Living By Heart: Hope for the Pressured Parent


"Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart." -Robert Tizon

“Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart.”
-Robert Tizon


This post was inspired on a gorgeous day during my children’s spring vacation. After helping my youngest daughter apply sunscreen, I sat in a lawn chair as my children did cartwheels and played ball. That’s when it suddenly occurred to me—maybe I’ve been too hard on myself. Maybe I’ve been too hard on my children. And maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t have to be so hard.


What If

What if it is more about applying sunscreen to their tender noses and less about applying pressure to succeed?

What if it’s less about extracurricular activities, test results, and flash cards and more about bedtime stories, picnics in the yard, and seeing the world from the top of a swing?

What if it’s less about pursuing perfection and more about embracing flaws?


Hope for the Pressured Parent


What if it’s less about the number of goals scored and more about how many affirming words come from our lips?

What if it’s less about playing the notes in tune and more about playing them from the heart?


Hope for the Pressured Parent


What if it’s more listening, less lecturing?

What if it’s more observing, less dictating?

What if it’s more rest, less rush?


Hope for the Pressured Parent


What if it’s less about taking extravagant trips and more about taking every opportunity to know them as people?

What if it’s less about elaborate gifts and more about small, daily gestures of love?

What if it’s less about being first to cross the finish line and more about being the one who stops to help the fallen?


Hope for the Pressured Parent


What if it’s less about what it looks like and more about the fact they did it by themselves?

What if it’s less about measuring up to their peers and more about baring the colors of their soul?

What if it’s less about who’s right and more about forgiveness when wronged?




What if less about what the “experts” say and more about the fact you’ve looked into those eyes since the day they were born?

What if it’s less about complicated theories and more about plain and simple love?

What if it’s not written in a book, but written on the heart of each individual child—how to parent, that is.


Hope for the Pressured Parent


Truthfully, I don’t know. But something tells me if I made it more about our love, our trust, and our faith and less about their opinion, their beliefs, and their standards, I could breath easier. And my child could breathe easier.

Then maybe one day we’ll look back, my grown child and I, and we’ll celebrate the way we navigated life—not by following mainstream society, but by letting our hearts be our guide.

So until that day comes, I’ll cover her with a good dose of sunscreen and unconditional love.

And go easy on all the other stuff.


Hope for the Pressured Parent




Although I planned to publish this post yesterday, I decided to wait until I could include something about the courageous men, women, and children affected by the tragic Boston Marathon explosions.  Confronting issues head-on is not my forte, so instead I will let my fingers type what’s on my heart. The following message is in honor of those experiencing unfathomable pain and loss  …

in honor of those affected by Boston Marathon explosions #handsfreemama

What If

What if it’s more about courageously putting one foot in front of the other and less about how fast you can run?

What if it’s more about encouraging a stranger at mile 18 and less about beating your personal record?

What if it’s more about hearing your family’s cheers from the sidelines and less about blisters and self-doubt?

What if it’s more about feeling alive beneath a cloudless blue sky and less about a list of lifetime achievements?

What if it’s more about the tenacity of the human spirit and less about those who try to break it? 

In honor of the runners, the supporters, and the first responders at the Boston Marathon on April 15, I’m putting one foot in front of the other. Perhaps I will even run. Because today I can, and that’s what they did.  I hope you will join me in their honor. 


*Friends, what really matters in life has suddenly become so clear. In times like these, I am reminded why I MUST live by heart – and allow my children the same privilege. Thank you, dear friends of The Hands Free Revolution, for reading and sharing my writings so others can join us in letting go to grasp what matters in this one precious life.



    • 4


      Julie, I am so thankful that you took the time to leave this lovely note and direct me to your blog. I was truly blown away by your latest post. You are an inspiration — not only for what you have overcome, but because of who you are. Your authenticity and writing style is so welcoming. I know I could get lost in your blog. I plan to spend some time tonight soaking up your wisdom and eloquence.

