That’s been my reminder these past few weeks. (Getting out of the way.) I have a tendency when funk hits the fan to get in there. To stress. To get upset, in the very charming woe-is-me-Life-is-out-to-get-me kind of way. (Really, you should see me some time. You’d probably have a lot more compassion for your own bad days. I know, you’re all surprised. I may have some wisdom and mindfulness, but I also still have an ego to work with and she’s a tough nut to crack.) Continue reading “Miracles Happen When I Get Out of the Way”
(This was originally shared on another lovely blog which has since been taken down. I’m reposting it here, as a reminder to myself as well.)
We all have our paths to walk down in life. As we walk we experience the things we tend to experience – the valleys, the marshes, the darkness of the woods. Sometimes we travel alone. Sometimes we travel with others for a time, and then our paths diverge again. Continue reading “The Wisdom of Life’s Immoveable Objects”
We are not enlightened by what we speak, but rather what speaks to us.
Yet we pass truth around, instead of letting it pass through us.
Pssst! I’ve got a brand new e-guide coming out on December 9th. Signup for my newsletter to get first dibs!
I love when I write things on my blog or Facebook or elsewhere in this case, only to find them a week, a month, 6 months later and at just the right time. It’s like wisdom to myself, from myself, and always in the perfect timing. Continue reading “Crazy Moments are Just Crazy Moments (A Message From My Past Self)”
It’s Thanksgiving week. Our little family of three is planning our dinner and a long weekend, disconnected from the ‘puters and connecting with the tangible world.
We have yet to finish building our table. We’ve yet to find a couch we love. So we’ll be eating our meal in a camping chair. And we’re okay with that. Continue reading “Gratitude Is All That’s Left (when we stop trying so hard)”
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 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 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.
I’m over on the always wonderful, Kind Over Matter, sharing some words of wisdom for those newly self-employed sisters.
I find that business – like relationships, like parenting, like our health, like Life – comes into our world for one true reason. Not to make us money. Not to make us happy. But to make us grow. To show us what we get to learn.
I got (and still get) to learn a lot. In all my adult years, I’ve only been self-employed. This means 13+ years of Spiritual Growth coming at me masked behind the costume of Big Ideas. It’s been intense, exasperating, liberating, enlightening, exhausting, exciting, and mind-blowing (depending on the day or the lesson or the way I approached it).
Anytime someone is starting a business, they tend to ask questions like “How do I find the right business name?” or maybe “What do you think about this color scheme for my branding?” Necessary questions, for sure.
But what I really want to do is invite them in for tea, show them to the nearest cushy seat, and share some hard-earned sisterly wisdom. Not to freak anyone out, or turn them off from business. But to help them see through the easy parts – the excitement and fun of getting started – to the real gift of self-employment: the ways in which you get to expand. And also to share with them the wisdom I wish I had had from the very beginning so they can move through it with more grace and fewer bumps or stalls along the way.
Where would I start? With these three words of wisdom:
June 2nd marked the longest we’ve ever been in one place since we’ve traveled. (I’m totally not counting the months we were in Vegas upgrading rigs.) We’ve now been in this spot for two and half months. In this area for 4 and half months. In this state seven and a half.
No, I don’t consider us off the road yet. Yes, I realize I’m being stubborn. 😉
We’re still in the RV. We’re still not making any real plans.
We’re only looking day-by-day. Today, tomorrow, maybe this week, a little into next month. We’re open. Open to the idea that we have no idea. Open to the experience of Whatever This Is. Open to be directed through it all, just flowing with it, a little Lazy River of Life right now.
The synergy has been tremendous. Tree. Men. Duss.
It’s like planting these seeds in our little RV Garden. We pushed them down in the soil, and then we waited. Hours, then days, even weeks went by. We questioned how we planted them, if we were nurturing them properly, even what it was we had planted. And we kept watering and watching and waiting.
I had little idea when we planted ourselves here in FL what the hell we were watering or watching for but it’s just beginning to poke through. At first it looked a little like what we’ve been calling weeds and I had to call about a lot of patience (our monthly Guiding Word in the Sisterhood for June) to not pluck it out of the ground right then and there. But instead, we watered and watched and waited for it to grow, to see what it would become.
And it became clear pretty early on that this space is not really about me (ahoy! what a novel idea!). This space, from what I can see, is Justin’s space. His turn. He’s taking on challenges he only just told me he couldn’t handle 3 months previous, and with an expertise and a hunger and a certainty his quieter nature is not accustomed to. He first took on a job that he knew would be fun and challenging, then received a promotion that would be more challenging than fun. Now he’s got a fancy title, his own business cards, a work van and a voice in a company that is teaching him to embrace his gifts and strengths and sharpen the duller edges of his axe to match. He’s got a roadmap and a stepping stone and bigger things to come.
