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9 Ways to Have an Affair Without Cheating on your Husband

“Ani can I talk to you?”

“Yea, sure. What’s up?”

“I knew I could call you. I knew I could tell you anything. This is so embarrassing.”

“Of course… what’s going on?”

I already know what’s going on. I don’t need to ask. This woman is interested in a man who’s not her husband… and she’s married with kids.  

This happens frequently: a married women flirting with the dangers of another man. But people don’t talk about it, so we feel alone and ashamed when it happens to us. As mothers we are very protective of our families, so the thought of being interested in another man, no matter how tantalizing, is also extremely dangerous–which of course is part of the lore.

Through the danger, the loneliness, the shame, guilt, self-judgment, curiosity, thrill, and sensuality we wade through a sea of emotions… so welcome and yet so very unwanted. At least we think it’s not truly wanted.

In the normal perception of  “how life is supposed to be,” these flirty episodes are can feel very threatening. And worse, they could lead to something like the breakup of your marriage. But what if life is actually different than you think it is? What if none of this is about “that guy” at all? I have a scenario I want you to try to imagine to help me illustrate my point.

I want you to imagine for a second that you are the only person that exists… just you. Imagine that every single person you see is a mirror, reflecting parts of your personality. There are parts that you love and parts that you hate. There are parts that are weird and parts that are “normal,” Every person is a piece of you and a grand opportunity to learn about and explore the landscape of “who you really are.”  Imagine for a moment that you are the only person that exists and this is how “reality” works.

You have a husband and kids who, of course in this story, reflect parts of you. A lot of these reflections are parts of you that you can’t understand and can’t conceive that they have anything to do with you. The kids are crazy, the husbands getting fat and lazy… and that’s not you… not at all.

You go to the gym, you take care of EVERYTHING, you manage the house and you keep everyone fed and borderline sane. Without you everything would all fall apart. And because these parts of you that they reflect are so different from the “costume” you wear on the outside, the wife-who-has-it-all-together outfit, you have forgotten the rules of the game, that you are the only one that exists.

Until him.

For the first time in a long time you feel sexy. For the first time in a long time your crotch tingles. You’re turned on, excited, engaged, giddy, happy… and because you forgot that you are the only person that exists and everyone else is just a mirror for yourself, you think that these new sensations are HIM. HE turns you on. HE makes you feel special. HE makes you feel attractive. HE is the person you want to be around. He makes you feel like a woman again, a girl, a sexy female. He makes you feel like a human animal.

But you’ve forgotten: he doesn’t exist, this man who you see. He is just a part of you that has gotten pushed SO far down inside and has been SO long forgotten that it’s coming up for air! She’s suffocating down there so she needed a life preserver. And she got one. Him.

Now forget that little game for a second, because it’s reality. The mirror thing? That’s how it actually works. You may think that it’s this man that you are in love with, but it’s really YOU. It’s the feelings that you get when you’re around him (that live in YOUR body), it’s the attraction you feel (that lives in YOUR body). You feel attractive (which is a perception that lives in YOUR head) and engaged and alive (because it’s new, exciting and risky… sensations and emotions that are YOURS.)

WE own these feelings and sensations and yet we give them away to some guy, thinking HE is the cause, because he looks delicious in a T-shirt at the gym and we’re tired of our husbands farting (literally) around the house in their saggy underwear.

If you want to throw it all away and go off with this guy who you THINK is the answer, go for it. But I guarantee you, in a short amount of time, you will meet yourself, in a new relationship, washing some new guy’s saggy underwear. Because this whole thing has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with you.

If you want to have an affair without cheating on your husband, you need to ditch the guy at the gym, or better yet, be proactive and have your affair before you get so bored with life that you need the life preserver. It will take a lot of courage, but I assure you, if you have a really wildly sensual affair, not only will you avoid cheating, but also it could save your marriage.

Who is the affair with? The only person that exists of course: you. The following are 9 ideas for creating a wildly arousing affair with yourself.

1. Date yourself

If you were to take yourself on a date, for the pure fun of it, what would you do? Would you go out to dinner or a movie? Whatever it is, put a date on the calendar and MAKE – IT – HAPPEN.

2. Dress up for yourself

Pick an outfit at least 5 days out of the week that makes you feel sexy and wear them. Let yourself feel amazing. And look in the mirror and tell yourself, “damn girl!” Dress for you because you love yourself.

3. Let yourself flirt

Men will take notice, probably even your husband, when you start to dress up. Let those feelings of being seen and admired soak in. If you’re approached, you can assure the men that you’re taken… because you are dating yourself.

