Today was such a nice day. It looked quite boring from the outside, but it was calm and relaxing. We didn't even step outside (the kids and I anyways). But I was thinking tonight how it was a good example of "Loving What Is" and not letting any expectations get in the way of embracing life fully. We didn't have any big plans for celebrating New Year's Eve and we didn't try to make any. But I'm not disappointed at all. It was so wonderful to reflect on the past year the past few weeks. I also began thinking about 2013 a while ago, so I really feel ready to start another year - I didn't need any big bash to affirm that.
I have several sources of inspiration for the New Year. At the beginning of December I had an exchange with a friend on Facebook who is starting a project to make 2013 extra amazing. She and her sister are calling it Counting By 12's (check out the website or their Facebook page!) Anyways after she told me their idea I was all hyped up and immediately started thinking of my own 12 things that I wanted to do every month in 2013. Seriously, I couldn't sleep that night (this is how my brain is... I really need an off switch!)
I made this poster within the week:
The coolest part was that December was kind of like a "warm-up" month. I probably did 6-8 of the things on my list this past month - so I feel like it's totally do-able and I'm so psyched about it!
Then I watched Danielle LaPorte's free video when she launched her Desire Map and that was AWESOME too. I recently read her book The Fire Starter Sessions and loved it (so much I think I'll buy a copy of it since I had checked it out from the library and had to eventually return it). She is so amazingly inspiring. Anyways, her idea of identifying how you want to FEEL resonates so strongly with me. I've never been much for goals, resolutions (or anything that feels like rules or obligation really) and this just feels so right. I didn't buy her product, but between reading her book and devouring all the stuff she has for free on her site I have a good grasp on the Desire map. At first it was hard for me to identify how I wanted to feel... so I started with how I DON'T want to feel then worked on the opposites. The first 3 came pretty easily - I want to feel Connected (to myself, my loved ones, to nature etc), ON FIRE (inspired, energized, passionate), Peaceful (kind of my thing... and it balances the fire out) but I struggled to pin down a fourth and final desired core feeling. So I googled some words (how did people get in touch with their feelings before the internet and google?!) and finally settled on Valuable. So here is my Desire Map:
On the outside I put other words and feelings I associate with my four core desired feelings (like "subfeelings" haha). Then inside in black I wrote concrete actions and things I can do to feel this way. (I like that I wrote PLAY twice... this was not intentional, but maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something! More play for 2013 it is then!)
I can't even begin to tell you how powerful this is. For one, my first identified feeling, "Connected" is so huge for me. I'm realizing that when I'm not feeling good it's because I'm not feeling connected - usually with my kids or husband. When I *am* feeling connected everything else flows. Once you know how you want to feel you begin to make positive, practical choices - it's amazing! If I'm not sure exactly what I want to do in a given moment I've begun to ask myself, "How do I want to feel?" Then I think of my core desired feelings and make my decision from there.
Finally, my beloved Tara Wager, akaThe Organic Sister, inspired me to choose the word "Embrace" last year. This year my word is "Listen". I can't tell you exactly how I got to this word. Only that it feels right. It feels like slowing down, and loving more, and dropping out of my busy mind and into my heart, and really being with my family. Oh yeah, and the other day the kids were watching a show and Marisol missed something and wanted me to clarify and since I was on the computer I didn't know what was said. She said, "You're never listening", and my inner voice said, "aha! I told you LISTEN is the right word for the next year." So Listen it is.
There is just SO much inspiration out that! I invite you to check out any of these three sources to see if they spark something for you. I love that they all overlap for me - if you look at the words on my posters they both include "LISTEN" and many other words and actions are the same on both posters.
I'm ready to dive in to 2013!
What are your intentions and desires for the upcoming year?
I've been reflecting on this year and what meant the most to me - what accomplishments, what new habits, what fun times and treasured memories. Here's what I came up with.
Meditation: I started the practice of meditating. Before this year I had never tried meditation. I participated in three free 21-day meditations from the Chopra Center and LOVED them. I'm working now to keep up the practice, if not daily then at least several times per week.
I also started using affirmations and mantras with deep breathing regularly.
