November 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
I was chatting with one of the baristas at my favourite coffee shop this morning and was both surprised and excited to learn that she had aspirations to be an astronaut! Fully engaged in hearing how this came about, I asked her more questions. As I listened to her confidently tell the tale of how she has been a “space nerd” since the age of four, and how she is currently studying aerospace engineering, it was quite clear how lit up she was about her dream. As my friend and I asked more questions about her upcoming marriage however, I hear the words she uses to describe her dream start to spiral into uncertainty as she speaks about the next steps.
Her fiancé, currently based in Hawaii, is in the army, and they both want to begin flying. She talks further about the difficult logistics, how matching up bases when one spouse is the army and the other is in the air force is nearly impossible, and how they have decided that she will go for her private pilot’s license to better compliment her fiance’s career choices. By the time she finishes talking she is referring to her dream of being an astronaut as “maybe just a pipe dream”. My friend comforts the obvious shift in her energy by saying ““ah, the things we do for love, right?”
As she notices the line getting longer, she jumps back to work, leaving me feeling unfulfilled in the telling of this young girl’s story that started out so exciting and strong! Pipe dream? What happened to that four year old space nerd?
My friend comments to me about how lovely it is to know from such a young age what you want to do with your life, which I agree is fantastic but then I solemnly think to myself, “how sad that she has allowed these obstacles and boundaries to become larger than her dream!”
As I make the trek through the woods back home I keep thinking about this girl’s beautiful dream and how nice it would be if both she AND her husband could follow their dream. Upon arriving home I take advantage of a few quiet minutes before my next scheduled item in the day to do a meditation with Deepak and Oprah.
Of course it is all about removing obstacles and boundaries in your life.
As I recite the Sanskrit Mantra: Om Gum Namah, which means Expansive Consciousness Dissolves Obstacles, I am filled with thoughts about my barista friend. By the end of the meditation, my next step has become clear to me. I know what to do.
My fingers quickly type the author “Chris Hadfield” into the search bar on Amazon’s main page. In minutes, the book is ordered and due to my house next day. This book is Hadfield’s biography on the time he was a young “space nerd” through till his culminating experience as Commander on the International Space Station in 2013. It’s entitled An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth and it is his story of overcoming obstacles and boundaries to make his dream come true. I write a quick note of encouragement to “Follow your dreams, one goal at a time”, and on the back I inscribe the Sanskrit Mantra from my meditation, along with its translation.
I look forward to presenting this early wedding gift to this young dreamer. I am even more excited to one day see NASA’s announcement of their newest female astronaut, and remember what a great chai tea latte she made way back when.
November 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
So I spent some time on FB this morning catching up and realized I had missed a bunch of notifications. After adding a new FB friend, I enjoy going to my main page to look at it through the eyes of someone else. In no time at all I was deep into beautiful memories, missing home, loved ones and feeling the love.
My ego quickly stepped up and said “oh you poor thing, missing home, where there is security, and familiarity and people who love you, wallow here awhile, feel sad. It’s raining outside for the 14th straight day, just stay in your pjs, don’t bother with the shower, just sink”.
The remarkable part was, when I heard those words in my head, they felt SO strange. And the response, instead of pondering it, was “why the heck would I do that! All of this is love. Love at home, love in Seattle, love on FB. Every one of these pictures is evidence of love in my life. How could that ever make me sad?!”
Well THAT is refreshing!
I think back to almost exactly a year ago, when the rains in Seattle started and we had two weeks straight of no sunshine. Our first experience going so long without sun. Even in Ontario’s dead of winter, the sun reflects off the snow so brightly you have to wear shades to even see properly. I remember thinking to myself, “what have we done? We can’t make it until spring with no sun!” I watched how all my new friends and acquaintances in Seattle had already figured it out, booking their sunny holidays in the south months in advance of the mid-winter and spring breaks. I felt my mood sink into sullen, not going unnoticed by my husband who bought me a faux-sun “Happy Lamp” for Christmas in an attempt to help. I began romanticizing our home in Ontario, seeing it as an oasis, making plans for when we return. Uncertainty set in, and I felt like I had a foot in each home, never really feeling grounded in either.
But then the sun broke through, and our prayers were answered. We were gifted with what everyone described as an “unusually warm winter”. Unseasonably warm temperatures, sunny skies, and outstandingly beautiful blooms on the trees starting in January and continuing like a fireworks show all the way into spring. Each tree took a turn, in yellow, pink and white, shouting from their branches that ALL IS WELL!
Each person I discussed the weather with warned me “don’t get used to it! This is not normal”! As my spirit started to rebound I found myself responding “who cares? It is EXACTLY what we needed in our inaugural winter here. In this moment, it is perfect.”
