Unlocking our Connection

I recently finished reading Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur. It was recommended to me by my daughter. She is ten. Usually I am doing the recommending. Usually I am gifting books or strategically placing them in her path so we can share in some of my favorite stories. This was one of those not as frequent moments where she read a book and tossed in my lap and said, “read this.”

Now I don’t like following the commands of my ten year old. However, when it comes to connecting over books or stories she has written, I am all in.

Eight Keys hit me hard from the first chapter. It felt familiar and lovely while also gritty and uncomfortable. All those complex things that start to happen when you are crossing over from simply being a kid to adolescence. It’s a tough time in all of our lives. It is a tough time especially for kids who want to hold onto their imaginations and play with the world while it seems like everyone else is trying to fit into a page of a magazine. This book explores layers of friendship as they evolve. I was delighted at the self examination the main character goes through and begins to think about her role in her relationships. This is not an easy thing to unpack with my kiddo without some tension. This gave us a key to unlock some of what might be happening for her and her friends.

Eight Keys is tender and has characters that are independent, thoughtful, and complex without being too mature or relying or sexual tension to drive the story. The characters felt real and their struggles felt authentic. It touched on loss, trauma, fear, relationships, identity and empowerment. I am grateful for my daughter’s suggestion. I am even more grateful for the chats we have had about the story. I love that she has a friend who “must read this” so they can talk about it. I am thinking about getting some copies to leave out for my students to find and pass on. -Just like the keys…

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Sass Factory

My daughter has taken to rolling her eyes at us. It was something she did only every once in a while when she was really upset but now, now it is like breathing. It is almost as if everything I say is triggering a conveyer belt of ocular motion. She is ten. Almost eleven. It makes for some difficult mindful communication practice. I want to fall into some defaults of my childhood; scream, threaten, ignite, ignore with disdain or get snarky. This morning, I am breathing in the scent of my tea and imagining a cartoon conveyer belt of eyeballs rolling and replacing the old ones. It helps me stay calm and joyful through her moment of disgust with me.

Talking about Tuck

This summer I read Tuck Everlasting by Katherine Babbitt. I have read it many times before. However, this summer I suggested it to my daughter. Sometimes when I suggest a book, she is reluctant and resistant to read it. I don’t know why. It is silly of her really because EVERYTIME I suggest something that she reads, she finishes it saying, “OMG that book was amazing.” Every. Time. Tuck Everlasting was no exception. I suggested it. She said Meh. I got it out of the library. She ignored it. I brought it on vacation with us. She turned her nose up at it. So I started re reading it. In the evening I took the book from her bedside to mine and read. When I was a few chapters in she could hold out no longer. She casually borrowed it and began ‘looking at it’. Before I knew it she was walking out of my room into hers still reading. She didn’t stop until she was done. When she finished, she ran to find me to tell me “OMG that book was amazing.”

We spent some time this summer off and on referencing and talking about the story. And then I surprised her and got the DVD out of our local library. I generally am a read the book first kind of person. If possible. She was so excited. We sat and watched it. We got to have in depth conversations about director’s choice in editing the storyline and casting and locations. But most of all I love the fact that we got to have all over again the talk. The Tuck Everlasting question of would you drink the water and why? Listening to her unfold the reasoning and layer it with her new connections to these characters and their acting choices, nuances was magic. We spoke about what being together forever might mean for us or what being alone forever might mean for one. We will continue to explore what we old dear in relationships with nature and humans. I am so grateful for this. I can’t wait to read it with her again when her brother is old enough to read it to himself. And so on.

listening to water

today i am listening to water
today i am listening to water and i am thirsty for answers
i am still and quiet
i am allowing the rhythm and the flow

to enter my breath and awaiting transformation and direction
nothing is happening

no answers are here
more questions have arisen
i am more unsure of what is next

and yet more confident that this is the way to figure it all out

Lists

I am really great at making lists.