My role has been to hold space, to support, to ground, to bear witness, to stoke fires, and to send him out into a whole new world with a lunchbox full of affirmations and iced coffee. Life hasn’t ignored me though. It’s sent me spiritual teachers and new friends and the very thing to that will enable me to be patient: community to tend my own fires and reminders of what I get to do myself. His being “at work” has given me more space to do my work here and elsewhere, to delve into creative projects, and tweak and finesse the things that need tweaking and finessing. I’ve had time to do more in less hours (how the hell did that happen?).
It’s not without puzzles. Justin and Zeb still haven’t found their community yet, and that’s something we’re ready for. The dance between home and not home is still resulting in a few bumped toes while we work out the subtler aspects of timing and pace and oh yeah, there’s a grocery store to get to today. And the “stuff” accumulates the longer this RV stays in one spot.
But I can’t say there is anything off, anything “bad”, anything that isn’t working. Even the heavy rains…they seem crucial, necessary, a needed part of the operation of whatever this will show itself to be. They seem integral to what is to come. The deluge to infuse the growth. And they keep create these warm puddles of laughter to go stomping through.
It all looks and feels and IS exactly wonderful, even if I’m not quite sure if it’s going to be complete in 2 months or 2 years. I don’t feel like I’ll live here forever, not even for a long time. But the definition of “long time” is slowly morphing in my mind, and my fears are turning into jokes as we laugh about not really living here, even though we kinda do.
We’re just Here for now. And when it’s time for Here to change, we’ll find ourselves in another Here. And until then we’ll keep plucking caterpillars off our tomatoes and having date nights at the water park and surrendering all those ideas that any of this means anything other than All Good. Because it could all change again in an instant, as Life is prone to do, but that doesn’t mean anything more than another Right Here, Right Now.
Don’t get me wrong. All the ingredients are here for a This Sucks recipes. But it’s just not what I’ve been cooking. So it’s good. It’s just all really, really good.
I dreamt that I was riding a bike. The town was new to me, the road was foreign. And I was faintly aware that I was not familiar with this whole “bike riding” thing.
But I rode anyway.
As the roads went up steep hills, I was only aware of the tension and burning in my thighs. It didn’t hurt, and I didn’t have the thought of walking the bike up the hill instead. I was just aware and steady, my attention to it like a mindful parent: encouraging, calm, focused, and invested in this uphill-ness.
As the hills went down, I picked up speed and recognized I had no brakes and I quickly realized my expectations of controlling this thing was a joke. But instinctively, I shifted, leaned forward, and found that I could slow things down by leaning heavier, pressing my feet into the pedals themselves. And I marveled at it, just slightly. Like a “Huh. I’m not totally screwed after all.”
The corners were sharp, and often on the downgrade, but I found I flew around them with grace and ease. Aware of the cars or pedestrians or bikers around me, but without paying attention to them.
My mind was only on my body, the feel of my legs, the wind wrapping around me.
Once I got distracted (by a woman with a badass mandala tattoo, I might add) and found myself nearly tangled in the road with a handful of others. But I simply shifted back to myself and found my way easily around the traffic. And once I noticed a middle age man doing some pretty wicked tricks with his own bike. This was about the only time I really connected with another person, as I laughed and admired his Tony Hawk-ness. Celebrating with him, in a way.
What struck me most about this dream was my inattention to the Outside World, and my mindfulness on my own experience. I was fully present in my own body, in my own sensations. My mind wasn’t wandering, wasn’t worrying how I looked as I slowly pedaled up those hills, didn’t feel less awesome than the trickster flipping his ride like a pro, didn’t take it personally or get wrapped up in the traffic jam, but just was simply present in myself.
It came with its “ups and downs, twists and turns”. It challenged me but I didn’t get lost in my ideas of being challenged (“I’m not good enough. This is hard. I’ll never make it.“). I didn’t worry about “the road ahead” either.
I simply stayed present to my body, my movements, without judging them. And I found myself traveling just fine.
In real life?
I would’ve hopped off that bike at the first sign of even a tiny hill, and complained as I walked it the entire way up.
I would’ve panicked on the way down, likely wiping out (or walked it down as well).
I would’ve done everything in my power to slow down, stop, and avoid the sharp turns, including mapping out my entire route ahead of time to ensure nothing out of my control might happen, and quite possibly not even getting on the bike in the first place.
