Six weeks ago my eight-year-old daughter was fitted with a palatal expander to address several dental issues. In the four visits we’ve had to the orthodontist, one thing never fails to happen. My daughter pauses at the BEFORE and AFTER bulletin board and studies every bright smile, every straightened tooth, every hope-filled gap. As we enter and before we leave, my child stops to study the transformations as I stand beside her quietly. Along this Hands Free journey I’ve learned there are times when I must not rush my child. Standing in front of the BEFORE and AFTER display is one of those times. I let my Noticer look until she is ready to move on.
At home I am required to take a tiny pin key (pictured above) and stick it into minuscule hole inside the expander. My daughter dutifully opens her mouth as wide as it will go, allowing me to see inside the dark cavern of her mouth. From there, I slowly turn the wheel downward until the next hole appears.
As I turn the wheel her upper dental arch expands by a hair. A single hair. You would not think a hair of expansion would hurt, but it does. My child presses her hands against her nose in an effort to relieve the pain. Although there are often tears, she is always brave. I can’t be sure, but I think my daughter imagines the AFTER picture during this process. She knows there is a reason for this pain. And although the transformation cannot be seen as it is happening, someday it will be seen. And perhaps those beginning their own transformations will find inspiration from her BEFORE and AFTER photos.
Around the time my daughter got her expander, I received a heartbreaking e-mail message from a blog reader with an especially challenging question. “Everything is broken in life—my marriage, my relationships with my children, my feelings about myself. Where do I start when there is so much to repair?” the reader asked desperately.
I was not able to form an answer to this dear reader for many weeks. It wasn’t until my child and I stood at the BEFORE and AFTER display most recently that I knew what I would tell this woman yearning to bring joy and connection back to her life.
I would say this:
Where do you start when there is so much to repair? My friend, you have already begun. Those painful words you typed while your hands shook—that was your first step. You have taken that painful look inward to acknowledge action is needed. You opened wide even though you knew it might hurt to see the true state of the situation. But this is where the transformation, the repair, and the healing begin. Those little tiny turns, those fraction-of-a-hair movements you will make to become more present and more connected will someday make up the AFTER version of yourself. My friend, you have already begun. Let us take the next small steps.
It was my own painful look inward, my own difficult truths that served as the starting point of my Hands Free journey. And if I had to suggest six small adjustments or steps for this woman to incorporate in her daily routine, I would choose these:
1) Go public – Announce your intentions to family members or a trusted friend to increase accountability. A public declaration might sound like this:
I am making an effort to refrain from using the phone while I am driving. I may need your gentle reminders. Would you help me?
I am making an effort to put away my devices from six o’clock to nine o’clock each night. Would you like to do this together?
I am making an effort to use a peaceful response in times of stress and overwhelm. Can you put your hand on your heart when I am hurting you with my words or tone as a reminder of my promise?
2) Give unrushed goodbyes – Before you separate, hold your loved ones for at least ten seconds. Hug them tightly. Inhale their scents. Tell them you love them no matter what happened before that goodbye. You will never regret giving a ten second goodbye, and the impact of this daily action on your relationships will be profound.
3) Make eye contact – Whenever loved ones walk into the room, put down whatever you are doing and show them you are happy to see them. This might mean stopping in the middle of reading a text message to smile and say hi. It might mean pausing while you are making dinner, watching a television show, or sending an e-mail to look into their eyes and greet them. Keep in mind, that unfinished task will be still be there in two minutes. Making it a habit to briefly pause and delight in your loved one’s presence is very beneficial to your relationship. As an added bonus, your children will learn an important social skill and common courtesy that is growing increasingly rare in our culture.
4) Act like the person you want to become – When I wanted to become a more patient person who slowed down to listen, I emulated my second grade teacher Ms. Paluska during critical moments with my loved ones. At bedtime, at mealtime, while out for a walk, and when they hopped in the car afterschool, I tried to consistently do what Ms. Paluska did: I smiled. I nodded. I asked thoughtful questions and listened. Over time, those critical moments of togetherness became “our time” and my loved ones looked forward to these undistracted daily rituals as much as I did.
