Beyond Mother’s Day

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PHOTO CREDIT CarlaGoldenWellness.com

As I was preparing my blog entry, my world was rocked.  A lot of people were rocked when we heard about Prince’s transition.  And it started to creep over into my preparation, besides the songs running in my head throughout the day! A mashup of When Doves Cry, I would Die for U, 1999, Little Red Corvette, and so many others.  I started to think about how he blurred lines.  Artistic lines, was it soul, funk, rock?  Gender lines.  Race lines.  No matter how you saw him, his gender bending, his race, his music;  it in no way detracted from his genius.  As more and more people are speaking up,  we now see his generosity, his humanitarian work.  He never sought the spotlight for what he did, he just helped where he could, quietly using his gifts to make the world a better place.  The gift that he most publicly gave us, was the gift to shift our perspective.  To look beyond appearances and to appreciate the talent, the beauty that exists in that state of being.  He offered us the opportunity to go into The Mystery.  Being able to step into and embrace the unknown, the unacknowledged within ourselves.  The gift of letting go of our dualistic thinking. But, we NEED that dualistic thinking, to separate male and female, white and black, rich and poor.  It seems to help us figure out where we stand in the world.  We even divide our Divinity into Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine.  The Truth is that we are both.  We live in a world that sees dualistically, when our Essence is Unity… our essence is Oneness.

As a woman, I am humbled and proud,  I am in awe of the ability to bear a life.  To know that my body was designed to nurture, protect, bring forth and nourish that new life.  I relish being soft, compassionate, loving, laughing, crying, allowed to be vulnerable.  I love my curves, my softness.  I enjoy playing with make-up, getting pedicures, painting my nails with bright colors and wearing dresses.  I also enjoy feeling my muscles work, feeling strong after I lift weights or after a challenging yoga session.  I know that I am capable of supporting my family financially and emotionally.  I assumed both mother and father roles for my kids for years.  As an entrepreneur, I know how to negotiate contracts and deals, my contractors know that I care about them as individuals and that when appropriate, business is business and is separated from the personal in the most compassionate way possible.  I have nursed people back to health, was present when both my grandma and my mom made their transitions, cried myself to sleep, cooked, cleaned, nurtured my family, expressed my emotions, I have also mucked out horse stalls, built fences using a post hole digger (not for the weak of spirit or back!), baled hay, hauled 10 gallons water buckets one in each hand, I love theatre, ballet and grew up watching heavy weight boxing, I enjoy listening to White Strips and classical music,  I have kept my cool under pressure, I have also lost my temper and swore in ways that would make a sailor proud. And I spent years of my life being jealous of men.  Being jealous of the ways they seem so much more free, how they are celebrated, how success seems so much easier, how no matter what I did it was really great “for a girl”.

I am blessed to have as a partner a man who embodies masculinity, who is big and strong, he has a commanding demeanor, a sharp wit and intellect, as a LMPD officer he protected the people of this city, worked as a training officer and a commanding officer.   I am blessed to have watched him cuddle his kids, I have watched him gently stroke the hair off his daughter’s forehead when she was sick and wipe her face with a cold cloth.  I watched him sweep our dog (120 lbs of tail, teeth, muscle and love!) up into his arms and carry her when she had surgery and I watched him lay on floor next to her speaking gentle, encouraging words.  I have taken care of him when he doesn’t feel well and he takes care of me when I don’t feel well.  We comforted each other when we both lost our moms.  At the gym one particular day I felt like running a bit as we were warming up, he didn’t. There was no competition, nothing, he simply said “go on ahead”.  There is that knowledge that we will be there for each other and that when one succeeds, we both rise up.  I am blessed in this relationship.

In our dualistic world…Successful women are aggressive, successful men are assertive.  Women have bitchy resting face, men are intense, men who attract younger women are admired, women who attract younger men are cougars.  A man is a great athlete, a woman does really well…for a girl.

It goes both ways,  women are sensitive, men are weak.  A woman is a nurturer, a man is said to babysit his own children.  A woman can be vulnerable, a man is supposed to stay on that white steed in his shining armor no matter what.  If a woman wants to stay home with her children that’s acceptable (not admired , but acceptable), if a man wants to stay home with his children he must not be a real man.  We know who wears the pants in that family, don’t we?   And god forbid a man want to be a nurse instead of a doctor.

