A Love Letter to Mindful Parents of Little Ones

A Love Letter to Mindful Parents of Little Ones, via theorganicsister.com #quote #marianne #williamson #parenting

I remember when we first starting parenting from a place of gentleness.

A place that taught us how to not use our hands to get our point across. A place that teaches us to breathe and listen and connect first. A place that models patience and kindness so he’ll know how to use it too. A place that showed us how to trust.

It was hard. Just as hard as I know it now is for you.

On one side we had the voices in our own head screaming, yelling out years of conditioning, of fears, that love is not enough, that kids need discipline, they need someone to control them, they sure as hell don’t need a friend. The voice within that was afraid. Afraid of screwing this up. Of “creating a monster”. We had our triggers and our angry to peel back and heal. And lord knows, we never got a fucking break.

On the other side we had well-intentioned families or neighbors or strangers, and their voices. Voices full of doubt. Or voices held behind the sideways glances of condemnation when he was having a meltdown and we weren’t coming down on him. Voices that actually told us our son would be a “detriment to society” and then got angry and offended because we didn’t respect their opinion on that matter. Voices that told us “we turned out alright”, we “survived”. Voices that rolled their eyes when we explained we want our child to do more than “survive” his upbringing.

Voices that were offended, voices that thought we were judging them, voices that told us he was turning into a brat. Voices that yelled at him when we didn’t. Voices that made us all cry a time or three.

But we also had glimpses. We had glimpses of support from another mama in the grocery store. Glimpses of support from family and friends who really wanted to believe the crazy-ass vision we had that this whole “respecting him as a person” thing could work. Glimpses from other parents who had gone before us.

And that’s why I’m writing this to you today.

Zeb turns 14 tomorrow.

For almost 7 years we’ve been following our hearts, and doing the very deep, very hard work of parenting him with patience, trust, compassion, and kindness.

It has not been easy. And there were times we wondered.

Times when he tried to climb the walls of a restaurant, and we struggled to find the right way to handle amidst the criticism. Phases that can really only be called “obnoxious phases”, where he tested out his autonomy in ways that weren’t much fun for any of us. Times when he made bad decisions and we allowed him to, not with “tough love”, but with patience and lots of gentle conversations as we guided him through the consequences. Moments when we watched him struggle and deny any guidance at all. Moments that made us cringe and wonder if we were doing the right thing.

This too shall pass” became my mantra.

This is not his life sentence” became my reminder.

This is not about impressing others” became my own personal practice.

And even when I was sure I was wrong, I was right.

At 14, he’s neither a “detriment to society”, nor a “spoiled brat”.

In fact, this past week, as he’s been visiting family and friends out of town, we’ve been privileged to read the thoughts and impressions of those he’s with. We’ve been honored to see him through the voices of others for a change.

To hear his cousin remark how smart he is and how happy she is that he has a mind of his own, and how much she loves being friends with him…

To hear how he’s opening doors for others and helping with the dishes…

To hear how much he makes everyone laugh…

To hear my own mama say that the rest of the questioning and ridicule we’ve received was all wrong, that we are all lucky to know this amazing young man…

To hear that others can see in him what we’ve seen all along…

And this is what I want to share with you.

There are, what I like to call, “the messy years”. Years when it very much does look like you’re creating a monster. Years you’re not sure will pass.

Years when you sure as hell don’t think you’ll ever hear words like I’ve heard above.

There will be times when your kid will scream at you and you’ll wonder just how patient is patient enough. Times when someone doesn’t see the 14 conversations you will be having with one another over the next week about this situation and the way you’ll come together with love and apologies and deep heart lessons for both of you, and instead they’ll only see that you are to blame for “the problem with kids“; you know, the ones who get neither love nor appreciation and truly do act terrible because of it.

There will be doubts. Moments when you want to go back to yelling or spanking or shaming because “at least it got shit done”, and it sure as hell wasn’t so tiring.

And there will be mistakes. Bad choices of your own when you look like a terrible example of conscious parenting, or a terrible example for any kind of parenting for that matter. Moments you’ll handle poorly enough to embarrass yourself. Moments you’ll wish you could do over for years.

It’s going to be hard.

Really hard.

Really fucking hard.

You will – at least once, I guarantee it – change your mind, throw in the towel, and be absolutely assured that this hippie-dippy shit only works for some kids. That love and respect and kindness isn’t actually universal. And that if it is, you just don’t have what it takes to make it work.

You will get to that place, trust me.

And in that moment I hope you’ll remember to have these words tucked away in your heart, and to come back to them to remind yourself what I’m saying here.

It. Will. Pass. The doubts, the fear, the messy years. It’s not their life sentence. Love and patience and kindness is universal (although how your kid needs it to look isn’t). And one day, standing before you will be this incredible person (who still challenges the bullshit out of you), with a grin on his or her face, and a big wonderful heart, who learned to share it with others because you shared yours first.

You will not have “created” this amazing person who opens doors and speaks up for the little guy and has intelligent conversations…but you will know you nurtured them to their fullest potential without getting your own triggers and ย inner fears in their way.

Again, let me repeat, there will be times where it is impossible.

I’m not saying it will “seem” impossible. By all means, you’ll know it IS impossible.

And in those times you get to make a choice.

A choice for your values or immediate results.

A choice over who is going to win: the voice of fear or the voice of Love.

This is parenting for the long-term. For the big picture. So remind yourself, through all these messy years when there are boogers dragged across the walls, and screaming matches over LEGO, and the first time they ever steal something, and words you wish you’d never taught them, and everyone is so kind as to point out their perfectly manicured children who never talk back or make mistakes because they’d get their ass whooped if they did…

Remind yourself that real, mindful, conscious, organic, peaceful, respectful parenting doesn’t look good in the beginning, in the same way a freaking souffle doesn’t look like a souffle until it comes out of the oven. (And if you keep poking and prodding it’s not gonna come out looking like a souffle at all.)

