Sometimes everything feels like it's moving so fast, I spend days not quite catching up with emails, phone calls, class planning, relaxed time with my family, cleaning, paying bills, (realizing this list could just go on and on and on!). . . When I've got a day off, I'm tempted to spend it catching up, but I know better. There's no such thing as catching up! These days are too important to give them over to trying to catch up, so I devote them to finding my center again.
While I take a 'pause day,' I remember that my mind isn't paused yet, it's still in 'go' mode. With a spacious day to myself, my mind fills with all of my unmet needs, like a flood of tangled up wants and should's. I'm realizing that it's enough to notice that. I don't need to expect my mind to relax and savor the day yet, I'm just creating the space for that to happen. I pause and notice, feeling the clamoring inside me.
Some ways I'm building a pause into my life:
Waking up. I am taking a few moments to just breathe before I open my eyes. I'm also practicing gratitude, thinking of several things I'm grateful for before I even get out of bed.
Quiet lunch. I had gotten into the habit of catching up on emails or other work at lunch, and it's been hard to break the habit. Lately I've been setting the meditation timer on my phone and putting it (and all other electronics) across the room. If it's a busy day, I set the timer for as long as I can spend on lunch, and on a more relaxed day I just choose how long I want. Then I treat lunch as a meditation, I eat mindfully, intentionally practice kindness toward myself, and just notice how I'm feeling.
Walking. I really like to walk to work and to do my errands on foot, but when I feel busy it's easy to drive instead. I've gotten back into the habit of walking, building in the extra time, knowing it's good for my body and my mind.
It's been exactly a year since I started this blog. I had been having an impulse to do more writing about my work but kept feeling kind of precious about it, like I had to write the right thing in the right way. Suddenly one morning while meditating I got a clear directive, just write every single day for a year. So I started. For more than half the year I wrote every day, then slowed down to weekly postings.
It's been a practice of loosening my voice and sharing my ideas and beliefs and wonderings, and I'm truly grateful to have done it.
Now, one year later, I've been considering 'what's next?' So far I've changed the name. It's been 'A Year of Conscious Parenting,' but that year is now over, so I'm calling it 'On the Imperfect Journey' which is a pretty fair description of my life!
If you've been following and reading, thank you! If something has touched your heart along the way, I am so glad! I'm not sure how the blog will be moving forward, but I hope it continues to serve me as a way to reflect and serves you as a map along one person's journey.
I've spent many days thinking, 'no, not this!' when life was inviting me to step up to some opportunity/ challenge. 'No, I don't want my kids to be sick today! I've got a lot to do.'
'No, I can't handle his grouchy mood right now, I'm tired.'
'No, I don't want to deal with this conflict, maybe things will just sort themselves out.'
'No, I don't want to eat something healthy now, I want more cookies.
'No, I don't want to shovel snow today!'
I could go on and on, but you get the idea, right?
I'm working on the 'yes' practice, opening to uncomfortable, hard, and awkward things. Not that I'm going out looking for them, but I'm cultivating the muscle of showing up for them rather than trying to escape them.
When one of my kids was mad at me recently, I was already in the midst of a hard day and just wanted him to stop being mad. I heard myself trying to get out of the conversation, "Can we just talk later? I'm really worn out." Noticing my resistance, I stopped and felt it. I stayed with my body for a bit (while he complained). And I was able to open to what he was saying and feeling.
I want to rise to the occasion rather than lurk in my shadows seeking comfort. To do that, I know that I need to feel my feelings. Get curious about my story. Breath and/or sense my body. Open to what is really happening. And then do what needs to be done.
"The human brain and heart that are met primarily with empathy
in the critical years cannot and will not grow to choose a violent or selfish life."
Robin Grille, Parenting for a Peaceful World
Again this week, I've heard news that broke my heart, news about young men doing horrible things. And while I sit with the shock and horror, I try to imagine what went wrong. What are these men missing, the men who rape and abuse, dehumanize and exploit, threaten and intimidate?
The horrors I'm reading about aren't perpetuated by immigrants, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, or people in poverty. What I am shocked by again and again is violence committed by white men and boys living in relative comfort. White boys and young men who are habitually dehumanizing people different than themselves.
And whether this takes the form of an attack in a locker room or at a party, sexual exploitation, disdain and disrespect for those who look different, demonizing human beings for personal power, or the many other forms of in humanity that are happening right now in our country--it is wrong.
How did some of our boys and young men and old men get to this point in their lives? This question sent me back to Robin Grille's wonderful work and reflections on what our kids really need. Our children need love. Not the illusion of love that just wants them to be happy and comfortable, but the deeper love that both absolutely accepts them and holds them accountable.
Our children need to be allowed and encouraged and taught how to feel their feelings, not to hide them or act them out, but to feel them. Even the messy, unkind, or dark ones. They need to learn how to handle feelings with compassion, turning inward to care for themselves rather than turning their emotions outward onto other people. They need to know that they are loved and accepted for themselves, not for their behavior and accomplishments.
As women and moms, we need to rise up, loving all of humanity, the marginalized and lost and hurt and abandoned as well as the oppressors and bullies. But let's not confuse our love with permissiveness. Let's love in a powerful way that serves humanity and the earth rather than serving the current status quo. Let's love our children by accepting them even when they do unkind or even horrible things, but not excusing them from the real consequences of their actions. Let's not confuse love with permission or entitlement. And let's not abandon love by withdrawing our recognition of the humanity within every person, no matter what they look like or espouse.
Yesterday I read a news article that broke my heart.
Every day I read things that worry, upset, hurt, anger, disgust, and shock me. But this went deeper, all the way in to that armor that 'protects' my heart from breaking day in and day out, moment after moment, when I see the pain and hurt and injustice in my little world and the larger world. That armor just dissolved as I felt such compassion for the boy I was reading about, such horror for the callousness he was surrounded by.
It has left me shaken. And also more awake to the suffering of the world.
Even though I want to live with an open heart, I can't will the armor around my heart to dissolve, I can only stay present with the heartbreak of the world, allow myself to see and witness what is going on. It's listening that let's my heart break. Listening to the stories on the news or directly from someone I love. Listening to my own stories and pain. Listening without turning away.
I'm trying to do this, to listen deeply rather than turn away or fall into emotional reactions and judgments, I'm trying to listen to people's hearts and souls rather than get caught up in the stories that pull me into a more intellectual experience of this moment.
These are intense times. These are the times that dissolve heart armor, that transform us, that draw us back to 'The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible' (as Charles Eisenstein calls it).
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.