No one is immune to this dualistic thinking and it harms us all.  This us vs them creates a deep chasm.  Whether it’s men vs women, young vs elder, white vs black, the U.S. vs everyone else, Dem vs Repub, rich vs middle class or poor.  These labels give us permission to think of someone else as less than ourselves, as less than human.  They also give us permission to feel justified in our own victimhood.  It isn’t us vs. them.  The Truth is Humanity , Divinity, Oneness.

We strive to be fully human, yet we can’t, we won’t experience that until we embrace it all as us.  As you and me, as male and female, as members of the same family, as Thoughts from The One Mind.  Go with me for a minute down this rabbit hole, don’t you think that the Creator could just as easily have made us all to look the same?  No gender, no races.  There are species who procreate quite nicely without being gender specific.  Do you really believe that we couldn’t have been created the same?  I believe one reason is so the Dearest Creator could experience every possible scenario.  Mostly, I believe it was so we could learn to embrace differences and have the opportunity to see our similarities.  So we can celebrate what makes us unique and at the same time go deeper and realize that we are all One.

When we create separation, we cut ourselves off from opportunities to learn, to grow, to get out of our self imposed comfort zone and embrace the mystery, to be of service and to be helped, to love and be loved.  We take away our opportunity to be fully human.

We have those times, times of natural disasters, tragedies that touch our hearts when we come together to aid those affected.  In these times, we don’t ask what their party affiliation is, what their gender preference is, we see another human being in need and we reach out our hand.  Even in lesser emergencies, when someone’s car battery dies, do you ask their religious beliefs before you offer to jump start the car?  Would you only accept help from someone who looked like you?

I locked my keys in my jeep and we have no spare so I had to call company to open the door.  The van pulled up and out stepped a mountain of a man, with a side arm, a knife, wearing a kilt and combat boots.  Here I am in a dress ,wearing my mala and have a namaste bumper sticker.  As we conversed, we realized that we had many things in common, we laughed, we joked.

My invitation, my challenge to you this week is to have lunch or coffee with someone who holds a different life view than you do.  Ask them how they experience life and really listen.  For extra credit, do this with someone who holds different political or religious views than yours and listen without having to counter what they say.  Take the opportunity to see where they are coming from, you can agree to disagree; I promise you will learn something in the process.

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All You Need is Love

Love is defined by Webster’s as an intense feeling of deep affection (N), feel a deep romantic attachment to (V).  Love is one of a handful of words that is classified as both noun and verb.

Probably the best know Bible verse about love is the last verse of I Corinthians 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

 

We love our children, we love our partner, we love our work, we love our home, we love our church, we love our pets, we love apple pie, we love a TV program, we love to do whatever someone asks us to do….we love, we love, we love.

As with so much of our human language, there is a difficulty in expressing the depth of our meaning.  So, we chose a word to convey the the most pure, the deepest, strongest, connection, affection, adoration, glorification, of someone or something.  And that word is love.  Then, we use it to describe how we feel about our favorite food.

Charles Fillmore, in The Revealing Word, defines love as:

“The pure essence of being that binds together the whole human family. Of all the attributes of God, love is undoubtedly the most beautiful. In divine mind, love is the power that joins and binds in divine harmony the universe and everything in it;  the great harmonizing principle known to man.

Divine Love is impersonal; it loves for the sake of loving. It is not concerned with what or who it loves, nor with a return of love. Like the sun, it’s joy is in the shining forth of its nature.

Love is an inner quality that sees good everywhere and in everybody. It insists that all is good, and by refusing to see anything but good it causes that quality finally to appear uppermost in itself, and in all things.

Love is the great harmonizer and healer. Whoever calls on God as Holy Spirit for healing is calling on divine love. Divine love will bring your own to you, adjust all misunderstandings, and make your life and affairs healthy, happy, harmonious, and free.”  

How eloquent, how complete.  As I read those words, I wondered how I would add anything to that.   Truly, I can’t.  What I can do offer is a new perspective.  We’re told to love your neighbor as yourself.  I don’t know about you, but watching the way some of my neighbors treat themselves, I’d rather they not love me that way.