I wouldn’t have even noticed the badass tattoo, too absorbed in my own BS to pay attention.
If I found myself in a traffic jam, I would be frustrated that I didn’t foresee it, embarrassed that I couldn’t avoid it, profusely apologetic for being a part of it (possibly under the assumption that I may have somehow caused it – because it’s always about me right?), and I would’ve been self-conscious as I tried to move on from it.
And I would’ve seen the flips and tricks, then heard my thoughts criticize for not being able to do the same thing (even though I’d likely have done everything in my power to avoid such risky business in the first place).
And I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride.
(Care to continue this thread with me? Join in on the Sisterhood.)
I wander around department stores about once every 7 years, as evident by the two gift cards I’ve been carrying around for nearly that long. It wasn’t for a lack of trying that they hadn’t been spent. Justin and I had looked, but we don’t tend to find much of ourselves on their shelves.
But my wallet needed cleaning out and the summer heat and humidity is sneaking up on us, and I set upon it, determined to spend these damn cards, knowing (hoping) I’d at least find a cami or a tank top.
(Shopping is always an experience in itself for me. I could probably write about it alone, but that’s not what stole my attention that day.)
I found what I had been looking for, and with a armful of stripes, totaled up my swag to find it just exactly what I needed to spend to get rid of these damn snowmen and Santa’s I’ve been carrying around for nearly a decade.
I was wrong. Four dollars left on one card.
I’m not taking this thing home. I’ll find something in here to spend it on.
I was only about halfway down the main aisle when I stopped myself.
This is stupid. I’ve walked these aisles. I found what I want. I don’t want anything more.
So I walked back to the register to pay it forward instead. There was a woman there with her teen daughter, their items being totaled. I honestly didn’t expect the conversation that followed.
“Excuse me. There’s not much on this, but I’d like to give it to you.”
“Huh? Oooooh, no, no. I couldn’t take that from you.”
“No, really. It’s not a big deal. It’s only a few bucks and I won’t use it.”
“No, I wouldn’t feel right. You’ll regret it.”
Uh. What? Although my knee-jerk response flowed out without pause, my head got a little stuck on that phrase of hers. I’ll regret being kind?
“I live an hour away. It’s taken me 7 years to spend this much, and I’m not going to be driving out here again for $4.”
“No, no, you keep it. I couldn’t possibly…”
At this point I was pretty much over the debate.
“Seriously, you’re doing me a favor.”
And I placed it on the counter and walked out. As I walked to the truck, Life spoke so loudly in my ears that I almost acquiesced to the urge to turn back and repeat them.
Why is it so hard for you to receive?
Life is constantly walking up to you, trying to give you a gift of generosity, a show of love, the tiniest token of how much you are held and supported. If you can’t receive with gratitude something as small and meaningless as a little plastic card today or a compliment tomorrow, how in the world do you expect Life to be able to pour out the ocean of goodwill into your heart that you so deeply deserve?
How is it that you can expect the young person standing next to you to learn to receive with graciousness, to reach out for support when she’s depressed or has her hands full with a new baby or God forbid, is sick and hurting? What do you tell her every time you tell yourself no, you couldn’t possibly, it wouldn’t feel right?
That you’re not worthy? That others will regret showing you kindness? Who told you this bullshit story and why in the hell do you decide to believe them still?
And then Life turned the tables and asked me, why is it so hard for you to give?
Whether it was $4 or $400, it didn’t matter. Why do you diminish it, take the focus off the act of kindness, and pretend the recipient is doing you a favor? Why do you insist that what you are giving means so little? Why do you put a monetary value on kindness, instead of honoring the act for what it truly is – something that runs so much deeper to others than some service to you.
This isn’t about you. It is about what Life wants to show someone else, and you let your own discomfort get in the way of the words that really needed to be heard; words of self-worth, and a message from the Universe that kindness comes in seemingly small, unexpected ways. This wasn’t for you to value or devalue, but simply to allow.
How many times have you felt the words play on your tongue, the uncontrollable desire to walk up to a stranger and tell her she’s beautiful or that Life is working magic for her as we speak? How many times have you talked yourself out of it for no other reason than you put your own head in the way? You made it about you – how you’ll look, what others will think of you – instead of surrendering to the flash of revelation lighting sparks against your heart.
There is nothing to be uncomfortable about. Nothing to argue or debate. Nothing to be embarrassed for. Speak the words rubbing against you, share what you are called to share, and let the Divine decide where the chips will fall. Let a greater Mystery guide a conversation you yourself won’t fully see.
Let it all go. Let yourself receive, and let yourself give, without all your damn excuses.