Thursday, June 26, 2008

Intuition – Are You Listening?

Intuition (in•tu•i•tion), n. direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.

That’s the dictionary definition of intuition. We’ve all experienced it, we’ve all acted on it and most of us have, at times, sadly ignored it.

Personally, I consider intuition to be the God whisper. It is a knowing that must come from somewhere. At times it can stop you in your tracks and you just know that you know something. I truly believe warnings, perception of truth and fact must come from a higher place that our ‘gut’.

Like you, I have been aware and have experienced intuition my entire life. I remember as a child a certain knowing that something wasn’t just right. As a young adult making wrong choices and feeling intuition step in. I know I have been saved from countless situations because I listened and acted. I also know that there are situations I could have been saved from if I had only listened. One such instance happened when my eldest daughter was three years old. I was leaving for work one morning and as I walked out the front door it hit me. This knowing that I needed to tell the babysitter not to take her horse riding that day. I shrugged my shoulders and thought how silly, she never goes horse riding with the babysitter. All day I sat at work and the same message kept plaguing my mind, again and again I ignored that perception of truth and fact – the God whisper. At 3pm that afternoon I answered my phone at work, only to hear the panicked voice of my babysitter. She had taken my daughter on an adventure ... to see her sister’s horse. They put my daughter on the horse; the horse spooked and fell directly on my three-year-old. She was rushed to emergency, falling in and out of consciousness. Thankfully, all the tests showed there was nothing wrong, however strangely enough she was unable to walk. It was three weeks, multiple tests and much prayer before she took another step and eventually walked again. Intuition – the direct perception of truth, fact, independent of any reasoning process. Definitely something worth listening to.

Just the other day, my mum and I were working at home, the kids ran in from outside asking if they could go to the park. They desperately wanted to take my three-year-old. Intuition struck and I stopped in my tracks. I just knew that I knew something. My mum heard me telling the children that they could go and that our three-year-old was allowed to go with them, however I gave strict instructions of what she could and couldn’t play on or do at the park (the children questioned what in fact she could go on since my list was so long). I told them to be careful and I reminded my eldest that I needed her to be extremely attentive to her little sister. She knew exactly what I meant because I’ve explained this knowing in the past.

About 20 minutes after their departure my mum and I heard the call, “Auntie Susan, Auntie Susan, Ella’s head’s bleeding.” At the first Auntie Susan, I knew. According to all credible witnesses the seesaw had come crashing down on her head and something went through the skin creating a ‘hole in her head’. We took her to the hospital, got her glued up and she is good as new. Thankfully the accident was minor.

Who knows what was ahead of her that day. Who knows if the accident could have been greater? All I know is that I chose to stop and listen when I felt that immediate apprehension. I encourage you to listen, to be wise and to allow that knowing within you to guide you when it stands up and commands your attention. We have been given intuition as an internal guide and usually in terms of our safety.

Parents of seniors graduating this year…listen.

Parents of young children….listen.

Parents of children any age….listen.

Individuals…. listen.

Let’s all allow this internal guide to assist us as we walk through life.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Free-range kids

If you follow the news, you might have read the report about the American mum who has the nation in an uproar after allowing her nine-year-old son to ride solo on the New York subway and find his way home alone.

The story goes that Lenore Skenazy’s son Isaac pleaded for permission to go somewhere new and make his own way back. Eventually, his parents gave in to his requests and dropped him off with a map and $20 at a Manhattan department store a few kilometres from home. He travelled three stops on the subway and six stops on the bus, successfully getting back to his own front door.

Ms Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, wrote an article about her son’s expedition but received such a backlash from members of the public that she was dubbed “America’s worst mum” by the media.

Reports in the US press said that she was berated by talk show viewers who claimed she had exposed her son to danger.

Ms Skenazy has now launched her own blog called, where she discusses the topic of over-protective parenting. Through the site, she has received hundreds of supportive emails, and news sites in Australia debating the story have also seen plenty of positive feedback.

It seems Ms Skenazy has opened a massive can of worms with her experiment and subsequent article, but what are the rights and wrongs in this situation? What age is the right age for giving our youngsters greater freedom?