Hypnobabies: I taught 5 series and 17 couples this year.
Writing: I took an e-course from Jess Morrow of Invincible Summer, started writing my book, had my blog's first Blogiversary and celebrated by giving away 6 books!
Cooking and Food
Mike bought me a Vitamix for my birthday - I love to make green smoothies several times per week now.
I made Winter squash soup a couple of times when my mom gave me squash from their garden.
Gerry and I mastered Zucchini bread, making it almost every week for the last few months.
I made avocado fudgsicles over the summer and they were pretty yummy!
Foods Already in the Repetoire but still steadies in the rotation:
I had so much fun going through pictures from this whole year and making a few collages. I stayed up way too late, but it was worth it!
Adventures near and far
Loads of family time - two trips to Florida (February-March and December), Ohio in April, two visits to NY (June and July-August), and Thanksgiving in Minneapolis, as well as family visits to our home.
First family beach vacation in the Outer Banks - and first time inviting friends to join us.
First Family Nascar Race!
Hosted 3 Parties - Memorial Day Weekend/Treasure Hunt, Marisol's 6th Birthday, and a Holiday/Halloween party (Well 4 parties if you count last year New Year's eve!)
Time with Friends
Finally... some favorites, just because I'm having fun!
Whew! What a year. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't change a little thing, even if I could. It was so much fun to look back and see all that we did. Even more important is what can't be seen in pictures - how much we all grew and changed, and how we overcame challenges.
I'm feeling more Clear, Confident and most importantly, Comfortable than I ever have before. I began 2012 with the word Embrace as my guidepost for the year. Looking back I can see now how I did just that. Now I'm ready to dive into 2013!
A little ditty I wrote in my notebook last night:
Sometimes we think we just want someone, anyone, to just give them to us.
But deep down we know it doesn't work that way.
Because there is rarely only ONE answer
Because my answer is likely different then yours
Because answers sometimes (often?) change
Because sometimes there is no answer
What we really want is the Quick AND Easy answer... so we can stop thinking, agonizing, analyzing...
But most answers are neither quick nor easy... They come to us in bits and pieces or all at once in a lightning bolt long after we've given up on ever knowing.
Keep seeking... Only instead of looking outwards, turn in... To yourself, to your intuition, to your unique answers.
Transitions - bittersweet
So much inside-
Words, ideas, plans
But sometimes all we can do is rest
and that is right.
My biggest worries on Friday December 14th were to keep my son awake all day (no naps allowed for little boys who stay up till 11 pm!) - and then to keep him asleep at night. Oh, and also whether I should pack one suitcase or two for Florida.
12/14/2012 - 2 days after "12/12/12" - the world did come to an end for many families.
How do we process a tragedy like this? How do we carry on when something as horrible as this happens? Until 1 pm that afternoon I was contentedly going about my day, trying to pack, feed the kids, and to keep our excitement about our travels and Christmas at an enjoyable rather then a frenetic level.
I talked to my mom for almost an hour and a half earlier that morning. (What did we talk about?? A friend's mother who passed away, unschooling, birth, money, taking risks... what didn't we talk about?) It's another luxury in my life - that I am fortunate enough to have the time and desire to talk with my mom almost every morning - oh yeah, and I'm lucky to have my mom still here with me.
I realized later that night that I was talking to my mom when the shooting occurred.
For me, 12/14/2012 will forever be divided into before knowing and after - between ignorance and awareness. The horror and grief that swept through me as I read the articles. The tears that sprang to my eyes and that I quickly wiped away, before my mature, sensitive 6 year old could see them (mature, but not mature enough for this kind of news). I tried calling my mom back but they weren't home. So I talked for a few minutes to a friend about the senselessness of it.
Then I herded us outside. It was a beautiful day - warm for this time of year, sunny, and blue skies. It was like a huge spiritual oxymoron - the discrepency between my internal and external environment. We ran and played. Gerry cried, he was so tired (and as it turned out, starting to fight off an illness). Marisol played with neighborhood friends. I managed to smile and have fun but the thought of the children and families was always present in the back of my mind.