Buddha reminds us that You can search the entire universe for a being more deserving of your love than you yourself and that person is not to be found.  

Have you ever considered that you can really only give love in direct proportion to the amount of love that you allow into your life?  In other words, you can’t give what you don’t acknowledge.  How can someone really love you if they don’t know you?  How can they know you, if you don’t know yourself?

We are so busy living day to day life, that we forget to live.  We forget, if we ever really knew, what makes us shine.  How many times have you been so tired, but had to keep going? Raise your children, support your friends, caregiver for your own parent, cheerleader, confidante, nurse, cook, chauffeur, employee or boss, all of these roles that you play for the people in your life.  And yet, how often do you say “I need to take some time for myself”.  “I am going to take a few minutes to go into the Silence and meditate”,”I am taking a night off and going to get a pedicure” (okay, I really enjoy pedicures),  “I am devoting a day to rediscover what makes me smile.”  Not at all meaning that your children, your parents, your partner, your career don’t make you smile; meaning that we all need to discover our own source of happiness that comes from within.  We each need to discover what makes our heart sing and sets our soul ablaze!  We all need to be like the sun, shining our love, sharing our unique gift. You came here with unique inspirations, aspirations, a unique gift that no one else can give the world.   When we aren’t living our Truth, when we play small to fit in or because we don’t think we can really do whatever it is….we aren’t expressing the love we came here to be.

You are infinite love, because you come from infinite love.  You have access to all the love you could need, share, more then you can possibly imagine.  However, most of us forget that connection.  We express our love through the ways we interact with each other and through the sharing of our gifts.  And yet, we forget that we need  to love ourselves as well. I heard a story from one of my mentors recently, during a workshop segment getting people to focus on their desires and dreams, he noticed that everyone was busy writing except one woman.  So, he asked her if she was having difficulty with the exercise.  She replied “no, my goal is to help my husband achieve his goal”.  While this is a very sweet thought, how fulfilling would that truly have made her?  My mentors’ response to her, “while that is very commendable, shouldn’t you have a goal that your husband could support you in as well?”  It’s so much easier to support someone else.  Then we don’t have to focus on our goals, our dreams.  That is hard work; discovering your unique gifts, focusing on letting them shine.  It’s scary too.  What if you fail?  What if no one wants what you have to offer? What if they don’t like the real you?   When you are a chameleon, you know you’ll be accepted, although not for yourself.  You’re accepted for fitting in.  Like Julia Roberts character in Runaway Bride, trying to figure out how she liked her eggs cooked.  Richard Gere’s character wouldn’t let her off the hook.  Instead, he took her hand, encouraged her, supported her, in finding hey own path.  It’s so much easier not to worry about shining our light, or we think sometimes that it is.

That place where we allow others to see the real us can be a scary place.  When we allow others to care for us it can be scary.  We have to show that we are vulnerable.  That maybe we would enjoy, maybe we even need to have someone take care of us every once in a blue moon.  

The story about the lady at the workshop is a perfect example that we also have an obligation to allow other people to grow, and part of that growth may very well be in supporting us in some ways.  

I’ve been very guilty of the “ I do it myself” syndrome.  So named for my daughter, who as all children are, was very adept at watching and learning from her mom.  Her first full sentence was “I do it myself”.  A few years after my divorce, there was a gentleman who I was friends with; and one of the ways he would show his friendship was in offering to be helpful when my daughter had chicken pox.  He would call to see if he could bring soup, popsicles, coloring books, whatever.  My response was always “thanks, we’re good, though.”. He would say “ yep, you’re always good”.  I didn’t allow him the opportunity to express his kindness, his support, even as a friend.  His offerings truly were part of who he is, he is in the healthcare field, he has a caregiver’s soul.

That vulnerability, that vulnerability.  That’s a scary place to be.  To show someone that you need something, that you may need help.  For so many years, I felt that I was being strong,  independent, self sufficient, a good role model for my kids, yes especially my daughter.

