Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Mother in me...

For as long as I can remember I’ve been mothering. It was something I did instinctively. As a child I often sought out younger children to mentor, and encourage, pets to care for, and situations in which I could play “mother”.  At the ripe old age of five the universe (and my parents) conspired to give me two siblings within a year; two adorable, beautiful, perfect little babies to love. I honed my nurturing skills upon these two little people every chance I got. By the time I was twelve, I had four more little siblings. I was adept at changing diapers, rocking fussy babies, playing make believe, and pushing a stroller; singing children’s songs, bottle and spoon feeding, bath time, and telling elaborate bedtime stories. In the five years that followed I became “big sister” twice more, making a grand total of seven brothers and sisters spread out across the vast expanse that was my respective parents’ love lives.
Throughout adolescence I often befriended people who needed reassurance and love. I was usually the caretaker. The proverbial “older sister” figure. I donned that hat and I guess it fit. Even when I had relationships with people who were older and perhaps wiser than me, I instinctively brought a sense of supportive security to the equation.
Now as a mother to my own children, I see how all of that experience compiled to prepare me for this journey. When we are young we don’t always understand why we have the experiences we do, however a little hindsight can bring things into perspective. I cut my mothering teeth on the trials and tribulations of having a hand in the upbringing of many little siblings, needy friends, and even adults who needed my care in their own wayward ways.
In true mothering style I still offer advice, unconditional love and support; honest, constructive criticism, and heartfelt compassion to those who are close to me. I am best friend and confidante to many, big sister to some, love to others, and mom to a few. But I am also more (and less) than this image I convey to the world. I am needy and insecure sometimes. I question myself, my capabilities, and my identity. I often wonder whether or not I am qualified to offer any of these things to others. It is then that I remind myself that what you give so too shall you receive. And I redouble my efforts to be the best nurturer I can be; to love unconditionally, to forgive, and to see the beauty in everyday experience. To encourage, entrust, and assure. To proffer love and support to all those I have the honor to know; myself included. I believe this is why I am here on this earth. This is my path. Though it may wind through dark and stormy emotional snares and entanglements, ultimately it is leading me to the light of fulfillment.
Love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This a.m.

I woke today just moments before the children. Before I heard Emma’s bedroom door open down the hall, and Abbie’s voice begin to beckon… I woke feeling already put upon. Which of course immediately led into self defeating remorse for feeling negative upon waking and tainting the day with my crummy attitude.
 I knew that it was about to begin; the endless, thankless, barrage of wants, needs, bickering arguments, trials and crisis. I had missed that hallowed opportunity to collect myself in the silence before the day begins. Seconds after I became aware of my conscious thoughts I heard them. The starting gun had fired and I was not ready to race. I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I can choose my reactions; that I needn’t feel tired and tried, that I can be light and joyful, exuberant even… My inner cynic laughed at these thoughts and mentally kicked me for being so na├»ve. I kicked back weakly and wrestled with feelings of self loathing.
I swallowed the lump rising in my clenched throat and threw the covers off. I went to get Abigail from her crib to the tune of her bellowing at the top of her lungs “MOOOOOOM!” Not once, or twice… but continually until I got there to retrieve her. I thought once again that it is time to get her that big girl bed. Maybe today…  Being demanded at 5:50 a.m. sets the precedent for the day, and it is rarely an enjoyable experience. Of course if she has that “big girl” bed, there will be the evening hassle to consider. Will she stay put at bedtime or will I trade early morning demands for evening escapes?
I put Abbie on the floor, passed Emma in the hall and trudged back to the warmth of my coveted bed. I heard my husband breathing quietly and momentarily resented him the luxury to linger in the solitary confinement long after we would begin to face this day. The girls were hot on my heels and they climbed over and on top of me into the cozy comfort. Elbows and knees dug into my body, my hair was being pulled, and my pillow had been confiscated. Cold little feet pressed against my bare legs. Sweet little heads nuzzled into my face and I had a split second of bliss breathing in the clean scent of their corn silk hair.  Then Abbie began to cough, just the remnants of the latest cold which rears its ugly head in the early morning. I sent her out to get her water from the other room. And begrudgingly accepted the fact that snuggle time was over. The day was off and I had better get a move on if I hoped to keep up.
I took a deep breath, braced myself for the obstacles that were certain to come. Climbed out of bed and began to put on my layers of morning attire. I rounded up the crying, scratching cats, herded Abbie out and shut the door behind me. Emma stayed in bed with her Daddy for a little while longer. As I took my first sip of coffee I tried to remind myself that grace isn’t always easy, the days that challenge us are necessary to help us appreciate life’s wonderful moments. I kindly afforded myself the excuse of being human, that perfectly imperfect state of existence.
Love.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If Only...

