Whenever I think someone shouldn't be how they are--
When I turn inward and tend to my own discomfort, interesting things happen. Body sensations and feelings arise and, with time, fall away. My heart opens to myself and the shadowy place within me that is react. Magically, my heart also opens to the person I was upset with.
Sometimes this leaves me able to be present for them in their anger or pain. Other times it moves me to speak, perhaps saying something that's scary for me to say or painful for them to hear. After caring for my own uncomfortable feelings, my voice is clearer, gentler, and at the same time closer to truth.
The moments that I want to push something away become my teachers when I allow them to be.
I saw this image on Facebook this morning and felt the call to write a little something.
We all want this, right? Someone to love us for our real, messy, hard selves. Someone to accept who we truly are. Someone who can handle the whole truth.
Our kids want and need it, too.
The someone we're looking for is us. You are the one who needs to love yourself for the person that you are, even when you're messy. Can you do it? Will you practice it with me? A simple practice of noticing a messy part of yourself, imagining it as a baby, and holding that baby with love can change your life.
Loving ourselves as we are helps us to heal. Then we can love our kids as they are. And our partners, colleagues, strangers on the road. . .
What if it's okay to feel what you feel today? Whether you're angry or worried or tired or elated, how would it be to just feel it? To breathe into it, maybe while you're sitting quietly in a room alone, or maybe as you vacuum or make lunch for fussy kids or try to get through a shift at work.
To give yourself permission to be who you are.
To allow yourself to feel what you feel.
To make space for what is, knowing that mental judgments can't change feelings and sensations and emotions.
Most of all, to know that you are okay, even if you are feeling something.
Today, I wish for self-acceptance for you and for me.
Today I found myself saying 'being a parent can suck.' It really can, right? Snow days and early dismissals don't affect my parenting anymore (and that will be true for you, too, one day, if it isn't already), but I remember. I remember feeling overwhelmed by trying to maintain some sense of routine in our family, feeling exhausted by all of the emotions and needs in one little house, feeling like I needed to take care of everyone but myself, and feeling like I couldn't face feeding everyone one more meal.
I hate to join the multitudes offering advice, but I have some for you (or maybe for the me that needed it):
Between the holidays, vacation, snow days, and extremely cold weather, some of us are feeling overwhelmed by our kids and responsibilities. Yesterday I escaped the house (although I didn't go for the long walk I could really use!) and walked past a woman muttering, "God help me" as she tried to herd her family into the store with her. Isn't that beautiful? Not "I want to kill them," or "Why the hell doesn't anyone listen to me?" but a simple (slightly desperate) prayer for help.
We do need help as parents. We can't do this on our own. Today, as I sit inside again, wondering if I have the guts to go for that long walk, I am sending love to the woman I saw yesterday and to all of us.
May we all remember to ask for the help we need.
May we find a quiet moment to refresh ourselves.
May we come home to the present moment, letting go of the fantasy life that makes us feel inadequate.
May we take a few moments to love ourselves right in the midst of life as it is.
May we have the grace to see our families as they are, opening to each person in this moment rather than comparing them to the fantasy kids we think we should have.
May we be blessed with a community that helps when we need it the most.
May we remember that this too shall pass.
Sending you love and light on this beautiful, bitter cold day.
Sometimes our kids aren't cooperating with our idea of how things should be. Maybe they're sleeping poorly, bickering over toys, or screentime, rolling their eyes at our funny jokes, ignoring the schoolwork that we know they should be doing, etc.
When we aren't feeling happy or proud or satisfied or even calm, it's good to remember that they aren't here to make us happy. They aren't here to make us proud. They aren't here to make us feel satisfied or calm.
It's up to us. Can we free them from the responsibility to make us happy or proud? Can we be responsible for our own needs and feelings and allow them to be the messy, beautiful beings they are here to be? Let's enjoy the relationship we actually have with them, the ways they are growing, and (maybe most importantly) our own company on this parenting journey.
It's cold in my part of the world today. The autumn leaves, vivid and gorgeous, are all over--on the trees, falling, and on the ground. This year, I feel more attuned to nature's teachings than ever, and I keep watching the trees and reflecting on myself.
The trees are letting go of leaves so beautifully, releasing into their winter stage. The leaves weren't a problem, they were wonderful, but their time is done.
And I'm watching and asking, what am I ready to release? Old stories? The image of who I should be? Habits and patterns? Ideas about my kids? I am feeling the pull to turn inward and enjoy the dark and the cold and the quiet of late fall and winter.
How about you, what are you ready to release? Where does your energy want to go?
To be willing to vote, even when we don't know if our candidate or party will win, is a lot like setting a boundary for a child when we don't think they're going to listen. It can feel hopeless, helpless, insignificant. We can feel angry or frustrated. It dredges up all of the old times we've not felt like our voice mattered.
It is an act of faith. A willingness to show up and be ourselves, to speak our truth.
And a democracy, just like a family, thrives on truth. A democracy may shift slowly rather than immediately in response to each person's vote, as a child often shifts slowly in response to our leadership, but every vote resonates in the community, in the hearts and souls and minds of members of the democracy. Every single person who votes makes an impact.
In our families and in our communities and country, each of us matters. Vote today!
This morning, I am grateful to be alive.
Life, simply being here, is a beautiful thing.
Even when I'm practicing gratitude I don't always notice this most basic gift, but today I am aware of it.
I am blessed to be here for this moment in the world,
for this moment in the lives of those I know and love,
listening to the bird calling outside the window
on this foggy, cool morning.