4. Move your body

Find a time when no one’s home, or if the situation is really desperate, lock yourself in the largest bathroom in your house, put on some headphones and dance. Now I’m not talking about some choreographed thing. Just move your body to the rhythm and feel it moving through you. Shake it, roll it work it and tell yourself how sexy you are when you move.

5. Touch your body

Now we don’t have to be talking about masturbation, although we certainly could be! Massage yourself, use lotion or coconut oil and rub your skin. Feel how good that touch feels and how amazing your skin feels afterward.

6. Buy yourself flowers

Go to the florist and get whatever you like and put your flowers where you can be with them. Sometimes when I buy myself flowers I get a tiny bouquet I can keep in my car since I drive so much. Then I take them out to go in my office and bring them back home.

7. Get a massage

Get yourself touched and loved up with a yummy massage. For an added benefit take a mineral bath or a steam. Your body will love the sensory sensuality!

8. Write love letters

Get some beautiful notecards and write love letters to yourself, to your friends or to your family. Expressing your love and gratitude will increase your feelings of joy and satisfaction.

9. Do something crazy

I had a client one time who was afraid her marriage might break up and she was SO afraid of being out of control, I asked her to run around the outside of her house naked (don’t worry, she lives in the country). She did it! And it broke a magic spell of “stuffy mom” syndrome.

When we spend all of our time taking care of whining, crying, laughing, screaming little people who can’t have a decent human conversation it makes us go a little crazy, in the bad way. Do something crazy in a good way and break out of the pattern of each day bleeding into the next. Go howl at the moon, dance in the dark, skinny dip, jump out of a plane, drive a racecar, learn to play the drums… do something crazy. Your life–and marriage–depends on it.

These men, the ones that make us want to stray–show up at just the right time to remind us of who we are. We are beautiful, sexy, sensual, attractive, lovely, smart, wonderful women. Have an affair with yourself, remind yourself how amazing you are. Likely your husband will perk up too. And if he’s lucky, you’ll have an affair with him next.

I Lost My Identity As A Woman When I Had My Child

I used to be a real somebody. A high achiever. A name. A top student. A success. I was a career woman: ambitious, directed, focused…a hardworking visionary. Until the moment she was born.

When my daughter, Cassie, was born a switch flipped inside of me from “person” to “mother.” I could never have expected it and if anyone told me it would happen, I wouldn’t have believed them.

But one day, about a month after my daughter was born, I remember taking a walk around the block with my husband, our new little baby in a sling attached to my body, and saying to him, “I can’t go back to work and leave her with a sitter.”

Basically, I was leaving my old life behind to be a full-out, full-time, full-on mother.

Cassie was now the center of my world. I stopped working, and I nursed every hour of the day and night. I carried her everywhere I went and she cried any time I put her down. I was exhausted and frustrated but determined to be the best mother I could possibly be.

One day I got a call from a past business colleague who described an exciting business venture and asked me to join him. But I had no desire. No motivation.

I just couldn’t imagine leaving my daughter even for a few hours. Just the thought was like ripping off a part of my body.

I didn’t even realize I was under the spell of motherhood until I got divorced. Suddenly, my children, who I had been around every moment of every day and night were now with me only half of the time. I didn’t know what to do with myself when they weren’t with me.

My ex-husband even tried to be helpful by gently suggesting, “You should learn how to have fun again.” But fun wasn’t an option because I was so depressed. I had no idea who I was anymore.

I was going through a motherhood identity crisis.

Now that those days are behind me, I see the gift. But it can be really hard to find the silver lining in a difficult situation while it’s happening.

I had been an ambitious young career woman. When I became a mother, everything changed. I became a fiercely loving mother. Next, I moved into the divorced, broken person who eventually bloomed into the woman I am today.

I am all of those things — a whole, rich, experienced human being. I thought I lost myself when I became a mother, but I couldn’t actually lose myself, I could only lose the concept of who I thought I was.

What I found underneath was an even more interesting, special, caring, loving, resilient person than had existed before. The real me. The one that is still here.

Having your identity crushed is a blessing in disguise. At times, in our lives, we get really hung up on our status: the A-plus student, the smart one, the captain of the football team, the star performer, the perfect mom.

We think these labels ARE us. It isn’t until they are gone, and often times ripped away, that we get to see those labels weren’t “us” at all. Why? Because we are still here.

We are still here after the walls have come crumbling down. We are still here after massive heartbreaks, disappointment, and failure.