5) Be kind to yourself – Start loving yourself “as is” by avoiding the mirror, posting positive notes from loved ones or inspiring quotes on the walls of your home, throwing on a hat before you go out instead of criticizing your appearance, or wearing a physical reminder like this bracelet that says, “Only Love Today”. By making it a habit to extend patience and kindness to yourself, you are better able to extend patience and kindness to others on a regular basis.
6) Recite a daily mantra or prayer when guilt and regret overwhelm you – When I began taking small steps to be more present in my life, I quickly realized how many precious moments I’d missed in my distracted state. Wallowing in regret was my natural tendency, but that only sabotaged the current moment as well. I wrote this mantra to help focus on what I could control:
Who I am becoming matters more than who I once was.
Today matters more than yesterday.
Incorporating these six small actions into my daily routine increased the opportunity to bond with family members and silence the inner critic that often sabotaged my moments that mattered. Through these actions, I began to know my loved ones by their book. I found what words healed, what words lifted, and what words strengthened the bond between us. This renewed connection became my anchor that helped me stay the course on my Hands Free journey even in times of doubt and challenge. Those six steps were integral to my initial transformation and are still in practice today, nearly five years later.
But just in case I needed one final confirmation that small, daily actions hold the power to transform, my child’s orthodontist provided it.
On our most recent office visit, the doctor peered into my daughter’s mouth and immediately noticed an improvement. “Wow! Look at this!” the doctor exclaimed excitedly.
I jumped up from my seat and looked in curiously. I hadn’t noticed any change as I turned the expander wheel religiously over the past several weeks. It was not until the doctor flashed the BEFORE picture on the screen that I could see the progress. Those fraction-of-a-hair movements were indeed making a difference! Looking back at where my child started made it possible to see the progress that had already occurred.
As my daughter and I made our way to the exit door, she made her usual stop at the BEFORE and AFTER display. “I wonder where they will put my picture,” she said surveying the board filled with satisfied patients.
She’d never said that before. Perhaps it was the first time she believed she would have a spot on this board. Maybe she couldn’t see it before, but after seeing her progress today, the future held real possibilities.
“There’s a Whole Foods around the corner,” I said as we buckled ourselves into the car. “Want to go for a treat?”
A look of concern crossed my child’s face. I knew she was thinking about getting back to school just like I’d briefly thought about the work I had yet to do. But within a few seconds the worry was replaced with look of joyful understanding. “Oh yeah! We need to celebrate, don’t we?”
A few minutes later we sat side by side as busy shoppers rolled past with their carts. My daughter appeared to be deep in thought as she picked off small bites of her pastry so it didn’t get stuck in her appliance.
“I couldn’t have done this by myself,” she said unexpectedly.
I almost asked for clarification, but I didn’t. I knew she was talking about the appliance in her mouth and me—me being there, all there, throughout the entire process. We both know there was a time in my life when I might have been there, but not in the way that mattered.
I immediately covered her hand with mine and recited a prayer of gratitude. Never had I been so thankful for fraction-of-a-hair movements that become anchors—anchors that fix crooked teeth and restore connections that once seemed beyond repair.
If you found the six small actions provided in this post to be helpful as you begin new Hands Free habits in 2016, please note that Hands Free Mama contains 50 “Hands Free Weekly Intentions” (strategies) to help you let go of distraction, perfection, regret, and pressure to grasp what really matters. My book also includes an in-depth description of all the steps I took to transform my distracted life into one of meaningful connection and inner peace. My second book, HANDS FREE LIFE, is filled with truthful storytelling and inspiring Hands Free Life Daily Declarations that can bring more peace, presence, and patience to your home and heart in 2016.