If only I could impart to you the desire I possess to express the raw and untamed beauty which is life. To describe the intimate details and share with you the nuances and divine subtleties which pave our very path from birth to death.
If only my words had the power to invoke the sweetest, saddest, truest, loveliest feelings that subsist. If I could paint for you a picture with my words, swept like brush upon canvas, my thoughts might conjure a landscape of infinite intricacies. The colors beyond description would entice and intrigue your mind igniting all manner of heartfelt reflection.
If only I could depict the joy and wonder, the simplest moments bring. The sound of crickets chirping, the smell of summer evenings, the pleasure of belly laughs, the sight of fireflies and rainbows, the twinkling of an unclouded night, the delicate, papery, softness of an elderly loved one’s hand, the reassurance of a comforting embrace, the cool, sweet, creamy goodness of ice cream or the soft, supple feel of whispered kisses upon a baby’s tender brow. Remarkably exquisite details captured for your consideration. Set upon display within your own imagination; bathed in a lyrical light, causing their very ordinariness to appear extraordinary.
If only I could capture the magic and share it with you. To be capable for even just one inspired moment, an instant, to bring the unadulterated magnitude of human existence and experience to you and afford you an intimate glimpse into this mystical enigma that we call life.
If only my modest talent were so endowed; I would know a sense of fulfillment and peaceful composure. I would be a little bit closer to the universe and its vastness, and so too would you.
-Love.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Facing Fear...

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”- FDR
Have wiser words ever been uttered? And why is it that we spend so much of our lives riddled with fear? Fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of ridicule, fear of disappointment, fear of judgment, fear of failure… We have all experienced these hard to face anxieties at one time or another and we have endured, perhaps even flourished in the face of this begrudging force.  The very things we allow to hold us back from our full potential and cause us to shake in our shoes are actually meant to propel us forward. Risk often offers great reward.
We struggle with our inner doubts and fears. We project them into our physical reality as hurdles, challenges, and roadblocks. Fear is a paralyzing entity. It undermines the most well endowed efforts of creativity. Fear holds your spirit in stagnation and prevents growth.  One who won’t dare to fail can never hope to succeed.  Life isn’t meant to frighten us. We live… We die.... Our time here is limited by design. Why then would we spend that time putting unnecessary limits upon ourselves? Living in a confined space of false security, hiding from our own insecurities, eliminating the prospect of failure by refusing to set out and try; selling ourselves short of our potential in exchange for some artificial semblance of sanctuary?
When we are brave enough to put ourselves out there, we begin to develop our true potentials. When we are not bound by fear of the unknown we open up unlimited venues of possibility. Life is simple really. It is an opportunity to embrace the full range of physical, creative and emotional experience and to fulfill our spirit’s wildest imaginings. Finding the courage to be the people we hope to be. Having the resolve to live up to our dreams and allowing them to carry us through fear and doubt, safely into the future of our own highest design. Like a raging river current which ultimately leads home to the sea, we travel through this turbulent existence and if we are lucky… Very, very lucky we realize sooner rather than later just what brings us joy and satisfaction, and we take the necessary measures to live that truth.
Love.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Blanket...