This kind of parenting doesn’t come with instant gratification like spanking and threatening and shaming does.

Instead it comes with real gratification, the kind that comes when one day they are taller than you and out there making their impact on the world with the kind of tools you modeled for them.

So this is my love letter to you, as much as it is to my younger self.

This is my reminder that your kids chose you as much as you chose your kids.

This is my reminder that the only things that really trigger us is our moments without love and trust.

This is my reminder that whether you pushed an 8 lb baby out of your vagina or simply caught one with your hands or your heart, both prove that you ARE in fact cut out for this, that you DO in fact have enough love to give, and that you WILL in fact find out how incredibly amazing of a parent you are – not when the world finally sees it, but when you finally do.

Practicing the Empty Nest (or Our Month of Dates)

Dropping the #manchild off at the airport.

Zeb’s been out of town for two weeks now (which should show you about how behind in blogging I am). He comes home next week, just one day shy of his 14th birthday.

These trips of his are almost old hat for us now, except this time he not only flew alone but also navigated his first layover/plane change. It came about after a lot of discussion and even some practice runs following our convoluted and time-sensitive directions through a busy mall. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The first thing people ask us when he leaves town is, “Do you miss him?”

The first two weeks my answer was, “No”, which I’m pretty sure puts me in last place for Mom of the Year.

But the thing is missing him would be like saying we wish he were here. And if he is having a blast, exploring and being with family and friends, why would we bring in our complaints about his absence, why would we wish for him to be anywhere but where he’s having fun, why would we damper his mood by making him worry about us?

So instead of our focusing on his not being here, we focused on his having a blast and our permission to do the same. We ate out. Went to the beach. Got to know each other a little more. We even established an Instacrack hashtag to commemorate #ourmonthofdates.

Heaven. #ourmonthofdates

But that was the first two weeks.

Now we are missing him and ready for our time apart to end. ๐Ÿ™‚

Funny how the newness (or the much needed break) wears off.

Yes, I said much needed break.

You know, a lot of people in the mindful parenting community talk about how awesome it is to have teenagers. And when you’ve come from a paradigm of “the moment your sweet little child hits 13 they will make you want to scratch your eyes out” it is REALLY important to understand that parenting teenagers does NOT suck.

And it doesn’t.

We get to watch this man-child grow taller than us. We get to have amazing discussions on politics or social issues. We get to hear jokes that don’t end in “Red race car vroom vroom”. We get to see him establish his own identity (that he will undoubtedly reestablish 17 more times before he finally realizes none of it works) and come to know him in ways a 3 year old or 7 year old or 11 year old can’t tell you about themselves, can’t even know about themselves.

But there’s one thing all these mindful parenting circles don’t tell you….

Yes, parenting teens is it’s own kind of awesome.

And yes, it can also really blow too.

Hormones are a bitch. Don’t you remember that? Don’t you remember bursting into tears or suddenly growing fangs and ripping the flesh off some unsuspecting person while in your mind you shocked or scared even yourself? Don’t you remember that biological urge to establish your own territory, so you packed away the Slim Jims and Top Ramen in your room until finally the ants got so bad your parents called the trump card and made you eat in the kitchen?

Self-identity is a bitch. Don’t you remember how your sudden self-awareness quickly turned into self-consciousness as you re-examined everything you ever loved and suddenly didn’t even understand anymore. And your heightened awareness also meant seeing the world at large and wanting to find your place in it – and that’s some crap we still struggle with as adults, except as a teen it’s new and overwhelming and makes you wanna watch Family Guy all day until you’re comfortable enough with the mere thought to finally sort it all out. (I remember when the idea of an endless universe made me want to cry from the impossible task of trying to wrap my limited mind around it. I couldn’t even go there until I was at least 20.) That’s not only happening in mainstream, unconscious homes. It happens to mindful, relationship-based, conscious people too.

And as much as it comes with so joy and fun and utter coolness, it’s hard for teens to make the transition through such bumpy mental terrain, which makes it hard for us parents too.

#ourmonthofdates includes quiet moments of doing absolutely nothing. Together.

No one ever told me that.

No one ever told me that conscious parenting doesn’t guarantee that the child-to-adult transition still won’t suck at times. Or that those times might last longer than one short outburst, and then maybe not even end in a hug.

No one ever told me that for all the awesome sauce teenhood brings to the table, there is still a biological urge to leave the nest, and that even your kid will feel bad about how dorky you suddenly seem to him as his evolutionary switch is flipped from My Parents Are Gods to “Oh my God, my parents…“.

And well, no one needed to tell me that any of our own latent triggers we acquire as a teen will suddenly be brought up for us to finally face. That one I knew. I just didn’t recognize that he would have triggers too, and that sometimes we would both be triggered in harmony with one another, like some sick and twisted version of Satan’s Choir.

And I get why no one ever told me.

They didn’t want me to expect it, to dread it, to perpetuate that false idea that raising teens sucks.

Because it doesn’t suck…ย inherently.

It’s just the real deal. Like World 8 of Super Mario. Sure it kicks your ass, but you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have some epic experience defeating your own inner Bowzers to this point. And anyway, you only are playing the game because ultimately it IS fun and fulfilling. Even if sometimes you wanna throw the controller at the screen.

So yes…raising teens in a conscious, connected way, transitioning from attachment parenting to nonattachment in your parenting, and navigating the perils of hormonal fluctuations is hard…for you and your kid.