We are still here and the sense of identity that you thought was “you” wasn’t actually “you.” And that’s a good thing!

Because if “that” had been you, you’d be gone. But you’re not, you’re still here. And because you’re still here, you can be anything you desire. So the question is, who do you want to be in this next phase of your life?

9 Beautiful Ways to Love Your Son

I don’t understand boys.

At least once a week my boys, 8 and 11 years old, get themselves into some mischief that never in a million years would have occurred to me. They would be making water balloons in the house, sledding over a rock wall, roller-skating through the living room, or sitting naked in a bucket and getting their asses stuck.

If you have boys, I’m sure you’ve got plenty of parenting stories of your own.

My mother-in-law, a mother of three boys, has a sign in her kitchen that says, “God bless the mother of boys.” Every time I see it I say a silent “amen.”

She also has a sign in her basement that says, “A boy is the only thing that God can use to make a man.” And that sign makes me take a step back and say, “Oh… right… I’m raising two people to become men. Two men who will someday be adults and have their own lives, loves, and heartaches. They will spend more time being men than being boys, and I will have them in my life forever.”

That sign stops my brain from wanting to sell the boys off to the circus — at least for a few minutes — and reminds me to appreciate the life long journey that we are on together.

However, my husband, who of course has some practical experience being a boy, has his own theory. He believes that from an evolutionary point of view, boys have to be a little crazy.

“Men are the hunters. And let’s face it, you have to be a little crazy to run after a wild animal with a stick and think you can kill it,” he says.

And you know what? He’s right!

But why now, in our modern society, do boys still have to be a little crazy? And where is the metaphoric wild animal they are chasing?

Ummm… Hello, ladies, it’s us: women.

Raising these little hunters is a challenge for me. I don’t always do it right and I need an abundance of free space (like the size of Africa!) to breathe so that I don’t eat them alive. After I get some space, I ask myself a few questions to help gain a more reasonable perspective on their behavior.

These questions help maintain my sanity, and I hope they help you too.

1. Ask: Will this activity kill or permanently injure him or someone else?

This question is probably the most important question I need to ask myself while raising my boys. Being an only child, a girl, and raised by a very careful father, my instinctual response to things from sliding down the banister to snowboarding on an icy patch is, “Stop!”

But part of being a kid is learning your own boundaries. My telling the boys to “stop” all the time isn’t really helping them to come to their own conclusions about the world. The occasional skinned knee or bumps and bruises teach them lessons about life.

When I look inside of myself, one of the main reasons I want them to be more careful is because I don’t want to deal with the aftermath of their incidents. And “I told you so” is SO close to the tip of my tongue I almost can’t help but say it when what they have attempted is so ridiculous!

Why is it so important to me that I’m right? Why can’t I just let them experience the world? If what they are doing is not going to cause serious damage, can I just let them try it out?

Most of the time, I’m being too careful. And in more extreme cases, I tell them to put on a helmet. Besides, it’s the crazy stories we tell at family dinners for years to come that make us laugh and build connections.

2. Ask: Can I let them be in their joy just a little longer?

Do you wish you were a happier person? How do you think you learned to be so tightly wound? Well, you were probably punished, or at least yelled at occasionally, to settle down and stop being so… well… joyful!

And as a mother, I get it because I sometimes get annoyed too.

A child’s joy is SO BIG, so loud, so annoying that as adults we can hardly stand it. We tell them to “Be quiet! Sit down! Stop running around!”

And yes, sometimes it’s appropriate to do so. But if you ask yourself, “Can I let them be in their joy just a little bit longer?”

Maybe you will see that the difficulty you have when your child is in his joy is a reflection of yourself — a reflection of the sadness you felt as a kid when YOUR joy was stifled. If we want to learn how to be more joyful as adults we can gain some perspective from our kids!

3. Ask: Can I value his playfulness?

Along with their joyfulness, boys are inherently playful. And not only can that be annoying to a mother, it can be annoying to a wife when that behavior is also exhibited by her husband.

Many times, I’ve heard a woman scold her husband for being “another child” when really, the issue is that the woman is deeply uncomfortable letting her hair down and letting herself play.

Play is profoundly terrifying for a lot of women and we can’t STAND to see it in our husbands. They have a special knack for being playful at just the wrong times. In their minds, they are breaking the tension.

In our minds, they are being a prick. The reason it pisses us off so much is because we closed off playfulness in our hearts a long time ago. And generations of women have taught us that being “irresponsible” and playful is bad and keeps us from earning respect and power.

