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Winter's desolate and bare landscape fools us into thinking that no growth is going on. Yet we know it is. We know that the roots are growing deeper and stronger by the nourishment underneath. Those roots ground the plant to express their fruits in the spring. If they don't get the nourishment they need the plants may die or not produce much fruit. However, if you fertilize and water, they will respond more often than not.

My gardening experiences have taught me a lot about plants and people. Like many gardeners, I've learned from my mistakes and transformed those into better ways to garden. Nature is very forgiving. I can't tell you how many times I either watered too much or not enough. Once I stopped both, my plants came back to life. Likewise, as we understand and practice the stress model principles, our roots get nourished and grow stronger. The miracle is that this can happen even if we weren't nourished in our childhood. As we become stronger and more understanding of our human-ness, we can pass this on to our children, who can stress a saint.

Luckily we don't have to be saints to give them the love and care that they need.

We vacillate between winter and spring as we have good days practicing breathing and staying in a calm place. Then just when we think we've got it, revert back to old reactive behavior patterns. It is important to understand for ourselves and our children that relapse is a natural part of the process of change.

The brain has a bias to never forget negative things. This makes new learning more fragile. If we keep stressing over our relapses then we are triggering our brains to secrete more stress hormones which increase our reactivity. So, when we or our children mess up we need to go deeper into the understanding that the stress model offers us.

Breathe more. Stop! Think! In our slowed down state we can then ask the following questions:

How long has it been since this behavior happened? Did it used to happen 10 times a day and now it is down to 4? That is success! Celebrate! Remember from a blame-based reactive place our thinking gets confused and distorted and short-term memory becomes suppressed.

Become an 'amygdala whisperer', beginning with your own. Remember, the amygdala is more involved with traumatic learning and can override the hippocampus. The hippocampus, helps with new learning. When information goes through the hippocampus it needs time to 'gel' in order to become part of long-term memory. Once the information has made its way into long-term memory, it goes to the cortex and the rest of the brain.

As long as there is no danger the hippocampus and cortex can run thing pretty well. That is when we are all on our best behavior: loving, calm, and relaxed. But let the amygdala perceive a threat whether it is real, imagined, comes from a memory, or the unconscious, it takes over and trauma overrides what we know. Behavior becomes fear-based and reactive. Out the window goes our thinking, language, and logic.

When regulation comes back we know we knew better. This is the time to nurture your roots in the winter of your discontent with yourself and your children. This is the time to reach out for a safe other to bring you comfort and care that you will get through this and live to show the beauty within, just like your challenging children.

Winter comes to pass and naturally turns into spring. Compassion, patience, and understanding, will, through practice transform our reactivity to response-ability. For this is true: you are doing the most noble and difficult work on the planet: raising other human beings. Blessings to you all.

Deborah Chelette-Wilson is a relationship coach, authoress and speaker whose powerful message for women is "It's time to stop waiting for permission to be all that we can be(without being a bitch about it)." Her inspiring message helps women harness their personal power, find peace within and become part of the shift in creating healthier and more loving relationships, beginning with the one with their self. In order to honor someone else's heart you must first honor your own.

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