But it’s still really cool.

And like this week is showing us, the hard stuff fades away and you just end up remembering how awesome they are – when you take the time to remember.

At some point Zeb is gonna be out doing his own thing. And it’s really weird to have your offspring hanging out in Houston without you while he waits for his connecting flight; I can only imagine how much weirder it’s going to be when this is an everyday occurrence.

1. Zeb is somewhere over Louisiana. 2. He doesn't like Thai food. 3. Hence we are kicking off #ourmonthofdates with a Thai buffet.

And yes, we were enjoying #ourmonthofdates those first two weeks, practicing what it would be like to be empty nesters, but now it’s just getting weird. We can only have Pad Thai so many times before we’d rather go to his fave restaurants. And watching The Wolverine in two different states felt kinda sacrilegious to the Family Canon (“Thou shalt see all Stan Lee movies together on release weekend” ranks in our Top 5 Commandments. Right after “Thou shalt wipe your own urine off the toilet seat, dammit“.)

But the time away has also come with some great perspective…

Like how incredibly thankful we are for the way he helps us everyday.

Like how much laughter he brings us.

Like how this parenting gig, no matter how conscious or attached we are, is not going to be our full-time gig forever. That someday he will fly the coop and when the two week newness of date nights and sleeping nekked and actually having leftover bacon wears off, we’re going to miss his face and his warm hugs and his jokes (the good ones and the ones that end in car sounds), and we’re even gonna miss his mood swings.

You’d think I’d know this by now.

We always miss the things we don’t think we’re going to miss. Like the diaper phase. And the sticking-the-hands-in-the-diaper phase. And the Curious Fours and the Intense Sevens.

If we don’t miss the actual details, like the time his diaper leaked diarrhea down my leg and someone was kind enough to take a photo, we at least miss our opportunity to be present and engaged and our best Selves in the moment, like the times I wish I had taken 5 more deep breaths and reminded myself how difficult it can be on the other side.

Because it’s way more difficult to BE a teen than to parent a teen. And it’s probably way more difficult to be MY teen (I’m told, my “going Guru” doesn’t really do it for him). And it’s gotta be infinitely harder to actually be an empty nester instead of just practice being one.

So yes, we (all) appreciate our times away for one another. But for me, mostly because of how they bring us back together.

Capturing (and thus Losing) the Moment

Life is always walking up to us and saying,

I’ve been hyper-conscious of this in my own life lately. It’s been coming up in the Sisterhood, in my meditations, with friends, with Justin and Zeb. It even came up at the end of my post last week on Celebrations.

How often I am actually in the present moment and all it offers, versus trying to “capture” the present moment?

Over the past few months I’ve noticed how much tension is actually created when I’m not present to This Moment. It was so unnoticed before, when I was Anywhere But Here. Not only did I not see myself elsewhere, I didn’t see the affect it had on me either. The more I’m slipping down this Spiritual Rabbit Hole of witnessing and meditating and (you guessed it) Surrender, the more I’m noticing things I just didn’t get before.

Like, uh, how often I’d take a photo of something for Instagram, essentially inviting the whole world into my sacred moments. How can I call those sacred anymore?

I’ve been very conscious also of the fact that the truly sacred moments create pretty shitty photos. They don’t look magical or perfectly primped. And I can’t capture the real essence of their experience because the experience is happening solely within. Like when I am still and sitting in a dark parking lot and not really doing anything at all.

Dark parking lot contemplations

Even taking that photo broke the magic of it for me. It took me out of the present moment. Got my mind thinking. Stirred up noise within the stillness.

I find my mind wanting to take photos though – photos of my meditation, photos of my yoga practice, photos of my quiet contemplative walks, photos of my great conversations (the one where I’m actually connecting with this wonderful person in front of me) – and then hearing very clearly that Organic Wisdom speaking, asking me why the hell I would take myself out of this moment, why would I break the sacredness that is happening?

Am I bragging? Trying to capture something that I’m afraid of losing? Am I really truly present? Obviously not, if my mind is taking me to something other than this right here, taking me away from this person in front of me that I’m deeply engaging with, even when that person is Me, and inviting in the whole world instead.

And then, of course, the question to play with is this: How do I find that sweet spot between being present in this moment and still capturing the moment forl ater? How do I create these little snippets that we love to look back on without missing the very thing they are offering me – Presence?

This Presence thing is a life-changing thing. I didn’t get that when I thought I was being present, when I was really only present to my thoughts about the past or the future or what I need to capture (or just simply what I need to do tomorrow).

Presence has allowed me to hold a vision for my work brighter and bigger than I ever would before, something that has the potential to freak me out if I allow myself to go out of the present moment and into the past What-If’s or future How-the-Hell’s.

Presence has allowed me to diffuse (because what do we bicker about without drudging up the past or projecting into the future), allowed me to experiment and play and enjoy others because I”m nowhere else but here with them.

Presence has allowed me to say Yes! with enthusiasm and without doubt, without worrying if I could or should or have enough time.

Trusting that each present moment – whether its a parenting moment, a business moment, a partner moment, a self-care moment – will take care of itself if I just continue to show up fully present to it.

P.S. Interestingly enough, I wrote this post two weeks ago, long before we decided in the Sisterhood that Presence would be our Guiding Word and theme for August. I love those kind of synchronicities, don’t you? The word was chosen to allow us to move into August, traditionally a month of transition, with more mindfulness and presence to the moment and what it’s offering. If you’d like to join us through this experience, we’d love to welcome you.

There is No Such Thing as Square One

I connected with a sweet, beautiful, wonderful client recently who was feeling overwhelmed and set back by life.