I can make a list for anything at anytime.

I list the lists I need to list.
Sigh.

I don’t think this list making skill is a true resume builder or asset to my future fabulous self.

The lists are not currently serving me up into greatness.


I know, I know. There are some who say that the lists are a mere distraction from the action that I need to realize and create.
The lists are an avoidance of fruition.

Perhaps.
Perhaps, they are a clever trick to look busy while I am truly floundering into madness and despair.

There is also the chance that my next list will be THE LIST.

The list that launches me into a state of getting it done and making the dream a reality.

Inner Instinct and the Watchful Learner

This is a thought unraveling, in process of assessment with no clear direction or decision…yet.

I am thinking about about boundaries and communication and requirements.

The discussion of Nature vs. Nurture is one I have with myself a lot. Yes, I have discussions with myself.

When I look at what I want for my children or my students or my world around me, I realize that one of the true ways to get a manifestation of my hopes and dreams is to live them out loud. Totally easier said then done.

I am not here to tell anyone what to do. I am trying to makes sense of my options and choices by sharing. Recently I got silently upset with someone I care for deeply. I say silently because I didn’t react, yell, or comment on what happened. I got quiet with myself and really thought about what happened and how I felt about it and how I wanted to respond in my future speech and actions.

So, imagine this, a couple of kids are playing outside. They are hiking with some adults but no one is hovering or meddling with each other’s commune with nature. Sounds great, right. One of the kids finds a frog or a toad – not positive on its classification. That child is delighted and giddy. The child picks up the frog/toad. It jumps from their hands to be picked up again. The other child is overjoyed by watching this and picks up the animal. After a few brief moments of examination and appreciation, the frog/toad is released and hops off. The children skip along the trail. One child reaches into their pocket and produces a carrot stick for themselves saved from their snack break as well as a carrot stick for the other kid. One adult is thinking, what a fantastic moment of being resourceful and sharing. Wow, look at these kids. After walking for two minutes or maybe less, the other adult turns exasperated, “I just wish these kids would have the sense to wash their hands before eating when they have been handling a moldy toad. Seriously. They could have taken water from their water bottle and rinsed their fingers. It’s so disgusting. “

Okay, okay I am sure by now you realize that I am the Wow look at these kids adult. When this other person said that to me, instead of engaging in a discussion or possible argument, I sat with it. I thought about what they said. I kept coming up with this: how can anyone expect those kids to “have the sense” to wash their hands if they haven’t been taught to do it? Why spend time teaching kids to connect with nature if you will secretly be angry that they are connecting with nature? If they don’t see or feel the slime on their hands, then what would make them immediately think they need to be clean(er). Unless those kids have an internal instinct or need to be cleansed of any grime before handling food, they are in the moment. The frog/toad thing was so two minutes ago. They are in the sharing carrots and skipping on a trail moment now. I had a silent commentary delivered to this person that perhaps they need to be more proactive in modeling and instructing the children IN THE MOMENT of better hygiene. I thought about saying this and then I stopped. I thought about all the time I get frustrated with my kids, my students, other people. I then wondered am I clear with my needs? Am I modeling what I hope to see from them or myself? Am I complaining about something that I am not willing to redirect? Maybe I can check that before I jump into a possible verbal tussle with someone else. So, this is where I am. I am finding ways that gently in the moment I can show myself and my children choices of behavior. I can reinforce the good and try to let go of the not so good. Also this moment of reflection brought me to a place of being all I can be and not trying so hard to help some other adult be all I want them to be. They are on their own journey and sometimes I need to let go of trying to be on the same path.

,Have you ever held hands with someone and then there is a pole, a ditch, a thing in the path that will prevent you from walking as you were holding hands. In order to keep holding hands, someone needs to go around or maneuver. Sometimes you can lift your joined hands over something but other times, someone has to move. What happens when one person is clutching the other person’s hand and always doing the moving, dodging, ducking, leaping, scampering to keep their pace or let the other person have their bramble free stride? It isn’t okay for one person to have their unmoving way of walking and still get to hold hands. I for one have been in this place more times than I like to admit. I have shuffled around obstacles for the sake of others so many times I have lost not only my footing but my sense of direction. I am not interested in doing that anymore.

