each uniquely have to offer.  We revere and respect our personal choices.  There’s a deep sense of adoration and appreciation for each other, where we came from, our courage to get through, what we have been able to create against-all-odds and out-of-‘nothing’, and for how we each live.

“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive.”
- Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers)

  • Trustworthy, Loyal and Respectful:  We ‘have each others’ backs’ and aren’t going to disrespect one another behind our backs or buddy-up with each of our own acquaintances, families, or exes–we don’t care about having our paws in everything.  We protect each other, watch out for each other, and stand up for each other.  We can trust neither of us is going to take or move any of our things without asking first.
  • Vulnerable:  We naturally have a deep-level of comfort and ease with each other.  There is no self-consciousness or shame.  We are safe.
  • Inspiring:  Being together is inspirational, boosts our energy, and makes us excited about life.
  • Frequently in Contact:  We enjoy being in touch and connecting when we’re not together and we can’t wait get together again.  We make getting-together a priority; we make it happen.
  • Involved with Each Others’ Outside Lives:  Besides having a cozy and fabulous relationship between us, we let the abundance of our love overflow into the rest of our lives.  Naturally, we want to share work happy-hours, family/community outings and holidays with one another:  the one other person on the planet who is ever-present, always-loving, and a deep part in our current life experience.  In other words, there aren’t any more holidays spent alone or being excluded, period.
  • Hum-Drumming Together:  We don’t think it is weakness or incompetency to suck at or not enjoy hum-drum life duties.  We don’t care about messes; if we do, we clean them because we want to.  We don’t pull the ‘victim’ card.  We think it’s even better if we can do the duties together, or at least hang out with the other person while doing those things since they do take up a large part of our lives; and we just really like to be together.
  • Open, Authentic Communicators:  We are able to freely share all of our feelings, ideas, thoughts, concerns, and beliefs—knowing the other person authentically wants to know and understand, and is empathetic and sincere.
  • Helpful with Our Input:  We have valuable input for each other—I don’t mean playing devil’s advocate, dishing out psychology clichés or ‘just be positive’ sing-songs.  We brainstorm ideas and solutions; we collaborate.
  • Active Listeners via Asking: When we communicate about something we are going through or working on, we don’t automatically assume that the other is looking for advice or a pep talk.  We ask for clarification and what the others viewpoint is on the subject.  There’s a difference between asking to be critical or skeptical, and asking for clarification. Asking questions in placement of dishing advice is a way of intentional listening and offering empathy.
  • Understanding of Intentions:  We understand each others’ intentions.  Blunt statements work well for us.  There is no walking on eggshells; we want to know where we stand with the ones we care about. We believe in looking at intentions, and we ask.  For example, if one person makes a snippy comment, the other can see how that person is under stress in a certain area; and we both can talk about it rather than automatically assuming the snippy comment equates to lack-of-love or lack-of-respect.  We don’t need to justify, apologize, or explain over-and-over.
  • Self-expressive and Known:  We can’t help but want to share ourselves and our emotions with each other. It’s in our nature to want to be known deeply by the people we love. There’s no mystery or hiding.  Being known saves a lot of time and energy in a relationship.
  • Open to Not Knowing:  Not being completely known by our loved ones allows room for growth and change—this isn’t to be confused with secrecy.  In other words, it’s helpful to not assume, and to ask.
  • Not Transaction-Based and Not Obligated:  We don’t owe each other anything.  Our relationship is not transaction-based.
  • Sharing Interests:  Pleasure in time together, sharing conversations, food, art, outdoors, walking, adventures, rest, downtime, and leisure are a large part of our bond.
  • Free to Leave:  We check in frequently about our relationship.  Is it working?  Do we still both want it? Are we still our authentic selves in each moment? If the relationship is not working, if one person wants it to end, then we are free to do that.  Neither of us wants to be around someone who doesn’t want us around, or to keep captive something that wants to fly away.
  • Givers of What We Want to Give:  Beyond this list, neither of us expects to give what we don’t want to give or what doesn’t come naturally.  This list, above, is like a dream package for both of us.  We’re both independent so that we can do plenty for ourselves; we don’t feel the need to sacrifice to prove our love.

Allowing Only Good Stuff:  When it comes to relationships, if both parties want the same things out of the relationship, and their intentions match up, the only ‘bad’ there could possibly be is just having a ‘bad’ day.  However, with the foundation I described above, the other person will understand the ups-and-downs of being a human living on this crazy planet. And rather than ridiculing, they will be supportive and strong while the other rides out the waves of life.

Who do you allow in your inner circle, in your sacred space here on earth?  What do you value in close relationships?  I encourage you to look at all the beautiful things you have to offer in relationships, and to believe that you automatically deserve all that you desire.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | 2 Comments

No Longer a Strong Match with Partner

What can you do if you are in a long-time committed relationship, maybe even co-parents with this person, but you find yourself having to compromise a lot of yourself and your desires in order to stay together?

If you want to stay with this person, my suggestion is to keep things peaceful within your home.  Don’t focus on the things you don’t like, but highlight the things you do like.  You might have to get very simple and look for the smallest of things.

Next, use a lot of your home time on your own independent interests.  Create your own refuge space in your home—even if it’s just a corner of a room.

Also, begin to create a social circle of people who are a great match for who you are right now; do things you enjoy together.

All of these actions will help to take your focus off of your relationship which is less than a match for who you presently are.  Doing so will help you lower your expectations of your committed relationship, without letting go of your own needs and desires.

What if you don’t want to stay with the person, how do you get out?  Check out this blog entry and see if it helps.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | 1 Comment

Values and Desires in Common

I recently had an email discussion with someone who said she takes ‘the good with the bad’ in relationships.  I asked her, ‘Does there really need to be bad in a relationship?’  I mean, what’s the point of having someone in my inner circle if there’s going to be bad as a result of having them around?

A relationship needs to add to your life, to make your life better.

And, anyway, how could there be bad if we are selective about who we allow into our lives?  How could there be bad if we have a strong foundation in what we share together?