In addition, please consider this incredible opportunity to bring more simplicity, connection, and meaning to your life: A Simple Year: 12 Months of Guided Simplicity. I am one of nine simplicity authors who will be sharing wisdom designed to help you simplify your life throughout the 12 months of 2016. Along with inspiring and informative articles that will come right to your inbox, there will also be a live webinar each month where you can connect with the authors, ask questions and meet other people seeking to simplify their lives. Registration is open through January. All the information you need to know is here: Simple Year Course.
Lastly, for anyone in need of individualized guidance on a challenging life issue, there is hope. I am blessed to have two highly skilled colleagues who help me respond to my readers. Sandy and Theresa have kindly offered their contact information so you can reach out directly to them about issues you are facing:
If you feel like there should be something you can do to turn things around but you don't know what it is, feel lost, stuck or overwhelmed, contact: Sandy Blackard, parenting/life coaching: http://www.languageoflistening.com
If you feel hopeless like nothing you do will ever work, or if you or your child(ren) are experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, attention problems, self-inflicted injury, suicidal thoughts, or are simply wishing for healing, contact: Dr. Theresa Kellam, licensed psychologist: http://www.theresakellam.com
Thank you for being part of The Hands Free Revolution—letting go of distraction & perfection to live more & love more! Please share your thoughts & stories in the comment section. Each time we share our story, someone else feels a little less alone and a little more hopeful.
Genevieve OBrian says
I’ve already taken my boys to school. As I eat my oatmeal in the 30 minutes I have before my work begins, I open FB and read this. Thank God I haven’t yet put on my makeup because I’m all kinds of tearing up! Nothing is “broken” in my life. But we are facing big changes. Good ones, but scary ones. As most change is. And each and every word hit me like a rock. Thank you for these 6 golden nuggets. I will use these to help during our transitions. Thank you for helping me try to live a little more hands free (Certainly a work in progress). Thank you for bringing hope.
All my best,
Rachel Stafford says
Hi Genny, I so appreciate knowing this message came to you in the moment it was needed. This is fuel to my writer’s heart. Change is scary to me, too. I find that the months and days leading up to the change are often far worse than the change itself. I hope and pray that the 6 steps will bring some consistency and connection and will serve as an anchor through the transition. Thank you for being here.
Rachel, I simply adore your posts and your writing, but most of all I appreciate your endless kindness, generosity and hope that you offer to other parents. I’ve been in the situation of your reader, when I got divorced and remained with 3 years old and 3 months old sons completely alone, unable to give love and to receive love. But things do change and we do grow and become much stronger that before. And the first step is to acknowledge the reality with boldness and strength and to move forward, without regrets, to forgive yourself for your own weakness and to embrace whatever life still has to offer. I write about my experience in my blog as well and it is so relieving and purifying. Your faithful reader. Irina
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you for adding to the HOPE of this message by sharing your beautifully powerful perspective! It is a joy to know you share wisdom and inspiration on a regular basis. Thank you for that gift.
I thought of MC’s expander as nothing more than a nuisance when we were turning that tiny pin day after day. You have such a beautiful way of looking at life and transforming every day experiences into something so much more meaningful. Love that… and you. XO <3
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you for that lovely comment, Katrina! That means so much to me! I must admit, the first few weeks of the expander were rough and she was not the only one crying–but over time, the powerful lesson of the small turns divinely revealed itself. I feel so blessed to share it with people like you.
I recently started following your blog after always seeing a friend commenting on it on Facebook. It is very inspirational and this article especially has touched me and motivated me to make 2015 a better year. Your 6 tips are something I am going to try to make a part of my journey. Thank you.
Rachel Stafford says
Welcome to our supportive and positive community, Tracy! I am so glad you are here. Thanks for letting me know!
Jenny Johnston says
I do not know you, but I love you with all my heart. I have been reading your blog for about a year and I love it more each and every time. I hope you never, ever stop writing or posting.