It’s a frustrating feeling, to set your heart and soul on a goal, or even just a new perspective…to feel the shifts happening in your life, the forward movement finally taking place. And then to experience an upheaval, a new challenge, a serious trigger, the whole of your world throwing up in your face.

Then to feel yourself losing all that ground.

If you're gonna fall, you may as well fall with pizzazz. #jazzhands
(If you’re going to fall, fall with pizzazz!)

Three steps forward, two back again…or four back it can seem.

We experience that backward slide in our own inner work and then we couple it with stories about What That Means. And the stories we tell ourselves about it SEEM true.

Our big, desperate, self-deprecating emotions like to tell us it’s real, we’ve just lost out again, Life is against us, this is proof we’re not good enough, and all our deep and meaningful (and hard) work has been thwarted by fate or circumstance or someone who just wants to watch us suffer.

And so we cry that we’re back to Square One, and we suffer for it.

But it’s just nonsense, you know?

There is no such thing as Square One.

You can’t get set back to it. You can’t even really start from it.

It’s like eating.

You go to the store, find the perfect ingredients, spend 30-60 minutes making a meal, 15 minutes eating it, 30 minutes cleaning it up…

5 hours later you don’t shake your fist at the sky and yell, “DAAAAAAAMMIIIIIIT! I’m hungry again! All that work for nothing! I’ll never get ahead! I’m going to be hungry forever!

Instead, what do you do? You just eat again.

Maybe you eat better food this time if you got hungry too soon. Maybe you eat different food if you ended up with cramps and as the lovely, Christie Inge recently said to the Sisterhood, “the roaring shits”. Maybe you ask for support if you need help getting good stuff on the table.

But you don’t give up on eating.

That would be suicide by starvation.

Such is the process of Life.

The cyclical nature of growth, of moving forward and seemingly back again, the leaps and bounds and roadblocks, the coming back around to what we want to think is Square One…it’s just your appetite for Life bringing you back to the table.

Offering you more opportunity to grow.

To fill your belly again.

To realign yourself.

So eat it up.

Get better tools. Get support if you need it. But please don’t go hungry today because you’ve just eaten yesterday. And please don’t hate all over yourself because you think you’ve somehow failed at filling your belly.

Because that job will never ever be complete, so long as you wish to truly live.

Who or what are you “trying to love”?

Who or what are you trying to love?

But, of course, what is not said in this quote is how to bring into your heart this extraordinary thing called love.

How do we love the guy that flipped us off with our kid in the car?

How do we love the dog shit we found in our shoe this morning?

How do we love the cockroach that just crawled across our glass?

We don’t.

Notice Krishnamurti isn’t saying you need to do anything, such as “loving” someone or something. He’s saying you need to allow love in and then your experience of the world – including the other driver, the dog shit, the roach even (or so I’m told – yet to get there myself on that one) – will do the changing right before your eyes.

Who or what are you trying to love?

Why are you working from the outside in?

you’re gonna miss this

Still plays in the sand. #santarosabeach #florida

You’re gonna miss this
And I know how trite that sounds
When its not my kid
kicking and screaming on the floor

But please
Please listen to me
Cuz you’re gonna miss this

You’re gonna miss
when the worst case scenarios
mean picking them up and carrying them out
Because you won’t be able to do that soon
And you’ll have to help them find ways
to pick themselves up before long
And you’re gonna miss when you had the power
to hold them and brush your hand over the head
and sweep away their fears
Because it won’t be long until
they are confronting those things alone,
on their own,
because they know they need to

You’re gonna miss coming home
to their projects across the dining room table
and sprawled over the floor
and outlined in crayon on the wall
Because there will be a day
when the first person they call
when they are proud of their work
is their lover
and you rightfully fall second chair

And you’re gonna miss when their voices
carried loudly as they fought amongst each other
over who took too much and stole whose horsey
and who farted three inches from whose face
Because there will be a day
when your house falls silent and still
and the echo of them running thru the halls
has become a ghost you only see for Sunday dinner
and holidays
and God forbid if bad news brings them home.

You’re gonna miss this.
You’re gonna ache for every single opportunity you missed
to wrap your arms around them
because you were too busy being insistent and exhausted
to listen to those that walked before you,
too stubborn to learn from their mistakes
and too determined on making the same ones yourself

You’re gonna miss their little voices
and maybe not as much as their laughter
but yes, you’ll miss the whining too
Not because you love it now
but because you missed it

You missed it as an opportunity to listen
To show them you had patience on their worst day
To show them you were willing to put down your phone
and turn your body toward them
and teach them how much you value them
Teach them they are valuable
before someone tries to teach them that they’re not

You’re gonna miss the clues
that they needed you to lie down your history
and your fear of what that lady over there is thinking
and ask yourself
what you and this child think of one another instead.

You’re going to miss this
And I’m speaking to you as someone who knows
As someone who was told the same thing and thought
it was just the nostalgic postulations
of old ladies with fuzzy memories
and a pension for testing my patience
right along with this young one in front of me

But it doesn’t take an old lady to see it
You can see it right now

Remember when you took this amazing person
in your arms for the first time?
Remember watching her root for your breast?
Remember how tiny his fingernails were
and how impossibly overwhelming it was
when you saw the whole universe
in those dark blue eyes?

How fast has THAT gone?
How many gazes did you miss
because of laundry
and American Idol
and your news feed pulling you away?

How many tiny gaping yawns
did you not count
or how many sneezes
did you not get to smile at?