I highly recommend people know and understand what their own Love Language is, and to know the Love Languages of people they allow in their lives: friends, relatives, lovers, partners, and other regulars.  Why?

Here’s an example:  I was in a long-time, live-in relationship with someone whose Love Language was Acts of Service, and mine is primarily Quality Time.   I don’t need people to do things for me to prove their love—especially if they dread doing those very things.  I want communication and the simple enjoyment of sharing time together.  My ex felt differently:  Just do it…and don’t talk about it or how you feel.  You can see why that didn’t work out for either of us.  And you can see why it’s important to find our Love Language matches–at least by loose and generalized definition.

Be sure to discuss how you each feel about the mundane tasks in life (do you believe in ‘fair-share’, that everything is your responsibility if you want it done, do you want to be served, or do you enjoy doing the tasks together).  This will tie into your Love Languages, especially pertaining to Quality Time and Acts of Service.

Also, check out your Personality Type (Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’) compatibility.

It’s interesting, too, to see your astrology compatibility.  Do your free birth chart here first.  At the end of your chart results, select the link called ‘add a second person – compatibility‘.  This way, you’ll be able to enter your birth times for even more detail.

In addition to compatible Love Languages, Personality Types and Astrology Charts, wanting and valuing the same things out of the relationship, and life in general, is a great foundation for an enjoyable relationship.

Here’s an extensive list I created about how to get to know someone.

What about the people who are already in your life; what about the people you chose before you were fully self-aware, before you became the person who you are now?  Read here.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | 2 Comments

Being Rejected

If you are offended by someone not wanting you, on whatever level, take a look at what exactly offends you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I want to be around someone who doesn’t want me, my work, my opinions, my presence?
  2. Would I rather drag on our relationship until the other person just can’t take any more of me, and end things on a sour note?
  3. Do I think this one person has the authority and power to determine my worth?
  4. Would I rather be with someone who appreciates me and what I have to offer?
  5. Would I be more inspired and free with someone who enjoys me?
  6. Would my energy be better spent on addressing my self-esteem and well-being?
  7. Does their rejection help me home in a bit more on what I want to feel in my life?

Yes, it can sting a bit when someone you want, or invested time in, isn’t interested in you.  I don’t downplay that.  But look at this sting separately from what is really going on.

Feel your pain.  Be gentle and nurturing with yourself during the time you work through this.

And also recognize how this person is making your life easier and freeing you up for people and things that work out naturally.

Can you appreciate that it takes some guts for that person to be in the position to tell you ‘goodbye’?  Aren’t you glad you weren’t the one to have to cut things off?

Can you see how the person is ultimately doing you a favor?

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships, Spirituality | 4 Comments


I was asked for suggestions about how to deal with disappointment.

Without knowing specifics, here are some ideas and what’s worked for me:

  • Be gentle with yourself. If you are blaming yourself for not knowing better, let that go. You did the best you could with where you were at the time.
  • Allow yourself to feel disappointment. Just be with those feelings without making them wrong.
  • While you are feeling these feelings, frequently ask yourself, “What am I learning about myself because of this experience? How is this experience helpful in my homing in on what I want and don’t want in my life?”
  • Prior to being disappointed, what was it you were hoping for in the circumstance? What feelings were you wanting to feel? You can trust that there will be other opportunities for you to feel those feelings–don’t limit the source from where the feelings come (i.e. a specific person or specific job or specific car, etc.),

Are you dealing with disappointment right now?  Feel free to contact me to discuss your specific situation.  Let me know if the above list is helpful during your experience.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships, Spirituality | Leave a comment

Know Your Audience

I think any artist or creative type has heard this advice: know your audience.

I’ve made some shifts in where I am going with my coaching and blog writing. The shifts have occurred simply by addressing my life and following that which interests me.

As part of this process, I bought Courtney Carver’s microcourse called How to Create a Microbusiness that Matters.

In it, again, I read “know your audience.” This time, it has new meaning to me because I’ve been feeling changes bubbling under the surface.

I’ve decided to drop my coaching Facebook page all together, and home in on my website articles. I have been on a blog-reading kick lately (especially about minimalism). I find the short articles I’ve been reading to be really helpful, encouraging, though-provoking.

With this route I’m taking, I need to know my audience. I want to know who I’m talking to when I write. Sometimes, I’ve had fear that I’m going to tick off some people; this can lead to my procrastinating publishing articles. Knowing my audience will help me with this fear: my audience isn’t likely to get pissed about the things I say.  If they do get upset, they aren’t victims about it and see it as an opportunity to learn more about themselves.

Who is my audience? Besides my audience simply being responsible for themselves and their lives, I think my article called The Basics covers who I am speaking to.

I write to and for people who create or want to create these experiences:

  • Loving yourself unconditionally.
  • Letting go of that which doesn’t serve you, i.e. that which keeps you from loving yourself unconditionally.
  • Choosing what you’ve chosen.
  • Passionately tending to what you love and want in your life.
  • Minding your own business.
  • Dreaming big.

Who is your audience in your craft, job, business, conversations? When you pay attention to who you desire to speak to and with, you might find a lot of fears dissipate–especially those revolving around self-expression.  You have something to say, and someone wants to hear it.

Thanks for being here.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Career and education, Heath and well-being, Relationships | Leave a comment

Ciao, Facebook

Personal Facebook account: gone.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted my friends to be the people who show up in my life for-real. And I wanted to show up in peoples’ lives for-real too. An almost sure way to make that happen is to dump social media. Done.

Coaching Facebook account: gone.

On my coaching Facebook page, I loved sharing tidbits of hopefully-helpful information. What I didn’t love was being out on that random platform–adding one more mediocre task to my to-do list without offering quality, focused content to my audience.

I find that there are a handful of blogs I really value reading; I like spending my online time that way.

I decided I want to home in on my intentions, and to simplify my focus by having just one platform, my website/blog. I hope to provide something beneficial to others in my articles.

I’m spending time daily writing articles (or blog entries) rather than a few sentences here and there. All of this will be presented in an organized fashion on my website/blog.

