And now I have that song in my head... (had to search the name - Bohemian Rhapsody.) I know that the title for this post, which I just plucked out of my head, sounds depressing - but that is not how I feel.
I feel raw and tender - I can feel my heart aching in my chest - I feel alive and maybe just a little bit hopeful, I feel ready... to just live.
I'm in a weird mood with lots of thoughts swirling - and since I haven't written in some time I thought maybe it was a good morning to get some of it out. The kids are quietly watching their shows after having some chocolate chocolate chip ice-cream. And that's exactly what I mean right there. It doesn't matter that they are watching shows and had ice-cream for breakfast. (Actually my daughter had pancakes loaded with butter and syrup first - does that make it better?? But let's not forget about the fact that last night after eschewing the meatless, bean chili that she helped me make in the crock-pot, she had a bowl of spinach with organic ranch dressing and an orange. She wanted ice-cream last night, but forgot after that scrumptious meal and went to bed exhausted. So when she remembered this morning I got it for her. And of course I got some for Gerry - because it is a great way to wake up an exhausted 4 year old boy who stayed up till 1 am because he napped from 3-5 in the evening before, and he wants to nurse the morning away. Speaking of which it doesn't matter that my 4 year and 4 month old still loves his "muk" - even if there are those that would differ with me on that point.)
It doesn't matter if some people think I'm indulgent or my mother said a few years ago that she's not sure about us making "separate" meals for the kids. It doesn't matter that Gerry's main source of protein every day is fish sticks from a box.
(ok, so I was just playing Mario Kart with Gerry and during the race somehow everything I just wrote was erased - and oh boy was I upset! But then I thought, "Well, I guess that doesn't *really* matter either... but great news - the undo button worked, and it all came back! phew.)
It doesn't matter if... Gerry spills another bowl of granola on our carpet and the "toy chest" is sticky from orange juice drips. It doesn't matter that I love Disney movies and some people can't stand them. It doesn't matter that we love to visit Santa each year while other families choose not to - and tell their kids as soon as it comes up, "he's not real." It doesn't matter what age our children sleep through the night, or take their first steps, or utter their first full sentence. It doesn't matter whether our houses are full of "nice things" or "second-hand things" or hardly any things at all. It doesn't matter whether my Facebook post gets 20 likes or 50 shares. It doesn't matter if I keep track of every post that goes through my news-feed. It doesn't matter if my kids clothes are grass stained or their hair tangle-y and snarled. It doesn't matter if my toddler (or preschooler!) can barely sit down at the dinner table for more than 2 minutes. It doesn't matter if we don't really have a "family dinner" every night.
It doesn't matter that some people believe Jesus was the son of God and some don't, that some people believe he was an amazing person and some believe that he didn't exist. In fact, I'm coming to the conclusion that "what I believe" doesn't matter much at all - or at least not nearly as much as what I do.
And so we arrive at what *does* matter. Because I guess we all know that some things really do matter. It's just in the great big grand scheme of life, the percentage of things that matter is very small. Maybe minuscule. Maybe so teeny-tiny that the number of things that DON'T matter actually approach 100% - thereby making the title of this post true. But I guess that doesn't matter either.
So what matters? People. Connection. Being Kind. Doing our best. Apologizing. Giving. Loving. It matters that when I began writing this post two days ago, I stopped as soon as my kids needed me (which was pretty soon after I started). It matters that I turn away from the screen and look into Marisol's eyes. It matters that I played Mario Kart with Gerry. It doesn't matter that most of the words that were spinning through my mind are lost - maybe forever. Even the beautiful, poetic, deeply felt words. They don't matter.
