An Examination.

January 31, 2017 § Leave a comment

Funny how some days can sneak up on you. Today for instance, I am missing home. I am missing home, but not just home – I am also yearning for special moments I once enjoyed.  I miss inviting a good friend over for tea and chatting while our children play, laughing at the mischief they create together, always with one eye watchful for potential toddler tumbles.  I miss spa pedicures and special dinners with my mom and sister, relaxing into the ease that family brings. I miss the house I rocked my babies in, and the beautiful views of sunrises it offers.

You wouldn’t think I would be missing home today, a rare sunny day during a Pacific NorthWest winter, but here I am. Alexa is playing the Lumineers and the song Nobody Knows comes on. It speaks of how hard it is to say goodbye, and how you don’t really realize how hard till you try. It speaks of journeys, and the road home, and how love keeps us going. It recommends to live the day doing what you can, ‘cause nobody knows how the story ends.

So here I am, writing, and doing what I can. I have interspersed my obligations of the day with tasks that bring me joy so as not to slip too deep into a sadness.  As I am watchful of my self-care today, in some funny way I begin to sense a heavy ribbon of gratitude woven through all that I feel.  I embrace the sweet memories created with loved ones in a place I call home, and I feel grateful for each beautiful experience. More than grateful, I feel enriched.

Each time I look at my teenage son, about to turn fourteen and already taller than me and wearing his Daddy’s shoes, even though he no longer says “Daddy”, I marvel at the light speed with which he has grown. My first born, I recall holding him in my arms and can even still remember his newborn smell. My eyes well up as I realize how far away those days are from where I stand now, and I pray the experience will be echo’d when I hold my future grandchildren one day.

With each wave of temptation to sink into what I am missing, I strive to see what is right in my world. A smile comes to my face as I recall with great clarity dreaming of this exact day. It was during a decade of pregnancies and nursing, up several times a night and rarely ever experiencing a moment to myself for all the demands of my young children. I remember imagining a day when my children would have more independence and not cling to me for every need. I emphatically wondered how far away that day was and how I would fare on the journey to get there.

I recall once, during my early high school years, one of my friends was unexpectedly scolded by her mother for repeatedly wishing for the coming weekend, barely able to contain her excitement about the planned activities. I found it remarkable that she would be scolded for such excitement until her mother explained that she was wishing her life away, and suggested she enjoy where she was at right now. Wise words commonly heard today, but not often heard in the early nineties.

As I close, I resolve to return to the present and embrace the gifts of the here and now. With a beautiful Namaste, I express my gratitude for the walk through cherished memories of my past and open my heart to how I want to feel today.

 

 

Mom Fatigue

May 6, 2016 § Leave a comment

If you are a mom, there is a good chance you have a very full definition of this term already in your head, and its resonance is why you are reading this now. It’s different for every mom, and as Mother’s Day approaches, I feel it deserves some real estate on my blog.  Also because my kids were complaining about having nothing to put in their lunch this morning and mismatched socks on their feet because I had no time for groceries or laundry this week. My response was less about empathy, and more about weariness.

I saw a Facebook post the other day outlining What Moms Really Want on Mother’s Day. It included:

  1. sleeping in
  2. silence
  3. to pee uninterrupted
  4. somebody else to cook
  5. a clean house.

I read that and heavily exhaled. Yes, so true. And then it hit me. Isn’t it crazy that none of those things involve celebrating our children or spouse? Enter Mom Fatigue.

We love our children. We love them so much we compete with every other mom in the PTSA to show what good moms we are. Some days I imagine we are all greyhounds, chasing that artificial hare speeding around the track, and I think to myself, who picked the hare, and how fast it goes?  Who decides that pace?

I see moms every day struggling with “not good enough” self-doubt, forever questioning how they could have done something better, been more organized, or how they missed a detail. Even on the good days, all it takes is one FB post or one Pinterest reference to send you into a tailspin of what you “should” be doing.

The word “should” just might be the most destructively–charged word in the English language.

 

I found reprieve this week in an exercise from Sanaya Roman’s book “Living With Joy”. In it, she offers:

 

“You may have been taught that being busy creates self-worth”.

 

(notice how there is no judgement in that statement? It just offers an idea for you to consider and decide if it aligns with your experience)

From this book, I learned to differentiate between Personality-driven activity (all the shoulds, and obligations we have created in our life) and Soul-driven activity – those activities done with your higher purpose in mind.

Weigh that for a minute in your mind, and as you do, gently walk yourself through your schedule today. For each activity, consider how it makes you feel and how it relates to your higher purpose? Keep in mind that your ego will try to step in and begin justifying your choices to help you feel better, but follow your intuition. Do you feel resistance and negative emotions in response to the activity, or do you feel excited about it, like it is aligned with your true nature?