I was rereading a post of yours and in the comments I read one post by a woman and it just broke my heart. She said, in a nut shell, that she wishes that she could stop reading your posts because it just is unobtainable to her (and she implied most people). She said that by you sharing your successes you are not helping anyone, but just fluffing your own self-esteem. She said that she wished you would stop writing and making people feel bad.
I know that you get hundreds, probably thousands, of positive comments, but if you are anything like me, that one negative can take hold sometimes. I just want to counter that comment with my own. Please, do not ever stop writing. There are lots of us out there who need your beautiful words to remind us to do the RIGHT thing when raising our children, and not take the easy way out (how we have been hard wired to parent). Your posts support me in knowing that I am doing the best I can to raise my children with as much love and caring as is physically possible. Your words go through my head when I want to yell or belittle….and I remember ONLY LOVE TODAY!
I also wanted to share something with you about your book. I never read your book because I wasnt sure I needed it. I do not use facebook, I use my phone as little as possible only for the calendar and to keep in touch with loved ones, and I homeschool my girls (ages 7 and 9) – they have more hands free mama time than most children, that is for sure!! My husband and I also have a strong relationship. We dont have a TV, and spend EVERY NIGHT after the girls go to bed, doing yoga and playing cribbage or yatzee together. I am telling you this because I want you to know that I did not think I would learn anything new from your book, but I wanted to read it anyway.
Fast forward 1 month…I am on my THIRD time reading through it. It is like a motivational bible for me. Reading a little of it daily helps me stay calm, happy, upbeat. Every single chapter is relevant for me, there is a take away each and every time I read through it. We spent our Christmas Break camping in Death Valley and your book was in my backpack for every single hike and in the tent every night. Even now, reading through it for a third time, I cry all the time. your writing is so beautiful and your girls are so lucky to have been blessed with you for their mom.
I cannot wait for your next book. You are a gift to the world and I value the part you play in my life. I appreciate the time you take to write your blog. As a fellow blogger (my blog is on the backburner right now!) I know the time and energy that goes into every post. But you are changing people, you are changing society and you are changing the world for our children’s children…..
Lots of love
Rachel Stafford says
Hi Jenny, your words are balm to my soul. I am so much better at handling the hateful, hurtful words than I used to be, but your incredibly kind and loving message made me cry. I remember that negative comment. I chose to publish it even though it crossed the line on respectful sharing of one’s opinion, but now I am so glad I did. As a result, I received your gift. It feels so comforting and affirming to hear someone say what you have said. It feels so comforting because you understand my heart and my intentions for sharing my journey. It truly is my desire to help others know there is a better way to live than simply existing. It hurts when someone says I am doing this for selfish reasons. Thank you for understanding why I do what I do and for articulating it in such a beautiful way. What you have written about my book truly blows me away and just makes me want to hug you! THANK YOU is not enough. You have been a true blessing in my life today and it is the kind of blessing that will impact my life indefinitely.
With love and gratitude, Rachel
Jennifer Niedzielski says
After reading your post and the comments I have to say I am in tears. I started a new job about 3 1/2 months ago and it is not going well. I left a job that I loved, and co-workers that I loved. I left only due to it being completely night shift and compensation. I left with the attitude that , money isn’t everything and I can just come back if it doesn’t work out. I had to find out if it was what I wanted. What I didn’t think about was what happens to me when I get unhappy. I eat more(I am already overweight) and I yell more (which makes me hate myself more) Now, with so much to do, it all becomes more overwhelming and I don’t have motivation to do anything. The steps you have given above and also from what the women above wrote about your book, this gives me hope. Each day can be better if I choose it too be. Also, what I realized in those moments of reading is I wait and parent until the day that my child says thank you to me for something. A moment in their lives that they were grateful to have me as their mother. Because, frankly…. I often think I really suck at being a mom. I live for that day and my life will be complete. I am ordering your book to help me get there. Thank you, Rachel.
Jenny Johnston says
Rachel, I am so moved by your words here and on my blog. Please, if you get a moment, I wrote you a response on my blog I would like you to read. It is on the comments of this post.
