PAM: Welcome! I’m Pam Laricchia from livingjoyfully.ca and today, Anna Brown joins me for another Unschooling in Context episode. Hi, Anna!
ANNA: Hi! I’m excited.
PAM: I’m really excited about this conversation, because this time we’re diving into unschooling in the context of boundaries, comfort zones, and capacity.
See, with unschooling, we’re focused on cultivating connected, trusting, and respectful relationships with children, with our partner, with anyone we choose to have that level of a relationship with really. And we soon discover that that means deeply understanding ourselves so that we can more gracefully navigate the edges where we engage with others. So, that’s kind of the foundation of this conversation.
So, to start with, I wanted to dive into the idea of boundaries, because it comes up pretty often in conventional circles, often through the lens of self-care, encouraging parents to set boundaries and stay strong in defending them. And the motivation behind that idea makes a lot of sense to me. It’s to encourage us to not be manipulated into doing things that we don’t want to do.
But the solution proposed of setting and defending boundaries can often create challenges and disconnection in our relationship. Can’t it?
ANNA: Yeah. I mean, personally, I just don’t find the boundary language particularly helpful for me, because the energy of it feels very final and it has this feeling of drawing the line in the sand and that I’m going to defend to the death, and also that somehow, I’m letting myself down if I don’t uphold it. So, I just really prefer to look at the moment in front of me, to be honest about where I am and what I can do in that moment, because it changes. There are things we can’t anticipate about situations ahead of us. And I think, especially with my loved ones, I want to have an energy of curiosity and connection. Standing on the other side of this intensely drawn boundary just doesn’t have that same feel to me.
And this could be a language thing. I’m definitely a word person and I tend to respond energetically to words. So, I look to my language to help me cultivate the energy that I want to bring and the person I want to be to a situation. So, that’s why these words are important to me.
I’ve also found boundaries to be one of those concepts that’s a bit, let’s say “contaminated”, by parenting gurus and self-help gurus. For example, it happened with natural consequences, too. A natural consequence is walking out in the rain and getting wet, not forgetting to take the trash out, so I take your iPad.
So, similarly, boundaries are something that can be super helpful when they’re set for ourselves related to us and how we move through the world. But when we use a boundary to mean stopping or changing how another person moves through the world, we’ve moved into a different territory. We’re now attempting to control another, but we’re calling it our boundary.
And so, I think that boundary language just tends to shut down communication. It doesn’t leave room for finding solutions that feel good to both parties. And I think it’s important to realize this is not about not expressing or meeting our needs, but when we do that in relationships, it looks different. If we want to have a consensual relationship where the parties involved are heard and seen and we find these agreeable solutions, standing behind a hard boundary can get in the way of that. And I found that I can honor who I am and be open and curious to finding solutions that feel good to everyone.
And another thing that I’ve noticed is something I call the pendulum that’s related to this. So, for much of our early life, we’re kind of subject to other. We’re told what to do, often subjugating our needs. And somewhere along the line, often in our thirties and forties, we have this awakening and realize, wait a minute. My needs are important, too. And so, you can go into this intense period of advocating for your needs. And I think this is when the strong boundary language that we hear around us really resonates. Like, yes! This feels good.
But I’ve also seen that as we get just a bit older, that things soften and we realize that we don’t have to defend our needs to the death, that we can honor ourselves and honor another, and that solutions can be found. And there’s no right or wrong about this or timeline about any of it. It’s just that I think it’s an interesting pattern and I think it can help to be aware of it or watch for it and see how it’s feeling as we play with unpacking any baggage we have in this area. And I think all of us pretty much have some baggage in this area.
PAM: I think so, too. And I love that idea of patterns and just watching out. For me, I enjoy looking for that and seeing the bigger picture patterns that flow. And I love that you mentioned the baggage that we can bring, because for me, as I thought about how the idea of boundaries feels for me and thinking back to when I was first playing around with this, I realized I grew up steeped in that conventional culture of competition. So, when I thought about how I anticipated engaging with others, in terms of boundaries, it really spiked my defensive energy.