And I hear what you are thinking…”Well that’s a neat exercise, but I can’t just drop my obligations cause they don’t feel good, I’ve made a commitment to them!” Right?

If you discover activity in your day that is creating resistance and negative emotion, it doesn’t mean you have to drop it. This new awareness is gifting you with choice. Perhaps the choice is to drop it, but more practically, maybe the choice is to shift your perception of it. Reach for a better feeling thought about the situation. Consider it from a different angle or perspective and see if there is a lens through which you can see the activity in a way that better aligns with your inner purpose.

For example, when I tried this for myself the other day, I lay in bed after hitting the snooze and walked myself through the planned activities of my upcoming day, applying the lens of Personality-driven vs Soul-driven. It was going very well at first, until I got snagged on washing the dishes (the ones I have left for several days). Hmm, I don’t love doing dishes and there is no way scraping day-old food off a frying pan is part of my higher purpose!  The job still needed to be done, and seeing how it’s unlikely I will get a butler for Mother’s day, I chose to look at it from another angle. How do I feel when the dishes are clean, put away and available to me when I wish to use them? Way better than I feel when I go to make dinner and can’t find a clean pan anywhere in the drawer. I reached for the better feeling thought – the one that fills me up when things are where they are supposed to be when I need them. I also love the way the kitchen looks when it is clean. It brings me joy to see a clean kitchen, and living with joy is most definitely part of my higher purpose.

 

“You may have many reasons why you cannot change your life right now. If you do not begin to create reasons why you can, change will always be a future thought, and you will not be on the path of joy”.

-Sanaya Roman

 

You have a choice to live joyfully*! Learn not to be trapped by your own creations. Everyone around you will thank you for it, and feel liberated to do the same!

Wishing you a joyful Mother’s Day!

 

 

*If you need a little nudge on how to live more joyfully, see below for an exercise from Sanaya Roman’s book, “Living With Joy”.

  1. List seven things that you love to do, that feel joyful when you do them, and that you haven’t done in the last several months. They may be anything – lying in the sun, taking a trip, getting a massage, accomplishing a goal, exercising, reading a book.
  2. Beside each of these seven things, list what stops you from doing it – something either inside (such as your feelings) or outside (someone or something, such as lack of money, that keeps you from it).
  3. Take two or three things on your list that hold the most joy for you, and think of one step you can take toward each to bring it into your life.
  4. Mark your calendar with a date and a time that you will bring each of these joyful activities into your life.

Identity (another chapter in the tale of our move from Ontario to Seattle)

February 3, 2016 § Leave a comment

 

Moving to a new country, even one as similar in culture as Canada is to America, ripens the picking so to speak for checking in on the age old question of “Who am I? and Where do I belong?”

When our family agreed to embark upon a family adventure to the West Coast for a few years, it seemed exciting and new and I looked forward to the blank page upon which we would write the next chapter of our lives. For me in particular, it meant no expectations about who I was or how I would serve. I could choose my new opportunities to get involved freely, without my previous experiences or relationships swaying the selection.

I worried a little about the kids experience walking into a brand new school six times larger than their previous one.  I worried a little about my husband’s new job and how close of a fit it was for him. But I was not worried about me. Me? I’ll be fine.

I had greatly underestimated the presence and impact of isolation.

isolation

Photo credit: http://heartandsoulezine.com/impartations-wisdom-separation-vs-isolation/

Nobody knew me. When I encountered people, there was a polite smile, and done. My identity ceased to exist for a time. As time went on, people would begin to realize they had seen me before, or they would put together that I was the mom of one their kid’s classmates, but still, no one knew ME. They didn’t know my name, or that I love chai tea lattes, or that the lack of sunshine here in the winter was heavy on my heart. Who was I? Where do I belong?

Now that we are have been here a year and a half I am happy to report that the isolation has passed, but it sure did provide me with an amazing opportunity to assess who I was, and where I belonged.

I read an article recently that got me thinking about this very thing, entitled “The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce” by Tim Urban. He talks about the difference between our hardware (physical body and attributes) and our software (the belief systems that we have installed) and how if we are not the type of person to regularly self-reflect and evolve, we could still do our thinking with software installed by our grandparents:

“The person has lived a long life and has made it all the way to 2015, but their software was coded during the Great Depression, and if they’re not the type to regularly self-reflect and evolve, they still do their thinking with software from 1930. And if they installed that same software in their children’s heads and their children then passed it on to their own children, a member of Generation Y today might feel too scared to pursue an entrepreneurial or artistic endeavor and be totally unaware that they’re actually being haunted by the ghost of the Great Depression.”

 Ever heard someone say “That’s just the way I am” when they are describing themselves? Yeah, outdated software. Upgrade notification sent.