As children, many of us experienced the kind of freedom that today’s youngsters can only dream of and we generally escaped unscathed. As parents, we want to ease our children into independence but we are haunted by the possibility that it could all go horribly wrong if they find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don’t know if our fears are grounded in reality or distorted by sensational media reports. Either way, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Coincidentally, we recently allowed our 13-year-old son to catch the train alone in suburban Sydney. He travelled two stops and then walked 30 minutes home. He seems to have grown from the experience, although 13 is very different from 9.

Ultimately it comes down to the maturity, physical size and age of the individual child.

So what’s the answer? Are we being over-protective parents when we chauffeur our children everywhere or are we responsibly guaranteeing their safety?

I’d love to hear your feedback.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Teeth, Teeth, Glorious Teeth

The other week, my 13-year-old niece Brianna had a sore tooth. I asked if I could have a look and to my amazement she had a massive cavity in her back tooth.

Brianna’s mum, my twin sister, is doing it tough right now. She has four children, aged 20, 13, 12 and 10, and is fighting breast cancer. Her marriage dissolved just before she was diagnosed about five years ago.

My kids, who are 13, 11 and 9, are close to their cousins but live very different lives. I suppose they just haven’t had to go through so many trials in their short lives. It’s very sad for me to see as I love my sister’s children dearly.
Brianna hasn’t visited a dentist since she was four, which isn’t uncommon in some families as it’s not always something people can afford. My husband and I made a decision to take our kids to the dentist regularly, every six months, which I believe teaches them to look after their teeth themselves later in life.

As parents, we have the job of training up our kids for their adult lives. Teaching them general hygiene is just one of those jobs. This doesn’t guarantee you won’t get holes in your teeth, but we need to try to prevent it from happening if possible.
My sister rang the local dentist, who sees patients through the Government’s Medicare scheme, but she couldn’t get an appointment for weeks as the waiting lists were long.

My husband and I decided that we would take Brianna to our dentist because she was in such intense pain and we didn’t want the hole to get any bigger, or worse still risk the possibility of a more invasive and painful dental procedure. So I booked the appointment and off we went. The dentist was very caring as Brianna was very nervous.

I’m telling this story to help other parents teach their kids to be diligent in cleaning their teeth. We only get one final set and I know that sometimes even though we tell our kids to clean their teeth they still don’t. Hang in there and they will thank you later in life!

Teaching our kids is so important. We don’t always get it right, but we are the main influence in their lives and they watch our every move.

I may be talking specifically about teeth today, but teaching our kids to shower and instilling general hygiene is vital. Don’t go nuts if they forget to clean their teeth for one day, but do be like a broken record and drill it into them. Be consistent. Make sure they clean their teeth at least once a day, even if they hate it, there’ll be less chance for those cavities to form.

Brianna is going great guns now and has a new challenge in her young life. She has learned that her teeth are precious and that she must brush them regularly and look after them if she wants to keep them for the rest of her life.

Belinda xx

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Know Thyself

I discovered an old journal the other day in which I found a list.

The list contained all of my positive attributes and it was written by yours truly. I had been reading a book at the time that encouraged the recording of ones strengths. I recall it being quite a challenging exercise.

We live in a society where to think too highly of ones self is considered egocentric. In fact to know yourself and see yourself in a positive light actually frees you from being self-focused.

We generally are so caught up in what is “wrong” with us we can’t see those around us who would benefit from what is right with us.

I encourage you to take pen in hand and write down the characteristics you have been blessed with. Include physical, personality traits, talents and gifts. It may be a warm smile or you are good with money. Maybe you are a great listener and cook a mean lasagna.

Aim for twenty, this really makes you look past the obvious and delve into areas you may never have even considered. Have fun and if you like ask friends and family to help. It’s nice to have a list like this for days when you need a little reminder!


Monday, June 09, 2008

Speaking Fluent Internet ...

A while ago, a particular phone conversation with my mum was a ‘challenge’. After fruitless explanations over the phone, I drove around to my mum’s house to sit with her at their PC to teach her how to attach a Word document to an email. After silently asking myself why on earth they have a computer in the first place, the exercise was a success. My mum can now type and send letters via email to her heart’s content.