I’m knitting a blanket…
 A warm, snuggly, cozy blanket. I’m filling each row of stitches with love and feelings of comfort, peace, and joy. I am making an assertive effort to think positive thoughts each time I wrap the yarn around the needle and slip it through the loop. Every stitch that passes under my fingers from left to right is a reminder to think of something wonderful. This is going to be a most extraordinary blanket. This project is a practice, a daily meditative practice. It is being entwined with thoughts of abundance and gratitude, inspiration, hope, faith, kindness and love.
There is nothing fancy about it. I am not following a pattern, not even a knit, pearl ribbing. Simply knitting; straight across the board and back again. And again. And again… With a soft, thick, cuddly weight of yarn.  A comforting green/multi- color called Prairie, with flecks of burgundy and blue throughout.  A palette reflective of the earth and Her beauty.
I am using each stitch as a reminder. A momentary call to awareness. To keep my mind from wandering down unwanted thought paths. To use my focus to direct my energy. To instill the power of my imagination into something physical that grows before my eyes, from a ball of string to a useful, functional addition to reality. A literal manifestation of comfort in a world crying out for compassion.
I know it’s just a blanket… But tell me you don’t want to wrap it around you and feel the contentment and love I’ve knit into its very fabric! You know you do. J
Love.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Everyday Messes...

The clutter and color of a life with children…
My house, my days, my life is filled with the most vibrant, vivacious, lively, colorful messes! My walls are plastered with watercolor fairy lands and abstract pictures of the world through the eyes of my little (and not so little) ones. The shelves overflow like a circus of games and puzzles and craft supplies.  There are balloons floating around in corners from a party a week ago. There are pretend cupcakes and cookies and blocks strewn all over the place, all of the time. There are tricycles and scooters.  Princess dresses, tiaras, magic wands, handmade treasures, ribbon clad “presents”, baby dolls, and Barbie dolls, paper flowers, books, little shoes, socks and un-hung masterpieces litter the floors.
I spend a lot of time fighting against the “mess”.  Trying to contain it. Organize it. Control it. Today, I want to embrace the beauty that is right before my eyes. The pleasure and wonder that is captured in a home that has been played in, lived in, loved in.  I have a sign that hangs in my kitchen; a friend gave it to me years ago. It reads:    
Please excuse the noise & mess…the kids are making happy memories.    
Everywhere I look there are reminders of the innocence and imaginings that fill the days of my children; the magic and excitement, the true spirit of liveliness that only children can imbue. Here to allow me to see the magnificence in my everyday challenges and to give me perspective. Perhaps a clean house is not a happy house after all. Perhaps I should spend less time struggling to put it all together and allow it be as it is, a wonderful, unique, glorious tribute to the magic and adventure of childhood, parenthood, life. A whimsical place to laugh, play, learn and love. A home. Our home.     
Love.                                        

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Responsibility to Oneself...

When you put your happiness into the hands of another, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
We have been conditioned in our society to believe the delusion that if a person truly loves another they will be able to provide that person with an endless supply of happiness. The truth is we are all responsible for our own happiness. Expectations are like little time bombs, booby-trapping our relationships, ticking away, waiting to detonate.
There are two very important lessons to remember when sharing your life with others, be they your spouse, your children, friends, siblings, parents, etc…
1.      If you want someone to know how you feel about anything, or you want them to behave, respond, react a certain way, you have to tell them! We spend so much energy resenting our loved ones for not “knowing” what we need. We feel unloved, unrecognized, and underappreciated; frustrated that we have to ask. We stew in our own noxious bitterness and poison ourselves with negative thoughts and feelings. How simple it would be to say to someone, “I’d really like if you could do this for me.” Giving our loved ones the opportunity to help us, and please us, rather than setting them up for defeat by keeping our needs to ourselves and holding their lack of psychic abilities against them.