So now I am faced with the exact same scenario one year later. It’s been raining so long my neighbour asked me this morning where the faucet was to turn it off. But something is different. Instead of uncertainty, I feel grounded. I feel like we are on this adventure, experiencing new things, and while I miss my loved ones at home very much, I am also excited by the new relationships we are cultivating here. And I am grateful at how different they are from the relationships we have at home. There is no replacement for celebrating the holidays with family, but it will be a cool new experience to celebrate the holidays with friends, cherishing the fellowship and warmth it surrounds us with.
I make a promise to myself to continue on this Rampage of Appreciation, and honour each new beautiful experience for the growth it offers. I AM grateful.
November 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
Here we go, I’m learning again. I know you recognize those moments, when you thought you had learned something, and then you are offered up an opportunity to show you’ve mastered it and you come up short, bumping you back to the lesson again. “Okay – for sure I’m going to get it this time – I know this stuff”, but then in the moment, you revert back to your old pattern again. Man is this rut deep.
Yesterday I was surprised to hear my son chime in while we were listening to a quote being recited by Maya Angelou”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
It surprised me that 1) he had heard the quote before, and 2) it resonated enough with him for him to remember it. I discovered the next day that this realization was just setting the stage for my next day’s re-learning.
As I am nagging my children this morning, as I do most mornings, to get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack their lunch, brush their teeth, etc. etc., I walk amongst them bewildered that I still have to give them the play-by-play nudge on what to do each morning. As I carry this energy around with me, I manifest my way straight into a comical step-by-step grand-finale instruction banter to get my 6 year old out the door to the bus “Put. On. Your. Shoes. Pick. Up. Your. Bag. Take. One. Step. After. Another. Toward. The. Door. Down. The. Stairs. SO WE DON”T MISS THE BUS!” As I am amping up into my tirade, my children start laughing at me, giggling their way down the driveway each doing their own impression of my step-by-step instructions.
Ah, children. The best teachers.
Immediately my mood is transformed by their lightheartedness and I am grateful for their beautiful energy. But alas, my lesson was not done yet.
Later that morning, as the house is quiet, I hear my nagging words floating down the hallway in front of me as I recall the morning rush. And another favourite quote by Peggy O’Mara pops into my head:
“How you speak to your children becomes their inner voice”
My shoulders sink a little. Right. Yuck.
I move on to create this week’s chore chart for the kids, feeling at a bit of a loss, since the last two week’s chore charts have gone mostly un-done. “How do I get the kids back into doing their chores?” I ask myself. So I go to my usual idea generator (Google), and type in the request. Lots of stuff I’ve already tried, and lots of parent-guilt about creating children with good work ethics, comparing your children to others who have already nailed it. Yuck.
Feeling only more exasperated, I move onto my next item on the to-do list: Finish Girl Scout Volunteer training. Seven online modules, of which I have only done one. As I watch the training module moving in smart little images and graphics across my laptop screen, I hear the words “girl-led”, “finding her talents”, “developing her skills”, and I am reminded of the best way to support someone is to “come alongside”, rather than trying to “fix”.
Okay, okay, I’m getting it. Thank you for the grand design of multiple people, situations, thoughts and memories it takes to move me into a better place.
And here I go again, re-learning a lesson that keeps coming back to me.
We so often as adults feel that we need to move children into the direction we see is best for them, teaching them how to get along in this world, explaining and advising, outright forcing them when they aren’t moving along fast enough or in the proper direction.
We forget that they came from the same place as us, are going to the same place as us, and in many cases have not started carrying as much baggage as us due to their fewer years of exposure. Their belief systems are not yet fully formed by their experiences, BUT they are becoming more entrenched with every word, action and feeling they pick up from us. What they see and hear from the people in their world, especially the adults, is changing them. Forming them.
When I examine my own belief systems and trace them back to the original experience that formed them it is so very often from an experience I had when I was the age of my children.
So the lesson just became so much more powerful. It just changed from “yeah, I lost my temper, but I bet they’ll think twice before doing it again” to “I just yelled at my kid, and it sucks to be yelled at by anyone, let alone one of the most important people in your life”.
Suddenly I see my kids for the Beings they are. Not youth. Not inexperienced, don’t-know-better-yet, children. I can see them as beautiful souls, who have also come to this earth to experience life, and contrast, and love. LOVE! The most powerful force in existence.
Whatever I feel the need to “teach” my children, is really just sharing what I myself have learned. And if I cannot share that from a place of love, then I am contributing to a belief system in them that I do not want to have anything to do with. I do not want to be the one that taught them unworthiness. I do not want to be the one that made them feel unsafe to shine their natural light.
When my children look back on their childhood, and remember their mother, I want them to feel they always had a soft place to land, surrounded by love, feeling supported enough to always shine their light, whatever that looks like to them. I want them to feel believed in, and lifted up by my faith in their abilities. Sometimes they will see a firm hand was necessary, but ultimately the love in it will shine brighter.
I want their inner voice to be full of joy, peace, and forever speaking to them from a place of knowing. Knowing they are here to experience amazing things, and that life is meant to be enjoyed.
Exhale. With gratitude for the lesson.