Check my blog often. Or subscribe to it, and receive my articles in your inbox.

Good bye, Facebook!

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | 4 Comments

Communication and Self-Expression

Laryngitis has kept me from using my voice for three days now.  Just last night, my ears plugged and so I’m also feeling limited on hearing.

I believe getting sick is my body’s way of getting me to rest.  Overall, I have created a mellow, calm life for myself.  But I still get anxious and overwhelmed about some things.  Resting my mind and body from the feeling of obligations of any kind is useful to me.

Additionally, I am on the other side of some major ‘hashing through’, as I call it, regarding a specific friendship that I painfully dragged on for two-and-a-half years; I finally let that relationship go completely. And then, bam, I got sick.  It makes sense: my body is tired from the emotional storm.  Time for rest.

During these three days of not feeling well, I’ve been present in the moments, and have been ‘listening’ for anything that might come up.

Communication is so important to me, even my numerology points to self-expression as being my life purpose.  In the past, healing-touch massage therapists have told me that my throat had an energetic blockage and would ask what it is I’m not saying.

With appreciation, I started embracing my need for communication and self-expression, after a childhood and early-adulthood of feeling like I needed to be as silent as possible—it was safer there and I didn’t think I had anything to offer, really, anyway.

Since the time when I finally wanted to be myself just as I was, I’ve let it rip. I’ve said what I wanted and needed to say.  And I’ve expected anyone who wanted a part in my life to do the same.

As time goes on, as I’m letting go of old beliefs and rules that do not serve me, I’m learning I have less and less that really needs to be said.  It seems like the relationships which have needed the most words have been the ones I was trying to repair by explaining myself and making myself understood, and trying to get the other person to open up as well.

Those words are exhausting.  And I’d end up talking endlessly about the down sides of my life—thus highlighting them and thinking about them much more than if I wasn’t putting it all to words—in attempt to explain myself and what I’m feeling to another.

These three days with laryngitis have left me with very few words—until I began writing this article, that is—and allowed me the space to see what it is that really needs to be said.

Besides with my kids and my boss, I really haven’t had to communicate.  But it might be worth noting that the times I’ve wanted to speak but could not have brought panic.  It feels very scary to not be able to speak.  So, I have remained silent without attempting to speak; and then I have no panic.  In other words, if I set things up so I don’t need to speak, then there’s nothing to worry about.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself what my passion is, what is it that really makes me tick.  The answer is clear: writing and coaching.   Yes, communication.

Thus, I’ve had ‘write blog entries’ hanging over my head for the past month or so.  I’ve known it’s something I want to do much more of.  I was waiting for the time in which it felt easy.  It feels easy now, so here I am.

I’ve not wanted to put too much focus in writing during these recent ‘hashing through’ parts of my life. My intuition told me to ‘just live’, to ‘just feel’; and doing so would not only heal me, but it would also result in much to share with others.

The reason communication is my passion now is not so I can be understood or heard, but so I can share something unique with the rest of the world.  It is my gift I freely give, thus, it gives back to me two-fold.  I simply offer a tidbit and you can say, ‘Oh! That’s something different. Let me try that on for size.’  Or you can say, ‘Hm. Not my thing. But I love that I have abundant options and choices in my life.’

We all have something to offer this huge puzzle called ‘life’.  To honor our lives is to honor and ‘live out loud’ the expression of who we each are. To me, there really is nothing else but that. We each are a gift just as we are.  Simple and pure.  We are here because we each are needed to make up the universal whole.  Diverse and abundant.

I have so much to say about my more-recent journey—about what, and how, I have healed within myself to further foster self-love.  I’m excited about what words will form out of my intensely-emotional (and mostly wordless) experiences.

Amy Axelson

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Project In-Love

I wrote my Unplugged blog entry after a purging-type chat with my Uncle Tom.  In that same chat session, Tom shared an idea he had, and experienced, regarding dating someone new.  I’m calling it ‘Project In-Love‘.  Here is Tom’s explanation:

“I don’t like the superficial story line that seems to play out so often [in dating].  [A woman I met] and I began our relationship by talking on the phone for 7 hours in our first conversation; and from there, we tried an experiment that I had thought of months before meeting her:  have 5 dates where we ‘acted’ as though we were In-Love.  No ‘shopping’ and meeting others–just committed to being with each other for 5 dates.  After 5 dates, we would sit down and discuss doing it again…or not.  It was very interesting and very cool.  I’d do it again if I found another to try it with me. Little risk, much to gain.”

Yes, the modern dating scene involves a lot of people looking for love (and other things) everywhere they turn, not wanting to put too much time and energy into just one person–perhaps, in case someone better is around the corner. I, myself, find it difficult to reach the kind of vulnerability and intimacy in conversation and sharing I desire while knowing the other person isn’t really present with me.  I want to share an exclusively-dating, exploratory experience: ‘Let’s see what you got, let’s see what I got, let’s see how we are together.’

Tom’s Project In-Love idea offers no guarantees or promises of forever (I love Esther Hicks‘ revised marriage vows:  ‘I like you pretty much.  Let’s see how it goes.’).  However, because neither parties are simultaneously ‘playing the field’ and are essentially limiting their options, it allows for the experience of being with each other, creating a mutual and safe space together in which to be authentic.  Communication is completely open and relevant to this-very-moment and the sense of genuine curiosity is in full-play. This is what I would call mature dating.

“You’ve been walking in circles, searching. Don’t drink by the water’s edge. Throw yourself in! Become the water. Only then will your thirst end.”
-Jeanette Berson

Before I finally ended my marriage, I decided to give things a go, full-out, one more time.  I put myself in a place of being totally in-love with my spouse.  I tapped into feeling desire and intimacy.  I was surprised how I was able to find the space to do this; it felt real.  He didn’t respond to my change-in-energy, as he held tightly to his beliefs about what I needed to do for him in order to show love–these things didn’t involve my feeling in-love or us creating emotional-connection.  I didn’t expect him to change who he is or what he desires; and I no longer expected myself to give up my desires for a mutually-passionate and emotionally-connected relationship.  Nonetheless, it was a wonderful study of Project In-Love with someone I’ve known for years.