2.      You can not change other people. You can ask. You can explain. You can talk until you are blue in the face, but you can not force change in another person. You can however change your reaction. This is where our true power lies. We have unlimited abilities to change how we deal with every situation we encounter. We can choose. We can become aware of ourselves, our triggers, desires, and underlying issues. We can stop reacting and start creating our lives circumstance by circumstance. We can move beyond blame and into healthy communicative avenues. We can accept responsibility for our own happiness, recognize how our reactions cause our emotional upheaval, and change what isn’t working for us.

These are simple truths. Easily recognizable tools to help us build our experiences into everything we hope they can be. They are hard learned lessons. And many of us may never be able to move out of our own way in order to embrace the idea of personal power through responsibility. Many will stagnate in the misery and disappointment of blame. Seeing themselves forever as victims, holding grudges against the world for their own dysfunction. We do well to remember that feeling unhappiness and disappointment are choices too. Life is a series of choices. Recognizing the power to choose/feel differently is the ultimate power we wield as human beings. Do not give your power away! This requires practice and diligence; awareness and commitment.  It requires a heartfelt desire to truly heal your hurts and help yourself. Personal responsibility is not something to be taken lightly, it is serious business. If we are serious about our own happiness we can start now. Today. Be patient and persistent. Pay attention to our reactions and become aware of ourselves. Give ourselves (and others) the respect, kindness, and validation we wish to receive in life.

Love.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Kids!

The house is quiet. As I sit alone in the kitchen sipping my steaming coffee, I wonder how many more moments I have before the sound of little voices fill the halls.
The day will begin when they emerge from their cozy beds, sleepy eyed and hungry. Needy and hopefully happy; eager to try new things, and play favorite games. Busy little people with enormous agendas to fill my hours with innumerable opportunities to be in the moment. Full of exuberance and excitement. Ready to smile and laugh, sing and snuggle, play and explore their day away!
Today is just a Monday. Nothing altogether too important about it, but it may be one of those days that my children will always remember. We all have random memories from our childhood… a moment, a day, something that stuck with us. I hope that today and tomorrow and everyday for the rest of their young lives, I can give them something to remember. Some moment of my day where I am undistracted, fully present in their experience, offering them my love and undivided attention.
When they were babies and toddlers, it was inevitable that they received undivided attention. I had to watch them, chase them, help them, and care for them every second of the day. Now that they are a bit more independent I need to remind myself to take the time to play with them in order to maintain the same level of connection.
Every stage with children passes so quickly. Though some feel endless, like the “No!” stage (1-2yrs) or the “Why?” stage (2-3yrs), the challenging stage (3-4yrs), the defiant stage (5-7yrs), etc… etc… In the long run each and every phase they go through will be over before you know it. So for today, I will remind myself to pay attention to the moments that make up their day. To cherish the sweetness and the giggles, to honor their process while they navigate this complex existence. I, as parents do, tend to spend a lot of time correcting, instilling, and disciplining. Today (and everyday really) I’d like to balance all that necessary rearing with simply enjoying my kids. Allowing them to be who they are and to feel special and acknowledged for that, because they really are amazing and I don’t want to miss a moment! J
Love.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Today...

Good morning!
Today I will welcome my obstacles and accept the challenges that present themselves to me.
Today I will smile in the face of adversity and laugh when I feel like crying.
Today I will tackle my responsibilities without begrudging.
Today, I will befriend time and make amends for yesterday.
Today I will exude confidence and acceptance.
Today I will increase my happiness by noticing it every chance I get.
Today I will allow myself to be fallible and see past my mistakes.
Today I will forgive.
Today I will play with my children even though I have a million other things to do.
Today I will find peace in the chaos.
Today I will honor my individuality and recognize that I am extraordinary.
Today I will be grateful for my home and my loved ones, and my health.
Today I will see past the mess and appreciate the finer details.
Today I will excuse myself from ridicule and belittlement.
Today I will practice patience and kindness.
Today I will speak with compassion.
Today I will honor my spirit and the spirit of those around me.
Today I will share the best of me with the world.
Today I will love unconditionally.
Today I will take every negative thought in my head and flip it to make a positive statement to the universe.
Love.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Parenting...