  1. 5

    Jen says

    Yes! I strongly believe that! In this outcomes driven world we live in, we are forgetting the significance of the journey, and the qualities needed to get to the outcomes. My son was “kid of the week” and brought home a large paper which had what each child had said about him in big bold type. The one that made my heart sing the most? “He is KIND”.

    • 6


      Oh yes, Jen. We are so on the same page. Kindness and compassion … two of the qualities I most admire in people and hope to see in my children. I thank you for commenting each week and sharing the journey with me.

  2. 7

    Autumn says

    I have been following your blog for awhile now. I LOVE it! I try not to “wish I had done it different” with my kids…I was always so busy rushing what’s next that I missed a lot. Once I realized that, I slowed down, I enjoy my kids so much. They are “almost” grown (21 and 16 now) and for the last 10 months I have been working out of town and only seeing them on weekends. Although it has done us a lot of good, they have had to grow up quite a bit and I’ve had to learn to let go a little, we cherish every minute we have together now. We’ve learned that it’s more about sitting together on the couch, cooking a meal together, 5 minutes on the phone, even shopping at Walmart and less about what’s waiting for us to do and accomplish!

    • 8


      Thank you for sharing your experience, Autumn. I am so inspired by my readers! I love how you point out that even brief moments of time together can be memorable and connective if we are present during those durations. It is so true! That notion really makes me feel hopeful about life.

  3. 9

    Angie Pflum says

    I look forward each week to your blog. Your words never disappoint and always inspire me. Thank you for sharing your writing gift with the world!

    • 10


      Thank you, Angie. I am grateful to hear you say that. I veered off my usual story-telling path this week because I felt so lead by the questions that plagued me that day as I watched my girls play in the sunshine. I’ve been a poetry writer since I was a little girl. I love to write poems so it was nice to be able to do something different this week. I am so happy to know you found value in this message. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me!

  4. 11

    Catherine says

    Again, another terrific post! Even though my kids are
    11,14 & 17, navigating through high school and
    planning for college and the next chapter of their life,
    your posts always help to put things in perspective – thank you!!!!!!

    • 12


      Thank you for sharing, Catherine! I am so inspired that people from varying backgrounds and circumstances visit my blog and find value in the messages. I believe that hearing different perspectives and experiences is just another way to grow and learn along this life-changing journey. I hope my children and I can focus on “living by heart” throughout the childhood, teenage, and college years, as well. Goodness knows, I am full grown and still must make an conscious choice each moment to live by heart and not by societal standards. Thank you for sharing!

  5. 13

    Amy B says

    I have been reading your posts for some time now and am nearly always moved to tears. I am terribly guilty of being a “task oriented” person and catch myself choosing to do “something” (clean the house, pay a bill, write an email) over spending time with my precious 7 and 3 year olds. Every time I read your blog I am reminded of what is truly important in my life, and I remember to give thanks and to go hug my guys. And let the housework alone. I hope that someday (soon) I will not have to think about making that choice, but that it will be the automatic one. Keep writing. We need you!

    • 14


      Amy, this means so much to me! I understand what you mean about being task-orientated, and although I am far from being “cured,” it has gotten a lot easier for me to let go of things as I continue my Hands Free journey. Writing about being mindful of my daily choices to grasp what matters helps me stay the course. So as long as I am able, I will write and share my journey. I just love having companions who share their experiences and provide such lovely encouragement! Thank you so much for being here!

  6. 15

    Jen says

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder today. For some reason, I always get caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” even though it really isn’t important to me. I find myself comparing my kids to their peers and obsessing over their performance in school and extracurriculars. This terrifies me as I see kids being pressured to grow up too fast. This is sad and not the way it should be. I hope by reading your encouraging words, I’ll be able to take a step back from the crazy pressure I put on myself and my kids and reevaluate my priorities. Thank you!

    • 16


      Thank you, Jen. It is so promising that you have awareness about this topic and know that you want to work on it. That is really huge. I feel like having awareness is the biggest step in changing a behavior or perspective. I am so thankful you find value in my messages and want to share this journey with me.