As soon as I was feeling defensive, I saw the other person, child, partner, whomever, as the opposition. You’re the enemy because I need to defend this. And time and again, after having brought that energy to many a conversation, I learned through experience that when I did that, especially with someone that I love, that perspective and energy, like you were talking about, hindered our interaction. It got in the way of us moving forward.
And my defensiveness in turn raised their defensiveness, which meant that we were both less empathetic, because we were just each focused on our own and seeing it only through our own lens.
And we were less creative in coming up with those solutions for moving forward. Because when we have that focused tunnel vision, that naturally does come with a feeling of needing to defend ourselves. That’s a human need.
We listen to the other person not to hear new bits of information that might help us better understand, but to find the things that we can twist in support of our stance, right? It’s a completely different way of listening.
ANNA: A completely different way.
PAM: So, that’s what thinking in terms of boundaries brings up in me. As you said, it’s a language thing. It’s our experiences. It can definitely be different for others, depending on their experiences and how they relate to it. But I do remember that as I sat with the discomfort of these two seemingly contradictory ideas, like, “I need boundaries so that people don’t walk all over me.” And also, the idea of navigating boundaries sparks that energy in me that I don’t like and that often seems to negatively impact my connection with my child. Trying to sit with those two, it came to remind me of an earlier paradigm shift on my unschooling journey which was around having hard rules.
So, that shift away from enforcing rules to having conversations with my kids came to make sense to me, because we all learn so much more through the conversation, because those conversations included the context that surrounded the moment. So, what they were trying to accomplish, their motivation behind it, the risks that we saw, how likely were they to happen, other options that were readily available that could accomplish the same things. In those conversations, I learned so much about them, what they were trying to do, and why. And we all gained a better understanding of each other as we shared our perspectives and so much more critical thinking experience as we worked through and just tried to weave these different things together in a way that worked for everybody, as you were talking about earlier. Whereas, I realized that when I pulled out a rule, I just shut down all that thinking and all that learning. It’s just like, this is it. This is that hard line.
So, the boundaries conundrum that I found myself in seemed to be so similar to the hard boundaries and the hard rules. And it came to me, that’s just a way to share that line in the sand with them, whether it was a rule around something they can do or a boundary about my needs. Even a rule or a boundary that made sense to me, what it did was shut down so much rich conversation and learning and my opportunity to learn more things about them that maybe make more sense and make me want to shift that rule, that I would never have discovered if I didn’t have the conversation in the first place.
ANNA: Right. And that’s the thing.
We’re talking about a very different style of communication and problem solving. And so, I hope that we can see that as we’re looking at it, because we have the one side, the zero-sum game and defend your position. That’s pretty common in our culture. We see it in governments down to toddlers. But then here, we’re talking about listening, stating our needs, listening to someone else’s needs, having that conversation, learning more about each other, moving forward together on the same team. It’s so different, but it is so much more pleasant and so rich with the discoveries about each other and where we can go from there.
PAM: Yeah. I think we’ve done a reasonable job of communicating how boundaries shut down so much of those things.
So, I thought we could move on to what has worked for me, which is that shift to using the lens or the idea of comfort zones.
And that was part of that parenting shift on my deschooling journey from control, like rules, to connection, like conversations. So, that’s what shifting from boundaries to comfort zones in that language does for me. It reminds me to bring my sense of self. It’s not about, I have no boundaries, do whatever, whatever. It’s not about taking our needs out of the equation. It’s more fully bringing our needs into the moment and into that conversation without having to draw that line in the sand. Comfort zones just really reminds me to open up and lean in, rather than stand behind the line.
ANNA: And for me, right.
It’s that line in the sand that I want to avoid. And I feel like comfort zones, I just like the feel of it, because we do talk about stretching and growing our comfort zones. And I found that my children 100% helped me do that, because I think we can come into parenting with some pretty rigid ideas of how things should be and that could stem from our own childhood experiences, the prevailing parenting norms around us. But those rigid beliefs don’t take into account the actual humans that we’re living with, how they see the world, what feels good to them, what they want to accomplish and learn.
And that’s where the curiosity and communication that we were talking about comes into play. I don’t have to stretch my comfort zone, but I want to be open to examining it, especially if it’s somehow putting a limit on someone else. And so, that’s why, in general, I just prefer to look at needs.