There is no making sense of what happened. I liked these words that I read today on The Libertarian Homeschooler's Facebook page:
A thought in the midst of the shock.
Some people have such a way with words. And they offer us hope. Because if we don't have hope in times like these, then what do we have? If we allow the despair to overwhelm our souls then what will tomorrow bring?
We all have different ways of processing things and dealing with tragedy and that is ok. Some need a break from Facebook, others want to devour every status update and poignant picture. Some people need time alone while others seek solace in the company of loved ones. Me, I *need* to talk about it. And now write. I like to read different people's thoughts too - people I respect, people who are trying to make the world a better place. And of course tears are cleansing. But considering I'm the same person who was proud if I made it through a week at school without crying in 6th grade, there have been surprisingly few tears. Today, I felt strangely normal, if a little subdued. I could feel guilty about it, but I don't. We cannot "Be the Change" if we are depressed ourselves.
The biggest surge of crying came on unexpectedly as I texted my sister - "I love you". Marisol was not in the room and my guard was down. I know that I am largely holding it together because of and for my kids. And the irony of that strikes me hard and cold - what about the people who have lost their 6 year old - their reason for hope, for carrying on... for keeping it together?
We need to be the light for them for as long as they need it. And I know that I personally cannot be the light if I'm too focused on my desire to know. To know details of what happened and of course any information that may help explain *why*? Because there will never be a satisfactory answer for that question. So we must move on and each do our bit to help heal and better the world.
In our house we get all of our news from the internet - no televised news here. This helps so much - to filter and minimize the amount of sensationalized information, and more importantly, the images that are allowed into our consciouness. Television is powerful and our minds and imaginations are too. But we have a choice in how we use them.
Still, I have not totally been able to resist seeking information. And when I do, my body realizes the full meaning of "heartsick".
Mostly, I've been carrying on by doing what I do every day. Being the best mom I can be. Connecting with my loved ones. Being even more grateful. By appreciating the mundane.
Night time is harder. The kids are asleep and we are left with our thoughts. Last night I could not help but wonder how many people across the country - no, across the world - were thinking about the shooting and the victims and the terror that must have filled them in their last moments. Why does it take something so tragic to unite us?
Yet there are already divisions too. Even I have had thoughts fleet through my mind, like - "Really? They're posting about *that*??" So I remind myself that everyone deals with these things in different ways. Not only that, but I can never presume to know what is going on *inside* of another person.
There are many opinions about why these things keep happening and what we need to do to stop them from happening. Discussions are heated. Some people think it's disrespectful to the grieving to even bring up issues like gun-control or mental health care. I tend to resonate most strongly with people who are focusing on deeper, wider, and more spiritual answers - of spreading Peace right here and now whereever we happen to be.
All of these ideas have the potential to ignite impassioned debate. The most important thing we can all do is to be kind to each other and remember that we all want the same thing - we want these things to stop, we want to be safe, we want to be loved. So we must wrap our passion in love even when our convictions burn bright.
We are in an interesting space in the hours and days following a tragedy of this magnitude. On one hand what truly matters is brought into sharp focus. This
blog, my Christmas craft, the state of my house... none of it really matters.
But at the same time it all *does* matter. Our daily lives, the choices we make
every moment, the words we choose when speaking to others. For me it has only strengthened the truth that there really are No Guarantees and No "Re-dos" - there is only the Present Moment. So I'm using this as an opportunity to recommit myself to make the here and now the best that I can. I hope you will all join me.
Well loves, the time has come. This book is going to mark the end of my Blogiversary celebration. I sure had fun, I hope you did too!
This book is such a gem. It is actually been a couple of years since I read it, but I was skimming through tonight and reading pages that I had flagged (they're still marked!) and there is so much wisdom in in this little book. I mentioned earlier this year that finding unschooling was one of the biggest awakenings of my life. If that statement is confusing or intriguing to you and you want to know more, this book will answer a lot of your questions.
Rue Kream organized Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooled Life in a very reader friendly way. Each chapter is actually a short essay that answers a typical question or concern regarding unschooling.
I want to quickly share a couple of my favorite quotes from the book.