I had a conversation with a fellow mom tonight about how she feels like a total failure as a mother sometimes. A stay at home mom after many years of working outside the home, she said, it isn’t exactly what she expected. She said that when you are looking at it from the perspective of a working parent, you always think of all the things you would do and how amazing being at home with your children would be… And it is. Sometimes. But other times you question your every choice and reaction. You doubt your qualifications, and wonder whether or not these little angels (devils?) might be better off being raised by wolves! You struggle to balance between caregiver, comforter, disciplinarian, and referee! If you can get through the day without ripping your hair out or cracking a bottle of something at noon, sometimes that’s just got to go in the win column!
We all have these ideals of what kind of parents we will be. We dream of giving our children so much endless love and support, guidance, and instruction that they will inevitably be amazing, well balanced folk. The fact of the matter is that kids are not always what we want them to be. They are people. Human beings just like the rest of us; capable of a wide array of behavioral issues and un-pleasantries. They will challenge us in ways we never knew existed. They will try our patience to the ends of the earth and back again. They disrupt, disobey, disregard, and disrespect. Continually.
And yet… they will learn. They will grow. They will develop into the people they are meant to become, as we all have (many, without proper parental guidance to direct us). We give them as much unconditional love and appreciation as we can muster. Sharing both our patience as well as our exasperation. We allow them to see and learn through their interactions with us that we are people too, that we have feelings just like they do. That all people react better when shown respect and consideration. We teach them to honor our values, and treat others the way they themselves would prefer to be treated. We do all of this and so much more as parents. Stay at home or otherwise.  And we question, doubt, and fret over the job endlessly. All while trying to cherish every waking moment of their existence while they are still “ours” to cherish.
So parents, what I’m trying to say is this: Don’t be so hard on yourselves. Love your children. Forgive your inadequacies and see the challenges as opportunities to grow, both as people and as parents. Don’t take yourselves too seriously.  Stick to your guns. Stand your ground. Never let ‘em see you sweat. And most importantly remember that this too shall pass, and even the hard days will be sorely missed. The best we can hope for in this crazy endeavor is to give our children confidence and to know that we did our best to contribute to a whole new generation of humanity. J
-Love.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Acceptance

Today’s blog was not easy for me. It took me all day to transform these thoughts into some semblance of sense. If it hadn’t been such a personally prevalent subject I probably would have just chalked it up to time well wasted. However, I kept coming back time and again today with the intent to make sense of this thought pattern. So here it is…

I’ve been thinking a lot about acceptance…
Accepting things for what and how they are. Knowing on some level that every experience I have (we all have) is precisely the experience I’m meant to be having. All things do happen for a reason. Finding acceptance and ultimately appreciation, is irrefutably essential to spiritual development.

Accepting what life presents to me in this moment; whether it is in the form of comfort or discord; whether I find myself feeling great joy, frustration, or sorrow. Knowing that every experience is a direct reflection of my spirit’s needs is something I aspire to daily. This would be my ideal. However I get caught up in the drama of my own emotions, and I (like most people) can’t help but wonder; why? Why does my spirit need to feel discontent, irritation, upset, or sadness? Perhaps it is meant to be a reminder. Perhaps I am being given opportunities to remember to “go with the flow”. That struggling against the current will never lead me where I want to be. And that I must practice allowing situations to unfold naturally. After all, what we resist persists. Letting go and trusting doesn’t always appear to be easier than struggling, but it is always smarter.