Actually, I was scared.  I was scared to let someone help me.  I was scared for anyone to see that I may need help.  I was afraid to admit that I was afraid.  I was afraid that I couldn’t do all of this on my own.  I was afraid that I would crack under the pressure.  I was afraid that people would look down on me, as a single mom, as a woman.    Khalil Gibran reminds us in The Prophet that if we aren’t willing to stand naked in the face of love, if we aren’t willing to bare our soul; then it’s best to pass by love’s threshing floor.  For it’s only in knowing the secrets of your heart that you can be made into sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.  If you seek only love’s pleasure, then you’ll live a shadow life where you will cry, but not all of your tears and you’ll laugh, but all of your laughter.  If you are willing and brave enough to be made bread (the sustenance of life) for God’s sacred feast (this world); that starts right now, right here.  The ripple effect of love will begin with you.

Opening myself, opening my heart and letting someone see how afraid I was, was a true turning point.  It allowed me to see the reasons I was so determined to do it myself.  I was afraid, actually terrified, if I depended on someone else they’d let me down, if I leaned on someone, they’d leave,  if I cried, they’d laugh.  I never wanted to be in a position where I depended on someone and would be hurt in anyway if the relationship, whatever it was, ended.  It’s difficult to be a really good friend with that attitude.  It’s even harder to be a life partner with that attitude.  I call my SO my wonderful champion.  In the book Eat, Love, Pray her romantic interest says that every woman needs a champion.  So, Mike is my champion.  One day, he was trying to help me with something and I wouldn’t let him.  He said “It’s awfully hard to be someone’s champion when they never let you save them.  Let me do my job, or quit calling me your champion.”  And he was right.  I still have my moments, but I gave him the title and he lives up to it magnificently.  Of course, I save him right back.

Love truly is all you need, because love truly is all that you are.
Namaste.

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Resume or Eulogy?

I am addicted to TED talks and I was watching one the other day by a gentleman named David Brooks he spoke about whether we live for our resume or for our eulogy, and that inspired my blog today.  (https://www.ted.com/talks/david_brooks_should_you_live_for_your_resume_or_your_eulogy).  His premise is that most of us live for our resume, and I agree.  That’s what our society rewards.  We’re more consumed with doing, having, getting than being.  There is a lot of truth to that.  We tend to value busyness. Even if you don’t accomplish anything at all as long as you were busy.  “Oh my goodness I didn’t even have time to stop and breathe all day long.”    Far too often, we don’t really breath, just as far too often we really don’t live.  We act like stress is a badge of honor!  It isn’t.  There is no extra gold star at the end for the one most stressed!

Our medical community is one of the most stressed populations around. They are so busy taking care of others, they don’t take care of themselves!  Physician, heal thyself.  We have created a program called “Healing the Healers” we are currently working with the VA Hospital teaching the staff self care techniques, such as massage, yoga and meditation.  We are giving them tools to alleviate compassion fatigue, which is rampant.

Watching your loved one work himself or herself crazy isn’t fun. You can’t connect with someone who is stressed, who is constantly busy.  That can be detrimental to a relationship.  Some parents tend to schedule every waking minute of their child’s life; piano lessons, sports teams, clubs, Boy/Girl Scouts.  Wow!  No wonder we can’t entertain ourselves, no wonder we have no idea how to just Be.

There is a book titled  Lonely Man of Faith  by a Jewish rabbi named Joseph B. Soloveitchik in which he writes about the two aspects of ourselves; he called the first aspect Adam 1 and the second aspect Adam 2.

Adam 1 is concerned with material possessions and achievements. Adam one is concerned with the market place skills you possess, worldly ambitions, conquering the world, how things work.  The main goal is external success.   Adam One’s motto is SUCCESS.

Adam 2  is concerned with love, connection ,compassion.  Adam two deeper aspects; who are you, are you bold, loving, compassionate.  Adam two humble, savors inner consistency and strength, who are we, why are we here.  The main goal is Inner Value.  Adam Two’s motto is LOVE REDEMPTION AND RETURN

Brooks, in his TEDTalk, says that they employ different logics:  Adam One is economic logic:   risk=reward, input leads to output

Adam Two is moral and  inverse logic:  you have to give to receive,  you have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain inner strength.

