Putting in Fences – How to Set and Communicate Boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries is one of the hardest life skills I’ve tackled. In the past feared losing the person or offending them. I grew up with my grandmother who herself lost a mother at a young age, was abandoned by an alcoholic father, and then was passed through the family until her very hard grandmother took her in. She was an amazing woman in many ways. However she had poor boundaries and abandonment fears. Even though I was shown healthy patterns by my mother and grandfather, I still picked a few poor skills and internalized poor coping mechanisms. Couple that with being an empath and the stage was set for an adult struggle. After a relationship with a narcissistic person it was a skill I had to learn for my own emotional wellbeing.

Here’s the biggest thing I learned: emotionally healthy people have boundaries and respect them. If someone consistently and maliciously violates your boundaries (or YOU) – Remove from you life cold turkey. RUN. GET THEM OUT OF YOUR LIFE. They are a poison to you. However, most people simply need honest communication and are good hearted.

How to Set Boundaries

Before you set a boundary you first need to know where your emotional property begins and what you need. Your emotional property is pretty simple. It is YOUR emotions, your inner being, your growth, your physical and spiritual wellbeing. It’s not your kid’s, your partner’s, boss’, minister’s, or any person’s emotions, spirit or body.

However, knowing what you need can be harder. For example. I need a good uninterrupted two hours everyday to meditate and pray. I try to keep it to a schedule that works not only for me, but my responsibilities. Since I often have visitors I have a simple sign on my door – “I’m currently in my prayer closet. I appreciate you stopping by. Please come by later. I look forward to seeing you SOON. Thank you. Love, Moriah”. How did I figure out what I need? Mostly through trial and error. I know. Not what you are looking for, but that’s the honest answer. I knew I needed to feed my inner person. I knew I needed alone time to do it. I knew that when I fed my inner soul I had to the energy and drive to care for others. I knew I have a passion for kindness and compassion. That passion was my starting point. How to feed that passion and how it looks in my daily life was the trial and error. However, once I knew what I needed, setting the boundary became easy.

Examples of common boundaries include not hugging strangers, refusing to listen to gossip, not touching Momma Bellies, not stealing, asking for a kiss on the first date instead of assuming, refusing to purchase items on credit, and many other common everyday things we take for granted. It’s something we already do. It’s just in our emotional life we sometimes depend on our neighbors to set our and maintain our property lines and not ourselves.

Communicating Boundaries

Let’s go back to my little sign. It’s to the point. I don’t say it directly, but it communicates that I’ll not be opening the door. There are no accusations. There are no demands. The other person knows I still want to see them and my not opening the door is not personal – it’s something I need and applies to everyone.

If I had written something like “I’m trying to feed my soul right now and don’t need a bunch of constant interruptions so stop dropping by so freakishly early!” it would cause relationship issues. When I first started setting boundaries that’s about where my communication level sat. It caused issues, too. I was making my boundaries about the other person. I was making judgements, mostly because I was still judging myself. I was making my friends and family responsible for my emotional needs and property instead of taking ownership and responsibility. Your boundaries are YOUR boundaries. Own it and communicate it with love and power in a way that doesn’t offend.

Stick with Them

The most important part of setting boundaries is sticking with them. Puppy dog faces, pleas, and demands can unconsciously manipulate us into taking emotional responsibilities for other people’s baggage and allowing our needs and inner person to become frazzled and disengaged. Being consistent is often the hardest part.

Write your boundaries down. As life pops up new experiences write down your feelings and emotions. Write down your failures and your victories. Keep a journal about those things. It helps you to discover where you need to sure up your fence lines. Don’t judge yourself either. You don’t judge a fence for a tree falling it. Don’t judge your boundaries or your skills. Simply make note, and get to work fixing that fence line. Eventually you and the other people in your life will learn to use the gate.

Continuing the Series

The next two installments of this series will be

Dealing with Fence Cutters – How to Deal with Trespassers

Setting Boundaries in Your Internal Pastures

Until next time,

Craft No Harm,

Moriah, Profit, and the Flock

Boundaries Part One – What are They?

Profit recently learned to jump fences. Considering that Serenity is directly across the street from a small school this is not a good thing. Profit is a one thousand pound working steer in training to become an ox. At this point in his life he a half ton puppy who LOVES children.

He is actually quite beautiful when he jumps. If he was a horse he would be my hunter jumper prospect instead of my logging prospect. However, horse or ox, he needs boundaries to keep him and others safe.

Boundaries. That word gets used so many folks in trouble. Boundaries are a staple in healthy relationships. Boundaries ate not emotional walls with buttresses and ramparts to keep others out. They are not tools for manipulation or oppression. Boundaries are not an impediment to intimacy.

Boundaries are fence lines, property borders that allow each person the freedom and privacy needed to live and thrive. Profit in in his two acre pasture with his brother Asset. Next to him is my garden, the crop field, and the school. Each field and property has a designated use. I don’t plant my crop in Profit’s field and expect him to leave it alone. The children wouldn’t dream of walking through his pasture as a short cut to school any more than I would do laundry in my garden or set up house in the school. We each respect the free functioning of space. The children enjoy seeing the oxen. The oxen enjoy seeing the children. No one would enjoy Profit romping through a game of tag in the school yard.