Right now in this moment
is one of those little things
A new word tried on for the first time
or a crooked upturned lip
or a sparkle that is telling you the depths of magic
that is occurring within the synapses of their brain

Right now
with a kicking screaming child on the floor
is a memory being etched into the corners of your brain
A memory that will make you laugh
when you see them walking down the aisles of their life,
turning pages
and writing stories with their foot fall.

I know it seems impossible, I know.

Because I’ve been there too,
biding my hours until the hardest yrs were past
But in just a few short breaths
you’ll ache to run your fingers
thru their fine and matted hair,
you’ll stare out windows
remembering their squeaky voice for hours,
and your hardest work will be over
Your role will be one only of observer
and encourager
and reminderer of how quickly it passes
and how much they’re gonna miss
what they don’t allow themselves to savor now

You’re gonna miss this
Unless you allow yourself to slow down
Breathe
Forgive yourself for being human
because that’s not helping anyone
And just observe
Observe the expression that dances across their face
And the way they approach life
with tenacity and audacity
and curiosity
Observe the way they reach out for you
and the softness of their squirrelly cheeks
And just listen
To their songs
and their endless relentless and exhausting questions

And you know even then
when you know you’ve done the best you could
You’re gonna miss this
It’ll still past too fast
And you’ll still be waving them off
as they jump into a crazy world
independent and daring and scaring you
As you recall every moment you slowed down
and savored the sacred voice and motion and electricity
they brought into your world

You’re going to miss this
no way around it
But hopefully you’ll do so
with a few more sacred memories to pull out
of shoeboxes and card files and dusty corners
To tell at weddings and baby showers
and Sunday dinners around that etched and splattered
knotted kitchen table

No matter what you’re gonna miss this
But will you be able to do so
with the full acknowledgment that you tried your damnedest not to?

Will you look back and say
you wrapped your fingers around single moment
that tried to slip away
between phone calls and cartoons and the exploding washing machine?

Will you know you did the most you could
to funnel every bit of energy
into nothing more than quieting your To Do list,
quieting your mind,
slowing down your breath,
sitting still and simply watching
what is shaping the stories you’ll someday tell?

Tara Wagner, March 9 2013

How can Life possibly be against you?

Buenos Dias from #keylargo. May your day be bright, colorful, and calm. <3

Have you ever had one of those days where it literally seemed like Life was out to get you – and only you – melodrama and all?

{Don’t front. I know you have. ๐Ÿ˜‰ }

I had one yesterday.

It was a travel day and I’ve learned that travel days are a huge instigator to anything I need to DIG IN to. I’ve gotten proactive, planning meals ahead, taking time to ground myself, bring along my essential oils to keep centered.

It worked on the first travel day. But two travel days in a row I was ill-equipped for.

So my son woke up cranky…I’ve got this. I get it. I’m not a morning person either.

Breathe. Surrender. Keep flowing.

Then the fan belt began to shred. Actually felt good through this. My husband is a rockstar, noticed it, changed it, back on the road in no time.

Aaah. Feeling good. Gratitude through the bumps and all.

Then I started getting hungry.

The man-child had eaten the day’s lunch the night before (when do they STOP eating?!). We were hours behind schedule. No healthy food options in sight. Then a cranky son again. And I felt the spiral happening.

Oh you know the spiral…that one thing rubs you the wrong way and you start to inch downward. The next thing rubs a little harder and you slide a little farther. Then something comes along and you find yourself spinning.

I was spinning. In my head {because where else do we spin?}.

Thoughts of “why can’t he…” and “no one but me…”. Grasping for my anchors to keep me stable. Slipping into the backseat. Listening to the words of my own guides and gurus tell me what I. Do. Not. Want. To hear. Nothing getting through to me.

My spinning went on through the evening.

Needing easy food and feeling as though Life was conspiring against me to not offer something convenient with paleo options {no Chipotle?!}. Like Life was deliberately causing the ache in my neck. Like Life was intentionally making it impossible to feel grounded. Like I’m not allowed. Like Life intentionally sent that guy to hit our truck in the parking lot and rush off while I stood watching him. Like that.

And on and on that shit went.

You know, you’ve been there. That dizzying spiral.

Then that same guide and guru, that same voice that can cut through my bullshit, found me. A quote I stumbled across to calm my exact thoughts of “Life is against me”.

Life cannot be against you, because you are Life itself. Life can only be against your Ego protection. – Mooji

There are some days when only the Scarlett O'hara approach will work. I will go to bed and think about all this tomorrow. #lifeontheroad #toomuchofthisday

It was like a slam to my ego, but a gentle kind of slam. I took it in, wrapped it around my heart {and my heart around it} and went to bed with it. I call it the Scarlett O’Hara method – “I’ll think about this tomorrow” – except I know my spirit really thinks about it all night. I have this agreement with Life, that anything too big will make me tired, and that’s when my spirit will go to work. When my spinning head is out of the way. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And I woke up understanding.

Life cannot be against me.

Life isn’t even really “against” my Ego protection, in the sense of warring against it.

Life just will not cooperate with my bullshit, is all. It doesn’t jive. It can’t. It will bump against it again and again because it can’t not. It will take me back to that shattered place because that protection{projection} NEEDS to shatter in order to come back to peace.

{Life is not against me. I have been against the natural, organic flow of Life!}

Again and again, this is our work.

To allow what does not belong to be shattered. To expose the raw and tender places beneath to the Light.

To fall out of our stories and into the the Truth. Over and over.

5 Cool New Places You Can Find Me {Like Problogger!}

Getting ready for today's Tribe/Sisterhood call with @christieinge and enjoying the cool air and squirrel calls.

I’ve been getting around a little lately, collaborating with some new peeps and having some fun with it. I felt like I was so swamped with the OP e-course I just didn’t have a chance to network and collaborate with anyone for a good chunk of the year. Or I haven’t had a chance to share them. Boo.