If we have a situation where we’re at an impasse, if we switch the focus to the underlying needs, then we have more room to find creative solutions that feel good to us both. So, I like the feel of that again, and I think it’s just a totally different paradigm.
PAM: Yeah. And for me, that was one of my big a-ha moments. And it relates to that. I liked the way you frame that as needs.
For me, the shift was that these conversations really were less about the thing, the thing that we are in conflict about, and more about the people involved, which again, fully included me. And that’s the needs. What is one person needing or wanting to do and understanding the motivation behind that, understanding why they’re making this next choice, why that’s their next step that makes the most sense to them and why that next step is right at the edge of my comfort zone. What is it that’s needling at me?
And to understand that, like you said, we don’t have to change, but when we understand it, we can better explain it to other people, like why this is making us uncomfortable, which gives them the opportunity to understand us better, but they can maybe give us more information that we didn’t think of.
Or they bring something up. It’s like, “Oh, but I see this,” and then they can bring something else. And maybe they shift, because they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t think of that.”
ANNA: “I didn’t think of that.” Exactly.
PAM: There is just so much more space for people to move when you take out the competitive nature of that hard line.
ANNA: I mean, I’ve said this a million times, but as humans, if we’re backed into a corner, we’ll defend something to the death even if we don’t agree with it. It’s just this reaction when somebody is coming at us. But you see that very different exchange that you were just talking about.
It’s like, “Well, here’s what I’m feeling worried about.” “Oh, okay. What about this then? And what about this?” We’re working together to try to make both of us feel good. So different.
PAM: I know. It’s amazing. And I like the feeling, also, that it brings, because I am understanding that I’m choosing to stretch my comfort zone rather than framing it in my self-talk as, I failed to defend my boundary. It’s night and day. I failed. I chose. Because this makes sense to me or it doesn’t even need to, it doesn’t always make sense completely in the moment. It can still be a choice. Like, oh man, they’ve really thought about this. This is really important to them. I trust from past experiences that things work out. You can also bring that trust piece in.
ANNA: It makes sense in the context of the relationship that you want to have. So maybe, like you said, it’s not about the thing necessarily. It’s about this dynamic that we want to have.
PAM: Yeah, exactly. And this was something that came up in the Network that I thought was really cool.
It was the difference that we can choose, based on the circumstances, to stretch our comfort zone, but we can also choose to operate for a while outside our comfort zone. Sometimes a situation just demands that I do something that in any other circumstances I would not choose to do, but this is where I am right now.
ANNA: I think parenting offers so many of those opportunities. But I feel like we still get to decide how that looks for us, so maybe it’s staying up later than we planned or attending a concert we wouldn’t normally have attended or whatever kind of thing would stretch us. But the key piece for me is remembering that I always have a choice, just like you just said, and remembering my why. I wanted to facilitate my children as they explored the world. So, if there was any physical way I could do it, I wanted to do it.
And if I ran up against a wall, so for example, for me, I had a lot of migraines when I was younger. And during those times, I physically couldn’t do anything. So, I would ask for help. We’d find creative ways to get everyone what they needed. And that included me needing to be in bed in a dark room. But even with that, I still wouldn’t call it a boundary or even a limit, because I just don’t like the feeling of that. It was just my reality in that moment.
And because we take each other’s needs into consideration, I knew that I could trust that we would find a way to meet those needs. And so, when you don’t have that defensiveness and competition, it just has this much softer feel. There is that trust there. And we move forward together. I don’t have to worry that I have to even explain or defend why I’m needing to be in bed. They want to help me and they know I want to help them. And that’s the paradigm shift we’re talking about.
PAM: I love the piece of the relationship that we’re cultivating and how, back at the beginning, we talked about how boundaries can get in the way and cause some disconnection in that relationship. You threw in that “going to a concert” piece. That was a beautiful reminder, thank you, that I shared in the Unschooling Journey book one of the stories of stretching my comfort zones.
And the piece that I was trying to communicate there was that stretching your comfort zone doesn’t need to be an all or nothing, “I need to decide now at this moment that it’s all the things.” It was a concert that we had tickets to go to. And there was a huge winter storm that day. And I shared the story of how it was a step-by-step thing. she really wanted to go. I knew I would enjoy it. But it was important to her, but she also understood the challenge of the storm, but also wanted to try.
