When I was a kid attending my beloved sleepaway camp, I was what they affectionately call a “barn geek.”
I was the camper that went to every single barn chores. Even the ones that required setting an alarm and crawling out of my cozy, warm bunk in the chilly early mornings while my cabinmates continued to snooze.
I was the one and only kid that showed up to the afternoon activity that entailed cutting goat toenails.
I did it all. Every time I could be with farm animals, I was there.
My favorites were the goats, and I even semi-adopted my own baby goat one summer. But I would feed, water, and tend to any and all animals. In hindsight, I can see that nurturing animals helped me feel nurtured, too.
One summer, I remember being impatient to start a barn activity and the counselor scolded me. She said, “Mellow out, Abby. Animals love mellow people.”
Even at the time, I was able to laugh outwardly with my cabinmates at her ridiculous comment. Animals (and babies) always loved me. I knew that.
But inwardly, those words branded my soul. I wasn’t mellow. I was too intense.
People were always telling me that I was too sensitive. I cried too easily. I felt things too deeply. I was too focused on everyone else’s words, feelings, and actions. I just needed to relax.
Telling me to relax was like telling a drowning person to just relax.
I couldn’t relax in order to save my own life.
And so was born the story in my head that I was “too intense.” Too much.
I believed it for decades.
I tried to hide and play it cool and be casual but I doubt I was very convincing. I am sure my intensity was all the more overwhelming for trying to hide it.
Then, about three years ago, my dear friend Kimberly said something that stopped me in my tracks.
She said, “what if your intensity is your superpower?”
Her question took my breath away.
It made me think of my brother, a successful business coach, saying his ADHD, far from being a negative, is his superpower. Who says you can't decide what is your superpower?
Getting coached on this has helped me realize that holding back my truest self is keeping the world from receiving what this unique person, me, is able to give. It ] keeps my relationships superficial. As a result, it made relationships more likely to end. The very thing I was trying to avoid.
I have learned to lean into my intensity. To embrace it. To stop apologizing for it (most of the time!). To recognize that this is who I am.
But even beyond that, to question what is “too intense."
Too intense for whom? For this broken world we live in?
What if I am the perfect amount of intense, and it is all those other people who are lacking if they are unable to appreciate me?
Indeed, as I have embraced my intensity, I have found, more than ever, my people. The people who value intensity. The people who are intense too. My people.
What stories do you tell about yourself? What negative labels do you give yourself? How are they holding you back? And did you know you can just decide, right now, that they are not true and that you can change the narrative of your life right now?
Just by deciding. You don’t have to prove anything or convince anyone. Just decide and it becomes fact.
This is simple but it's far from easy.
If you’d like support changing the narrative of your life, set up a complimentary life coaching session. There’s no commitment and no sales pitch. Just an opportunity to experience a life changing transformation.
Crawling Into Your Toddler's Crib?
Former clients recently got in touch with me because their amazing sleeper (ever since we worked together many months before) had gone off the rails.
They had taken their toddler to Paris and when they returned, exhausted and jet lagged, little Samara fell asleep in her beloved crib just fine but woke up screaming.
Ever since then, 6 days prior, she was terrified of her crib.
This didn’t seem like a straightforward case of sleep training, because she was already an amazing sleeper. Also, her screaming felt different than the crying one associates with sleep training.
It looked and sounded exactly like terror.
But we couldn’t figure out why. Nothing had gone wrong in Paris and nothing had changed in her room while they were gone.
And at only 15 months old, Samara couldn’t explain what she was afraid of.
Her parents tried sitting in the room with her but even then, Samara would stand at the crib rails and scream.
None of us wanted to ignore her fears. That idea seemed cruel. But bringing her to their bed only meant bad sleep for all of them – they had already tried that.
Then her mom, feeling desperate, got a genius idea. She crawled into Samara’s crib with her. And let Samara fall asleep on top of her.
Once Samara was sound asleep, Laney carefully crawled out of her daughter’s crib and left the room.
Laney and Rob took turns crawling into the crib a few more times that night, but otherwise, Samara slept better than she had the previous few nights. They did the same the next night.