I’ve thought about various relationships I’ve had (especially the ‘I-can’t-quit-you-but-something-seems-off’ relationships). And I’ve wondered what it’d be like to just make the decision together to be in-love and exclusive for a while. Would that take the relationship to deeper level, to the point where it would just click and feel awesome for at least a few moments in time?  It very well could, as long as we had compatible Love Languages and matching desires for what the relationship would be.

There has got to be a way to both keep the dread, sacrifice, and promises-of-forever out of a relationship, and to have the intention of giving it a safe, whole-hearted chance.  Here it is:  Project In-Love.

Amy Axelson

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Your Natural Magic

The following applies to most, if not all, of us:

1. You love doing something(s). You’d do it every waking hour if you could.
2. You have a unique personality that shines through no matter what you’re doing.
3. You have some quirky idiosyncrasies and traits; some of which, you’ve been told, just ‘won’t work’ if you want to make it in this world–or at least if you want to be loved.
4. You have natural skills in which you mostly couldn’t be trained.  They are a part of you, in your blood.

Instead of ignoring or trying to change any of these areas about yourself, start focusing on them.  Start celebrating them. They are the Magic of You, and are the foundation on which you can create your dream job, business, hobby, life.

You need to embrace your natural magic first and foremost, as you’ve denied these parts of yourself for so long–thinking you have to train and retrain and basically punish yourself into submission of being someone else.

Welcoming *you* will automatically open up your mind, heart, and eyes to ‘what’s next’.

It’s so much easier this way, isn’t it?

Amy Axelson

Posted in Career and education | Leave a comment

The Basics

I live a somewhat unconventional life. While I love how I choose to live, I certainly don’t expect others to live the same way.

I do, however, have core beliefs I recommend for everyone–for every human on this planet. This is the foundation on which I coach people, live my life and parent my children.

On the earlier part of my journey, I believed in mostly the opposite of what I believe now; and I felt horribly about myself.  My changes have involved a lot of digging, exploring and experimenting. I’ve been driven by the idea that ‘This life has just got to be better than this.’

Thankfully, it is better. Much, much better. And I credit that to changing up my beliefs, and risking being different than the norm.

I’m concerned that the following beliefs aren’t basic knowledge from birth for all of us; and that people live their whole lives not believing they are free to completely be themselves, and to love their unique selves fully.  I’m here to support people of all ages in allowing themselves to be free.  Once you go with authentic freedom, you don’t go back!

Here are the Basics:

*  Love yourself unconditionally.
Let go of that which doesn’t serve you,  i.e. that which keeps you from loving yourself unconditionally.
*  Choose what you’ve chosen.
*  Passionately tend to what you love and want in your life.
*  Mind your own business.
*  Dream big.

Love yourself unconditionally.

  • Trust yourself.  Your own truth is inside of you.  Listen to your heart.
  • Embrace your worthiness…just because you exist.
  • Make feeling good a top priority.
  • Get to know yourself and what you desire in each moment.
  • Observe yourself without judgment.
  • Be curious about yourself and about what you’ll say and do next.
  • Heal yourself. The only way out of the internal and physical pain is through it: see it as a journey of self-discovery.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Be your own ally and friend.  Look at yourself in the mirror; speak and listen to yourself lovingly.
  • Love the skin you’re in.
  • Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel.
  • Give only what you can give freely and with pleasure, without strings attached or sacrificing.
  • Be okay with saying, ‘No’.
  • Know you deserve everything you desire. Just because you’re here.

“In the infinity of life where I am,
All is perfect, whole and complete,
I no longer choose to believe in old limitations and lack, I now choose to begin
to see myself
As the Universe sees me — perfect, whole, and complete.”

- Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

Let go of that which doesn’t serve you, i.e. that which keeps you from loving yourself unconditionally.

  • Frequently scan yourself and your life: your experiences, relationships, jobs, organizations, institutions, obligations, responsibilities, hobbies, volunteering, efforts, beliefs, belongings, and home space.
  • Ask yourself, ‘Do I still passionately want this?’
  • Ask yourself, ‘Is this what I want to feel?’
  • Don’t expect others to change.  Experience each relationship just as it feels for you, right now. Either the relationship is a match to who you are or it is not. Simple.
  • If guilt and shame (or other uncomfortable thoughts) show up, care for those feelings lovingly–as if a young child–energetically ‘hold’ them, and ask them what they want and how you can help them.  Then patiently listen.  Often, you’ll find that these feelings and thoughts originated from the child you used to be; once you compassionately hear them out, they can let go.

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
- Steve Jobs

Choose what you’ve chosen.

  • Embrace this moment and see it as a space in which you can fully be yourself.  Even while you’re doing the simple or mundane (‘waxing on, waxing off’ ala the movie Karate Kid), you are still being the expression of you.
  • Let go of being a helpless victim.
  • Take responsibility for your choices, your life and for how it is now.  Giving your power away doesn’t help anything or anyone.
  • Do what you do until you don’t want to anymore.
  • You have the right to change your mind, as many times as you want to.
  • Don’t like what you’ve chosen? Let it go (see the section above about Letting Go).

“The mystery of life is only a mystery from the perspective of the one trying to understand. When you are life, there is no inner or outer mystery to understand – there is only the radical simplicity of what is, inseparable from what you are. Being here, now, intimately, breathing, in, out, that’s the real mystery.”
- Jeff Foster

Passionately tend to what you love and want in your life.

  • When you let go of that which doesn’t serve you, you are left with a life full of what you love.
  • Appreciate, appreciate, appreciate. Give attention to that which you love. Nurture it and love it up.
  • What we focus on grows bigger.
  • Offer your authenticity.
  • Experiment and experience life.
  • Do what you’re drawn to do, guilt-free: actions or just being.
  • Pay attention to what you can’t imagine not doing. And go for it!
  • Express yourself.  The world needs you to be your unique self–not someone else’s image or expectations of you. Be YOU.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
- Anais Nin

Mind your own business.