Have a beautiful day,
Kim D says
You know, as usual, things got busy for us over the holidays – I saw a couple of your blog posts come out and I convinced myself I didn’t have time to read them – but I NEEDED to read them. I felt myself falling back into old ways, old habits, old, yucky me over the holidays without your amazing reminders! I am diving back into the book, apologizing to my loved ones for the way I was behaving, and asking them to remind me of those times when I am not acting my best. I am putting my bracelet back on as a constant reminder – ONLY LOVE TODAY. Thank you for sharing your heart – you speak as if you are inside my head every time and I am so thankful that there is someone that can put it into words so much better than I ever could. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you for sharing this, Kim. You have touched on one of the greatest aspects of the Hands Free journey — no matter what happened yesterday, last month, or last year, it is never too late to begin again. Today is a new day — there is room for love, connection, presence, and peace if we open our hands and let it in.
Please send me your posts via email. Your writings both inspire and motivate me to keep moving and to become a better person.
Rachel Stafford says
Hi Sandy, thank you so much for your kind words and for wanting to receive my posts in your inbox. What a gift to me! If I could do it for you, I would! It only takes a moment, but you will need to go to the right side of my blog home page where there is a box that says “Subscribe to Posts.” (On a phone, the box is at the bottom of the page.) Put your email address in that box and be sure to confirm the subscription when you receive an email from Feedburner in your inbox. That is all! I post one new blog post a week and on The Hands Free Revolution FB page, I post a little excerpt M thru F. https://www.facebook.com/TheHandsFreeRevolution. You can like that page to see my new posts in your newsfeed. Thanks for joining this journey! Grateful for your presence.
Oh this post…so timely. I wrote you last year, right after my husband died of cancer. I read your posts regularly and find such comfort in them. I woke today feeling so alone, so lost, so beyond repair, about EVERYTHING – my relationship with my daughter, my body, my finances, myself in general. Reading this and your hopeful message helped me reconnect with simple things I can do today, now. Thank you for all you do.
Julie, I remember your post awhile ago. Thinking of you. You are not alone. X
Rachel Stafford says
Julie, I am so honored and grateful to know you are still here walking beside me on this journey. One thing I want to stress—something that may not come through in the post—is the significance of showing up, especially during trying times. Here is something I wrote about a month ago that perhaps will give you strength and comfort today. Bless you, dear one.
Maybe the best thing you could do right now is just sit with it awhile.
Maybe the bravest thing you could do right now is just decide this will not defeat you.
Maybe the most productive thing you could do right now is just fold your hands in solitude.
Maybe the most sensible thing you could do right now is just laugh … laugh in the face of it all.
Maybe the most powerful thing you could do right now is just close your eyes and envision a positive outcome.
Maybe the most loving thing you could do right now is just give yourself room to breathe.
Maybe the best thing to do right now looks like nothing at all.
But it’s not.
Because when you’re gathering hope,
When you’re gathering strength,
When you’re gathering resilience,
In the face of challenge and uncertainty,
Sometimes the best thing you can do right now
is just hold on.
© Rachel Macy Stafford 2014
Rachel – thank you for always taking the time to write blogs that make me pause, take a deep breath and focus on what is really important in my life vs what someone I work for may think is important. Months ago you wrote a post that really touched me about having your home be a safe harbor b/c the rest of the world can be mean enough. I can’t seem to find it. It made me realize that part of my struggle is b/c my home growing up wasn’t a safe harbor and that what I am really meant to do for my children is make sure their home is filled with love and joy, not with arguing and jealousy….do you know which blog I am thinking of? It may have been about siblings…as I remember thinking, if only my sister had showered me with kindness instead of jealously my whole life would have been different. Was feeling brave enough to share it with my mom to help her understand my choice to keep my distance.