Can you let your boys play? Can you let the hardness within you soften? The boys are calling to our hearts to come out and play!

4. Ask: Is he a different kind of smart?

Men aren’t stupid and neither are boys. They just think differently. Boys are just a different kind of smart than we are as adult women. And thank goodness they are! Because for as much as men are labeled as “stupid”, women can be labeled “nuts.”

And when we can’t recognize all forms of intelligence in the world, including the fluid, simple, playfulness of men, we are cutting ourselves off from a lot of enjoyment in our lives, and THAT is nuts!

Intelligence can show up in a variety of ways. Like can YOU make a working sling shot/candle holder out of toilet paper rolls and duck tape? That takes some wild creativity.

5. Ask: Can you clearly articulate what you want in a nice way even if you have to say it over and over again?

Little boys aren’t supposed to be thinking about picking up their socks. But we expect them to. We expect them to notice the messes they are making around the house. And we expect not to have to tell them multiple times to do things.

How would your life change if you could let go of the idea that you “should only have to say something once?” How would it change if you could let go of the idea that “you shouldn’t have to ask, they should just do it automatically?”

Women are supposed to notice things; it’s our job. And then we are the ones who are supposed to direct the actions of the household. That’s what we do.

Just because it’s our job to notice doesn’t mean it’s our job to do everything. If we can ask for the help we want without expecting other people to read our minds, everyone’s life will be easier.

Will you feel like a broken record? Yes. But who cares! Their learning takes time. Eventually, there will no longer be any more little socks to pick up.

6. Ask: Can I find ways to praise him?

All men love to make women happy. Including our boys. I notice this behavior particularly in my step son, and there are times I tell myself, “He doesn’t love me because I’m not his mother.”

But that’s not true. I’m a woman in his life and men love to please their women.

When we can find ways to praise our boys, especially when we clearly ask for their help and they give it, this does a tremendous amount for their self-esteem and our relationship with them. So I make it a point to ask my step-son Jet for help with things like bringing in the groceries, and then let him know how much I appreciate his help!

7. Ask: Where can we be of service together?

Boys are about doing. Our girls will enjoy sitting and chatting with us over a cup of tea, but boys are about doing things. If you want to spend real quality time getting to know your boys, find something you enjoy doing together.

It’s in the doing that the engagement and deep connection comes out.

Doing things with your boys could be an epic adventure, but it’s also really important to do real work together. Clean the gutters together. Rake together. Don’t expect them to do it all day, but for short amounts of time.

Hold them to a higher standard for contributing and being a part of the work it takes to provide for the family. And, of course, let them know what a great job they did afterward. I don’t know about your guys, but mine also really enjoy sharing a treat together after a job well done.

8. Ask: Can you be vulnerable around him?

Most people have heard how important it is to let our boys feel their feelings and vulnerability. But do you know where he learns that? You and your partner.

Let yourself be vulnerable around your boys. Be honest about your feelings. Let yourself cry or even ask for a hug when things are tough. Allow yourself to be open when you’re struggling.

There is a big difference between putting the weight “on” your children and simply allowing yourself to show your humanity in front of them.

Children learn more from what we do and don’t do than what we tell them to do. If you’re harboring resentment, frustration, anger, sadness and allow yourself to be vulnerable around your family, then your boys will learn a healthy way to deal with emotions as they grow up too.

9. Ask: Can you let yourself be a woman around him?

I’m not really a girly-girl. But I’m letting myself get more and more comfortable with my femininity and it’s important for my boys to see me enjoy it. So many women I meet are invested in a concept of motherhood that consumes their every waking breath.

But, our children are watching how to be in relationship by watching US in relationship with our spouse AND ourselves. Sure, they might cry on date night when you leave, but showing them that you take care of yourself, dress up, enjoy a night out, wear a skirt, do your hair is all very important to their self-esteem.

This relationship you are developing with your boys is a lifelong relationship. And the way they grow up and feel confident is to see YOUR confidence that you can take care of your emotional needs.

The way they grow up and attract healthy mates is by having a healthy mom. The most important thing you can do for your boys isn’t to be with them all the time. It’s to do what makes you feel good and let them be around you as you enjoy being a woman.

Sometimes life with my boys feels like it will never end. I’ve had a boy in my life for almost 9 years now and it feels like a lifetime. But, someday in the near future, I’ll look up at him and I’ll see a man… and I’ll miss my little boy.

So I want to make sure I enjoy every minute. These 9 questions help me to be a better mom to my boys and I hope they help you too.