So, for me, what helped me, it’s the little nudge and the little nudge.
ANNA: You’re nudging together.
PAM: Exactly. We were both going in the same direction. And I said, “Well, you know what? Let’s go shovel the driveway, make sure we can even clean it off first to get the car out.” That’s the first little obstacle that I saw. I saw five or six different things that could, but I didn’t know for sure. So, it was worth it to me to try and see how things played out and to see if I could stretch my comfort zone. So yes, we did manage to shovel. She came out and helped shovel the driveway. When we’re working together as a goal, the energy is so different. Like you said, they want to help you when you’re not feeling well.
ANNA: You were building the trust and she goes, “Okay, she’s trying this.” And so, if it didn’t work, which I think it ended up working, but if it didn’t, it would have been like, but we tried together.
PAM: Yeah. And she would have seen the obstacle and understood it.
ANNA: Yes, for herself.
PAM: Yeah, exactly. It wasn’t me imagining something in my head, because then you can question, “Well, how likely is that to happen?”
And so, we cleaned the driveway. And then it’s like, okay, now let’s look at the road. Oh, the road has been plowed. That looks okay. Okay. So, now, we’ll go and we’ll see what the traffic’s like and if the other roads are cleared, etc. And we packed extra stuff in the car and we ended up making it. And there were 50 people who ended up attending, because she was looking to see if they canceled the concert. So, she was also checking that for us to see if they canceled yet. No. They decided to go ahead. And it was such a beautiful experience in the end, a small intimate show and it was just lovely. But I would not have felt comfortable saying, “Yes, let’s go,” right there in the very first moment, but slowly I could stretch my comfort zone as I was putting those pieces together.
And again, the important thing was I didn’t lose any trust, because we were working together. And we were evaluating together each of those steps along the way. It’s like, yeah. We’re driving a little bit slowly, but the roads aren’t crazy. There are not cars off in ditches all over the place, etc.
ANNA: You’re open to examining that, as opposed to just reacting from fear or a boundary of, “I will not drive to the city in the snow.” I mean, it sounds reasonable, but then when you peel it back, it’s like, but how do we feel about that? So, I love that piece of the working together on the same side.
PAM: And that is the beauty of comfort zones for me versus boundaries, a framework just for me to bring to these more challenging moments, because it encourages me to actually pay attention to the moment, the context of the moment versus, this is my line. It’s so much more beautiful and you learn so much more and the conversations are so much richer. It just does everything to cultivate the relationship that we’re trying to cultivate with them. It strengthens that trust, because they see us. It strengthens the critical thinking. When we bring our needs to it, it is an example to them of bringing your needs and it encourages them to bring their needs more openly.
And when we’re not dissing them for, “Why do you want to do that?” We’re not judging them about what they’re bringing.
ANNA: It just shuts everything down.
ANNA: Even if you hadn’t ended up being able to make it, the relationship would have been intact. Whereas if you had just made the hard, fast line and she went upstairs and slammed the door, there would have been a rupture there. And of course, you can repair a rupture and we can come back from that, but we don’t even have to get there if we’re open and share our needs and have the conversations.
PAM: Because often enough times in life, there will be those hard moments where there are no other options or things just go wrong. So, we don’t need to create them. That’s another thing with boundaries, too. It’s like, they need to learn that other people can’t always do the thing or whatever. Yeah. No. They will.
ANNA: We’re going to hit plenty of those.
So, there’s another aspect that I wanted to explore, and it’s the idea of capacity.
And this came up in the Network. Thank you very much, Erika. And I thought it fit so beautifully with this conversation of boundaries and comfort zones, because sometimes we do have a pretty hard limit, like a migraine, on whatever we can physically or emotionally take on. And it can feel a bit more definitive than comfort zone.
But as you said, limit and boundary isn’t feeling comfortable, either. Even though we’re not able to stretch right now, I think that idea of capacity just feels more informative. Back to exactly what we were talking about with comfort zones, bringing up more communication, it’s supportive of conversations rather than boundary or limit or, “I can’t do this.”