So now I am thinking about what my watchful learners are absorbing from me. I want to feel more confident that I am living the life I imagine for myself and them. I am still churning this around in my mind. Allowing my kids to have their internal, instinctual way of doing and thinking about stuff all the while I can live, show and be a version I am proud they can learn from too.

To Do with Joy

For a long time I have made checklists.

For a long time I have also been embarrassed of my need to make checklists. For some reason I felt that they were more of a signal that I couldn’t manage things. Or perhaps they were a tell tale that I am determined to set myself up for failure.

I now realise that the above statements are simply a frame of mind that I held and wasn’t the truth and certainly didn’t need to be my forever mindset. Checklists and To Do lists are something so valuable in progress. I have worked with students creating To Do lists with purpose, intention and joy.

I have guided others in projects and have facilitated sessions of setting intentions and working towards completion of these checklists. This became a more powerful tool in my teaching as well as my personal life when I unloaded the previous mindset and reframed the whole experience. I got honest with myself and saw that I was indeed making lists of things that I couldn’t possible accomplish. I was making lists miles long that felt overwhelming and self destructive. I knew I needed to shift.

The lists are important. I know now that they need to be with purpose and intention and focus. If I am helping someone on a project, we need to target what we know needs to be done, what we know needs to happen in a specific period of time, and then what questions do we have.
Recently I reflected on the power of my To Do list practice. I learned that making these lists help move me forward help me progress. And then it hit me, I wanted to start making To Do lists with Joy at the center of it all. Joy. Yes. simply add Joy and see what happens…To Do with JOY. What would your list become? To Do in Joy…what would your list becomeI

My to do lists sometimes have items on it that normally are NOT associated with joyful feelings, like laundry. And yet, I tell myself I am going to do the laundry with joy. How does that look? Well, try it and find out. Finding the joy in the routine of life is magical. It is a shift of heart that redirects the soul to the purpose. It sounds hokey perhaps. I learned that creating list of things I want to do with Joy has pushed me forward, kept me looking ahead to more joyful times. It has also empowered me that I can create my joy in the most obscure places.

Now as I am diving into this next season, I wanted to recommit to some goals and energy. Here is a formula I started using. I have a morning meditation and then write.
Five things I want to do (in joy) this year. Three things I want to do (in joy) this season. Two things I want to do (in joy) this month. One thing I want to do (in joy) today.
the choices can change everyday or you can see patterns arise. I give myself space to be joyful and specific in my intentions. I make it realistic as well as aligned to those little whispers of desire. Here is is one more time:
This year – five things
This season – three things
This month – two things
Today – one thing

If this is overwhelming – I take a breath and write down or come up with 1 thing I want to do in Joy.

Then I do it.

Then breathe and pick a new joyful thing.

I admit I use this tactic more often than the other big list. It feels great.

Savor the Day (excerpt)

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When working with children or even ourselves towards a behavioral change goal, it can be difficult to see the success. In setting a goal or an objective, one might make clear images as to how that NEEDS to look in order to be stamped as successful. However, I am learning and embracing the idea that success does not always match my preconceived notions nor does it always just “click” into place. There are steps and stages that link me to the celebratory objective fulfilled moment I am searching for.

I am training myself to celebrate and honor the small shifts. I believe that these small steps are the beginnings of the monumental change and cannot become such a wondrous thing unless we honor and motivate them.