  7. 19

    Jenn P. says

    Your words touch my heart and soul in the most amazing way, and remind me to look at my two young children with a little more love, and patience. Thank you for sharing your gift 🙂

  8. 21

    Amber says

    I love you Rachel. Thank you for giving hope in these dark times. It seems as though the world is so full of evil, and scary things. I feel so overwhelmed as a parent of 3 little ones, and wonder how I could ever possibly raise them in this world. I’m so afraid. My oldest is about to start school and I am a mess. I’m afraid to let her out of my sight in case something bad happens. I know I cannot be like this. I know I cannot control EVERYTHING like I want to. I know I have to let go…a little! 🙂 I love coming to your blog. You always say the right things and it never gets old. It’s so wonderful to know that I can come to your blog and feel uplifted. Feel hope…as a parent, and for my children. Hope is a beautiful thing. Thanks for giving it amongst the darkness in the world. thank you thank you, thank you. I hope you never stop blogging. You help remind us all of what matters most, and to stay focused. xo Amber

    • 22


      Thank you for sharing your heart, Amber. I experienced the same feelings when my first child entered kindergarten. I have been relieved to discover that although she is gone for 7 hours of the day, I am still the biggest influence in her life. I pray that by continuing to invest time and presence into our relationship, I can maintain this closeness we share. While I cannot protect my children from bad things happening, I can do all I can to equip them with knowledge and education, which I think is a form of protection. Have you read my post, “Letting Go to Grow”? I think it will resonate with you:

  9. 27

    Ellen says

    Once again, you are spot-on in your observations. there is a documentary available I think you and many of your followers would be interested in, Rachel. it is called “Race to Nowhere”, and the subject is how our achievement oriented culture is so damaging to kids. You could get more info by googling. I haven’t seen it, but plan to order it. I also wonder if you would be interested in reading an essay I wrote entitled, “Why I dread school awards night.” it is not for the easily offended, but I would love your opinion as someone who worked in special Ed. Keep up the good work…!

  10. 29

    Tannah says

    A post is going around to run in honor of Boston on 4.20.13 at noon. No matter how far or how fast, just run…run to show support, honor and love 🙂 Thank you for your beautiful words…today, and every day before and after.

  11. 33

    NOVA Mommy_2 says

    You continue to inspire me. I found your blog through a friend who shared one of your posts on FB. I look forward to each and every post you put up and it speaks to me every time. I have shared so many of your posts with my friends on FB and it seems like each time you touch me so deeply. Today’s post resonated and I couldn’t agree with you more. I love everything about what you say and do, so uplifting and encouraging. It seems on my hardest days of parenting, you pop up in my email inbox with just what I needed. Thank you.

    • 34


      Wow. This truly makes me have happy tears in my eyes. I am so grateful to know all these things. It really means so much. Thank you for sharing my posts. That is truly the greatest compliment and gift a writer can receive. Thank you for taking the time to tell me.

  12. 35

    Geraldine says

    I’m so glad I found your page… have wisdom far beyond your years. Beautifully written and your message is so clear. I would love to have had your blog to read when I had my head stuck in the quicksand during the early years when my children were little; there always seemed to be a constant pressure to move on from the lovely moments too quickly. So….. lingering and less rushing on through our lives and our children’s lives is the way to go. Enjoy 🙂

  13. 36

    Angie says

    I don’t comment often, but I am ALWAYS inspired when I read your posts! It is so often “just the right thing at the right time”! Thank you for sharing your gift with us!
    I am a mother of four amazing kiddos! Two are in their middle teens and two are toddler/preschool age! I learned A LOT about how NOT to parent with my older two, but was still a little fuzzy on how TO parent. Your posts help me put a lot of it in the right perspective. I am trying to make up for “lost time” with my older two, and trying to enjoy the time with my younger two, instead of rushing them to “grow up”.
    God bless you, Rachel!

    • 37


      Thank you, Angie! I feel like I receive a gift each time someone shares encouraging words like the ones you have given me today. It is so comforting to know we are all in this together trying to find our way … letting our hearts be our guide. Thanks for taking the time to share such loving words.