I believe that these two Adams can Coexist, with a conscious effort to balance them.  Our society is currently set up so that we need money to survive.  However, after your basic needs are met and you are comfortable there is nothing that shows a  correlation of increase in happiness with an increase in income.  If you jump from $75,000 to $250,000 there is nothing that shows that you will be more satisfied with your life.  If, you realize that money is a way to increase your reach of good in the world, what a difference that can make!

According to a 2006 study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology, that people who gave their time to help others through community and organizational involvement had greater self-esteem, less depression and lower stress levels than those who didn’t.

Other studies corroborate these findings and show even more health benefits associated with giving:

Other studies tell us that giving someone else a gift releases the same feel good hormones as if you had received the gift.  And it doesn’t have to be anything big, a small token of thoughtfulness will do.  However, if you’d like to gift me with a new Tesla, I will accept it joyfully and graciously!!

Another TEDTalk on What Makes a Happy LIfe (https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness?language=en) talks about the Harvard Study of Adult Development 75 yr study of 724 men. They studied two groups of men, the first groups was comprising of teens from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods and the second from men starting their Sophomore year at Harvard. Of the 724 men who started in 1938,  60 are still alive, most in their 90’s.  They’ve done interviews, medical exams, brain scans, talked to their parents, spouses and children.  At the beginning of the study the greatest majority wanted money and/or fame.  After over 7 decades, they have realized that money, fame and working harder don’t make us happy and healthy; it’s the relationships in life that keep us healthy and happy.  From the study, the researchers have shown:

  1. Loneliness does kill us; it lowers our physical and mental resilience.  Brain function declines faster and the lonely die earlier in life.  Loneliness is toxic, which is scary enough, but when you realize that at any time 1 in 5 Americans report being lonely; it’s unimaginable the damage done.
  1. It’s the quality of your relationships.  Marriages that are full of conflict are worse for our health than divorce. Warm, satisfying relationships, where you can depend on each other help keep us healthy. When physical pain was reported higher, emotional pain didn’t increase for those in a healthier relationship.  People not in relationships or those in unhealthy relationships reported more mental anguish on days when their physical pain was higher.
  1.  Good relationships, securely attached relationships, keep our brains healthy.  Memory of those in their 80’s were vastly better when they were in relationships where they knew they could lean on each other when things get rough.  Doesn’t mean they don’t bicker, they knew that even during the bickering they were loved, accepted and valued by their partner.  Researchers were curious if they could, looking back over data collected during the participants 50’s, tell who was more likely to be healthier in their 80’s.  They learned that those in happier, healthier relationships were healthier (physically and mentally) in their 80’s.

When our grandparents were growing up you check on with the 94 year old little widow next door; make sure the grass was cut, her sidewalks shoveled during the winter.  That if she needed anything at the grocery, you could pick it up for her.  Now chances are our 94 year old widow neighbor has been shipped off to a nursing home because quite often we don’t what that reminder of our own mortality. We don’t have patience or energy for those who need it most.  My uncle used to take my grandmother to the grocery store and drop her off at the door; then he’d go sit in the car or circle the parking lot or whatever.  If she didn’t come out in the time that he thought she should, then he went through every aisle looking for her and rushed her along. I was guilty of the same thing with my own mom.  When we would go to Sam’s her favorite thing was when they had all of the samples and she would go up and down every single aisle.  She wanted to taste everything she wanted to talk to all of the workers about the recipes; even though I knew she was never going to make it because my mom was a horrible cook, even following the recipe.  I would get so aggravated with her because there was so much other stuff that I needed to be doing besides spending time with her.  I didn’t realize that this was one her ways of making some kind of outside connection.  She isolated herself so much in her later years, I didn’t realize how deprived of human contact she truly became until her memorial service when not much more than family attended. When she was younger, my mom had so many people who adored her, it was difficult for me to imagine that she didn’t keep those relationships.

We often treat our kids the same way.  That’s probably one of the reasons going to the grandparents is such a treat; because they actually have time to spend with the kids.  They have time to go for walks, to cook together, read together.  I still treasure walks when my grandpa would point out different trees and plants.  I still cook many of the same dishes my grandma let me help her cook.

And certainly the most important relationship is the one with the Great Divine and acknowledging that within ourselves.  Developing the relationship with Divinity and the Divinity within ourselves is one of the most challenging and rewarding goals in life.