I find myself saying (inwardly and outwardly) 'I can't do this' pretty often. 'I can't keep the house clean,' 'I can't make these kids get along,' 'I can't do everything on my list.' Recently I was feeling the 'I can't do it' feeling and sat with it. I noticed that there was something attached, an almost hidden 'but I should be able to' tacked on like a little monster that had sneaked into my mind.
When I noticed it, the unconscious shame that's always lurking came right out in the open. It felt horrible. I made some space for it and just felt it, recognizing the truth that there's so much that I can't do. I cried, feeling inadequate, angry, frustrated, sad, and maybe most of all, helpless. After that, I felt a bit better, more free and spacious.
Do you have little monsters lurking in your mind? Monsters that tell you how you should be, how your kids should be, how the world should be? For Halloween, maybe join me in bringing them into the open.
That's what I've been saying to myself since midweek, 'Yes, this.' Instead of the 'No, not this,' that I've been playing on repeat in my mind. Something broke through my resistance, and I remembered the incredible beauty of opening to the moment as it is.
Opening, saying an internal 'yes' instead of 'no' is like magic. 'Yes, I feel uncomfortable right now.' or 'Yes, the sink is full of dishes,' or 'Yes, people are really suffering.' I'm not saying 'Yes, I'm glad about it,' I'm just opening to the fact that it's real. And then, just when I let go of the agenda to feel peaceful, the peace rolls in and envelops me.
Want to join me? Try it, just what's real in your body and emotions right now, noticing your experience and opening to it. After we open there's space to make a wise choice about what to do, but without fully showing up with life as it is, wise choices are hard to make.
I feel impatient. Even as I recognize and shift newly-recognized but long-festering patterns in myself that contribute to the messes in my own life and the world, I am frustrated by my glacially slow movement. Like eroding layers of stone, each pattern that I see and shift in myself seems to reveal more ways that I am not only creating my own suffering but also contributing to the suffering of other people and the earth.
I am frustrated at home with what seems stuck. I am struggling with what is so clearly 'wrong' with the world. As I read the 'me, too' stories, I feel my heart break. I know these stories are a small part of what could be told, many more are too personal or cloaked in shame or denial.
This discomfort is what my my mom used to call growing pains. I am feeling the labor pains of birthing a New Earth. It's okay and it's hard. A walk in the cool air and crunchy fall leaves will help me to reset, along with that dark chocolate I just enjoyed as I sat with my pain, and yours, loving us and holding us and invoking the support of our Mother.
Image Mother Earth by Jenness Cortez Perlmutter
Do you respond to heavy times by getting heavy? I often do. It's easy to absorb energy from the world, from an unhappy child, and from a grumpy neighbor rather than to stay inwardly anchored. But it's just dangerous.
First, when we absorb heaviness from around us, it doesn't make the world around us any lighter! I think that is my unconscious motivation, 'I'll lighten the load by taking heaviness.' The outer heaviness hasn't shifted, though, it's just grown a bit bigger. Nobody wins!
Second, it takes us over. That 'stuff' we absorb takes root in us and darkens our mood, outlook, and way of being (unless we work with it intentionally). That means that instead of helping the yucky thing outside of us we've actually become it.
Finally, because it doesn't change the external energy and it shifts us to a more dense energy, we usually start to resent the initial problem. So it stays the same, we get worse, and we feel resentful.
Instead--do what lifts your heart and soul. Consider:
Music! This is so easy. Put on some music that makes you feel happy, light, joyful, and connected to Spirit.
Nature. Watch some clouds. Listen to the birds. Look at a flower. Sit on the ground. Spend a few dedicated moments attending to nature.
Be mindful. Make space to be aware of your feelings with loving presence. Pay attention to what you eat and drink, actually enjoying it. Notice your breath, feeling the in and outbreath for at least three breaths.
Gratitude. Think of three things that have happened in the past 24 hours that make you smile.
As you feel your mood and energy lift, keep going! Support that lighter, happier presence.
I don't know how to sit with what is going on in the world (the Las Vegas shooting, yes, and the people who are suffering in Puerto Rico and Mexico City and Florida and Texas, and the Royingya people and all refugees, and all who are worried about threats of nuclear war, and all that is heartless in our world) and be present with it today.
I can't take it in.
I tried to meditate, but can't really sit still.
I can't even feel anything right now, and that disgusts me.
Even though I want my heart to be open to the world, it isn't. Instead, I am sitting with my own numbness and allowing it to be what it is right now. That's a way that I can love this messy, flawed world, by sitting quietly with my own inadequacy and imperfection. By slowing down enough to be with myself as I actually am right now. By making space for this moment as it is, even though I want it to be different on so many levels.
I sat down to write this in case you, too, are struggling with your reactions to what is going on in our world today. Please, if you are finding it hard accept what is happening and how you are feeling, join me in turning toward yourself for a few minutes and holding your feelings (whatever they are) in loving presence. Sit with your anger, your fear, your heartbreak, whatever you feel. Even numbness responds to loving presence with time. Let's feel so that we can respond heartfully rather than react impulsively to the needs of humanity and the earth.
Maybe it's not just your kids! Maybe you, like me, are feeling some anger and frustration over the state of the world and forgetting to take care of your feelings.
Let's be kind to ourselves, even when the garden (or the family) looks like a mess. <3
I'm a person on a messy journey--healing, learning, discovering and rediscovering. Sharing, writing, talking, and teaching help me to understand myself and the world more clearly. I hope it can help make your journey a easier, too.