What’s Your Type?

nine personality types on blackboardThe Enneagram is a robust system of personality, self-awareness and personal growth. As parents, we are challenged daily to grow ourselves into our best selves so as to meet the developing needs of our children in a peaceful and loving manner. The Enneagram can offer a path out of ineffective parenting patterns such as reacting to children with shortness, yelling and using punishments.  Once you identify your core personality type, it can be studied, practiced and incorporated into one’s behaviors to show up for our children and the rest of our lives with more grace and effectiveness.

The Enneagram is different from more commonly known personality typing tools, like the Meyer’s Briggs, because it provides more than a static snapshot or box that people fit into in terms of their tendencies and behaviors.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality system which aims to capture the 9 personality types present in the human family. The types include The Reformer (1), The Giver (2), The Achiever (3), The Individualist (4), The Investigator (5), The Loyalist (6), The Enthusiast (7), The Challenger (8) and The Peacemaker (9). The names of the personality types come from the ways in which each type attempts to make its mark on the world, and respond to its need for love and recognition. Each type behaves in specific ways to gain approval and earn the love that we all seek as human beings, starting from a young age.

In addition to providing a current view of how a person is behaving, the Enneagram system is built upon the idea that personalities, and people, evolve over time. The more a person knows about him/herself and his/her behaviors, takes conscious action to untangle misconceived ideas about love and belonging, and becomes fully self-accepting, self-realized and effective in the world, the more each type evolves to become their highest self.

I came across the Enneagram many years ago when I was having challenges in a relationship and at work, with people who often seemed to speak a different language than I did in their behaviors and assumptions.

At that time, my father had just passed away and I had just begun the arduous journey of becoming an inner city public high school teacher. I was under stress and was typed as an Enneagram 4 — the Individualist. I was withdrawn, focused on how different I was from others, and often assumed that no one else saw the same issues and problems that I saw in the same ways.

I came to realize when I began my coaching program two years ago, that I had been mis-typed. Each Enneagram personality not only has a type that we evolve to, but also a type that we go to under stress. I am actually an Enneagram Type 1, the Reformer. The Reformer is concerned with doing the right thing, serving people, and is very values and ethics-based with decision-making.

All personality types have wonderful qualities, but they also have patterns which can create problems, especially around self-criticism and perfectionism.

It is my self-development work to evolve to a Type 7, The Enthusiast, to overcome my patterns and assumptions about people and how to go about gaining love. In fact, when one evolves to their highest self/type using the Enneagram system as a tool, life no longer is about approval and seeking love from the outside, but rather about being true to oneself, living from a place of deep authenticity, integration, peace and flow.


How Will You Care for Yourself This Year?

Kiran Gaind, Integral Coach

Kiran Gaind, Integral Coach for Modern Moms

As a mom of two kids under age 5, I know how hard it can be to take care of yourself on a regular basis. And I don’t mean taking a shower or brushing your teeth. I mean something I call “self-care” — practicing self-nurturing and self-development. It may seem like the only people who engage in these practices are single people who are unaffected by the stresses of modern parenthood. But what about modern moms? Why is it so outrageous for us to be engaged in regular self-care practices?

It’s a mindset issue. With the pressure on to parent more meticulously than ever before, a mom’s success is often judged by how much she does for her kids: how many activities, how many nutritious meals, how well they are doing in their development. And once a mom addresses these bars for success, usually the expectation and message is … give just a bit more. Give it all away, and you are doing something right. WRONG.

a mom’s success is often judged by how much she does for her kids:

In our type-A Silicon Valley culture, taking time for yourself is cast as a luxury, but, in fact, it is necessary in order to remain healthy within our fast-paced way of life. The thought that a mom’s need for nurturance and development might come before her child’s often does not seem appropriate. But the more a mom cares for herself and continues her own development, the better she will parent because her efforts will not come from a place of worry and exhaustion.

Here are five ideas for moms to implement to help them feel more cared for, grounded and committed to their own development and nurturance.

1. Regular Exercise and Healthy Nutrition

So many moms have told me that they just don’t exercise anymore. They don’t have time. I understand that and know how hard they work to make the pieces fit together each day. But leaving out exercise is a recipe for diseases and a shorter life expectancy. We all want to watch our kids grow and to know and participate in our grandkids’ lives. So we have to take care of ourselves, and exercise is the most important element of a self-care program!