Urban goes on to talk about Dogma and Tribes and encourages us to realize the difference between conscious tribalism and blind tribalism:

With conscious tribalism, the tribe member and his identity comes first. The tribe member’s identity is the alpha dog, and who he is determines the tribes he’s in. With blind tribalism, the tribe comes first. The tribe is the alpha dog and it’s the tribe that determines who he is.

Fantastic fodder for exploring Who am I and Where do I belong, isn’t it?

When we make decisions, both for us and our children, how often do we examine where the criteria we are using came from? “No, you can’t go sell Girl Scout Cookies to the neighbors by yourself” <cause what if you get stolen or hurt, and the neighbors might judge me for letting you go alone>, quashing my daughters entrepreneurial spirit with my own brand of fear, and installing software in her that she will very likely pass on to her children.

And how often to do you stay in the same organization because that is what you have always done, and you feel pressure to stay because you don’t want to let down others or be judged for leaving? I had this gift of clarity offered to me since we moved as well. I had joined a women’s bible study group a few months into our arrival which felt great for the first year and filled a space in me I greatly needed during that isolated time. But then they decided to study Revelations for the next year, which makes me want to run screaming (try reading it, you’ll see what I mean), and suddenly I am torn. Nothing about me wants to study the Book of Revelations. But will I let down the ladies in the group? Haven’t I slapped a label on myself that says this is a group belong in? I stewed about it for a time, before finally gaining the clarity that the tribe does not determine who I am and where I belong, I do. I sent a very gracious email to the group thanking for them for the beautiful year I spent with them, and moved on to a very fulfilling volunteer role elsewhere that suits me very well.

With every new experience and exposure each of us are provided with an identity choice, as if the Universe is launching lob balls to us, saying “go on, figure it out”.

With my beautiful 20/20 hindsight I see, and am grateful for, the opportunity to examine this for myself, and for my husband and children to examine it for themselves too.

May the adventure continue!

 

The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce

Bask in the sun

October 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 12:  A lizard basking in the hot sun during day three of the 2011 Emirates Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club on November 12, 2011 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

As I sit at my computer, feeling the warmth of the early afternoon sun on my body, I feel joy. I take a minute to just notice the warmth from the sun: how it feels on my hand, on my leg, on my arm. I imagine it must feel the same as it does for a lizard basking on a stone, soaking up the warmth. I feel very much at one with that lizard, enjoying the present moment for what it is. Comforted and reassured by the notion that there is no “getting it wrong” when you are basking in the warmth of the sun. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how old you are, where you live, it is just pure enjoyment and expansion in that moment. A feeling of complete relief sweeps over my body as I breathe in deeply and exhale.

And I realize, that that is what every moment is.  All the previous moments leading up to this one are past. Yes, there will be future moments, but they are not yet here. This moment is all that is. Which sounds small, but it’s actually a very, very big truth.

Imagine for a moment that you are in the midst of a really big project. There is pressure and stress to get it done on time and deliver it as close to expectations as possible. You work very hard and long to ensure that happens, because it is all on you. It feels heavy, but the reward will be worth it when you pull it all off, maybe even beyond what is expected. You know it’s what you are good at and you mistake that growing fatigue for proof that you have worked hard. Time is getting short, and there is still so much expected of you, how will you get it all done? It’s building, and building, heavier, faster, push harder, push through, lift more…

Then BAM.

All of a sudden time has stopped. You are floating like a bubble among all of it. You feel a disconnectedness from it, like you are seeing it for the first time. As you gaze around at all the variables you were juggling, now frozen in the moment, a sense of wonderment comes over you. You notice things. The expressions on people’s faces, the energy in the room, the colour of the walls, the gorgeous fall colours on the trees outside the window you are standing near. You see that someone has brought their toddler to work with them that day, and how beautifully innocent the child is in contrast to the chaos you felt in the room before everything stopped. All of a sudden you hear a voice that says, none of what you thought matters, matters. The goal, the achievement, the expectations, the on-timeness, none of it matters. You suddenly understand that the entire experience has nothing to do with what you thought the end result should be. This experience is all about expansion.

And the pressure is off.

It all seems so clear now. The only true purpose in the project was your own growth and enjoyment.

Before you began the project, you knew no one involved. Now you have nurtured 6 new relationships that will ripple through your life bringing even more interesting people into your world. You have learned a whole new set of skills while pulling it all together that you are now very excited to know. You have brought into your perspective, a beautiful new viewpoint, and you are known by others differently now because of the interactions you have had with them. That is expansion.

And relief!

Because that is why we are here. To grow and flourish, and live different experiences. And to find joy in them! To live in such a way that when we can compare our own  “before” and “after” shots, we marvel at the vast number of experiences that we have allowed into our perspective, that have broadened our container, and that we have then used to fill it up even more.

This is your moment. Each and every one of ‘em. Feel the warmth of the sun and relax… it’s all about expansion.

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