In Joy!

Ani Anderson Signature

9 Beautiful Ways to Love Your Husband

I know a lot about husbands, I’ve had two of them. That wasn’t the plan of course, but as life would have it, that’s how it worked out.

Interestingly enough, a few months after moving out of my home with my first husband and into the home of my (someday) second, I realized something. I had the same problems and was the same person I had always been — I was just in a new relationship.

Changing relationships hadn’t “fixed” any part of my life equation. That’s because my half of the equation remained the same: me. And if I wanted a different solution, I needed to change.

What I really needed in order to change was a new perspective. Whenever anything was hard in my relationship, I would ask myself, “What’s wrong here?”

Not a great question and one I would suggest never asking yourself again because when we ask “what’s wrong”, that’s the answer that follows. But when we ask better questions, we get better answers.

Not only is there nothing “wrong” with you, there is nothing “wrong” with your husband. In fact, there is nothing “wrong” with your relationship at all. Our perception of right and wrong does not allow us to accurately see the true nature of relationships.

When we understand their primary purpose, we see everything much differently.

The sole function of relationships is to foster our growth. We’re humans, a part of nature, and just like other natural things we are either growing or dying. Even death itself fosters more life — just look at the evidence of decaying vegetation. This decay actually nurtures soil for new growth.

For optimal comfort, feelings of being in control of life and sheer enjoyment, we can make the growth process conscious. The more awareness we have the more we can direct our growth and change.

When we have more understanding, we can discover more comfort and predictability amongst the chaos. We gain this understanding by asking high-quality questions.

If you want to know how to love your husband, ask yourself the following questions.

They are designed to help you foster a marriage filled with as much ease, love, and connection as possible while you continue to grow as individuals. They will hopefully provide as much predictability and consciousness as possible on this wild ride as a couple.

1. Ask yourself: What kind of person do I really want to be in this marriage?

If you don’t have a vision for what you want, you can’t have it. In marriage, we often think about who we want the other person to be, but we often leave ourselves out of the equation. This usually shows up when you are frustrated by your spouse’s behavior.

You are half of your marriage and if you are not considering how you want to show up, you’re likely spending more time focusing on the problems in your relationship rather than solutions.

2. Ask yourself: What am I hiding?

Did you know most women confess that their girlfriends know more about them than their husbands do?

Intimacy is about a hell of a lot more than sex. And if you reveal how you feel to your husband instead of hiding, in the end, you will not only feel more connected to him, you’ll have better sex too.

3. Ask yourself: Am I accepting my own feelings?

Often, in a marriage women complain that their partner doesn’t “know who they are.” But how can we expect men to know us if we don’t know ourselves?!

We hide how we are feeling to try to escape from the shame and guilt that is accompanied (or masked by) “negative” emotions to avoid experiencing our own insecurities. Our feelings are hidden so well, we often don’t even know they are there.

So the next time you are upset about something in your marriage, instead of expecting your husband to read your mind and validate your feelings, try acknowledging your feelings and accepting yourself first.

When you can do this, you probably won’t even need that external validation — although you might still want a hug.

4. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of?

Women will complain about or get angry with their husbands, but upon further inquiry, those feelings are based on underlying fears about themselves.

Give yourself a shortcut and save years in therapy by asking yourself what you’re really afraid of the next time you get upset. Then, if you truly want to experience an intimately connected and fulfilling relationship, share those fears with your husband and watch the magic of vulnerability be revealed.

5. Ask yourself: What role am I attached to playing?

Have you ever felt like your husband has it all together and you’re a mess? Maybe he’s less emotional than you or more even-tempered? Maybe his life seems less complex than yours.

As women, a lot of us were taught to take care of other people before ourselves — physically and emotionally. That societal undercurrent is so strong that we don’t even realize how much we’re doing it.

Here’s a clue. If you find yourself envious of your husband in some way because he gets to “be” some way that you don’t believe you can achieve, consider that you may be taking on more than your fair share of the emotional responsibility.

For instance, my first husband was super laid back and it used to annoy me that I always felt so uptight. Then my second husband also seemed way more “chill” than me.

It wasn’t until I realized I was holding more than my fair share of the “uptight” pie in the relationship that I was able to dismantle that pattern.

After I was able to stop identifying myself as the “crazy emotional female,” a role that society gave me while growing up, we were able to share in more of the emotional responsibility in our marriage and enjoy a more balanced relationship.