Rachel Stafford says
Hi Nicole, I really appreciate your supportive and positive feedback about my blog and how it impacts you. This means so much to me! I know exactly which post you are talking about and I had to remove it because it is going to appear in another publication. I am happy to send you the word doc for your own personal use if you would like. If you are able to use my story to better communicate your feelings to your family, I would love to help you any way I can. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Much love and peace to you, friend.
Please tell your daughter that someday when her beautiful smile is on the after wall, it will be worth all the pain she has endured to get there. As a teenager, I had braces, spacers, teeth pulled, roots cut, you name it, for four long years to fix my messed up, teeth too big to fit my mouth, smile. As an adult, I am eternally grateful to my mom for making sure it got fixed. I’ve been told by several people that I have a wonderful smile and that my teeth look really nice. Compared to how they looked in my before pictures, I have to say they really do look so much better now. Braces and all that goes along with them are painful and difficult, but the end result, like any journey of self betterment is totally worth it. Btw, great metaphor to use. I so enjoy reading your blogs. I don’t have any kids of my own but I use your wisdom to improve myself and my relationship with my husband, and to be closer to my nieces and nephews who are very important to me. You really wouldn’t believe how much the thoughts I reflect on after reading your posts has helped me, not only with these relationships, but to stop myself from trying to be perfect and accept that less than that is A-ok and normal. I used to bully myself mercilessly but now I try to remember….only love today. I am actually thinking of getting that saying tattooed on my wrist as a reminder. 🙂 Please keep writing!
With great respect,
Gayla Caldwell says
Beautiful as always..but please tell your darling little Noticer that I too had that device installed when I was 5 years old. I remember the pain..and you can tell her it was ALL worth it and not just for the pictures! I love my smile today…I never did need braces after that though it was a possibility too.
But that little jack in my mouth made a difference. Now when I’m loud, or have something very important to say, I get to tell people… “Can you IMAGINE!?!?! There was once a time when my mouth was much smaller. Apparently what I have to say is so important that they had to make my mouth BIGGER just to accommodate it all!”
My children are all grown, and yet this post resonated deeply as I survey my life and it’s challenges . . . I also use your guidance to grandparent in a more present way and our holidays were better . .thank you.
Sara Jillette says
I love love love your posting. You really have a talent for putting into words what some many people need to hear.
On another note, I had one too. I was in an accident when I was 7 and $30k later we’re still fixing stuff.
But I hated the screw and my mom didn’t have the fortitude you have to make it happen every night so I did it myself. The dentist had me come in once a week and they’d do all seven at once.
It was great, well, a lot better than every day. Instead of going to bed every night with a headache, I had a the last appointment of the day friday, it hurt so bad and then my mom would give me a cold medicine and I’d wake up fine.
SO WELL SAID, Rachel-may God especially bless & keep you-great visual pix followed by 6 practical steps:-)
I love the metaphor for change with your daughter’s orthodontics! I also had my teeth fixed, but I didn’t follow through with my retainer and my teeth went back to the way they were!
To push the metaphor further:
Don’t take your hard work for granted and don’t avoid the pain. The pain is often the way to your greatest successes! We’re often willing to work hard, but not willing to do anything that looks painful or is painful. You have to push through it.
Wow! I am in the same place as the woman you were responding to above. I had one if those how can I do it moments last night. That is when I learned a great lesson. I chanced inconveniencing a friend at what I thought was too late to call. She talked me through what needed to be talked about & when I told her about feeling it was too late to bother anyone, she said call. Call until I answer! I learned that we need to trust our people & their desire to be there for us ; not just the other way around. Loved this article!
Caroline McGraw says
Rachel, what a wonderful story and metaphor – thank you! I’m working on my next post right now, and your words helped to inspire me – I’ll definitely include a link to this post.