Research (yes, I read a lot of research.  I think we are fascinating!) shows that those with a spiritual life are more grateful, which is associated with optimism, being generous and vitality.

Spirituality cultivates compassion, not only for others for but one’s own self.  It teaches us to by empathic to the plights of others.

Spiritual people feel that their life has meaning, that they serve a higher purpose.  Victor Frankel said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning that when he spoke to his students in Vienna 26% felt their life had no meaning.  Sounds like a pretty high percentage, doesn’t it?  Among his American students, it was 60%.  60% of his American graduate students felt their lives had no meaning and served no purpose.

Those who feel that deepening their spiritual experience consider person growth and fulfillment paramount.  It focuses on those inner values and encourages becoming the best version of you that you can be.

As a Hospice volunteer, I know that people regret more often what they did not do than what they did do.  They regret running of time do the things that were put on the back burner until they had time, money, energy.  No one talks about wanting to work more or harder.

Staying on the hamster wheel to collect more stuff, doesn’t do anything but lead to a life of mediocrity.  At that point, a funeral is just a technicality.

My hope for all us is that when we make our exit from this existence that we laugh unabashedly and say I can’t believe I did that!  And not I wish I had done that.

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Once Upon a Time I Had a Heart

Once upon a time I had a heart….a whole, strong heart. It beat steady and sure, I could feel it and hear it’s sound.  No matter how it may have been disappointed, abused or hurt; even when it was broken, it healed and was stronger.

Then, one day,  Through the grace of God, I met a beautiful, charming boy.  With dark, brown eyes and brown hair, he who was calmed by the sound of my voice.  He who was the first to know the sound of my heartbeat from the inside of my body.  My sweet Sean.  At the moment of his birth, I lost a big piece of my heart.

With wonder and awe, I met another precious, magical boy.  With deep, velvety brown eyes, and brown hair.  He who had a most solemn expression.  He also knew the sound of my heartbeat from the inside.  My precious Patrick.  At the moment of his birth, I lost another huge part of my heart.

And then I met a miraculous, strong girl.  With defiant blue eyes and fiery red hair.  She who was a miracle of miracles.  She who would be the last to know my voice and heartbeat from the inside.  My marvelous Mackenzie.  At the moment of her birth, I lost the rest of my heart.

It’s as if, on their way through the birth canal, they reached up with their sweet, chubby hands, took hold of my heart and ripped a piece off, claiming it as their own.  And I’ve not missed any part of my heart, because it was still with me, just in pieces and held by the loves of my life.  I had the joy and the honor of watching these unique, expressions of absolute, unlimited potential grow, and run and laugh.  I learned as much from them, if not more, than I ever taught them.

I held them close to me, intoxicated by their scent.  Kissed their sweet heads, tickled their small feet and reveled in their laughter.  I saw the world, full of wonders again, through their eyes.  I felt their pain deeper than I ever felt my own….and the mama bear often took over.  I watched, holding my breath, as they would try out their wings.  Nursing wounds when I was allowed and waiting in the background ,feeling myself turned inside out, when I wasn’t allowed.  That was more unbearable than anything I have ever experienced, that feeling of not being able to help….being rejected, denied.  Of course I know that’s not what they intended to do, but that’s how it felt.  I know that it had to be that way, it’s almost as if birthing them again, as they step into their own lives and need to move away from you…..from me.  They are doing what they were raised to do, what they were born to be….independent, strong, compassionate, intelligent and self-reliant people who follow their own path and passion.  It shouldn’t be any other way.

And now, my heart is still with them and only now do I feel the hollow, emptiness.  I hear myself wailing, hot tears welling up in my eyes, a catch in my throat…..but I look fine.  I hold everything together, because I would never take away from my babies their excitement, their dreams, the ability to follow their own path and make their own mistakes.  I will stay in the shadows and cheer for them, pray for them, and, when allowed, comfort them.  And I will love them, fiercely forever and ever amen.