Do you play the role of “the emotional one”, “the crazy one”, “the uptight”, or “conscientious one”? When you stop needing to identify with that role, you will change… and so will your husband.

6. Ask yourself: What are your unrealistic expectations of your husband?

This is a fun game. Take out a piece of paper and write down all of the unrealistic expectations you have of your husband.

After you’re done, look at the list and have a good laugh. For bonus points, do this exercise together if you are willing to have a very good sense of humor and not take any of it personally.

7. Ask yourself: What are your unrealistic expectations of yourself?

Do you expect to be happy all the time, be a sex machine every night, make thousands of dollars at a job you love, and be God’s gift to housekeeping too?

Take out a piece of paper and honestly list all of the unrealistic expectations you have about yourself and have a good laugh at the creation you’ve come up with that likely no human being could ever measure up to!

8. Ask yourself: What’s good in my marriage?

So often in marriage, we focus on what’s wrong. What we think about and pay attention to grows. So spend a lot of time noticing and paying attention to what’s going right. Then you will watch your relationship radically improve before your eyes.

9. Ask yourself: If he were gone tomorrow, what would I miss?

We don’t often take the time to realize what we have until it’s gone. Taking some time to consider what you would miss if your spouse died tomorrow gives us an opportunity to find gratitude in the everyday nonsense and see the gifts that hide in plain sight.

So many of us, myself included, didn’t realize everything we had until it was gone. And once it’s gone you can’t ever have it back. So count your blessings. Even all the dirty dishes in your sink.

Marriage isn’t about getting it right all the time. There really is no right or wrong way to do anything in life, and ups and downs are inevitable.

But your marriage may be the best way for you to grow as an individual. And these 9 questions will help facilitate the growth process so you can enjoy a beautiful marriage for a lifetime.

In Joy!

Ani Anderson Signature



Your Tango

9 Beautiful Ways to Love Your Daughter

The moment she was born, a switch went off inside of me that turned me into a different person–I was a mother. And somehow the things I wanted for myself melted into the background and didn’t seem to matter much anymore. My life became hers and it seemed completely beyond my control.

My daughter Cassie is eleven now. I wouldn’t trade anything for her hugs or late night chats. When I’m not near her for a few days I feel like a part of my body is missing. There is no question – I would easily give up my own life rather than lose her. I don’t understand, and probably never will, the enormity of the power that loving her has over me.

Right now she’s just a kid, but I know that she will be my daughter for the rest of my life. Many more years will be spent in our relationship with her as an adult than the time we will spend in her childhood. So we will move beyond socks on the floor and tears over broken toys, beyond boyfriends and into husbands, and then to kids and mortgages together. I will be her mother for her whole life. And because of that fact, I hold a great respect in my heart for our relationship and the responsibility for my part in it.

I could go through the motions of a regular life, taking my daughter along for the ride. Or, I could soak up every precious moment with her, knowing that this relationship is one of the sweetest blessings of being alive. Living in the moment may sound like a dream, because let’s face it, being present is difficult. However with practice, being aware of the present moment can become your reality more often.

So to increase our awareness, we can ask ourselves questions. And when we ask the high-quality questions, the quality of our life will improve. These 9 questions can help you pay more attention to creating a beautiful relationship with your daughter when you feel like you’ve forgotten how to be present.

1) Ask: Who is she becoming that I can’t see right now?

At the age of four I thought my daughter was a psycho. I actually remember posting in an Internet chat room something to the effect of, “How do I know if my daughter is going to grow up to be a psychopath?” She was terribly opinionated and obstinate. And I didn’t know what to do with her. Most days I wanted to lock her in a room and cry with grief that I had birthed this crazy little person. Loving and hating her at the same time was almost too much to bear.

But now she’s 11. She’s strong and beautiful, a powerful leader, decisive and direct. She doesn’t take crap and stands up for the underdog. I’m so proud of her and often think… “Had I known…” But I’m grateful now for this reflection because it reminds me as she grows and goes through life that she is a developing human being. She’s learning, she’s growing and she’s always becoming more of who she is going to be in this world. The more I can remember that and ask this question, the more I can allow the hard times knowing that she is developing her authenticity.

2) Ask: What does she really want?

Women don’t say what they mean or mean what they say. We are beautifully complex and the best relationships, for us, are with people who can read between the lines. We need to step back and consider not just what we want from this relationship, but what does she want? When your daughter appears to be moving in a direction away from you, can you read between the lines well enough to let her go? Ask yourself what your daughter really wants? What is she really trying to say?