  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • Allow others to be who they are.
  • Allow others to have their own journeys and whatever their journeys entail–instead of what kind of journeys you think they ought to have.
  • If you’re in a relationship which is not a match; but you want to keep it, then let go of your expectations of the other person and be present with what you do share together and how the relationship enriches your life.
  • Be curious, judgment-free, about what others are doing and what they’ll do next.
  • Be fascinated about all the many ways to go about life.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
- Dr. Howard Thurman

Dream big.

  • The universe/life is abundant. There is plenty to go around.  Focusing on lack limits yourself and infinite possibilities.
  • Expect the extraordinary.
  • Doing what you love overflows and blesses others. No martyrdom necessary.
  • What do you want?  Make vision boards, write stories about your dream life/lives, rally your support team with those who inspire you and who believe in abundance.
  • Trust that what you desire is on its way to you.
  • Look for evidence that you currently are living some aspects of your dream life.
  • Focus on what it feels like to have that which you desire.
  • Tell the stories of how you want things to be and how things are moving in that direction, rather than compulsively complaining.
  • The power of your intentions will attract what you want into your life.
  • Trust the universe/life conspires in your favor, and know that you are safe.

“People say, ‘If I’m always setting goals and reaching for the future, then am I not squandering my now?’ And we say if in your now you’re using a future event to make you feel good, you are still feeling good in your now. And that’s the best use of now that you could ever find.”
- Abraham Hicks

Amy Axelson

Posted in Advocacy, Heath and well-being, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Being Alone

Imagine running in a marathon.  You’ve trained for it, and you’re feeling good–albeit tired.  On the sidelines are hundreds of strangers cheering you on.  Their enthusiasm reminds you to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Some of the cheerleaders actually seem proud of you, someone whom they don’t even know, for your efforts.  You’re smiling as sweat drips down your face.

It feels good, doesn’t it?

This is how I see our life journeys.

Sure, some of us want to be cared for more than we are being cared for, to feel more loved than it seems we are. Some of us want to be carried.  So we desperately and helplessly search and search, beg, and perhaps guilt-trip, to recruit people to take care of and love us in various ways.  Usually, we end up frustrated, resentful, and angry to not have our needs met by others.

The thing is, only we can walk in our own shoes, only we can be our unique selves, only we can live our own journeys.  Indeed, we are truly alone.

As we recognize our ‘alone-ness’, we can begin to trust in ourselves. We tap into the Life power within us, and realize that we can, figuratively, run marathons and move mountains simply with our intentions.

Ironically, when we embrace exactly how alone we are, we become conscious of all the cheerleaders we have along the way, courtesy of Life/the Universe.  Our cheerleaders could be in the form of a flower, or the wind, or a car/bike/legs that takes us to where we want to be.  It could be a friend, a lover, or a family member who holds our hand for a little while. Or a stranger who holds the door for us.  Or a five-dollar bill we find in our winter coat.

Let go of your neediness, co-dependency, and guilt-inducing reactions. Let go of your non-mutual expectations of others.  Be present with yourself, your power, and the journey you are on. Don’t worry, Life brings help in ways and forms you have never even dreamed of–freely, easily, without any control on your part, without owing anything in return.

“You need not leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, simply wait.
Become quiet, and still, and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.
It has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
- Franz Kafka (as shared by Jeff Foster)

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships, Spirituality | Leave a comment

Conversation with a Single Dad

Below is a conversation with a single dad.  What we all can get out of this discussion is to recognize that what others do doesn’t have to be our business. When we concern ourselves with, for example, what the Jones’s have that we don’t have, we pull focus away from ourselves–which also withdraws self-care and the knowing we really can create a life we love.  We are free to do this life as we choose.  What a lovely gift it is to ourselves, and subsequently to those around us, to be responsible for finding our own passion and joy.

Bill: I need your help in getting my ex-wife, Jane, to change her ways.

Amy: Of course we both know that we can’t change other people.  But I would love to talk to you about your side of things, and to support you in feeling better and getting what it is you want.

Bill: I work 40 hours a week while she gets to say home with the kids (they homeschool). She gets to sleep in. I have to be to work by 8:00 a.m.  I give her money every week.

Amy:  Do you enjoy your job?

Bill: I feel valued there, so I like it. And I like my coworkers.

Amy: You enjoy your job, you feel valued, and you get to be around people you like.  Why isn’t that your focus, instead of your concerning yourself with how your life is different than Jane’s?

Bill: Well, it doesn’t seem fair that I have to go to work and she doesn’t; and I have to pay her money.

Amy: The money you’re paying her is child support, I presume. Do you also pay spousal maintenance since she’s been a homemaker for many years?

Bill: No, I don’t pay spousal maintenance.  Yes, the money is child support; but she gets to decide what she does with that money.

Amy: Is it that you don’t trust her decisions on how she uses the child support for the children’s care?

Bill: Well, no. I trust her. But, again, I’m having to work 40 hours a week…

Amy:  How much do you think it is worth to have your children with their mother, someone who unconditionally loves them and someone who is very invested in their well-being?  Do you find value in that, and how does that fit into your value system?

Bill: It’s important to me.  But I don’t think they are learning what public-school kids are learning.

Amy: Do you spend any of your custody time teaching them what you, personally, find valuable?

Bill: Well, no. But I work all week. And that is Jane’s job to do.

Amy: Yes, I understand you go to a paying-job for 40 hours a week. Do you recognize that Jane is doing what she, herself, believes in for the children?  Do you recognize that if there is something you feel is missing in her parenting, then it is your responsibility to provide those things to your children–either providing it directly, yourself, or your finding someone who can?

Bill: I shouldn’t have to do that. Jane is with them the most.

Amy: But, Bill, these are your beliefs about the children’s needs.  They are subjective. Jane has her own ways of child-rearing and educating which she, herself, believes in–obviously she believes strongly enough to devote five days a week to raising the children this way.  What are you, yourself, going to do in order to foster, with the children, what you believe in?