  14. 39

    Connie says

    I love all your posts…but try not to respond to all of them so as not to appear a stalker! 🙂

    However, this one I had to respond to because it is how I KNOW it should be and yet I still get caught every now and again in what “they” say.

    My daughter is 5 and I read EVERYTHING before she was born and then even more after she was born. What products I should use, how to feed her, when to get her to sleep, what things I should use to stimulate her mind…and almost had a complete breakdown by the time she was about 3 months old when I realized I couldn’t possible do it all their way!!! So I quit reading everything and realized I always knew what to do in my heart and things got better.
    I still forget sometimes and get caught up in others ideas of how to raise a “perfect” child but I find my way back more quickly now. I know that sometimes I need the advice of others or their reassurance but I try to always remember that my heart knows the ultimate right way to go and if I take all the good advice and filter it thru we will both be better off.

    Thanks for being a good place to help my heart check in!

    • 40


      I love your approach, Connie … “I know that sometimes I need the advice of others or their reassurance but I try to always remember that my heart knows the ultimate right way to go and if I take all the good advice and filter it thru we will both be better off.” Yep. I find the most useful insights come from real parents. I learn much by listening to the experiences and wisdom of others. That is precisely why I love this community so much and cherish all the comments left here. Thank you so much for leaving a comment. And just for the record, no one could ever comment too much on this blog! Everyone’s words are such a source of fuel and encouragement to me!

      • 41

        Connie says

        Thank you so much Rachel! Just know that you are a great filter for me and my approach and that I am totally stalking you even when I don’t comment!!! 🙂

  15. 42


    I want to thank you, dear friend, for not only how inspiring your blog is, but for the care you give to your readers. I have an idea of how much you have on your plate these days and to write so many personal responses is truly impressive. You are such a beautiful person inside and out – this is just another of the reasons why I love a friend I’ve never met in person (but that WILL change one day!)

    • 43


      Hello, my friend! Gosh, you have made me get teary with this message today. Thank you for the note of appreciation for responding to my readers. When I converse with a friend I try to be mindful about whether or not I am talking too much; I want to listen as much as I talk. Maybe that is why I love the comments so much. It is like having a conversation — rather than just me monopolizing the conversation! I love to hear everyone’s thoughts and experiences. So much to learn from each other in this precious life. Each comment is a blessing to me. I can’t wait to meet you in person and give you the biggest hug ever. Thank you for making my day, as usual, with your eloquence and heartfelt sentiments.

  16. 44

    Ramona says

    Amen! Keep this blog going! Wonderful words to live by. La Leche League helped me in so many more ways than nursing babies. They helped me become this kind of mom. My “babies” are 19, 22 and 25 now and amazing young adults. Parenting is a tough job. Always follow your heart, always. Always keep loving them and praying for them; always go in and look at them when they are sleeping as long as they live at home.

  17. 45

    Jen says

    Love, love LOVE this! You spoke right to my perfectionist heart with this one. And believe me, it hasn’t been one of my finer Mommy days. I was way too connected to my phone looking for updates on the various tragedies unfolding right now instead of playing Lightning McQueen with my 5 y/o. Then when rushed to ‘help’ him make a birthday card for his friend, I found myself bubbling with impatience over how ‘imperfect’ it was, rather than just encouraging and celebrating his creativity and independence. So many times your words run in a ticker strip in the back of my brain, but it’s not always easy to stop the train wreck I become when I lapse into old ways. Thank you for giving me the tools I need to be the parent I want to be. You are a gift.

  18. 46

    Laura says

    Thank you so much for this. My grandma reads your posts and always forwards them on to me because she knows they’ll uplift me and inspire me in my life as a mother. I appreciate your insights and I am using a part of this essay in my talk in Church on Sunday. (Giving you credit, of course.) Thanks!

  19. 48

    Jen HARBOUR says

    Love this post….. It is all about the heart! Just need the reminder often! Would be so much easier if we followed my 4th graders advice….. Move away from everyone, where its just us…. Homeschool him and sister, and spend all our time together just keeping it simple!


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