When you can step back for a minute to ask this question, you may realize that your daughter’s distance is actually good for your relationship.The most self-actualized people are those who can break free from their “tribe” to forge their own way. And although it may bring grief to our hearts as their mothers to think of letting our daughters go, the more we can see them, hear them and bless them in their strengths and desires, the more connected we will be with them in the long term. So put your own needs and attachments aside and ask your heart, and your daughter, what does she really want? Then help her go for it.

3) Ask: What is she trying to teach me?

Every relationship is a two-way street and there is just as much to learn as there is to teach. It can be easy to forget this when you are focused on your mothering role. Our daughters are “daughtering” us, just as much as we are “mothering” them. But will you let her teach you?

I experienced this on Halloween. We had about 8 pumpkins. My daughter and I went outside first and she chose which one she wanted. Then she asked me, “which do you want?” My reply was, “I’ll wait for the boys and then choose mine.” “No”, Cassie said, “You choose. You have every right to choose whichever one you want.”

And of course she was right! I had gotten so used to eating the leftovers off of everyone else’s plate that I forgot to consider that I am allowed to pick my pumpkin even if the kids didn’t all pick yet. I thanked her for the reminder and for being such a great daughter.

4) Ask: Is she triggering my own issues?

As Don Miguel Ruiz describes in his book The Tree of Knowledge, we are all artists telling stories about our lives, and we get to choose what stories we want to tell. Sometimes we pick stories that disempower us. Stories that say, we don’t have enough time, enough money, enough acknowledgments and life is hard. We have “issues” and talk about our lives using them as an invisible and painful frame of reference. Our daughters learn how to tell the story of their own lives from watching us tell ours. When we get upset about the stories they are telling and react emotionally to them, it’s called a trigger.

Our daughters learn our issues from us but think they are just a way of being in the world… so they have the same issues and behave in a similar way. When you find yourself upset, frustrated, concerned, angry, grieving, or resentful about how your daughter is acting, she is simply reflecting your patterns back at you like a painful mirror. That will trigger a reaction.

Not only do we learn our issues from our parents, but also our reactions. So you will find yourself reacting in ways that you don’t like in response to your daughter’s behavior that you also don’t like! It’s a nasty cycle.

Without awareness of this cycle we continue to pass our issues and reaction patterns right on down to our daughters. Is that the kind of legacy you’re interested in leaving? The first key to unraveling these patterns is awareness. Become aware when you are triggered by what she’s doing or saying. Then you have the capacity to make a different choice. Without awareness, you can’t make the decision to change.

5) Ask: Where can I find gratitude?

Sometimes it’s difficult to find gratitude throughout difficult relationships. And with daughters it’s inevitable that it will be difficult at some point. But if it was easy, you wouldn’t be growing. Joy grows out of struggle if you let it. So find gratitude for your daughter when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard. When you have moments where she is triggering you, have gratitude for the opportunity to grow. When you can learn about yourself, learn about your daughter, and be a better human being, then the struggle has a purpose and you can move through it with grace.

6) Ask: Am I trying to protect her?

Of course mothers protect their children. It’s part of the process of keeping them alive. But there comes a time, and it’s earlier than you think, when stepping back from protecting them and letting them experience hurt, pain and struggle is extremely beneficial. I remember being fairly well protected in my own life until the age of about 15.

At 15 my life got really hard as abuse, neglect and heartache entered all at once for what felt like the first time. It was incredibly disillusioning and I didn’t know how to handle it. I remember a moment when my mother told me something to the effect of “this is how life is.”

Struggle and pain are a part of life and when we develop the capacity for resilience at a young age, we are stronger throughout our lives. Catch yourself when you are trying to protect your daughter. It can be much more beneficial to navigate the story with her rather than shielding her from it completely. Don’t hide the hard stuff.

7) Ask: How can I help her trust herself?

As a coach, the biggest issue I see in women is a lack of self-trust. And we learn this, of course, from our mothers. It’s not because they didn’t try to tell us how to trust ourselves, but because they didn’t trust themselves. You will likely notice when your daughter doesn’t trust herself, but you may not notice how you are perpetuating that lack of trust with your own behavior.

In order to help develop her self-trust, allow your daughter to make decisions that go against you (or appear to go against you). She needs to find her own way. And so do you. Let yourself trust yourself, even if it flies in the face of what looks right, smart or even caring, so that you can develop and model healthy self-trust for your daughter. And trust her. Your trust that she can do it will translate to her trusting herself.

8) Ask: Am I taking this personally?