On our drive home the other day there was an amazing sunset. A few minutes after I took this picture it got even more intense on the horizon. But I noticed if you looked above there was just a wall of gray clouds, blanketing the entire sky. There was just the one strip of brightness in the sky - and fairly narrow compared to the whole sky. And I thought, (insert deep, introspective voice here that says, "Deep Thoughts by Susan D. May" - ok it doesn't sound as catchy as Jack Handy, but it's not bad...) Anyway, I thought, why in life do we often focus on the gray? Even if there is only that small section of sky burning on the horizon, it should be enough to capture our attention and set our imaginations on fire. So I'm setting an intention to keep my focus on the bright spots right in front of me. I'm not going to crane my head up to look at the vast expanse of gray - I know it's there but it doesn't help or inspire me. But that sunset? Breathtaking. I don't want to take my eyes off of it because it doesn't last long.
It doesn't matter if I feel judged or if someone else thinks I'm judging them... whether I am or not. I see so many people stressing over things that DON'T MATTER (and believe me, I am one of those people I see! I am right there stressing with everyone else.) But my message to these people - the ones who think I am judging them - and myself - is just this: It doesn't matter. We cause ourselves and others so much needless suffering. If we could stop focusing on the gray skies above us, that seem to stretch on endlessly, and instead draw our gaze back down to the brilliant horizon - to the seemingly small things, but oh so bright - then we would see what really matters.
Members of the Human species, let us remember every day - there are No Guarantees and there are No Re-dos. Just ask any parent who has lost a child. (I always think of this mama and it helps me be the mother I want to be.) We do not know how long we have with any of our loved ones. So please remember, (almost) Nothing Really Matters. When your child is freaking out or refusing to do what you want them to - remember what matters... and what most definitely does NOT. When your significant other annoys you and you want to snap at them try (TRY!) to take a deep breath and bite your tongue. Wait 5 minutes (or 10). Repeat your mantra, "It doesn't matter." Remember why you love them. Remember all the things they do for you. Try to see their perspective.
Nothing really matters. When we realize this we are so much freer, so much lighter, so much more present. We can let go of all the tiny details like what we look like on the outside or what others think of us and focus on the very few things that Do Matter.
Jewel has been quoted often, because she said it simply and truly,
"In the end, only Kindness matters."
If this post resonates with you please share. Let's keep spreading the word! And of course I'd love to hear from you as always.
We went down to the mall on the 4th to see the fireworks behind the Washington Monument. It was really the only way we "marked" the day and Mike and I were both glad that we did something to celebrate and make the day special. The fireworks were phenomenal - and I always enjoy the energy with a crowd that large.
Of course we knew there would be challenges getting back home when we left at the exact same moment as thousands of others (right after the finale to the 17 minute spectacular). We decided to drive this time - two years ago we took the metro and we didn't feel like being crammed with strollers onto a moving human sardine can this time around.
We parked in the garage of a hotel (in L'Enfant Plaza for those of you local or familiar with DC). For those of us with strollers (and sleeping babes) the easiest way down three levels to our waiting car was the (very slow) single elevator in the lobby. So you can imagine this was a bottleneck in the human flow. We got in line with others, some holding tired children and some, like us, pushing strollers. There were quite a few people waiting in front of us that did not appear to "need" the elevator and this annoyed us - I would have used the stairs if we could have. (It didn't take me long to realize that I should give these people the benefit of the doubt - maybe they did need the elevator in a way that wasn't obvious.)
But something happened shortly that was more than annoying. A group of young men came up and stood right next to the elevator - one of them mentioned "rushing" the doors when they opened. We watched them suspiciously. I tried loudly mentioning that there were stairs. A couple of them left but when the doors opened two or three of them pushed their way towards the elevator - getting in the way of those trying to get off (basic elevator etiquette - if you're older than 5 anyway - this shouldn't be an issue!). At this point Mike was loudly yelling, "Hey! Hey!" and some other things - nothing mean or obscene - just, "Come on guys!" He also appealed to the doorman of the hotel, who kind of just smiled at him.
The people at the front of the line didn't even want to get on the elevator with these guys, they were so disgusted.
But what caught my attention was my own reaction. I was surprised how quickly my emotions moved into the "violent" range. I wanted someone to stiff arm those thugs! I wanted to get up and stop them myself. I was so angry! I mean what they did was just plain WRONG.