If your babies are still with you, don’t take this time for granted.  Don’t wish them older, relish every moment, every dirty hand print, every rock they find and give you, every slobbery kiss, every precious moment.  They’ll walk, talk and use the potty in their own time.  Read to them, hold them, take walks with them, build that strong foundation, give them strong roots so that when they use their wings they’ll still know that connection to you.  Teach them gently and disciple when needed.  As easy as it is to believe that teenagers are the reason some animals eat their young, that is a time when they really need you even more.  Your guidance, your love and most of all your presence.  We make it through that time, mostly unscathed, and then it’s time for them to leave home.  You realize that you’ve only just blinked an eye and they’ve grown up.

I will move through the rest of my life waiting to see those who hold my heart, to hear their voices and laughter, to share their joys, to hold them in my arms again.  I move now into the next phase of my life, just as they each move into the next phase of theirs.  Now concentrating on sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to make their journey easier.  Exposing them to new possibilities, to the strength inside themselves, just as I find new strength within myself.  Reinventing myself as I’ve done so many times in this life.

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Mother’s Day

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The three for whom I was a vessel.

I recently created a retreat day for myself and it was such a blessing, as we were on vacation for a week and then I came back and attended very intensive classes for a week.  It was such a great experience, in all honesty, I created it mainly to get the credit for the meditation class I had just completed!  I broke the day into sections of sitting and walking meditations, gentle and restorative yoga, and lectio divina, (Latin for “Divine Reading” is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word.[1] It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.  Wikipedia).  You can use any any text that you find inspiring.  The section devoted to lectio divina was especially powerful for me.  Since my retreat day was close to Mother’s Day and my youngest will be graduating and leaving home in two months, I chose The Prophet on Children by Kahlil Gibran as my reading.  Here it is, in case you are’t familiar with it:

Your children are not your children.
      They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
      They come through you but not from you,
      And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
      You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
      For they have their own thoughts.
      You may house their bodies but not their souls,
      For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
      You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
      For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
      You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
      The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
      Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
      For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

It has always been a moving piece for me, but reflecting on it in this way, it held so much more emotion.  I was able to sit with it and really feel all of it, not turning away when the sadness hit or the guilt or the shame, even a twinge of jealousy.  And not being swept away in fond memories when the happiness came, just to sit, acknowledge and allow whatever came up.  Allowing the tears that needed to flow wash over my soul and giving myself over totally to the feeling of holding my babies and their laughter make my soul sing.   I didn’t see this time just as a mother but also as a daughter and held the awareness of the opposite side; that feeling of knowing that I was held and nurtured and that someone felt the exquisite pain of letting me fly. And even in the releasing myself to the feeling, I could observe what I was experiencing.  It wasn’t just a tidal wave of confused emotions crashing through my heart and mind.  It was more of an ebb and flow, some more powerful, some less intense, and all very much appreciated.  I appreciated the pain as much as the joy, because the pain lets me know how much I love them, how large a part of each other we will always be.  I was able to honor those parts of me that grieve and that are joyous.

I look forward to sharing this experience with many other people and to that end, am working to arrange a four hour Father’s Day Retreat at Unity of Louisville on June 13, 2015, to prepare people in a reflective way for Father’s Day.  So many of us have so much baggage around our relationships with our parents and our children, I feel it’s a good time to examine and release some of it.  It’s designed for fathers and all those who fill that provider role,  I have been both mother and father to my children for many years.  It’s also for those who may have issues to release around the relationship with their own father.  If you are intersted in attending, please let me know and I will add you to the email list.

I do have to admit that it was difficult to stay in that peaceful space that I created once I came home.  Mackenzie was in a panic about something, Mike and Ben were arguing about something and the dog was so happy to see me that she peed…on my foot.  She’s an excitement tickler, a 120lb excitement tickler, that’s lot of tinkle!  I breathed, noticed what I was feeling in my body, noticed the thoughts going through my head (mostly to run back out the door!)  And realized that this is part of being mom; having the ones you love so happy to see to you that they can’t control themselves, putting out fires or empowering others to put out their own fires and being a center of calm, peace and love.  Families offer us the greatest opportunity for growth, especially as parents.

Namaste and blessings.

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Why Is It Easier To Focus On The Negative??!!

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Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy to believe the negative things people say and why it’s so difficult to believe the positive things?  Or why we sit mesmerized by horrible news stories being played over and over and over and over and over…you get the idea (I live with a CNN junkie!).