It can be difficult not to take things personally in any relationship, but especially with the tremendous love felt between a mother and daughter. Hurt can go down to the core. Remember, you are eternal spirits here on earth experiencing life. You’re not really mother and daughter for eternity, these are just temporary roles that you are playing at this time.

Some people even believe, like I do, that we agreed to play these roles before we came into this life so that our souls and spirits can grow and evolve. Even if you don’t believe that, taking things personally stinks and keeps us in pain. So instead, look at your life from the bigger picture… in terms of your WHOLE life. In the grand scheme of your whole life, do you need to take what’s happening right now personally? This perspective will help you move on from hurt and never lose connection.

9) Ask: What do I really want in my life and am I going for it?

If you ever find yourself stuck, or you see your daughter is stuck, this is the question to ask of yourself. As mothers, the best way to be a role model for your daughter is to actually look into your heart and go for your dreams. Even if it’s scary or appears that it’s going to lead to a disconnected relationship (because likely that is just an unsubstantiated fear).

Remember, she is your daughter and you have invisible strings binding you. If you are not living your fullest life then she is learning not to live hers–no matter what you say to her. She learns from what you DO and do not do. Be courageous, live your dreams, take action, fly in the face of fear and really live! That is the only way your daughter will live her dreams.

We want so much for our precious daughters. Maybe even more than we want for ourselves. Our wanting more for her, we think, will lead to a better relationship for us in the long term. However the only way to get what you want is to give it to yourself. And when you look out for yourself, you teach your daughter to do the same.

These questions will help you to look into your own heart and become the mother that you really want to be so your daughter can become her best too. I hope you will use these 9 questions in your own life to help you and your daughter’s relationship flourish for a lifetime.
In Joy!
Ani Anderson Signature



Your Tango


How To Make the Holidays Feel Sacred

Did you notice the sacred?

This time of year my inbox is flooded with emails urging people to make the holidays feel more sacred. What if life were already sacred and you just didn’t notice? What does the word sacred mean, anyway?

My definition of sacred has an element of spirituality in it… and has a bit of connectedness in it… maybe magic. Presence definitely has something to do with it… and lightness of spirit too.

Is candlelight sacred? What about peace and quiet? Is nature sacred? Flowers and incense? What is it that actually makes something sacred? And while we’re thinking about that, let’s ask the opposite question too… what isn’t sacred? Are noisy kids not sacred? How about socks on the floor or a sink full of dishes? Toys and gifts? How about pie?

According to the dictionary, the word  sacred  means “worthy of worship, highly valued and important;, deserving great respect.”

Hmmmm… maybe pie deserves great respect….

What is highly valued by me may not be highly valued by you. So with that thought in mind, nothing is inherently sacred. If nothing is inherently sacred, then only what we make important is sacred. And perhaps we are making things important that we do not actually value and so we can not feel sacred. Sacred could be sitting right in front of us, so ask yourself, am I seeing things as I want to see them?

Are socks on the floor sacred? Your children? Are those socks just a symbol that there are children living in your house? If your relationships are sacred, then why not the socks?

What about pies? In our house they are sacred. They are the topic of conversation, laughter, plans, time spent and a symbol of a family that cherishes their time eating together.

Are dirty dishes sacred? Not if we look at them with disrespect. But when we see the dirty dishes as a symbol of a family gathered together from miles apart, and a reminder of joyfulness despite personal differences, then they become an important, even sacred symbol.

What is sacred to you? Look around using this new definition. Do you see anything in your environment that didn’t seem sacred before but now takes on a new meaning?

The string of electric lights on the table next to me is a symbol of the Christmas decorations I’ve had since I was 15. My aunts gave them to me as a special gift. A moment ago I saw them as clutter… but how could such a special item be viewed as such? They are sacred…

Scissors left out on the floor are a symbol of my children’s creativity and inventive spirit. The dish soap, nearly empty, has been washing dishes for our family so that we can create food and eat together.

Our compost bucket, filled to the brim, is a symbol of the amazing farm fresh food that we eat and are so blessed to have in our life.

The pie box sits on the counter with a half eaten pie made by my sister in law… Well we already explored how sacred that is…

Even the clutter, the mess, the disorganization in my home shows me that I’m surrounded by the sacred if I choose to see it that way. A simple shift in perspective changes circumstances magically.

Nothing is inherently sacred. So what will you make sacred this holiday season, if that is how you want to feel? How can you see your life as sacred without changing a thing? When you find the sacred right in front of you, the holiday magic will come to life.

In Joy,

Ani Anderson