Also, your imagery of incremental change reminded me of this quote from Anne Lamott in Plan B:
“I assumed Jesus wanted me to forgive [her], but I also know he loves honesty and transparency. I don’t think he was rolling his eyes impatiently at me …. I don’t think much surprises him: this is how we make important changes – barely, poorly, slowly. And still, he raises his fist in triumph.” xo
Rachel Stafford says
Hello dear friend. It is always a joy when your beautiful words and perspective are written here in this space. I cannot wait to read your next post. Please send it if you think about it. And my goodness, what a perfect and brilliant quote you provided by my favorite writer. You know my heart so well. Thank you for being my friend and supporter along this journey.
Love this post! Thank you for reminding us that little changes go a long way. I need your blog. It has helped me be more aware, and make little improvements over the last year or so of reading. I am choosing my words, choosing not to hurt with words, now I need to choose words that I see lift up people. I hope I can see this as you did.
Jenna anderson says
I don’t know what to say, I recently discovered hands free mama and not even sure how looking back, but the timing had to be a God thing. My husband and I are currently facing a fairly big decision that will hugely affect our family. We have 2 daughters, 22 months and 3 weeks. I’m on maternity leave with the youngest right now until the end of February and we are facing the decision as to whether I should go back to work or not. On one hand, having the health insurance for practically nothing(I am active duty military) , and dual income, retirement, etc, is nice. Yet on the other hand, I want to be all there for my two daughters and this won’t happen if I stay working. So after reading your blog I am convinced that God is using you and your writing to speak to my situation. The last two posts have brought me to tears, and convicted me on many levels. So thank you, thank you for opening my eyes to what is really in my heart. God bless you and your family!
Rachel – I had the same expander as a child. It hurt, and it made me feel a little scared, a little different, and a lot frustrated at how I sounded different when I spoke and how it was harder to eat every day. Your daughter is so lucky to have you keeping her in close company on this journey of hers. Thank you also for keeping me company on mine.
Rachel Stafford says
I appreciate your kind & understanding words. I am grateful for your companionship on this journey.
I love this. So sweet. One of my goals this year is to be more present. I will have to keep reminding myself, sigh. There is always so much to do.
Anita Davis Sullivan says
I love this so much. In part because I too am dealing with orthodontics and have just recently realized that there is a difference- it really really helps me deal with the pain and annoyance. (Though thankfully my expander was 5 months and is DONE).
But also because I am so critical on feeling like I’m getting no where, and need those reminders. Things may not happen or change on my timeline, but if I stay committed to the small things, it still happens.
I can’t wait to be on that wall with her!
This is the first email post I recieved since I started following you on Facebook awhile back. It hit home like a fist hitting on my headboard a few days ago. I’m a widow, 21 months now, raising two kids. My youngest, 8, my son, on the autism spectrum and my oldest, 11 year old daughter have been through a lot the last year. I’ve hit a roadblock on everything about 6 months ago; my so-called friendships, religion, sole-parenting, working full time. Everything. This post made me stop and think about what I can do to get me/us where we were 6 months ago. Baby steps and reminders. Thank you so much. Perfect timing.
Rachel Stafford says
I am so glad you are here, Amy, sharing this journey with me. It gives me great joy to know my message offered you hope. If there is anything else I can do to offer encouragement or support as you find your way to where you want to be, please let me know. With gratitude and love, Rachel
Your post is very timely as I’m about to schedule an appointment for my 7 year old son to get an expander and I’m terrified! Thank you, and love your book you’ve been very helpful to managing a business, a 3 yr old, and a 7 year old, plus one husband.
Thank you for being vulnerable and obedient to God, so that many can grow.
Rachel Stafford says
I appreciate your loving words of encouragement, Rachele. Thank you.
I’ve been through the pain those appliances cause. I remember waking up one morning and looking in the mirror and seeing a gap between my two front teeth. It was working!! All that pain was not for nothing. Thanks for the hope and encouragement to be able to fix what’s broken in my life, one tiny move at a time.