This afternoon the rad Christie Inge joined us on the Organic Tribe tele-circle to talk about what she does best: intuitive eating, honoring your body, and making peace with food {she was even rad enough to send some extra goodies too}, and reminding me again how much I love her, her work, her voice. If you haven’t checked her out, please do. I think you’ll love her. {If you’re part of the Tribe/Sisterhood, grab the recording from your downloads!}

Here’s where I’ve been myself lately:

  1. Problogger: 6 Practices to Overcome Your Fears of Playing Bigger – Holy goodness, it’s pretty awesome to guest post for Problogger on something that is so totally my passion and my gift. It was also a little nerve-wracking (the irony!) and I put it off for like…4 months? But after emailing with them and having my words so happily embraced, it felt goooood. So maybe that’s #7 to overcome your fears: just do it already.
  2. A Year With Myself: Serenity* – This was a contribution to a year-long journey of self-excavation and growth. I contributed to Serenity: How to Recognize and Use the Elements of Inner Peace and Spirituality. It was a powerful interview that left me deep in thought and processing myself, as well as mini-lesson and prompts that you can access for free (or purchase the entire year of coaches, speakers, writers and more!).
  3. Wellness Warrior at Creative Soul in Motion – I’m wait late in sharing this one. It happened to go live when we were in California and my head was still whirling from the OP course. Erin is a gorgeous woman and her blog is newly launched and growing. Please check her out.
  4. Creative Women Series at The Wild Creative – This interview came through at the perfect time for me, as I had just fallen in love with art journaling and was beginning to examine my own creativity. Her words and questions came through to prompt me into deeper places and connect me to my past in surprising ways. Still processing all this so maybe I’ll be blogging more on it later.
  5. Home Education Magazine – This is REALLY exciting for me! HEM is a long-standing publication in the homeschooling community and Barb asked me to be a regular contributor, writing on “The Balance of Motherhood and Personhood”. Holy smokes, it’s so cool to get a magazine in your mail with your words inside. I’ve had it a couple times with quotes from Sustainable Baby Steps in some high profile mags, but writing an article is WAY different. *happydance* for more dreams coming true.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I put myself out there while maintaining my own sense of integrity and balance in my life. It’s not always easy to juggle it all, but I do enjoy it when I nail it. There is always a question of what is possible and what is sensible and what is heartfelt.

Connecting with amazing people doing amazing things feels amazing. Connecting with myself and my family and not overburdening myself feels even more amazing.ย Finding the balance between intentional and creative entrepreneurial and personal endeavors has been curious and edifying for me, although not totally clear. It’s meant taking things one day at a time, one offer to collaborate at a time, one creative opportunity at a time. It’s meant a lot of stillness and intuitive guesses and curious observations.

It’s been nice, how I’m changing up my business practices, slowing things down to a more mindful, simple pace; saying no to things I was embracing and saying yes to new things, bringing more art and beauty and style and personality into what I do.

After over a decade of being an entrepreneur, I guess I can say it got tiring. And I’m enjoying experimenting with this new idea that’s been with me, that it doesn’t have to be constant growth and motion and launch after launch. {Gee. Imagine that.}

That it can be slow and easy, and you know…organic. {Again. Imagine that.}

Oh and while I’m here, some more graphics I’ve had fun creating for Facebook:

* Totally an affiliate link!

Is “filling our cups” conditional happiness for mamas?

True to the that. #yogi #tea #wisdom

I love all you women on the Tribe/Sisterhood forums. If you’re not on there, or not over there often, they’re all so beautifully deep and reflective and honest. The conversations that stem from those qualities are cup-filling for me, big time.

One such conversation was on that exact topic, “Filling Our Cups”, also the first module of the Organic Parenting e-course. This part of the course focuses on a part of the Digging Deep process that is based off of Nonviolent Communication. A really important and soul-stretching discussion was opened up on whether our attempts to meet our needs and create the elements that “fill our cups” can lock us into a form of conditional happiness…as in “I can only be happy when I get what I want”.

This was particularly thought-provoking for me:

I worry that I will become *dependent* on “getting my me-time” or whatever it is, for my happiness…instead of just learning to be happy in the moment.

I answered there, but wanted to share some other thoughts here too, as it’s been on my mind.

I wholeheartedly concur with the part of NVC that states the way we feel is based on our needs being met. In other words, yes…we are dependent on our needs being met to be happy (although never dependent on how). But then there is the spiritual practice of radical acceptance, finding peace within the moment, surrender to was is deeper than our needs, what is always accessible at our core.

It’s like reconciling the practical with the spiritual.

We have needs. No amount of anything can change that.

And when our needs are going unmet, we can feel depleted, overwhelmed, resentful, impatient and so on.

So how do we practice radical acceptance and happiness while acknowledging and meeting our needs? Doesn’t that mean radically accepting that our needs are going unmet?

Maybe. And I hope not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I think for me it’s about radical acceptance of others, radical acceptance of limitations {be they time or resources or the demands of a family and home}, radical acceptance of messy experiences and emotions…and radical acceptance that my needs STILL are valid and important and deserving of honoring.

My happiness isn’t actually dependent on the actions I take to meet my needs. My happiness IS dependent on meeting my needs. But meeting my needs can just as easily be learning to take a deep breath and tap into that sense of acceptance within any moment, as it can be about getting creative in finding a little quiet space for myself in my day or turning on music to ease my nerves or eating my favorite meal for breakfast.