And our area has many excellent exercise offerings that include childcare options. For example, the YMCA of Silicon Valley offers a family membership that includes free childcare, and the Oshman Family JCC, in Palo Alto, is offers childcare to members at $6/hour for children older than 1. The facilities are state-of-the-art, and it has an amazing kid’s pool.

We all want to watch our kids grow and to know and participate in our grandkids’ lives.

You don’t have to spend money on a membership to exercise regularly, though. Combining a walk or run with a few situps and pushups at least three times a week works, too. After your cardio, do a couple sets of pushups, situps, squats, lunges and planks before jumping in the shower; this will give you a great overall workout—all for free! There are also many excellent free workout videos online.

If you are exercising yet still find yourself battling other issues, such as sugar cravings or other poor eating habits, you might want to consider seeing a health coach who can guide you in making a plan to eat in a more healthful way.

Kristen Kancler is a holistic nutrition coach, emotional eating expert and natural foods chef based in Los Altos who works with people one-on-one and in groups. She also offers a free recipe e-book of recipes at her site.

2. Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga

Mindfulness has become much more common in our culture over the past few decades, thanks to the work of people like John Kabat-Zinn and research at the Compassion Center at Stanford, among many other important forces.

Ten minutes of mindfulness meditation per day can make a big difference during challenging moments—as well as increase your overall sense of well- being, groundedness and self-acceptance. Locally, you can get free instruction at the Insight Mindfulness Meditation Center in Redwood City

Yoga is an effective method of slowing down the mind and opening up the body to prepare for meditation.

Yoga is an effective method of slowing down the mind and opening up the body to prepare for meditation. There are countless local yoga options, including a wonderful Mind, Body and Spirit group just for moms at the JCC. There are also many excellent yoga DVDs.

3. Listening Partnership

The idea behind a listening partnership is that all parents need to offload their feelings, stress, past experiences, and so on, with another caring parent who also needs to release the same tensions. Whatever emotions are clouding the parent from experiencing the present moment and effectively parenting by connection can be removed and processed in a healthy, supportive manner. The conversations that listening partners have with one another are different than simple venting or responding to another parent’s feelings with stories of one’s own feelings and experiences.

Hand in Hand Parenting, a nonprofit in Palo Alto, helps facilitate these partnerships. You can also sign up for the organization’s Yahoo! group, and request a listening partner there.

4. Gratitude Journal

We become what we most often focus our minds on. With that principle in mind, establishing a gratitude journaling practice creates the environment, momentum and mental states for us to enjoy and appreciate all that we work so hard to build and create.

Each morning, set a timer for 10 minutes, and write about what you are grateful for and how you hope to express that gratitude throughout your day. If you journal at the end of your day, you can write about what happened during the day that you are grateful for.

Do this every day, even for five minutes, and you will be amazed at how different your day is and how much better you feel, as a person and as a mom.

5. Walking in Nature

Spending time in nature is one of the most important ways we can recharge our batteries and reset our minds and spirits to focus on the bigger picture and all that matters most. Teaching kids to enjoy nature is also important. Although heading to the park with the kids is a good practice, what I mean here is taking time to walk and be in nature, at least once a week.

In Palo Alto, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is a great place for walking, picnicking and enjoying nature. Other good options include Mountain View’s Shoreline and Cupertino’s Stevens Creek County Park.

Kiran Gaind is a life coach for modern parents and the owner of Ray of Light Coaching. Drop her a line any time at Kiran@rayoflightcoaching.com.

5 Self Care Suggestions for Busy Parents

Ever since having my child I have needed to be extra conscious about taking care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. The weeks I fall off the self care wagon are harder – I have less patience, less compassion, working from a cup half empty than full. How do I take care of myself? There are a few MUSTS for me every week and month. I wanted to share these with you and ask all the hard working parents out there – what are you doing to take care of yourself on a regular and consistent basis? What would your energy levels and ability to parent be like if you were doing more? If your self care plan needs a little pick me up, use this list for ideas and get started today! The better you care for yourself, the better you’ll care for your loved ones, and the more your kids will learn how to take care of themselves when it’s their turn :).