What the idea of capacity does to me is convey our sense of choice and agency in the moment without that confrontational feeling. It quickly communicates to ourselves, reinforces to ourselves and to the others involved in the conversation, what we feel we are and aren’t able to take on in this moment.
Capacity is just such a nice lens for us to check in with ourselves. And that’s another great thing for our kids to learn, because it’s a human thing. Sometimes we can do some things and sometimes we can’t. And I think sometimes that’s another thing that parents are worried about. “Well, if I say yes now, I’ll have to say yes to that forever.” No. Capacity is that other variable that is part of the equation of being in the moment, which is why the conversations are so much more valuable than the line.
ANNA: Oh my gosh. Yes. I loved when Erika brought this up in the Network, because capacity just feels so much more descriptive to me and more about the moment, like you said. Because my capacity on a migraine day is very different than my capacity on another day. And there can be so many things that play into that piece of capacity, sleep, money, time, illness, all these different factors. But what I want to do with all exchanges with the people I love is keep us on the same side, just like we were talking about with the concert example. They aren’t trying to thwart me or harm me. We’re just all trying to get our needs met. And as we keep those lines of communication open, we build the trust in each other and we work together to help meet all of the needs.
And something else that came up in the Network discussions around this was the idea that we can operate within our capacity and survive, but we might not be able to thrive. So, we’re kind of on the edge of our capacity and we can physically get it done, but it may take this emotional toll or maybe even a longer physical toll. So, when we keep choice in that equation, we can choose to operate within our capacity to thrive. We can communicate about that with the people in our lives and help them do the same. So, I can honor who I am and still support my child and they can honor who they are and still consider those around them.
And so, that kind of leads me to, kids have comfort zones, too. And that sometimes as parents, we try to push them out of their comfort zones. You’ll even hear this language. “I just need to push them out of their comfort zone. It’s for their own good.” And it’s that type of thinking.
And it’s really important to me to honor someone else’s comfort zone or their personal definition of capacity, even if I don’t understand it or think they could do more, especially with our children. This is how they learn about themselves, so they do not have to do the work that we are doing decades later to learn how to honor ourselves and to know who we are.
They can have a strong sense of what works for them and their “why” from the beginning, I want to trust their process and that they will stretch when it feels right to them. And so, maybe it’s helpful next time we bump up against someone when we think they could do a bit more than maybe they are, is to consider that maybe they’re operating within their capacity to thrive, not their capacity to survive. And wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could all stay in that thriving zone as much as possible?
Because, like you said, there’s going to be times where we’re pushed outside of it to deal with an emergency or because of something that’s happening around us. But what if when we see our child not doing something that we think they could do, that it’s really just them knowing themselves and knowing that that may push them over an edge that is into survival mode versus thriving. So, I don’t know. I just love that framing of it as we look at another person and maybe not judge so much.
PAM: Yes. I love looking at things through their eyes. And even when we don’t understand why they’re making the choices that they’re making, we don’t need to. But when we honor those choices, it gives us another piece of the picture of who they are. And understanding that there can be so many reasons why. Capacity can be a reason why they aren’t up for it or don’t want to stretch, or do the thing that you know they’re capable of doing, “But why are they not doing it now?”
And the other piece, too, that we’ve mentioned before in that situation, is that it can be so many things. But it can also be a bid for connection that we’ve talked about. Maybe they don’t want to dress themselves and it’s not really about the getting dressed and the capability or the capacity for it. It’s really, “You know what? I want to spend some time with you.” And depending on their age, they really may not even be able to verbalize that or to understand it.
ANNA: I agree.
PAM: But it’s respecting their motivation, wherever they are in there in this moment, this is the next best thing that they see happening moving forward.
ANNA: It’s almost the thing about changing the energy. So, they ask us for a glass of water that they can clearly walk across and get and they may even be closer to the water than we are. But maybe it’s changing the energy, because there’s a discussion going on over here or something’s happened with a sibling or me with my partner or whatever. And so, then it’s just realizing and grounding into that, “Hey, I trust them. They need this from me right now. And I would do it for my partner. I would do it for the neighbor if they needed water.” So, just understanding that it’s that trust piece.