Driving home I realised how much I could teach my mum when it was only in my late teens that I actually learned to use a computer. Yes, I now have 20 years of computer experience under my belt, yet to me it feels like a new language that I studied as an adult. I still don’t have the right accent, I can’t necessarily determine different dialects and I can’t talk as fast as a native. Natives, of course, being those who were taught from infancy. This is the case with my daughter.

With computers being an integral part of learning, as much as English and maths, it’s hard not to feel like you are always lagging sluggishly behind the natives. That’s how my mother felt today and that’s how I sometimes feel when my daughter spouts ‘computer speak’ that I never learned in school (but of course she doesn’t know that!).

Susan wrote a very good blog titled Zero Tolerance in May last year. As she says, it is essential to know and understand the culture that our children are growing up in. Like the language barrier in a new country, with computer literacy you can often miss verbal transactions if you’re not fluent or at least one step ahead, especially when the internet is thrown into the mix. A parent’s primary role is to love, feed and shelter absolutely, but it is also to lead. If we do not understand what they are learning or the pace at which they are learning, how can we lead and guide them smartly and safely through the internet labyrinth.

Have a read of Susan’s blog Zero Tolerance and polish up on your computer skills. Yes, I know, I can hear you groaning, but a little hard stretch now can save you a big snap later.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Outside the comfort zone

In a remote Indonesian village lives a man named Dede whose hands and feet have grown to resemble tree roots.

A rare skin disease causes them to appear tough and woody like the gnarled bark of a weathered trunk, and they have stretched to the size of dinner plates, twisting and splitting as they go. As hands and feet, they are unrecognisable.

The growths started after Dede cut himself in the jungle when he was 15 years old. Now in his thirties, he bears the daily burden of his deformity and the growths, which are caused by a wart virus, are spreading rapidly up his arms and legs, across his body and all over his face.

Dede’s wife left him and their two teenage children long ago and without a chance of real employment he finds work as a circus attraction, travelling with five others whose lives have been blighted by disfigurement.

Word of Dede’s plight reaches a doctor in America who travels across the world to examine him. He discovers Dede has a rare immune deficiency which allows the warts to grow out of control. But for the first time there is a glimmer of hope. He can treat the immunity condition and most of Dede’s warts will miraculously disappear. Dede will be able to work again and lead a normal life with his children.

But Dede astounds the doctor by refusing treatment. He chooses to stay with the travelling circus. The tried and trusted. The familiar. He turns his back on the lifeline he has been thrown.

For most of us, Dede’s choice is inconceivable. Who knows whether culture, superstition or financial incentives have driven his decision. Or is it just maybe that Dede has grown accustomed to his plight. His disease, however debilitating, is familiar. Stepping outside of the comfort zone is too risky, too dangerous.

Like Dede we all have our comfort zones. Areas in our lives that we feel safe with and even endure because we know that to step beyond them would be challenging, scary even.

I look at my own life and instantly see many comfort zones. Others might not recognise them as such, but I know they are self-imposed limits or boundaries.

Maybe it’s time to step outside. As the saying goes:

The best discoveries are made outside your comfort zone!


Monday, June 02, 2008

A Hug A Day …

I heard on the radio yesterday that parents are getting so busy with “life” they are neglecting some of the basic needs of their children. Hugging them was one of the needs mentioned.

It made me stop and think about how much I hug my kids. Of the three, I hug the five-year-old the most. He’s very cute and I love to hug him. My nine-year-old daughter loves a cuddle and she always gets a big hug when I see her in the morning. My 12-year-old son, however, definitely misses out.

When I examine the reasons for this, nothing jumps out at me, but what I do know is that he needs to be hugged. The research shows that hugging is imperative for a child’s physical, emotional and social development.

Scientists have discovered that hugging releases endorphins into our bodies – the happy hormones that boost our sense of well-being. In fact, hugging is so important there are even hug therapy courses you can take to help in the treatment of pain, depression and anxiety.

If you are a hugger, I applaud you. It comes more naturally for some of us than others. If, like me, you see a deficit in this area of your parenting, I encourage you to hug your children at least once every day and see what unfolds!


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