How often do we do that in our relationships, though? How often do we think we have the “right” to jump into other people’s emotional or physical space and issues?

Boundaries are the fences that create safe, healthy relationships. Just like fenced fields, they have gates. When we decide to only walk into our neighbor’s field through an open gate does true relationship begin. When we enter their space as invited while respecting the edges of their emotional property real intimacy becomes possible.

Until next time,

Craft no harm,

Moriah and the flock

The Lesson in The Pain

I was in K-5, sitting hunched up under the great big pine tree on the recess field reading my science book. It was an ache and burning feeling. That aching and burning have become a constant companion over the past thirty five years.

Many people don’t know this about me: I live in constant pain. Several people in my family either deal or dealt with lifelong pain due to inflammation of the joints and spine. I remember the first time my spine hurt for no reason. I was in K-5, sitting hunched up under the great big pine tree on the recess field reading my science book. It was an ache and burning feeling. That aching and burning have become a constant companion over the past thirty five years.

Sitting and laying are unbearable lately. People often remark that I am in constant motion. Well, yeah. I hear often that I need to rest, to not be so active. Nope. Not with my inherited condition. Doctors constantly push pills at me. I don’t like narcotics and regular NSAID’s do nothing. Besides, I’m kind of attached to my liver. I rely mostly on diet, activity, and shear will power.

Over the past three decades I’ve become an expert at living with chronic pain while continuing to live. And yes, there have been times I’ve beg Gd to kill me. I get sharper tonged, grouchy, and the fact that I’m a bit ornery to begin with can make me unpleasant company at times. I retreat and people think I’m sullen or broody. In reality, I’m trying not to cry publicly, or scream, or simply pass out.

So, how do I deal with it? And if you have a loved one, what can you do other than stand helplessly by or hover? Glad you asked.

How I Deal

I learned along time ago to accept what I cannot change. I cannot change my body. I cannot change how I was born. I cannot rail, or yell, or punch or kick it away. It is simply a part of my physical self. I had to accept that my body is painful, just like my body is graceful in dance. I love my body wholly, and I’ve come to have compassion for her. I care for her, give her nourishing foods and herbs, attend to her needs, and allow her the movement she craves while setting boundaries for rest. I do not try to change her. She simply exists, and I love her simply because she is my dwelling on this portion of my eternal journey.

I courageously change what I have the power to change. Sitting in an office all day was the worst occupation for me. I had to power to change that portion of my life. It was terrifying. I did it. Somehow accepting my circumstances has freed my inner hutzpah to take challenges, to push my limits, and to explore this beautiful world emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically. But more importantly, I’ve learned to change my attitude.

Learning to know the wisdom between what I must accept and what I have the courage to change has been the difficult part. It is an ongoing process called life’s education. I tried for the longest time to change my body, to control my life’s circumstances. It left me haunted and fearful. There are times I see a counselor to assist and asses what I wish to change. There are times I meditate and simply listen to the Inner Light. Wisdom to know when to accept and when to act is the balance. It is the subtly between bitterness and a full life.

But my loved one is suffering – How do I help?

Simply ask. Allow them to do what they can do when they can do for themselves. Stephen Hawkings was considered an invalid by his life’s end. Yet, he contributed to our understanding of the universe. Not every person has that chance. Allow your loved one to explore this world. Pray. Care for your own needs. Don’t be a martyr for anyone. And for Gd’s sake, don’t hold us up as more than human or make excuses for poor behavior. That’s a disservice to everyone.

Understand that there are good days when the pain is less. Understand that there is often a mask, and even when we say the world is perfect, we are still in pain. Allow us the space to drop the mask. Don’t ever pity us, because we are not our illness. We simply exist at this time in this state, just as you do. Accept us just as we are, just as every person needs to be accepted.

 

If you are struggling I hope you may find your Serenity, too.

Until next time,

Craft No Harm,

Moriah

 

Monday’s Musings: Theme Songs

But as I’m getting older I’m realizing more and more that as a man thinks, so goes his (or hers) life. I’m ready for a new theme song.

I was a big fan of the T.V. show M.A.S.H. growing up. I still find myself humming the tune often. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I found out the words: Suicide is painless/ It brings on many changes/ And I can take it or leave it if I please.¬†Well now, isn’t that pleasant? But the song as a whole fits the theme of the movie and show.

In my late twenties I kind of took on a personal theme song that matched my life. It was Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping. For those that don’t know the words: I get knocked down, but I get up again/ You’re never gonna keep me down. It’s a catchy song. It has fit my life well over the past decade. Life has knocked me down again and again. I get knocked down in many ways, and I get right back up. I’m a fighter. It’s my nature. Somewhere my inner Buffy, with that itchy mortal wound, always manages to choose strength, to always get up and win the day no matter the cost. And there have been costs.