PAM: It really is. And I love just bringing the idea of boundaries, for people to just question that, because that can definitely be a boundary and one that we see held up in conventional culture, parenting circles. “If you know how to do this, do this for yourself.” And thinking that, oh, if they don’t do these things for themselves, they’re spoiled. The word’s not even coming to mind, because I don’t think in those terms anymore, but I’m just serving them.
ANNA: We’re missing these opportunities to deepen that relationship. And then what I’ve seen and I know you’ve seen it, too, is then when I’m feeling that way, out of sorts and just not wanting to get my own water or whatever, that they’ll be the first ones to bring it over to me, because that’s just the exchange that we have. I don’t want to die on a hill of, “I’m not going to do something because you can.” I do stuff for people all the time that they can do. Adults. So, why would I want to draw that line in the sand when it comes to my children who I love so much?
PAM: I know. And the parenting circles just bring that in through the lens of, “They have to learn how to do it.” It’s so fascinating. But what we’re learning by honoring their choices in the moment is them learning so much more about themselves. And then that relationship doesn’t need to be in conflict so much. Just day-to-day, conventionally, you see that. “Do this, do that, don’t do that.” There’s just so many moments of conflict that get in the way of cultivating that connected and trusting relationship. And when we can step back, again, it doesn’t mean we have to not bring our needs to the table, but so often, I have the capacity to get that class a water, or to run downstairs and grab the box of Lego, because they just had a great idea and they’re just finishing up something else.
There are so many times where I can just take five seconds to say, what does this serve for me? Is this something that I can do? Can I help them stay in the moment with wherever their head is when they’re learning stuff through play? They’re playing. They’re engaged.
ANNA: If you can’t, it’s because it’s something that you can explain. “I’ve got to wait right here for this call and then I can get an afterwards,” or whatever, and then they know. As opposed to, “No, you can do that for yourself.” That’s such a different feeling, because that’s the communication. And then that helps them in turn when we ask them for something to communicate clearly as to why not instead of just going, “No!” or whatever. We have this line of communicating about why something works for us or why it doesn’t work for us.
PAM: Yeah. Because what it does is toss us a choice back and forth. It’s like, “Oh, can you get this?”
“I need five minutes to finish this up, because I can’t leave it. I can do it then.” “Oh no, I really need it now. Is there a way you can?” Or they’ll go get it or they’ll toss it back, “No, it’s really important, but I can’t leave my thing.” It’s just that back and forth of real information, not boundaries and they’re trying to take advantage of me or I have to do this and feel martyrly about it.
ANNA: And these skills are critical in all relationships. We can think of the relationships with our friends or with our partners and go, oh. There’s room for me to communicate more about my needs, versus expecting them to understand it or standing on some ground of a boundary or whatever. It’s just more information. I just feel like the more information and transparency we have, the easier it is to be in relationship. And I mean, for me, the human experience is these relationships.
PAM: I know. And when you think about it, the more information you have, it is so often so much easier to find that path through those pieces of information. If I only have two pieces, they want to do this and I don’t want them to do this, or I don’t want to do my part, how do you find the space between the chasm of those two things? But as we each share a little bit more information, we’re narrowing in on that path that can move between those. And we can all work together to find that and just flow with it. Sometimes it takes three sentences and off we go, we figured it out. And sometimes it takes longer conversations, maybe over days or weeks.
ANNA: Exactly. I was going to say, over the course of days or weeks, even, but for me that quick check-in is, do I feel like we’re on the same side moving forward? Or do I feel like we’re at odds?
PAM: Opposite sides of that boundary.
ANNA: It’s a quick way for me to go, hmm. I want to turn this around a little bit. I want to look at what’s happening to get us back on the same side, because even when it feels really hard and it may take a couple of weeks to figure out how to make this big thing happen, if we’re both over here, it just feels so much better.
And one last thing I wanted to mention about capacity that came up in our conversations is the idea of the times when we are feeling bad about where our capacity leaves us versus what we wish we could do. And that sometimes there can be some processing of grief to do in those situations, because yes, we wish we could do all the things that we could support our kids in all the ways. You brought up money earlier, weather, there are just so many things in life that can get in the way.