I regularly read and repost your articles on Facebook. Your book greatly changed my life…and I continually strife to live my life “hands free.” Of course, as you know, it isn’t always easy. 🙂 As I started reading this post, I was thinking about my son and his experience with a palatal expander. It is so true that you don’t see the minuscule changes until you look back at the BEFORE picture….and if I could put my hands on the BEFORE and AFTER pictures of my son, I would share them with you and Avery. It is truly amazing – and I wish Avery the best of luck with her orthodontic adventure. However, what prompted me to post a comment was not this common venture with our children… As I continued reading and thought about my life and changes I want to make in 2015, I was reassured I can be successful as long as I focus on the small successes. Thank you, Rachel, you always encourage me to do my best and reassure me I’m not alone.
Musings, Rants & Scribbles says
My son also had to get a palate expander and I used to inwardly wince when I had to twist that little key everyday. However, the good news is ten years later he has a beautiful smile! It was all worth it.
This made me cry. Because of the mistakes I’ve made, how I want to be perfect, how dumb I feel when I err. My son had a palate expander, I could never get it to work — I would scratch the roof of his mouth, and every day, I would tremble because I was the only one who could help him, and I kept screwing up! Finally, I watched his orthodontist, confessing how I could not get the hang of it. We practiced over and over… I tried again at home. On the 3rd morning, I got it right!! Patience and forgiveness to myself… I want to be without error for them. And when I”m not, I have to keep the ugly talk that rings in my head, away before it convinces me I do everything wrong. I learn, I make mistakes, but I do a lot of good, too. (I love this, I love your book, I love having you on this journey) Thank you.
Rachel Stafford says
Hi Alexandra, if my post had not already been pushing 2000 words, I would have included the rough time I had, like you, when I was learning to turn the key. I, too, felt so frustrated. I watched every You Tube video out there and they made it look so easy! After 3 nights of frustration, we drove to the orthodontist and she showed me a little trick on how to anchor the white circle of the key against the metal of her expander to get it right in the hole. It worked like a charm! I was so happy I could do it with ease. I also felt happy that I asked for help. The old me never would have. I would have kept getting frustrated and agonizing about it. I definitely have moments when I struggle, but I try to see my progress and it helps to fuel me forward. Thank you for commenting and for being here.
Thank you for posting your incredible articles to us. It is a pleasure to read you. I feel like I am there, with you, with your daughter and want to be like that, to change my way, to be more patient, to calm myself, my rush, my hurry times and let my child express himself, moments that matter, moments we will never forget. Life matters, but we have to make it matter, if not, we are just passing by without noticing it. PLEASE CONTINUE TO MAKE YOUR LIFE MATTERS, and as I read your articles I remember, I give strength to myself, my inner me, and tell me that it can be done. It seems impossible, but if you could, I can. THANK YOU RACHEL.
Rachel Stafford says
You are such a treasure, Ruth. What beautiful and uplifting things to say. I am so grateful for you.
I just took my daughter today for her RPE placement. Got the little key tool to start using tonight. I, myself, had the same teeth issues growing up and I remember how much braces helped my self image. It’s important and I thank you for sharing this post. It came to me when I needed it most.
d m says
You may want to do a search for ‘DNMS’. Like this a lot. Using it on my own for 2-3 months. Immediate internal dialogue shift.
This made me cry and really inspired me. Thanks!
So, thankfull that I ran across your website today. I really needed to read this, it’s the outcome that makes the heartbreaking strugles worth it in the end. Thank You for Sharing!
Oh this brought me to tears. Too often I feel frustrated by the lack of progress in my journey to a ‘better’ me. This post has put a great deal into perspective for me and it is also a reminder to take a moment to do the little things that not only make a big difference in my day but could make a huge difference in someone else’s day. I am thinking here of my husband whom I too often neglect. I often think that our relationship may not survive this difficult time in our lives. Sometime it all seems too much as I feel I cannot give him what he needs. But I need to start with the little things. Your point on unrushed goodbyes and making eye contact are really not too hard and it is certainly a good reminder to me. Thank you, thank you.
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