1.) See a network chiropractor every week.
I see Aidan Kinsella of Verve Chiropractic (http://www.yelp.com/biz/verve-wellness-studio-san-francisco) in the Mission district of SF. She has helped me to change my relationship to my body and life, has helped to alleviate all the pain I experienced after I gave birth to my daughter, and has supported me in fulfilling many of my goals and dreams as a new Mom. If you’ve tried traditional chiropractic, this type of practice is very different. It’s much more gentle and it is appropriate for EVERYONE. If you are interested in releasing those kinks and pains in your neck, back, hips and shoulders, if you know there is a profound relationship between your body’s optimal functioning and your optimal functioning, check this care out. I can’t say enough great things about Aidan and the care she provides. IT will become a regular part of your care routine, so be warned, hard to resist. And it’s affordable!

2.) Exercise every day, in the way your body is asking.
Some days I go to the pool and “workout” with the older folks in Aqua Fit class. Others, I pop in a Turbo Jam DVD and get my kick boxing groove on in our building’s carpeted gym. And others I go to Zumba. I try to change it up and listen to what my body and heart are asking for that day. The main point is to MOVE, sweat and fill my lungs with air at least 5 times per week. Are you taking care of your body’s need for cardio, even if it’s going out for a walk? If you keep it varied, keep it simple based on what’s available to you each day, right inside or outside your own home, the chances of your getting to exercise will increase.

3.) Cook Your Own Food During the Week, Ahead of Time When Possible
Ever since I lost the baby weight by following a high lean protein, low to no carb diet this past Spring, I have learned to love cooking at home and eating really healthy foods. That way I know what’s in it and I can cook ahead of time, or stick with quick, easy to prepare foods during the week. Cooking and eating this way all week allow me to feel more free to have freedom on the weekends when we tend to be out and about, at parties and restaurants, more frequently.

4.) Go see an Acupuncturist
I currently see my old friend Juan Carlos Collins in San Francisco every 3 weeks for regular acupuncture and fertility-related acupuncture. I have also visited Daniela Freda in the Castro District for fertility-related treatments. Both of them are amazing. I try to make this part of my monthly self care, whether I am trying to conceive or not. The rest I get on the table is deeper than any other, and I can feel my digestion, energy and overall functioning improve after a treatment. The herbs are also an integral part of my self care routine.

5.) Meditate, Visualize and Journal
I attempt to meditate, visualize and journal once per day for a total of 20-30 minutes, in the morning when I’m lucky, or at any other time of day that my schedule allows, but morning is preferable for me. If everyday just isn’t happening, I shoot for five times per week, like cardio. I do various types of meditations, mostly centering, grounding, body scans and breath awareness. I do a standard journal exercise everyday and some weeks or months may expand these practices to include vision boards, communication practices with key people in my life, and other practices to help me reach my goals. I often supply these exercises to my coaching clients, which we discuss in our ongoing sessions.

These are my big 5 ways I take care of myself on a regular basis. I could not be the person I want to be, feel full up enough to care for my family and clients, or achieve my goals without these regular practices.

What about you? What allows you to follow through on self care? What stands in your way? How can you find the support to bring these into your life more regularly?

Please share!

Getting My Body Back After Baby

Becoming pregnant and having a baby were by far the biggest blessings of my life. However, the process of being pregnant, having a child and then bouncing back physically has been one of the most difficult processes I can remember.

When I became pregnant in October 2008, it took only a few months until I would walk by a mirror and literally not recognize (or like very much!) what I saw looking back. I had been in great shape prior to getting pregnant as we were readying for our wedding and got pregnant the weekend after. I went from feeling strong and confident about the shape I was in to, as a pregnant mama, feeling bloated, exhausted, and by the end, huge. I put on a total of 40 pounds during my pregnancy. I lost control over what I ate and didn’t exercise except walking and yoga because whenever I tried to, it didn’t feel right because my body got too hot making me feel it was unsafe for the baby, so I gave up on it. Yoga helped relieve tension in my body so I stuck with that. Continue Reading