But as I’m getting older I’m realizing more and more that as a man thinks, so goes his (or hers) life. I’m ready for a new theme song. One with peace, prosperity, kindness and contentment. I haven’t found a song like that yet. So maybe it’s time to write my own theme song. After all, one of the major up points to life is finding your authentic voice and song. What will be your theme song? And whose voice will you use to sing it?

Until next time,

Craft no harm,

Moriah and the Flock

Monday’s Musings : I Can’t Do EVERYTHING

I was raised in a time of shifting ideology in this country. Traditional gender roles and second wave Feminism clashed in the media and stereotypes clashed around me as the child of a single mother in a male dominated industry. A male teacher told my mother he was shocked at how “well adjusted” I am considering I was from a “broken home”. Mom’s reply “children are only broken if you tell them they are broken”. Feel free to use that line.

I was fortunate enough to have my Papa. As a ninth generation Florida Cracker Native he believed a woman can do anything, but that doesn’t mean women should do everything. My grandmother and mom worked the fields alongside him. My grandmother was a better shot overall. We came from an older society where men and women had to be equals to survive. Women had to know how to shoe a horse and brand calves, and men had to know how to make dinner and clean house. There was never a doubt in my mind I could do or be in any occupation. My gender has nothing to do with my ability for accomplishments.

So, I went to South America. I rode horses, earned degrees, called out a few Vice Presidents at major companies, and was even a professional ballroom dancer for a while. I hike, train oxen, tramp through the woods on my own, work on my vehicles, shear, shoot, and I’ve even been known to wrangle a few orphaned calves. I can do anything.

And this, ladies, is the part some of you will dislike. Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I should. In addition to my accomplishments I have broken my ribs numerous times, broken four vertebrae and fractured a hip. I have bone spurs, arthritis, tendon damage. I have a permanent brain injury from one too many concussions. My left shoulder has dislocated three times and my right ankle twice. I’m missing bones in that foot, too. Everyday is pain. Sitting is painful. Walking is painful. Breathing is painful. Laying down is painful. Attitudes have consequences, especially for adventurous girls.

Am I equal in value to a man? OF COURSE! But as I’ve aged I’ve realized just because I can do anything doesn’t mean I should do everything. I simply lack the physicality to do things that men can do, and I’m a pretty robust gal. As Paul pointed out in the Christian Bible “all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial”.

At some point, overdoing physically becomes self harm. The “I can do anything” idea is dangerous without the tempering “but that doesn’t mean I should”. That holds true for everyone regardless of gender, because even in caring for ourselves physically we are all equal.

Until next time,

Craft no harm,

Moriah and the flock

Monday’s Musings: Should

Everytime the word should slides out of our mouths we undermind our own personal authority in our lives and give that athourity to insecurity.

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Photo by Pixabay

I should have eaten more veggies today and stuck to my weight watcher’s points better.

I should be a mother and a wife.

I should wipe my shoes off every time I wear them.

I should…

I should…

Stop judging myself?

It’s so easy to should ourselves, judge ourselves out of the joy life holds. We are not called to judge ourselves. We are called to accept and allow ourselves to become who we will become. Everytime the word should slides out of our mouths we undermind our own personal authority in our lives and give that athourity to insecurity.

Friends, “should” is a damning word. The Christian scriptures say that by the measure you judge, or “should”, by that measure will you be judged. You are your own judge in so many areas of life. You are also your own jury and the executioner of your innate potential.

I challenge you to a small, yet life changing, challenge. Drop the word “should” from your vocabulary with yourself and with others, especially your family and lover. Just experiment with it, and see what happens in your heart and mind.

Until next time,

Craft no harm,

Moriah

 

Monday’s Musings: The Ethics of the Ripple Effect

A small action can cause chaos over time without the intention of anything malicious.

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One of my favorite summertime activities is to sit down at the creek in the evenings and skip stones across the water. Sometimes when I can’t find a good skipping stone I’ll just toss in pebbles. What can I say? I’m easily amused. Oh who am I kidding? I’m a philosopher by nature and I do some pretty good thinking about life and the nature of the universe down by the creek.

Every time I toss a stone in the water ripples. The creek is changed in a minute way. Over time those minute changes can have a dramatic impact on the creek bank and the flow of the water. I can make a hole on the bank, make the creek wider, make the creek more shallow in a spot, encourage erosion along the bank, and even bring down a mighty tall tree that will lead to flooding in my pasture. A small action can cause chaos over time without the intention of anything malicious.

That’s the way every action and inaction we take in life operates. Every sip of liquid, every bite of food, every needless trip into town in our petrol powered automobiles as entertainment, every unkind word, every polymer encapsulated item, every touch, every missed moment for appreciating your spouse, every tiny selfish act over time leads to chaos.

Intention is not enough. True, if you start with good intentions then the possibility of a good future increases. But thinking through the ramifications of those actions from a moral and ethical perspective is ultimately what improves or decimates a family, a county, a state, a country, a nation, or our planet.

You have two powerful allies in creating a good future for yourself and others: rational thought and good intention. Use them with a kind heart and the world just might become a better place.

Until next time,

Craft no Harm,

Moriah