And it is valuable to realize that we can give ourselves some space to process that grief over our capacity, over all the things we want to do versus what it is that we can do. If it feels like we’re coming up short. Now this is all within ourselves. And the seed I wanted to plant in there as well, is what can be woven in there is that cultural drive for doing it all, for being the best, going for that ‘A’ as a parent, just to also bring that into our thoughts and weave that in, because I think for me anyway, often that view of myself and who I want to be and what I want to accomplish is an outsized version of myself that can do all the things, all the things now, and keep everybody in my family happy. To ask myself if I’m putting outsized expectations on myself versus my capacity.
ANNA: And don’t you feel like when you’re even describing that, you’re putting yourself as other. You’re not on the team with your family there. You’re going to be the person that does it all and you’re going to do it. And it’s like, oh, that’s so hard. And it’s so unrealistic.
And I definitely had to process some grief with my migraine stuff, so I’m really glad you brought that up. Because I remember laying in the bed, just tears pouring down my face, because it was a birthday party that I wasn’t able to take them to. And David had to take them or that we’d been waiting for this thing to happen and then it was a migraine day. And so, I mean, I can get teary thinking about it now. But the thing is, I still felt like we were on the same side. They would come up after they went to the event, they’d snuggle into the dark bed and whisper and tell me about it and just be there with me. And I would feel like we’re still connected.
But we need to be aware of those things and understand and not let those serve to distance us, not let us shut it down, because sometimes we can get defensive, those kinds of things. And so, just being aware of that grief piece I think is really valuable.
PAM: I think it’s so valuable, too, and to treat capacity with love and compassion and kindness for ourselves. Like, this is who I am. This is who I am in the moment. And to realize that those outsized expectations really don’t add value. What they’re doing is making me judge myself more. And when we’re feeling that extra weight, I know in my case, I felt I was capable of doing even less.
ANNA: Right. Because we’re carrying this. Yeah.
PAM: Yes, exactly. I just put more stuff on top of myself alongside all the other things that I am literally carrying. And so, even though it seems paradoxical, if I don’t have those big ass goals, I’m never going to go in that direction, but it’s so fascinating to just hold the direction, not the destination and work with my capacity and being loving and kind and compassionate towards myself. That’s also the energy that I want to cultivate and the experiences I want my children to see.
ANNA: That’s what I was going to say, too, that I feel like it gives this, permission may be not the right word, but for others to go, “Yeah. I want to operate in a place where I’m thriving with my capacity and I want to be able to express my needs and it’s okay for me to express my needs and not to push through whatever.” And so, we can have those conversations, but all of that happens when we’re open and having the conversations.
PAM: Yeah. And I think what rolls in there now, too, is the consent piece. And let’s put a link to the consent conversation that we had. It all weaves together, all these relationship pieces.
Okay. So, anyway, thank you so much, Anna. That was such a lovely conversation. And we both love playing with words and I love what you said earlier about how it’s, how do the words make me feel? It’s the language that we’re using to describe things to ourselves.
ANNA: Our story. Right.
PAM: Our story. Oh, no. Now do we have to put the Stories link in there, too?
ANNA: Yep. It’s all connected.
PAM: If you found this conversation interesting, I really do encourage you to hit the Consent conversation and the Stories conversation, because I think it is all rolled together. And find the language that works for you. Find the language that helps you come to these moments with the energy and the perspective and the openness that you want to to cultivate the relationships that you want to have with your children, with your partner, with those that you love. We’re not telling you what words to use or not use. Let’s open this up and see what feels good. Don’t just adopt language or actions because that’s what everybody says would work.
ANNA: It’s being open about it and examining that and seeing what makes sense for you. And it just reminded me of like, hey, join us in the Network, because these are the kind of cool conversations we’re having. I cannot tell you the amazing people in there that are bringing up these ideas that we can just look at it and tweak and then just the fun about the connections and the families. So, yeah, I am going to put a plug in for the Network, because these conversations, I enjoy them so much and it’s just so amazing.
PAM: Yes. It is a great place just to tease apart these things. And everybody coming with their pieces.
ANNA: It’s so individual.
PAM: It is. It’s so individual and it is so fun to see the richness. There’s a good word. It’s so rich. Thank you so much, Anna. I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye!