Organic Wisdom :: What’s Pouring Out?

I like to share some of the quotes I post on Twitter and Facebook, with some of my expanded thoughts and feelings on it here.

“Organic Wisdom” is what I have found speaking to me in those quiet moments, that guides me and that echoes Truth in my life. Please feel free to download, or share this image in any way you’d like.

What you pour into a relationship, pours out.

If you pour in empathy, love, compassion, patience, support, generosity, kindness, strength, self-respect…you will slowly begin to see those things pouring back out from those you love.

What you pour into a child, pours out.

If you pour in autonomy, respect, honor, presence and engagement, passion, kindness, generosity, honesty, stability…you will witness the growth of a child who pours that back into their world and your relationship.

What you pour into your work, pours out.

If you pour in passion, authenticity, boundaries, honesty, a desire to make a difference and thrive, trust, trust, and more trust…you will experience work that fulfills you and allows you to thrive in those things and abundantly.

What you pour into your own heart, mind and body, pours out.

If you pour in kind words, gentleness, self-respect, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, fun, generosity, nourishment and nurturing…you’ll feel alive, vibrant, joyful, beautiful, worthy and at peace with Who You Are.

But here’s the catch.

If you do this just to get what you want out of your body/self or others, the whole thing crumbles.

Give because of Who You Are and who you want to be. Not to manipulate, but to love better.

Contrary to Popular Belief, My Child Doesn’t Come First

Write Night

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in West Seattle with a friend and her brother. I’m crashing their weekly Write Night, laptop in hand and not really getting much done, but feeling content. The point is not to check off my tasks, after all, but to enjoy the evening.

Juggling at Saturday Market

Justin juggles between 1-3 hours a day. People often stop to ask him if he’s practicing that much for a performance. Nope. He does it because he loves it and because it’s his time for himself.

As parents, we give a lot to our child. As we should.

We’ve invited our son into our lives, we’ve embraced the responsibility of caring for his needs and his autonomy and we treat him with honor and respect for Who He Is.

We give to him, and we give abundantly. Yet we remain conscious of one simple truth: You can’t give what you don’t have. Which really just means….

You can’t give to your kids if you don’t first give to yourself.

My trips to the coffee shop, quiet walks, or early mornings with a notebook…Justin’s nationwide juggling meetups, motorcycle rides or solitary trips to the cinema…

They are the things that bring us back to our center; they reboot us and allow us to go back into our parenting (or our partnership) feeling balanced and whole and ready to give and love and serve generously.

It’s not the cure-all for our relationships (and it’s certainly not license to be “selfish”)…it’s the preventative medicine that keeps us living connected and healthy together.

Because our child – and yours – needs and deserves the best of what we could offer.

So, what are you giving to yourself?

Serving vs. Being a Servant {Which one are you?}

My Heart Is Hers

In your relationship with your children…

Your relationship with your partner…

Even your work or contribution to the world

In your life, are you serving or are you being a servant?

There is a very distinct difference between the two.

The Servant

Picture the classical version of a servant; a person in servitude to another, who does their calling or bidding.

There may be little to no boundaries and she has little to no say in the demands made upon her. Her needs aren’t important, or as important, as the person or people she serves.

She is lower than, less than, beneath others. Her servitude is out of obligation: it’s a duty or a chore or a job, something that must be done.

The modern-day servant looks a lot like this:

You give to your loved ones, or even acquaintances, out of duty. You often feel less important than or diminished or blocked by those in your life. You also feel tired, drained, and dull. Your actions breed resentment and anger in your life, and you find yourself playing the victim role of “others don’t care about me”, “I’m taken advantage of”, and even “No one will support me in that.”

Serving

Now imagine a host; a person who has invited her most revered and beloved guests into her home.

She is honored by their presence and delights in what they bring to the table, their unique contribution to the conversation. She is generous in what she offers them and does so out of Love.

Because they are her cherished guests, she is kind, patient and considerate of them. She offers them what she has learned they most love and earnestly wants to provide for their needs. She takes in account their individual personalities and preferences to create an experience they will enjoy.

She sees everyone, including her, as exceptional and equal in their own right and this is reflected in both her actions toward them and toward herself. Because of this she feels love, has more energy, and isn’t afraid to ask for what she needs.

Behavior and Intention

The describable actions of the servant and the host might be the same:

  • Both may prepare and offer food
  • Both may clean and organize
  • Both may listen and talk
  • Both may support and help
  • Both may be in charge of important and delicate matters

But the intentions behind their actions set them apart.

One is being used. One is making a genuine, generous, loving offer.

Both are making a choice.

In your life, in your family, in your work…what choice do you most often make?

Ask yourself: Am I serving or being a servant?

Photo Credit

Stress, Happiness and Our Social Structure

I recently watched a National Geographic documentary called, Stress: The Portrait of a Killer. (You can find it on Netflix.) The entire documentary discussed the physiology and effects of social stress on our bodies and the sources of this epidemic of chronic stress in our modern lives.

Did you know the American Psychological Association reports about 75% of the population attests to feeling stressed regularly, and a third of all Americans report extreme stress?

Yeah, I think it’s about time we start analyzing what we’re doing here.

31/365 - Stress.
(Photo Source)

The Physiology of Stress

If you’re not familiar with stress, I’m going to give you an oversimplified idea of what exactly it is: Stress is the physiological state our bodies take on when we perceive danger or are in any situation which requires an increased reaction.

Our adrenaline pumps, our heart races and we end up with more blood to our muscles to help us run away from the flesh-eating lions. Or bad guys.

Or these days, traffic.

What originated as an occasional life-saving response to certain dangerous situations has become an everyday response to everyday situations.

Our bodies can’t differentiate between becoming something’s dinner and forgetting to pick up dinner on the way home.

And the effects of stress are pretty huge: a weakened immune system, imbalanced hormones, belly fat, heart disease, fetal disruption in pregnant woman, improper body function (because stress hormones shut down all but the essential systems in your body to help you survive an attack…as the documentary stated, you don’t need to be ovulating when you’re running for your life), and even diminishing brain cells.

That last one probably explains a lot.

Of particular interest, though, were the two studies portrayed in the search for causes to our excessive stress in modern day living:

  1. A long-term study done on baboons (the most diabolical, back-stabbing and malicious of primates, they said). These guys all had the same diet, the same living conditions, but also had a hierarchy in their tribe.
  2. A European corporation where each person had identical health care benefits, but which also had a definite, established hierarchy. Can you see where they were going with this?

In each study the subject’s stress levels, health, happiness, ability to handle illness and life expectancy hinged not on their health care, but on where they ranked in the hierarchy.

The lower on the totem pole, the more stress and negative health impacts you experienced and the less happy you were.

The higher up, the healthier you were and longer you lived.

This was universal, across the board, in humans and animals and in multiple studies. Social ranking affects us. Social stress hurts us.

Our Social Structure is Killing Us

Do you see it too?

Our entire social structure – from politics to work to school to family life – is built upon a hierarchy.

In the political world, the very politicians who are meant to represent our choices make decisions without us. We make calls, we threaten, we argue and debate, we shake our fists and stress ourselves out over their misdeeds. Then out of fear – or possibly exhaustion – we vote them back in.

They control every aspect of our lives and freedoms
and we feel helpless.

At work, we have no autonomy, are spoken down to, mistrusted and lament that every moment of our work day (and many moments outside of work) are decided for us. Every deed is judged, our deadlines are tightened and we’re made to juggle more than we can handle. Work and life satisfaction mean little and we toe the line to meet the boss’s bottom line.

We sign over our lives for the false
promise of security.

School is probably the most obvious. Constant scrutiny and judgment, condescension, lack of respect for personal choices (we at least choose our jobs and our politicians, to some extent)…most students aren’t even allowed to control their own bodies and are told when to eat and pee and how fast to do it. Their work is criticized in front of their peers and every moment is determined and judged by someone else’s standards.

Instead of ensuring success, it’s training us for
more of the same.

And family life is not much different. Rights and “privileges” are doled out by one or two established rulers, based on age and accomplishments. Choices are not mutually agreed upon. Again, even basic body functions – such as hunger or sleep – are not entrusted to the people to whom they belong. Autonomy is lost. Trust is compromised. And we all suffer.

After a lifetime of practice,
it’s hard to see another possible way to interact.

We learn it as toddlers, it’s reestablished as children and teens, and by the time we’re adults it’s so firmly ingrained in our way of thinking that we can’t get out from under it.

We’re training stress, disease and unhappiness into our culture.

Science Reaffirms The Alternative

Don’t you love when you know the answer and science backs up your own experiences?

This documentary and all the research reaffirmed what many of us already know: that there are two main determiners to decreased social stress, increased health and long-term happiness.:

Autonomy. And connection.

(Could it be any more tailored to the message of this blog?)

Every study in the documentary showed that environments lacking an authoritative or authoritarian leader, places that we feel in control and conditions where the general energy is cooperative, mutually respectful and built on the premise of equality that stress levels and health issues were dramatically decreased.

The more choices you  control, the more time you spend on the things of your choosing and the more equal freedom you enjoy in your life, the healthier and happier you’ll be.

The research and studies also showed why: humans (and primates) that felt a part of a compassionate, connected and mutually respectful tribe increase something called telomerase, an enzyme used to mend our cells and keep us healthy.

Yup, that’s right…

Things like love, laughter, a feeling of belonging, caring for one another, autonomy, validation, equality and generosity actually HEALS our bodies.

It’s everything I’ve talked about in Being Organic: An Invitation to Change Your World.

It’s organic learning, organic living, organic Being.

And in the coming months this blog is going to evolve to reflect that even more. Subscribe, sign up and stay tuned.

So, now I’m turning this post over to you…

What are the things in your life that are causing you social stress or providing you healing?

What is it that is fostering connection and autonomy, both personally and in your relationships?

Because the science is in and our health depends on it.

Good Men Do Exist

I remember being pregnant with Zeb and facing the decision every young mother is forced to faced. Being 17 and looking at single-motherhood pretty much guarantees that people will go to great lengths to scare the shit out of you.

The intentions might be well-meaning but the message still feels pretty miserable: Parenting sucks, it’s too hard for you to do alone, you’re too young to do this right and oh, by the way, you’re doomed to be single and miserable because no guy will ever date a woman with a kid.

To one extent or another, by someone in my young life, I was told those things. And I could talk at length at about each one of them and what they did to my thoughts and intentions.

But I’m going to focus on the last one right now.

…you’re doomed to be single and miserable because no guy will ever date a woman with a kid.

It was a pretty classic men-are-dogs message that I heard and a fairly damaging one at that. Not only was I was told to hate Zeb’s bio-dad, I was told to expect the worst from any other man I happened to come across.

And it was total bullshit.

There are men out there who aren’t acting maliciously toward their children or the mother’s of their children. There are men out there who are nothing but human beings doing the best they can with what they have.

There are good men out there who do incredible things for children who are and aren’t biological their own.

I’m married to one. And I had a child with another.

Really Emotional News

Zeb’s bio-dad backed out of the picture when Zeb was two. He wasn’t a “dead beat dad”…he was a deeply conflicted and hurting man. He was living the consequences of several negative choices he had made. And he was doing the best he could with the tools he had.

By leaving, he did the very best thing for his son at that time.

It takes an incredible amount of strength to do that and I won’t begrudge him that.

Justin came into our lives when Zeb was only one year old. I don’t remember when Zeb started calling him Dad, probably somewhere around the age of three, when we were married.

Playing Together

Silly Together

ATV riding

Zeb and Justin feeding "Foody"

Scooters

Fishing

Filing Paperwork

Over the past ten years of the three of us being together, I’ve watched this remarkable man stretch himself to grow into the father that Zeb needed him to be. I’ve watched him teach Zeb to ride a bike, play catch or just cuddle on the couch together. I’ve watched the two of them fight together and fart together…you know, like fathers and sons do. 🙂

Over the past ten years, there has never been any doubt in anyone’s minds that Justin is Zeb’s dad, but inspired by Heather, we decided to align the legalities with the Truth.

Justin, with the help of Zeb’s bio-dad, is adopting Zeb.

I’m overwhelmed by these two amazing men: One, who had the courage and love to step into fatherhood so many years ago…

And the other, with more love than I’ve ever heard in anyone’s voice, through his own pain and without any ego, gave the greatest gift to his child that he had to give.

My heart is so full of love for Zeb’s bio-dad. I hold no resentment or anger toward him. I see his heart and I know he’s only ever done the best he could.

My heart is so full of passion for my husband and Zeb’s Dad. He fills our lives with his love each and every day. This adoption is just paperwork to confirm what’s been true for years.

Such enormous choices, such enormous gifts.

Only truly incredible men can do what they have both done.

Here’s to good men everywhere, doing the best they can and in unconventional ways.

Making Love Last

Where is the love?
A reminder to focus on my love.

You know sometimes I’m amazed Justin and I not only made it this far, and are still so in love with each other. We had both come from divorced parents and I especially didn’t have very many healthy relationship models. Neither one of us really knew what love was or what marriage took to succeed. But we did know we didn’t want to put our child(ren) through the pain we experienced as children.

A few of our single friends have asked us in the past how we did it: how we found “the right one”, how we made things work and how in the world we stayed so passionate for each other. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the past few weeks, trying to understand our own romantic journey and discovery, or self-discovery really, trying to find our own “keys to marital success”.

The journey is different for everyone, I’m sure, but here are the things that made the difference for us:

  • Letting go of our type: I was The Bagel Girl and Justin was a construction runner at the time; we both had daily stops at a tool warehouse in town. He spotted me and worked on intuition. My first impression of Justin was “not my type” (based on my type until that point, I can now see that was a good sign), and although he didn’t say so, I wasn’t exactly his either. Justin was accustomed to thoughtless, high school girls; I was accustomed to assholes. So when I started talking philosophy and theology on our first date, he knew I wasn’t the standard cookie-cutter girl. Likewise when I watched him turn his truck’s system down (yeah, he was one of those guys with extremely large and loud speaker systems in his truck) upon entering a residential area, I was literally shocked. Neither of us would have been able to get to that point of noticing these new and interesting qualities had we not stepped outside what we thought we knew about “the perfect date”.
  • Letting go of the fairy tale: A very well-meaning woman had once told me, as I was sobbing over a broken heart, that “if it was meant to be it wouldn’t be so hard”. I loved her to death but something about those words didn’t sit right with me. For all of our lives, we’re read fairy tales and “happily ever after” stories. But love doesn’t always come in and sweep us off our feet, carrying us away to Perfect Marriage Land – especially when you’re entering into the relationship with so much baggage. Justin and I went into our relationship knowing that we were in love and that we would have a lot of work to do to figure out how exactly we should put that into action. The first two years of our relationship and several periods throughout were fucking hard. There were moments no one thought we would (or should) make it through. But because we accepted in advance that it wouldn’t always come easily, we didn’t let the worst of times tear us apart. We kept pushing through it, focusing on what we wanted with each other and building our partnership skills along the way. I can’t imagine where we’d be if we had given up.
  • Remembering it’s not 50/50. This one came from my Grandma (who has been happily married since 1954) and is probably the greatest key to our success. I had asked her several months before our wedding what her best advice would be and she was quite adamant that a good relationship is never 50/50. It’s closer to 80/20…you just have to be willing to give more than you take. This one challenged me at the time, but she insisted that marriage needs to move from a place of generosity. She explained what I now know to be true in regards to marriage or parenting: unconditional love and endless generosity do not create selfish people who walk over you; it creates an environment of kindness and compassion. It fills people up until they have no choice but to pour it back into those around them.
  • Never letting myself go. This one also came from my grandma as well and seriously rubbed up against my feminist mind. After all, shouldn’t Justin love me regardless of whether I wear makeup or gain weight? The answer is yes. But letting yourself go has more to do with Who You Are than what you look like. Justin fell in love with me because I was determined, strong-willed and cared deeply about myself; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If I “let myself go” – stopped learning and fighting for what I believe in, sat on the couch eating junk food in my pajamas watching trash TV, stopped being the best person I could be…if I let go of my role in our partnership and did a 180 on my personality, he was obviously going to feel differently. He fell in love with me for Who I Am, for my best qualities and for my desire to impress him with those qualities as I did when we first dated. And he’ll miss that person if she leaves just because “we’re married now.”
  • Filling each other’s voids. I used to feel resentful anytime I felt I was “mothering” Justin. Likewise I felt uncomfortable admitting that I needed him to care for me the same way. But recently we’ve come to see the amazing healing power and stronger connection that can be had when we symbolically “parent” each other. I believe we marry the person who can love us the way we’ve never been loved and our gift of understanding, kindness and generosity has the power to fill voids we’ve been aching to fill. Together we can right the wrongs of one another’s pasts, giving each other what we may not have had enough of and sheltering one another just as a loving parent unconditionally and automatically shelters their child.

There are a myriad of other things I feel contributed to our success: being open and honest but knowing when honesty would be more hurtful than helpful, understanding our first role is as Zeb’s parents but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to neglect our needs as lovers, being silly together and that sometimes we need reminders of it all.

I’m glad to have written these things out; I love when messages like these come through me, as well as to me. The past few weeks have given us new challenges as we navigate this life and our unjobbing experiences and it’s good to be reminded of these principles of mindfully choosing unconditional love, generosity and compassion.

What about you? What have you learned about love?