Bill: I don’t like this conversation.

Amy: Let’s talk about what makes you feel good.  You told me that the location where you spend 40 hours a week is pleasant, enjoyable, and makes you feel important.

Bill:  Well, I don’t love it. It’s fine.

Amy: You are free to find something which you do love; that can be a separate conversation.  But first, let’s deal with what is right in front of you.

Your children are well cared for 5 days a week by Jane. She’s a passionate mother who loves your children more than anything.  I suggest sitting with that for a little while and grasping how valuable that is to your children, to Jane, and to yourself.  That’s pretty big.

Secondly, recognize that how Jane spends her week days is completely separate from how your spend your week days. Jane has her life. You have yours. What are you doing with your life? This is your focus.

You have a job you enjoy.  You are appreciated and valued there–which is a wonderful feeling, I imagine. It’s not your most ideal setting; you are free to change that. But I believe that the first steps to changing your life are to be present where you are right now.  Be conscious of your feelings. Observe yourself, your feelings, your actions, your thoughts–without judging yourself.

Bring it back home, as I say. Bring your focus back to your own heart.  Stop looking outside of yourself, pointing fingers, and feeling like things aren’t fair.  Be with yourself. Really be there for yourself.

Being our own best friends, caring for ourselves, is where it’s at.  Doing so is going to make you feel so much better. And when you feel better, you begin to see possibilities for yourself.

Right now, it seems you see ‘teaching’ your children (in the areas you believe are lacking) as a duty, an obligation.  Begin seeing this time as a way to bond with your children, to learn about who they are, and to create the kind of relationship you desire to have with them.  Also, see it as an expression of yourself.  When we share ourselves and what we know with others, we learn about ourselves.  Be curious about how it will all go. Be open to learning new things about yourself.

When you pay child support every week, bless that money.  ‘Money, I bless you. I feel good about providing for my children. I feel good about what you will be used for to ensure my children have the most fulfilling childhoods possible. Thank you, money, for being a symbol of my love for my wonderful children.’

Can you feel the difference in just these few shifts of thoughts?

Bill:  Yes. I’m going to try it.

Amy:  Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. Thank you for being a loving, caring father to your children.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Parenting, Relationships | Leave a comment

Nothing Better to Do

The phrase that came to me several times as I technologically-unplugged last week was ’There’s nothing better to do.  So, I might as well _____.’

  • I might as well empty the trash. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well get the tedious tasks done now. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well run my errands. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well rest. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well read this book I’ve wanted to read. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well play the kids’ favorite games with them. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well call a friend. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well be aware of the stars on my walk. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well watch the wind blow the leaves from my window.  There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well light candles. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well plan a fun adventure. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well enjoy myself. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well use this time to be here for myself, to be my own ally and cheerleader. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as express myself full-out. There’s nothing better to do.
  • I might as well appreciate and be in love with this moment. There’s nothing better to do.

Do you feel the irony in this?  We tend to think of ‘nothing better to do’ with dread.  But really, it feels so free.  With this mindset, there is no feeling of ‘I’m missing out on something’ or ‘Happiness and love are outside of me’ or ‘I need to seek out a distraction’ or ‘I need to fill this void with something or someone else.’

When we unplug from that which has felt like a leash or a cage (i.e. beliefs, thoughts, addictions, relationships), we find that there’s nothing better to do than to be where we are, as who we are, and to handle what is in front of us, to take care of business: the business of business or business of resting, and anything in between.

I realized last week how, many times, I avoided various tasks, as well as avoided being in the here-and-now, due to the hunt for something better to do.  Was the hunt, itself, the addiction? Perhaps. Likely. Because it usually felt unfulfilling and sometimes numb; also, it kept me from fully being there for myself.

Nothing better to do is the created space where we are set free to enjoy the Now, to fully be ourselves just as we are right now. This is the space in which we know there is no where to get to and nothing to fix. We trust that everything we need is what we have, and what we will need later will be there just-in-time.

Talk about synchronicity.  I was emailing with my brother, Luke the artist, on Friday night.  He said to me, ‘I go about my work because there’s nothing better to do.’

What have you discovered when you’ve unplugged from that which held you back from this moment, from yourself, and from that which you truly love?  Do share.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Home management, Spirituality | Tagged , | 2 Comments


Since around 1997, I’ve been ‘plugged in’, attached, addicted, obsessed, anxiously click-click-clicking, creating almost whip-lash-inducing movements as I alternated between *my life* and a virtual world of distraction. I’ve had a few breaks during this time, such as when I’ve been camping, but mostly I’ve been wired-up. On the internet.

We do what we need to/want to until we don’t need to/want to anymore.

Oh, the internet has served me well. It’s helped me distract myself during some of the most treacherous times of my adult life. It’s connected me with so many people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It’s allowed me to express myself in ways I so desperately needed. I’ve done oodles of research–from health issues to sociological studies.

Yet, it’s also been the monkey-on-my-back.

Over the summer, I had a meeting with a man I admire: a 70-something-year-old business coach whom I law-of-attraction’ed into my life at my weekend receptionist job. He said that all of his business is generated via word-of-mouth. His website is outdated…he hasn’t needed it. This sounded absolutely delicious to me. I knew that’s what I wanted for myself on some level.

Though, I’ve known I’ll keep a blog and my coaching Facebook page; and I’ll have some clients via email. But I also have known I have had no desire to keep what I call a ‘fancy’ phone (with internet and all that) or to Twitter or be constantly plugged-in in order to keep my business going (I’ll leave that to the people who are so dang passionate about that sort of thing). I’ve known there will be ways that my clients and I will find one another, practically effortlessly; I continuously experience this.

The start of my technological-unplugging began in around 2005 with quitting TV viewing. It just worked for my kids and me to not be attached to the TV. When my kids and I moved into a home of our own this year, I decided to not buy the flat-screen TV I wanted for movie-watching; and, instead, opted for viewing movies on a less-conspicuous/less attention-demanding laptop. That’s been a great decision. ‘What?! You don’t watch TV? You don’t follow the news?’ Nope. Love it. More peaceful living. I am passionately-political by voting with my day-to-day life choices. Political debates, murders, and other fear-based methods of control don’t inspire me or make me feel good.

