29447539_sAs long as I can remember, I’ve been at the party. As a kid, I loved the party.

The new stuff, the swirling ideas, the workings of the imagination.

I played with all of it, I was the center of attention. Joy and dancing, ideas and beauty.

As I grew, so did the party. So many guests and conversations, conflicting opinions and paradox. So much so it became hard to contain.

It gradually moved from interesting to challenging. It became more complicated and less fun.

The party became more about what was wrong with the party and how the party should be different. There was less play and more dispute.

It became a struggle. The party was so loud and busy I forgot I was the host. I was lost in the interaction; I couldn’t hear above the shouting.

There was too much pressure and too many expectations, and sometimes, there were fights.

This scared me, and I searched for ways to remain at the party, but not feel so overwhelmed. Eat, drink, work, watch TV – whatever kept me distracted from the confusion.

It didn’t feel good anymore. I didn’t feel good anymore. Why was I at this party in the first place?

What is this party? What’s happening here? I questioned and reevaluated.

I read books, I learned from others. I studied what had been done, I identified what might work better.

I became more aware. I studied how to cope. I practiced what I learned.

When the party was loud I would breathe, I would smile. I would remind myself that I was the host.

As host I didn’t deny any guests, but the obnoxious and ornery ones received less of my undivided attention.

At first they didn’t like this, they fought to be seen and heard. But I soothed them and let them know that they were seen. They were welcome to stay.

But as host I had a responsibility to move around and mingle, to circulate and stay open to many different perspectives.

This sense of understanding and acceptance lead to more cohesion and less fighting. It became quieter, I could hear more.

Expressions of kindness, love, and connection; innovative ideas and compassionate feelings.

The stories were familiar, I heard them a long time ago when the party was fun.

Joy and dancing, ideas and beauty.

Cathy is the award-winning author of Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn: The Power of Self-Aware Parenting and the host of Zen Parenting Radio.

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