When I’m unhappy it IS because my needs are going unmet but that doesn’t mean I have to feel resentful or angry or frustrated or overwhelmed. When I’m feeling those things it’s my sign that I’m not meeting my needs but instead focusing on an expectation of HOW I meet my needs.

Meeting my needs, filling my cup, doesn’t make my happiness conditional on what’s happening AROUND me. It makes it conditional on how I choose to respond to what’s happening WITHIN me.

{Oooh, I like how that came out.}

{P.S. If this is a meaningful topic for you, you might consider the Organic Parenting e-course. There are plenty of resources in it and on the forums to support you in digging into and peeling back the layers of this challenge so many of us face. (((hugs))) to you while you do.}

There and Back Again {A Tale of Thanksgiving and Spiritual Failure}

I'm not sure how we chose a flight with a four hour layover with this red eye but at least the floor looks comfortable. #travel #airport #exhausted

We just arrived home from a 9 day trip back to Las Vegas.

Let me warn you now, this post may be long, meandering, and senseless to anyone but me while I try to make sense of the many things going on in my head and my heart.

{I’m also going to talk somewhat candidly here and do so mindfully and in my never-freaking-ending practice to keep my focus on my own heart, without projecting or losing sight of my own accountability. None of this is “about” anyone, hold my experience with Life and how the hell we make sense of the seemingly senseless hurt it can deliver.}

Leaving #lasvegas

Ascending on my hometown
Feeling more like a visitor this time
{than the escapee of before}
I haven’t missed this place
Haven’t missed “home”
Although I know that’s not the story for all

Those were the words I quickly penned as our plane descended on the Vegas lights. For once, I didn’t feel that impending sense of entrapment – like I wouldn’t be able to leave without getting stuck – that I felt that last time. {That was big for me, to not feel stuck or constantly pulled back to a place with which I don’t resonate.}

I felt at peace, centered, excited for the week.

Excited to watch my little sister walk down the aisle (so moving!).
Excited to see the brother and nephew and niece I hadn’t seen in 10 years.
Excited to just BE – cooking and painting and watching movies with family.

Nephews.
afternoons with nephews

And my mama joined in!  #art #artjournal
art with my mom

Art journaling with my niece.  #artjournal #alteredbook #art #paint
art with my niece

He loves her so. #thompsonwedding2012
Their love = tears of joy.

Do we ever stop romanticizing those ideas of how things will be?

I have memories in my head of a house full of laughter and food and playfulness. Of huge family camping trips with everyone in attendance and giant games of hide and seek – kids and adults. Monthly family dinners. And holidays that stick to your heart.

And I haven’t experienced one of those romanticized holidays in almost 10 years.

Is it that as we grow up our perceptions are sharpened, picking up on things we can miss in youth and that amazing ability to remain in the moment? Or are we simply jaded by age and expectations? Or maybe things really do change that drastically and for no apparent reason than we all grew up and in separate, incomprehensible directions to one another.

It’s not that anything major happened this Thanksgiving. It’s that my heart and my head just couldn’t let go.

I’m not proud of that.

We all know family, even family we adore, can be a lot to take in all at once. And for those of you HSP’s out there, you know how compounded the situation can be when you’re sleeping in a room with two other families, four running dialogues, at least three noisy electronics going at all times, random bouts of stress and rush, and a dozen personalities and sets of needs.

I don’t pretend to be perfect. But it’s still disheartening when every tool I want to lean into seems so far away from my conscious mind as I slip back into a role I have carefully been working myself out of for most of my adult life.

Do we ever stop reverting to what other people expect to see?

Do we ever feel and respond like the adults we are when we hear the criticism or triggers of our childhood?

They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong…

That’s a Rascal Flatts song that makes me cry with heartache. Those words almost describe it except for one thing:

I don’t believe that anyone won’t allow me to change. I just believe it’s so damn hard to show them I already have.

All my best intentions for a wonderful week lead to all my expectations breaking my heart.

No one else is responsible but me.

I didn’t meet my needs. I didn’t express my emotions {until they were boiling incomprehensibly…and loudly}. I didn’t pay attention to the patterns that trigger me, patterns of teasing and sarcasm and my holding back {anything from my opinion to my own sense of style for fear of the feedback I assume I’ll receive}. Patterns of expectations, ideas in my own mind of how anyone else should be.

I placed the responsibility for my own peace and joy on what others were able to do and that wasn’t fair or responsible. It made us all unhappy.

By the time I realized it I had already excused myself from the meal, driven away – the very best I could manage. I missed Thanksgiving because I had missed my own patterns of expectations and hurt and burying the truth to keep the peace, to try to support others instead of leaning into open honesty.

Hanging with one of my very best girlfriends in the sun. Kids running around the park. Good times.  @elizabethlowery
sweet, reflective, wonderful friend

My sweet wonderful girlfriend and I had a couple long talks, and as they often do, they centered around our role in our own lives and the lives of others. And the message was the same I had been grappling with: Every time I place an expectation on someone I love, I miss the opportunity to be at peace with what is. I miss the opportunity to love them. To practice surrendering to what Spirit is showing me.

It breaks my heart to read those words. It’s the same message I’ve been receiving for the last several months, the same message I think I’ve gotten right before I realize I haven’t: Stop pushing, stop micro-managing, stop thinking it’s all your job. Let go. Surrender to the direction of where Life is flowing. Surrender to peace and love within that moment, exactly as it is, without your thoughts that it needs to change for you.

It breaks my heart because I know it. I’ve been practicing it. And I’ve been failing, again and again.

It’s fucking hard.

Hard not to offer advice, instead of holding space.

Hard not to want to “fix” it – whether it’s an actual problem, or just a bad mood – instead of extending empathy first.