One of my dreams is to live off-the-grid–to not be plugged into the virtual world of the internet. I assumed this would happen when, say, I would buy my dream cabin in the woods, where I would log online only when visiting the nearby town. I didn’t know it could happen easily and joyfully well-before I have the dream cabin–even while having wireless internet available right in my own home.

Slowly unplugging from the ‘net: It started with my pruning down my Facebook friends. I decided that on Facebook, I was sort of hiding out without seeming to be hiding out; I was allowing people to sort-of be in my life, but yet not really. I was feeling alone, even with 250 ‘friends’. Ironic. I decided just to be ‘friends’ with 1-relatives, 2-people who I had a real-life relationship with (who I talked to on the phone, got together with in real life, or intended to meet up with very soon), and 3-my old military friends. This pissed off a few folks who didn’t understand and/or respect what I was doing for myself.

Next, my list went down to family members. And then finally, I just skipped the whole personal account friend list. I’ve kept my life coaching page, and I follow some public figures and restaurants, as well as a couple of inspiring groups. This felt and feels light and free.

Last week, I found myself going a bit mad with all the stimulation of the computer in between caring for my kids, managing my household, and being with myself. I had a Friday-night online chat with my uncle/friend in which I was basically complaining about my life, feeling consumed by a self-created black hole. After I logged off for the night, I had a breakthrough.

I realized it was time! Finally, I felt the pull. The kind of pull where you know that there isn’t anything you want to do more than that.

I made the decision to not even turn on my computer at home except for briefly mid-week during the time the kids visit with their dad for four hours, and perhaps my kid-free Friday nights (such as tonight). I use the computer at my weekend job anyway, so I can check up on online things during my breaks there too.

How did my unplugged week go? An enthusiastic fantastic! Incredibly easy! Joyful!

Just once did I log-on during the day to make reservations and to check for an email I had a strong feeling would be coming in. I felt my energy go from Zen to anxious, and even a bit crabby, in just 10 minutes. Interesting.

But the majority of the time, I have been doing a lot of inspiring reading, cleaning the house to the way the kids and I love it, being with my kids, reading to my kids, lighting candles, caring for myself, daydreaming, jotting many notes, running errands with ease, walking in the sunlight surrounded by fall leaves (even my walks feel different now, oddly), coming up with the most fantastic ideas out of thin air. I’ve felt energized. I’ve felt amazingly blessed to be me, in a way I’ve never felt. I’ve been conscious of being present for my kids all along; but now I’ve started being present with myself too (it never occurred to me that I wasn’t until this week). I’ve been drawn to go inward and be here for me…to be the one who is always here for me.

Oh! I realized this week, that my cheap wireless internet deal is going up over 45 bucks a month at the end-of-January. So, guess what?! I’m going to cancel it at that time. This has lead me to the idea of making full-use of libraries, as well as hunting for other free and inexpensive things to explore out in my immediate world. I love how changes/shifts just snowball into more wondrous things.

How does this affect my life coaching? I’m still here for you all. Call me. Email me; I will respond for sure within a week. As of right now, I have decided to not do my every-weekday Facebook coaching posts. But I’m now putting energy into my blog-writing which I have been anticipating for a while now–yay! So, expect many blog entries dropping out of the sky.

Tell me. What have you been wanting to ‘unplug’ from for a while now? Something just for you. I’m not advocating for you to unplug from the internet, per se. It could be that you hope to unplug from, for example, an unhealthy friendship, or being hard on your body, or gossiping. I don’t think this is something that can be forced. It will happen when you are ready. Just putting the prospect of it happening sets change in motion.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Home management, Spirituality | Tagged | 3 Comments

Seeing Others as Healthy and Whole

Years ago, my youngest sibling was involved in drug use, dealt with depression, and whatever else.  My mom called me to tell me what was going on with him.  I, in turn, called my dad to tell him what was going on with my sibling.

My dad responded with something which completely erased an old belief I had and created a brand-new belief which I’ve chosen to keep all these years later.

My dad said, “I choose to see [my sibling] as healthy and whole.”

Wow.  I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open.  It never had occurred to me, up until this point, to choose to see someone differently than what the circumstances revealed.  Immediately, all the drama (you know, like the appeal of slowing down to see a car crash) dissipated.

At that moment, I decided to see my sibling as healthy and whole too.   I felt the gift in this for both him and myself.  I saw him with respect, instead of pity. I felt hope that everything would work out. I trusted in allowing him to have his own journey.  He became a free man with one shift in my thinking, and I became a free woman as well.

When we see others as weak, pitiful, sub-par, sick, needing-to-be-fixed, we are making their lives even more challenging.  Then, not only do they deal with their inner turmoil, but they also have to deal with the judgements of others.  Do you know how challenging it is to heal yourself when the people around you don’t believe in you, and when they slap labels on you–requiring you use up even more energy trying to convince yourself their labels aren’t accurate?  It can be done, I’ve done it.  But it certainly isn’t doing the other person any favors!

When you see others as being and doing less-than what you believe they should, you could be doing yourself a disservice as well.  Does it feel good to put your energy into thoughts of despair; does it allow you to freely be your amazing authentic self?

Choose to see others as healthy and whole. Honor their journeys. This blesses yourself and the world around you by creating freedom, space, lightness and ease.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | Tagged | 5 Comments

Who’s Your Cup-of-Tea?

For the first 40 years of my life, I tried so hard to be liked by everyone. And I wanted so badly to like everyone.

Being “nice”, friendly, outgoing, conforming, a “good” listener,  a “good girl”, required so much energy from me.  It also required ignoring my own needs, my own instincts, who *I* was.  I always put myself on the back-burner.

No matter how hard I tried, there were always people who didn’t like me, who were mean to me, and who upset me.  This perplexed me since I tried so hard to like and be likeable!