There is so much I want to do to make my world a better place. There are so many mountains to climb and conquer. I am through thinking that focusing so intently on the big picture will get me there. I am taking much needed time to start small. Moment to moment I am thinking about what I can do to help create the things I desire. Most of the time, this is about carving out time to meditate and be good to myself. Enjoy my cup of tea. I have learned that if I simply sit and love that cup of tea, it creates a fluid sense of love and warmth coursing through my body. Now when I get up to help the kids or take on my next task I move with love and appreciation instead of rushed anxiety or emptiness.

I am practicing being with myself and savoring experiences. This is allowing me to make choices to shift and move towards something new with joy and motivation verses feeling forced to change myself and my habits. Savor the day moment to moment and move with it.

Begin Again

There is a voice inside me. It varies in volume but is ever constant. This voice is reminding me that I am on a journey. I am not done. I am not only who I was, but so much more I have forgotten and not yet discovered. 

Begin Again.

This is something I hear from deep within my body. my heart, my mind, my soul. When I hear these words I can become so powerful if I give myself the moment to say them out loud to myself. Honor these words and magic happens.

Begin Again. 

I drop the heavy load of guilt, shame, and judgement. I release the joy and pleasure into the universe. I make a contract with myself that there is no one beginning and no single end. 

Begin Again. 

I am vulnerable and meek. I am quiet and cautious. I am observing the world and all its power. I am taking notes. I  study the grace and strength of all around me. I take a pause with rage and anger. I am gentle and loving. I am pensive and full. 

Begin Again.

I am vibrating and steaming and boiling to the top. I can hear nothing but the sound of my own emotions. I spin with the force of generations of earth, wind, and fire. I am infinite in my powerful rage and fervor. I shake the core of my own existence with an outward tsunami of love and raw emotion. I am unstoppable until I am done and empty.

Begin Again. 

this voice can purify me. It can subdue me. It has the ability to motivate me to move mountains. If I listen and repeat, anything is possible. It is all inside waiting for me to breathe and release the transformative power. It is in me. I breathe. I believe. 

Begin Again. 

 

Honor

My new routine involves me creeping out of the house in darkness. I attempt to move as swiftly and silently as possible so not to wake everyone sleeping. I ascend the steps to my car in darkness with some moonlight and the sound of the River singing the day arise. I drive to work in contemplative thought and discussion. Once at work, I go to my room and sit in darkness. Sometimes with some oil diffusing and sometimes with some music. I sit and drop into my willingness to be with the day in the best possible way. I practice yoga until it feels complete. Then, I sit again with the newness of myself.

And now I have added to this routine. I write.

I firmly believe this is more ritual than routine. I am connected.

Today my heart, body, and mind converged on a concept of Honor. Today I am charged with honoring the love. I am discovering that I want to be thankful for the love I have received in all forms at all times of my life. I want to honor the love I have given. In reflection of this I feel my breath deepen and know that this giving and receiving of love is breath. It is as essential and simple as breathing.

I am so grateful for those that have loved me throughout my journey. I am so grateful for the immense displays of conventional love as well as the man that stood in the rain and held the door for me this morning. The security guard that hollered “watch your step the floor is wet!”. I am grateful for such love. The love that came from the sleeping student in my class yesterday. I am thankful that he felt safe and comfortable enough to surrender to his needed rest. I am thankful for the kisses from my children as they recharge my soul and send me flung into the universe on a comet of love.

I am honoring myself for the love I have given. For the letters written, the drawings, paintings, and things made with love. The food I have prepared for others and myself. The presents, hugs given, and kisses shared. I honor the love I showed myself when I have stumbled out of despair to rise one more day no knowing why until now. The love that was bound in countless Yes’s and a few No’s. I am capable of such wondrous love and see now the intense beauty it has and the path it will take, the spiral and link to the love I have received and will continue to receive as long as I breathe or have someone’s thoughts breathed about me.

A dear friend said this morning that he is trying to live in the honor of someone whom he loved that recently passed. I think that is possibly one of the greatest things we all can do.

Live in honor of Love.

Give and Receive

Breathe

Love