Hard sometimes to WANT to do anything from love: want to DIG IN, want to speak nonviolently, want to listen, want to reach out when you have nothing to reach out with.

So I did the very best I could do…I took space for myself.

I walked out when I couldn’t find that space to listen over the screaming of my own head. I hiked a mountain and lay on the rocks and turned my face to the warmth of the sun. And I said goodbye, or even missed opportunities to say goodbye, flying home without resolve.

Sitting on the hillside talking life, plans, culture and conformity with @justinplayswithballs and looking forward to flying "home" #lifeatthismoment #lasvegas
from the hillside with my lover

As Justin and I walked and hiked he asked me the same question I’ve asked myself for almost 8 years, since my dad died before we got the opportunity to have the talk that was on the horizon. It’s the question I asked myself multiple times over the past week as I did the very best I could {which didn’t seem like much}:

If the worst happened, would you regret this choice?

And I answered him honestly.

No.

I wouldn’t regret the choices I made to let things go, or not have conversations that I didn’t feel ready for. I wouldn’t regret walking out when I couldn’t find love or patience to respond with instead. I can’t regret doing the very best I could do, listening to my intuition and my heart when it says, “This is not going to help; you’ll only cause more pain right now.” I don’t ever regret the choices to surrender, to lay down my Ego-fear that tells me to judge or fix or change or fight or expect or even help, to “save” others or even see them as someone who needs saving.

I have to address my own heartache and hurt first. I have to unpack my own stories and triggers before I can bring my authentic love into a conversation with anyone else.

It’s no one’s job to apologize or change or fix anything for me, anymore than it’s my job to do the same for someone else.

It’s my job to examine what came up for me, and why. It’s my job to find my center before I try to find a solution. It’s my job to bring my real self into challenges like these, instead of compounding them by bringing my baggage. It’s my job to find what only I am accountable for {my emotions, my reactions, my choices} and release everything else {my expectations, my assumptions, my sense of obligation} so that I can walk in with nothing left but love.

Moments like this hold me perfectly still. #manchild
melt-worthy airport moments with the man-child

I can leave without regret,
With peace that I made the best choices I could,
but being void of regret
doesn’t mean being void of hurt.

{penned from the plane home}

It’s an unconventional, even controversial, viewpoint, that I believe it’s okay to say goodbye without first making amends. {Caveat: And it’s not always the right choice. As a daughter whose lost a father during an argument, I can attest to the anguish that comes from holding grudges, instead of taking mindful space.}

But the difference is in the mindfulness and the space {as opposed to the unconscious distance we tend to put between us instead}.

Are you paying attention? #artjournal
full attention slows the current

I’m experiencing hurt and frustration and sadness. And I’m allowing myself to experience it. No under-the-rug sweeps. No grudges held. But no feeding it or burying it either. No allowing it to overcome me, or to own me.

Some serious shit came up for me {and yes, I’m totally okay admitting that – why shouldn’t I be?} and I’m opening my heart up to what Spirit is trying to show me. I’m doing the inner work that’s being asked of me. I’m learning to stop projecting {hard} and stop blaming {harder} and meet my own needs so I can actually stand in the Truth that allows me to be – fully and unapologetically and compassionately – ME.

Hardest.

And even though there is a big part of me wanting to resist this next statement ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can feel it nudging me to be experienced too:

I’m thankful for this. Thankful that I lost sight of myself and damn near lost my shit. Thankful that I felt hurt and frustrated. Thankful that I screwed up. Thankful that it’s so deeply triggered and challenged me. Thankful that it’s bringing up in me the bullshit that was hiding there, because I know full well it only comes up when the timing is perfect for it to be addressed {even if I don’t like that fact}. I’m thankful for the comments that were made, the stories that were dredged, the triggers that were found. Thankful for failure in how I handled it all {or didn’t}.

I’m thankful for the nudges that keep telling me when I’m trying to do something or say something here that isn’t focused on my authentic heart, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

I love them all. They – like me – are doing the best they can as well. That I don’t feel at home says nothing about them, and everything about me – where I am and what I’m moving through with Life as my guide.

Why am I sharing all this?

Why am I “airing dirty laundry”, as culture has taught us to see it?

Because I got the most amazing messages of gratitude over the week: messages from incredible women who totally nailed it and stood in compassion and authenticity in a challenging family situation, messages from heartfelt women who struggle{d} to do the same and are thankful to be reminded they aren’t asshats for being human and unable to access that place of compassion and authenticity at the same time,or even separately.

Because I’d rather dismember the monster that tells us we can’t be honest about having a hard go of something, the monster that tells us it’s not okay to be imperfect, that tells us our lives “should” be perfect and by the book or else we’re going to hell. {Shit, I wrote a book on dealing with triggers, and my experiences still aren’t by the book.}

Welcome to being human. Welcome to trying to be that human with over 7 billion other people, many of which are our greatest, most wonderful, most frustrating teachers.

We love our families. But we mess it up. We do. I do. Again and again. And hopefully, again and again, we do the best we can to get through that moment, to get through the challenge, to learn and grow and try to love ourselves and others a little better each time. Sometimes we nail it. At least the same number of times we don’t.

My declaration is this: I’m okay with these facts. Okay with Life sometimes being messy. Okay with the fact that I’m going to make mistakes at it. Okay being open and honest and authentic about it. Finally okay with the choices I make. {And learning to be okay if others aren’t okay with it.}

Some wisdom from my mama's wall. #bestill
wisdom on the wall

This get you thinking too?
Some questions that may support you: What do I need to get still with? What parts of myself am I bringing into similar challenges with those I love? If I was fully centered and grounded first, what would I do/say differently?