It’s not just you and it’s not because there is something “wrong” with you or your genes.  It’s the way our brains are wired, it’s a survival mechanism.  Our brains constantly scan our environment looking for threats, for that saber-toothed tiger right around the corner.  When we have a negative experience, our brain registers this as a possible danger putting your body on high alert.  That triggers the amygdala, which is a small, almond shaped part of our brain which controls the fight or flight response.  It is our early warning system, and any perceived danger will set it off.

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 So now we know that we are hard-wired to pay more attention to the negative in order to stay alive.  But, there are reasons that some people seem to dwell on the negative a bit more than others.  One reason is our perception.  What exactly is perception?  It is your individual view of the world, no one else has your exact perception on every situation.  Even siblings who have the same parents, grew up in the same house, went to the same school, etc. can have vastly different perceptions of their childhood.  I was visiting with my uncle recently and we were talking about this very subject.  He was remembering an event that happened when he was younger to his brother and his brother’s recollection was quite the opposite.  As they reminisced more with each other, they realized that even though they grew up in the same house, raised by the same parents, were just two years apart in school; their lives were drastically different.  The uncle I spoke with was most definitely their mom’s favorite, she made no effort to hide this fact, even we grand kids knew who her favorites were and there was one in each generation…I was the very fortunate grandchild!  So my grandmother made sure that he was treated with kid gloves by my grandfather, who in his years as a father of teenage boys was firmly in the “spare the rod, spoil the child” camp.  My other uncle was not so lucky and so more often than not bore the full brunt of my granddad’s temper.  Not to say that he was abusive, just very strict and very hard on my older uncle, much in line with his generation.  My mom had a totally different perspective as she was daddy’s little girl but had a difficult relationship with my grandma.  So, with three kids in the same house, same parents, etc, we have three vastly different perspectives on their childhood.  Not every single event, but enough to realize that their mindset was shaped quite differently.  I’m sure if we could speak with my grandparents, we’d have two more vastly different perspectives!

You are inundated with information every second you’re awake, 11 million pieces of information per second, to be specific. Your brains, however, can only process 40 bits per second, which means that your brain must choose a huge amount of information to ignore.  While our brains are choosing what information to present, they also expend energy interpreting this information based on our individual experiences, thus creating your individual reality.  This expended energy is called “evoked potential”  which is defined as “an electrical potential recorded from the nervous system of a human or other animal following presentation of a stimulus, as distinct from spontaneous potentials as detected by electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), or other electrophysiological recording method”.  In addition to EEGs and MRIs, Eye-Movement Instruments are used to measure evoked potential.

The good news here is that you can train your brain to look for and so focus, on more positive information than negative information.  And we’ll talk about that next time.

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Drive a New Route

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I’m reading a book called “Before Happiness” by Shawn Achor.  It is a fabulous book about how shifting our perception of reality can create a long-lasting, real and sustainable change in our lives.

One of the suggestions is to change the route you normally drive or walk, to help expand your options and see details in your world that you may be missing.  The more patterns you break out of, the easier it is to find new vantage points.  The more vantage points you can see, the more options you can see in potentially difficult situations.

Here’s another suggestion: Draw a coffee cup, go ahead I’ll wait……..

Okay, now draw one being as creative as you can, really unleash that creative genius!!!

What was the vantage point of your drawing?  Chances are it was from the side.  This experiment has been done a few times with hundreds of people, and almost unanimously the vantage point was from the side.coffee-cup-heartcurrents-051312

Now place a coffee cup on your table and look at it from various angles, which could be really cool if you have a glass top table!  Then go back to the paper and draw a few other views.

Just because I trust you, I’ll tell you that I switched up my route when I walked my dog the other day.  I thought I was doing really well since I usually change the which way I walk on the same streets.  This time I really turned down different streets and I thought “this is kinda silly.  It’s my neighborhood even it is a different way than I usually walk.” About that time, I realized I was lost!  Yes, in my own neighborhood!  Just the difference between walking and driving is a new perspective.  It was starting to get a bit dark and colder and oh my, I really wasn’t sure which street would get me home.  I really had to stop and get my bearings.   I know that would never happen to you, so give it a try, drive or walk a different route tomorrow.  Let me know what you think.

Namaste and blessings!

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