When asked if she could play a song on the radio on her guitar, Rue's daughter said, "I could if I knew how" (p 7).
I love this! How confident the child is in her own ability to learn what she wants when she wants to, so beautiful.
I also love Rue's response to the question, "Don't you ever have a bad day?"
"Unschooling does not make us more than human. Striving to be a peaceful parent does not make me a perfect parent." (p 112)
All I can say to that is, Amen!
This book gives perspective on so many issues from why in their family (and many unschooling families) they choose not to limit TV and screen time, and how and when children learn to read, to concerns about children getting into college and chores. It really covers a lot of ground in a concise and clear manner.
Sooo.... whether you are interested in learning more about unschooling or if you are already unschooling but need a shot of inspiration and confidence, this is a great book.
Leave me a comment if you want to be in the drawing for this awesome book! And if you share the love by liking my FB page, or by sharing the link on your blog or FB page I'll add your name an extra time for each bit of extra love you give me. ;-)
Lots of Love and Peace to you all tonight...
That's a lotta "Ps"! I love it! (I know, I'm a dork - but I've learned to embrace my dorkiness, I can't help it if I love alliteration!)
I've been thinking about perfection and the pressure to be perfect (more "Ps"!) a lot the past few years. It's one reason I love Mayim Bialik's book so much (the one I'm giving away this week!) - she does not paint a picture of perfection (haha, I'm not even doing it on Purpose anymore!) in her life or family, in fact she admits that they are anything BUT perfect.
I stumbled across a post this week about how photographs posted online can give others the impression that a person is leading an idyllic or "perfect" life. If we were being rational we would know that of course NO ONE'S life is perfect and everyone struggles sometimes. Just because beautiful pictures are posted publicly, that doesn't mean that there aren't less-than-perfect moments in the person's life.
This is the reason that I posted my "Ultimate Confession" right at the top of my website - I don't want anyone ever thinking that *my* life is perfect or that we never mess up here. I don't want to contribute to competitiveness, guilt, jealousy or other destructive feelings in the world. I was thinking about this last night and then the irony struck me hard - I chose to use beautiful, professional photos at the top of my "confession" page! Ha! What a juxtaposition - my confession of how we are human with real flaws, coupled with the happy, "picture-perfect" moments captured of my family (next to a cornfield at that!) ... wow. Kind of a huge visual/literary oxymoron. But my point in choosing those pictures is that even though our lives don't always look like a professional photo, I do *choose* to focus on the good times and happy moments.
Of course we share the happy, sunny, smiling, moments on Facebook. We put pictures on our blogs of cute kids holding hands or hugging each other tightly. We instagram kids throwing leaves into the air and running freely with wild abandon. I hope that pictures of shiny, wide-eyed children and beautiful walks next to sunset streaked oceans are inspiring to others - I know they are for me.
I have a few pictures of Marisol crying miserably when she was a baby. I don't think I have one of Gerry. Does that mean he cried less? (well... maybe! haha) More likely, it reflects a change in myself as a parent. I don't even think of grabbing the camera when he is in a state like that anymore. My first thought is to comfort, offer my arms and presence - not to pick up the camera!
Remember, what you see online are snapshots. It doesn't mean anyone is "lying" or trying to deceive their audience - it simply means that they are choosing what they present to the world. No one, no family, no life is "perfect". But it is true that some people are happier then others. Why? Because they know that true Peace and Happiness comes from within and is of their own making and choosing - no matter what imperfect circumstances arise in their life.
Synchronicity - after having drafted this blogpost a few days ago I read this post from Glennon over at Momastery. I guess these things are on people's minds.
Also, when I started this post and as I posted my latest give-away I had no idea that Mayim Bialik had filed for divorce. Mike brought it to my attention last night and it I definitely have a lot of feelings and thoughts about that. Mostly compassion for her and her husband and kids as they go through a tough time. Mayim has really put herself and her beliefs about attachment parenting "out there" and now she is under even greater scrutiny - of course people are questioning if their style of parenting contributed to their split.
I will just say that the book is awesome, regardless of her marital status, I promise! Head over to this post and leave me a comment if you want to enter the drawing!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.