S.M.A.C.K.s for Stepmoms: Visualize Your Ideal Stepfamily

2 12 2008

Visualization, meditation, imagination, brainstorming, whatever you decide to call this, I hope you’ll try it. Below you’ll find a guided meditation you can read to help you see the home life you desire. You can read it yourself, ask your spouse to read it to you, or tape it and read it yourself. I do have this recorded to music and will post the podcast soon. But in the meantime, basically what I’m asking you to do is close your eyes and imagine what you want. Then you’ll open our eyes and write down ways you can actually get to the vision you saw in your mind’s eye.

Visualization is a technique that’s been written about many times. Napoleon Hill wrote about it in his book Think and Grow Rich, which was first published in the early 1900s. Shakti Gawain made it popular in her book Creative Visualization in the 1970s, still a bestseller today. And the latest version of this technique is written about by Rhonda Byrne in her book, The Secret. Basically, it’s simple. You close your eyes and think about what you desire then you plan how you’re going to get what you want.

Now, turn off your phones, your blackberries your computers. Shut the door. Grab your notebook and pen and set them somewhere nearby. Find a comfortable place to sit where you will not be disturbed. Make sure your arms and legs are not crossed. Close your eyes. Now breathe deeply into your belly. Take five deep breaths. Relax. Be here now in your body. Feel the floor or chair supporting you. Breathe.

Breezy

Imagine yourself ten years from now, after you’ve already created the blended family you desire. How old will you be? Where are you living? What clothes are you wearing? What room are you in? What colors are on the walls? What furniture fills the room? What is the view out the window?

Who lives in your house? If your partner’s kids don’t live with you imagine them coming for a visit.

Imagine you and your partner and your stepkids together in one room. How old is your partner? What is he wearing? How does he appear to you? Is he happy? Are you close together? Are you touching each other? How does he make you feel?

How about your stepchildren? How old are they? Have they brought anyone with them? How are they treating you? How do you feel around them?

Breathe.

What does it feel like to be in the room with all of these people? What are you doing together?

Breathe.

Now everyone gathers around you, your partner, his kids. They’ve brought you a present that they all chipped in together to make or to buy. They hold out a wrapped gift. The present represents how they all feel about you. It is a thank you. A gift of appreciation.  They all know how hard you worked for them. You open the present. What’s inside?

Breathe.

When you’re ready, open your eyes, pick up your pen and write down everything you remember from what you imagined. Write down the details, the present they gave you, how you felt. Take as long as you need to write down what you saw. 

Once you’ve recorded your vision, the next step is to figure out how to start taking steps to get there. We’re going to use a tool called mind-mapping that people have used for centuries under various names to help brainstorm strategies. Click the link for a worksheet you can print and fill out to help you do your mind-mapping. Or turn to a new page in your notebook. Draw a circle in the middle. Then write one goal that came out of your visioning session in the circle.

For instance, if your current reality is that you and your teenage stepchildren can’t sit through dinner together without a fight, your vision may have been about inviting your stepkids over for dinner ten years from now. Your goal in the circle may be:

A harmonious, fun dinner with my stepchildren.

So what things do you think need to happen in order for this dinner to occur? Put those action steps in circles around the first circle. For instance, you might put “Develop stronger relationships with my stepkids” in one bubble. “Take things less personally” in another bubble.

Then next to those bubbles write down action items. So under “Take things less personally” I might add a bullet that says, “Read about teenagers so I can understand what normal behavior for a teen is. I might also put a bullet that says, every time my stepchild says a hurtful remark I will breathe, respond with kindness and then do something absolutely wonderful for myself.

Once you’ve broken down your action items to smaller and smaller steps, choose one thing that you can do today to move toward your goal. Choose one thing you can do tomorrow. Keep taking steps and one day you’ll reach that vision.

Visit my other blog www.smackyourinnercritic.com for more information about how to S.M.A.C.K. your Inner Critic.

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A Stepmom’s Resolutions

27 10 2008

For the past five years, two of my girlfriends and I have gotten together for an annual visioning summit. We’ve gathered at a cabin, one of our homes, a hotel room in Santa Fe to spend time working on our professional and personal goals for the future. First we spend time filling each other in on what’s happened in the past year. Then we close our eyes and spend time imagining what we want our lives to look like. Sometimes we choose specific parts to visualize: a relationship, a family, a book deal, for instance. We think about all the things we need to achieve the dreams we see for ourselves so we can accomplish them and live happy, energetic lives right now, too. Then we spend time mapping out the little steps we need to take in order to get to the vision we saw.

When I closed my eyes and saw my name on the cover of a book for stepmoms, for instance, I had to start listing all the action items I would need to take in order to actually publish that book: find an agent and interview stepmoms, stepfamily experts, marriage and family therapists. I had to write down the things I needed to do to give me the energy and courage to start and finish such a project: exercise, time reading good books. Otherwise, A Career Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Stepmom would have remained forever a fantasy instead of reality.  

Since that first session five years ago, all three of us have made giant strides in creating the lives we want to live. And it’s amazing to look back and see that the roadmaps we’ve constructed have actually led to the places we envisioned or to destinations even more rich than we could have ever dreamed of.  

This year’s summit was no different. We dreamed, we planned, we applauded each other’s successes. This time, we spent the day enjoying music by Marina Raye that was so relaxing, I felt like I was getting a massage just listening to it. We ate delicious food, talked, and laughed. I always leave with rich insights and fresh enthusiasm. I encourage all of you to give yourselves the gift of time spent dreaming about what you want your life to look like. Then break it down into the smallest possible steps to make that vision come true.  

Some of my resolutions were:

Start each day with ten deep breaths.

Learn something new.

Do at least one thing I’m afraid of.

Tell my husband often that I appreciate all the little things he does for me, for us, and for our family.

Listen.  

Spend time with friends who make me feel vibrant and alive.

See live dance performances because they make me happy.

Take each of my stepchildren out on dates one at a time.

Make a list each evening before I go to bed of all the things in my life I’m grateful for.

Send a wish out to anyone I might have challenges with that they find peace and have a happy life.

Read something enriching every single day.

Savor the food I eat, the feel of the clothes I wear, the aromas I love.

Eat dark chocolate often.

Spend a few hours sitting in a greenhouse.

Play with my dog.

Have lunch with my mom.

Visit a place I’ve never been to before.

Take time to go deeper if one of my stepchildren has a problem they want to talk about.

Pay attention.

Listen to beautiful music with my eyes closed.

Take a vacation from assignments, duties, bills, obligations and just be in the moment with my family.

Give back by helping others have better lives.

So what are your dreams? Where do you want to be in five years? What do you look like at your most energetic, your most fulfilled? How will you make that dream a reality?