Wishing for an experience that differs from my current reality merely increases my unhappiness, and creates an entirely new set of uncomfortable circumstances. If I expend my energy resisting unpleasant feelings, emotions and situations, I will not prove successful in avoiding them, but rather, stand to strengthen the hold they have upon me. I will not heal the hurt or disappointments, but instead, increase the attention being given to them, and in turn increase the power they wield over me.

All mental and emotional discomfort is an exercise in acceptance. If I am feeling emotional upset, I can be certain that my spirit is trying to tell me that it is time to change how I am interacting with the universe. It is time to open my heart and feel my feelings, to stop trying to force them into abatement.  Nothing can be changed until it is accepted, brought out of the shadow of shame and denial and put into the spotlight of awareness; where it may then be transformed into a restorative, strengthening, purposeful understanding through the superb facility of acceptance.

Phew! Okay. Enough said.

-Love.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Girls!

I am the mother of girls. Three girls to be exact. Three, beautiful, wonderful, adorable, VOCAL girls!
These girls will talk about nothing and everything from dawn until dusk! They will talk to each other, and the cats, and the walls! They will talk nonsense and some sense… They sing, and bicker, and scream; laugh, cry, shout and whine… They fill my days (everyday) with ceaseless chattering noise! Sometimes it’s beautiful, wonderful to hear. When they are thoughtful and considerate of one another. When they learn something precious or tell a sweet story. But sometimes it is not so endearing, sometimes it is nerve grating… Sometimes I find myself wishing for a moment (or a week) of silence! Longing for a place where nobody speaks to me! Where I don’t know where anyone’s shoes are, or what’s for lunch. A land where nobody desires to share the intricate details of their most recent trip to the potty with me. A silent place where I could actually hear myself think…
Maybe I could hide in the closet???
Then I remember how excited we were when they spoke their first words. How encouraging we were while they explored the realm of vocal communication. How impressed I am when they use a word properly to express themselves. How rewarding it is to have a dear little voice interrupt my train of thought just to say, “Mommy I love you.” I remind myself that they won’t always want to talk to me. Someday they will shut their bedroom doors on me and wish me away. I will miss their sweet little girl giggles and voices. I will kick myself for spending any of this irreplaceable time wishing away the sound of their childhood.
I remember all of this and I know that it’s true. It helps me appreciate the time that I have with my girls. But still I wonder, (just a little bit) would the computer desk fit into the closet?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year!

Well, here we go again. A brand new year, full of fresh starts and resolutions. Brimming with promise and possibility. What will you do with it? Will you make the most of this time?
I won’t resolve to make any changes; resolutions are easily forgotten and lost to the spirit of lax. Aspirations, however, are of a different caliber. Their power is kept even when they are not being held in central focus. Aspirations are always promising, always encouraging, always aspiring to bring our ideals to life.
This year I aspire to:
 Share my truth with as many people as I can reach.
Laugh, smile, sing, hug, listen, and feel more.
Trust the universe and allow life to complete its plan for me.
Be an active participant in my life and not fall prey to victim consciousness.
Appreciate the human experience.
Notice the tenderness and unlimited potential of which we are all capable.
Be a bringer of peace and comfort in anyway that I can.
Relish the moments of my life while they happen.
Honor my spirit and listen to my soft inner voice that all too often gets drowned out by ego and fear.
Practice patience, kindness, honesty, and boundless gratitude in all that I do.
Show greater compassion, empathy, forgiveness, support, and understanding not only for others, but also for myself.
Love more than ever before.
But mostly, as this New Year dawns, and I watch the sun rise on a new day in my life; I aspire to inspire. To inspire you to create your own aspirations. To do all of this and more. To recognize (in the incredibly wise words of a bumper sticker) that this is not a rehearsal people! This is your life, good, bad, and indifferent. Let’s aspire to be more, know more, do more with our time here. Let’s aspire to live fully, immersed in this moment; riddled with awareness and overflowing with hope for the year(s) that lay ahead of us.
Here’s hoping 2011 brings you greater joy than you’ve ever known! Happy New Year!
-Much Love.