As I began caring for myself, I came to the conclusion that I simply am not everyone’s cup-of-tea.  And not everyone is my cup-of-tea.

Once I recognized that, I felt so free to be myself.  I could just simply feel what I felt, do what I was drawn to do, say what I wanted to say; and those who enjoyed me would stick around. Those who did not would leave.  Easy!

If I was uncomfortable with someone, for whatever reason, I simply didn’t have to be around them or talk to them.

With this mindset, there are no hard feelings. This is the art of allowing myself and others to choose our own experiences.

This takes the pressure off of me being something I am not, and being responsible for figuring out what others need–which was never my responsibility in the first place.

I respect when others decide they don’t want me in their lives because they are honoring themselves. And I trust they will find people who better match who they are and their own needs. I give myself the same respect and trust as well.

Allow yourself to be around people who are your cup-of-tea, and who find you to be their cup-of-tea as well.  It creates so much ease and pleasure.

Amy Axelson

Posted in Heath and well-being, Relationships | Tagged , | 8 Comments

What is Life Coaching?

Every Life Coach’s approach and life-philosophies are different.  But, in general, a Life Coach coaches you in living your life, just as a Sports’ Coach coaches athletes.

Athletes, of course, know how to play their sport.  We, of course, can’t help but live our lives.  But it’s helpful to have someone who isn’t on the same playing field give their input from a different vantage point, to see the whole picture without being too involved in the individual interactions (and drama), and to offer ideas and suggestions.  Additionally, the Coach can stick with you as you make your changes,  and support you along the way: an ally without being emotionally-invested in your choices as family and friends might be.

Really, everyone can benefit from having a Life Coach. The key is to find someone who is a match for you.  You need to be able to relate to and trust the other person, and appreciate their styles of communication.

I, myself, enjoy coaching people who are very open to changing things up.  Those who are holding on so tightly to their old beliefs probably wouldn’t benefit from my coaching, nor would people who are looking for a sounding board for complaining.

I’ve gone through a lot of pain in my life; and out of that, I created a life where I am true to myself and who I am in any moment.  I can understand people’s pain.  I also believe we are all capable of being our own heroes.

So when I work with people, I see them as strong, competent, and able to have all they desire.  I treat them as such, rather than weak victims.

I just love when people tap into their personal power. I celebrate with them.  I’m not only a Coach, I’m also a cheerleader.

Whether you decide to have a free initial consultation with me, or with another Life Coach, I suggest you explore the option of having this sort of support in creating a life you love to live.

Amy Axelson

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Dreaming and Being Drawn To

Dream big.  Think about what you would do if you weren’t afraid. What would you do for a job even if you weren’t paid for it?  Where do you want to live? Create a dream board.  Write a story about your dream life.

These are all techniques which I believe in wholeheartedly to help get into “receiving mode” for your dream life.

Do you feel overwhelmed dreaming big?  Are you afraid that if you dream big, you will have no clue how to get there?  Does it seem too difficult? Or do you worry that, once you pick a dream life, you might change your mind by the time you get there?

Rest assured. You can’t get there from here anyway (as Esther Hicks says).

I picked my logo to be lily pads because lily pads have helped me understand this process of reaching our dreams.

Each energetic shift, everything and everyone you’re drawn to, is like a lily pad you leap upon—bringing you closer to the life of your dreams.
- Me

As we discover what it is we want in our lives (our “dream life”), we will naturally be drawn to experiences, people, and changes.  It doesn’t require much effort.  And the obvious choices will become hard to ignore.  “Well, of course I will do that.”   “Of course I want to talk to them.”   “It makes perfect sense that this is happening.”

Each situation and experience brings about emotions in us, helps us learn about ourselves a little more, and shows us clearer glimpses of what it is we want for ourselves.  Forward we leap onto the next lily pad.

As we move forward, onto the next “lily pad”, we might discover that what we wanted before isn’t what we want now.  But that’s okay.  Without moving to where we are now, we wouldn’t have been able to recognize what we can see now.

Our dreaming back then was what got us to where we are now. And from here, we can create new dreams as a practically-new person with a different perspective. This is why Esther Hicks says, “You can’t get there from here.”

Dream big and see what happens next.

Amy Axelson

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How Did I Get Here?

At some point, those of us who are courageous enough to take a deep look at ourselves and our lives, ask the question, “How did I get here?”

“How am I working at this job when, 20 years ago, I dreamed of doing something big and expressive for pay?” Or we look at the partner we selected years ago and wonder what the hell we were thinking back then.  “Why am I surrounded by these people who make me feel like crap?” “ Why am I dreading getting out of bed in the morning?”

Like the Talking Heads’ song goes, “You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. You may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’”  Even with the beautiful house and wife, we might find ourselves living a life which is so contrary to who we are right now.

Guilt can creep in. The culture value system insists we stick with it. “You made your bed, now you must lie in it.”

For me, after a lot of self-reflection, I realized that when I met my ex-husband, I subconsciously signed up for the role of “weak victim” and I accepted that his role was the “intimidating bully”.

So when I found myself wanting to end the marriage for my well-being, I had a heck of a time breaking out of the “weak victim” role. Putting that role down almost felt like a betrayal to him, and to my commitment to him and myself—much more extreme and deep than the legal marriage document.  I felt so guilty to be strong and sure, while still being in the same house and in my interactions with him.

My almost-18-year role of “weak victim” had a hold on me like being in a toilet bowl swirling around and around.  It took every ounce of strength and determination to project myself out of that swirling toilet.  I had to move forward even while feeling guilty, and be strong while I still saw my ex-husband as the “intimidating bully”.

When the question comes to you, “How did I get here?”, and you find yourself cringing, open your heart and mind to self-reflection.  Perhaps, use the mantra, “It’s my prerogative to change my mind.”

You don’t need to go any further than that for a while.  The next steps will come to you.  But I truly believe this is the time to prepare your heart for gentle understanding, and recognizing that changes are okay, and honoring who you are now is okay.

Start there.  Love yourself.

Amy Axelson

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