On the third night, Samara went into the crib awake and her dad stayed right next to her for a while, then gradually faded into the nearby rocking chair. He spent two more nights sitting in the chair but eventually it became clear that his presence was becoming more stimulating than soothing and so he cautiously left the room.
Her first night alone, Samara cried for 20 minutes… but not the terrified screaming from before. Normal, tired-toddler crying.
And by the end of the week, there was zero crying. Now Samara goes into her crib awake and plays by herself for a while before drifting off to sleep.
While I am a HUGE advocate of sleep training, there are times when traditional sleep training isn’t quite right. When a child has experienced recent trauma – even if we don’t know what the trauma was – we need to be extra attentive to helping the child feel secure while also promoting healthy sleep. Which sometimes, like in Samara’s case, requires a little extra creativity!
Other times that my require an extra gradual approach include children who have experienced recent hospitalizations or unexpected separations from their grownups, children who come from foster care, and sometimes, children who have a diagnosed anxiety or developmental disorder, or children who have been cosleeping all night with their parents.
The great news is that we can still always work to improve sleep! And whatever the issue was that was making sleep hard – it always gets better with better sleep.
If your family is struggling with sleep and you’re worried you’re a lost cause… you’re certainly not! Set up a free consultation and let’s figure out a way to get your family the sleep you deserve.
The Problem With Therapy
Look, therapy’s great. I love it as much as the next neurotic, culturally-Jewish New Yorker.
In other words, I’ve done a LOT of therapy.
But I hit a wall with it.
I had done it for years and just felt like I wasn’t getting any closer to my dreams.
Does this sound familiar?
For me, and for many of my clients, therapy is too past-focused. It’s about dredging up the pain from the past. Reliving it. Hoping to release it.
For me, that moment of release it never came. And reliving pain from the past was, frankly, exhausting and dispiriting.
I finally got impatient and started looking for something else. And that’s when I stumbled across coaching.
It’s not that coaching doesn’t include the past. It does.
But coaching helps me realize the thought errors from my past, the thoughts that I was thinking that kept me from achieving my goals.
Once I recognized those thought errors, I could change them. Not necessarily to the perfect thought. But to a thought that moved me closer to my goal.
For example, I had an emotionally abusive, narcissistic father. My childhood was spent cowering in fear.
I can’t change that childhood experience. And I don't want to pretend that it was an acceptable experience.
But years of focusing on my victimhood kept me as a victim.
When I realized that other options were available to me, for example, “Wow, I must have been really strong to survive that and still succeed in life,” I suddenly felt empowered instead of victimized.
That thought allowed me to focus on my strengths without needing to change my past.
I don’t know about you, but my life experience is a hell of a lot better when I feel powerful instead of victimized.
Somehow, without doing other work, relationships have become easier in my life. I have more close friends and a thriving romantic partnership. I almost never shout at my kids anymore. I am slowly gaining confidence in stating my opinions and sharing my needs. Authentically and vulnerably. Even with my children.
Some days, I barely recognize the person I have become. But I am overwhelmed with gratitude by my life these days.
Where would you like to take back your power in your life? Set up a complimentary life coaching session to experience the transformation that is available to you.
The makers of Mamaroo and Rockaroo baby swings, 4moms, report that the straps of the two swings hang down when not in use, posing a strangulation risk.
One ten-month-old has died by strangulation and another had bruising on his neck after being rescued from entanglement by his caregiver.
Owners of the swing are advised to keep the swing where mobile infants can’t access it, and to contact the company to receive a free strap fastener. Known purchasers will be contacted directly by the company and consumers can also contact the company at 877-870-7390 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Likewise, back in June, 13 infants were reported to have died over the last 12 years in Fisher Price Infant-to-Toddler rockers while sleeping in them.
Infant car seats are safe for babies to sleep but only while they are installed in the car seat base. Unfortunately for parents everywhere, once the infant car seat is removed from its base, the baby should be moved from the seat to a flat surface for sleep.
Babies should always sleep A) alone, B) on their backs, C) in a crib or other approved flat surface, as per the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Worried about how you’ll get your baby to sleep without the use of inclined surfaces? You are not alone. Schedule a free consult and we’ll get your baby, well, sleeping like a bay.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.