And I had to call myself out. Yes, they shouldn't have done what they did - but how awful on the scale of awful was it really? And wondering who raised these inconsiderate human specimens wasn't really fair either - maybe someone really wonderful raised them and would be appalled by their behavior. Maybe these guys were egging each other on and doing things that they won't be proud of later.
Or maybe they really did have a rougher life than I could possibly imagine - such a life that would cause them to act in a way I would never consider.
I thought of the great leaders who I admire - Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi jump immediately to mind - and how they endured hardship and injustices I cannot even comprehend, all the while sticking to their nonviolent guns (<-- haha - ironic, right??).
I could be ashamed of myself for abandoning my Peaceful Ideals so easily. But I didn't really feel ashamed. I felt human. After all I didn't actually act on my violent feelings or thoughts (which I'm willing to bet even those great men had!) And I was very quick to notice my own thought patterns, alter them, and even laugh at myself. Making this shift is not as hard as it seems. It mostly takes awareness and creativity. I find cruelty and violence rigid and impulsive - but Love and Compassion see things in new and different ways. Even if our violent tendencies surge within us we can train ourselves to wait them out. We can let time be our friend and let the anger fade. And then we can cultivate other skills to allows kindness to grow and thrive.
In the end, we didn't let this small occurrence ruin our night - after all we took a risk by deciding to brave the crowds. I know I'm not Gandhi by any stretch of the imagination - I still have lots of room to grow. And I'm ok with that. If someone asked me if the 17 minutes of fireworks were worth the hour and a half it took to get home, I'd still reply with a definitive - yes!
Have you ever sat with someone, words tumbling and spinning through your mind - trying to find a way out of your brain and into the vast space between you? The tension builds inside of you to the point that you're sure they must feel the electricity in the air. So many phrases begging to be uttered, yet not a single word you can think of speaking out loud. So you muddle through - awkwardly talking about the weather or some other mundane topic. Anything but the existential, philosophical, murmurings of your soul. Because you know in your heart they don't want to hear those. Or silence falls heavy - not the comfortable kind either, but the thick, stifling, "Someone say something!" kind.
You can feel that they have avoided bringing certain topics up around you precisely so they will not have to hear what you have to say about it. So you struggle - do I say something? Or so I respect that they don't want to talk about it? It's like you are holding onto a beautiful gift that you are afraid to offer and even if you did would not be accepted.
I've felt this way.
And then I heard this Sara Bareilles song today:
(You can see the original video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwTr_CRw3GY - I'm not able to show it here on weebly - it's very inspiring!)
Whoa, if that's not powerful inspiration to speak our truths, I don't know what is. "LET YOUR WORDS FALL OUT!" I love that - makes it sound so easy. That's what I do here. I still believe knowing when our words are welcome and helpful is important. When they are not it may be more respectful to wait - till a better time and place. But I think it's so important for us to let out our truths. Bottling them up is not good for us! I dream of people feeling confident enough express their dreams, desires, needs, and truths in a compassionate way - and for more of us to become open, receptive listeners. Because it takes two to have a meaningful exchange.
What about you? Do you struggle with sharing your deepest desires, goals, and values? Or is it easy for you to share?
Last week I posted this painting - it only took me a few minutes to create. One of our little friends loves to paint when she comes over to our house and I can't bear to let the paint go to waste.
But people really responded to this simple little painting and the message. One friend commented, "Love it! I wish all people could follow these directions, I don't understand why it's so difficult."
I've been thinking about her comment ever since. Because I know that it is difficult to be kind sometimes. Why is it so difficult? Because we are all human. We all mess up sometimes. We all have needs that aren't always being met 100% of the time. We all have unique triggers - things that cause us to feel strong emotions. Sometimes we're exhausted or hungry, sometimes we see something that makes us really ANGRY. In these situations we may feel like we don't have the energy to be kind. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is bite our tongue and take a few deep breaths until our boiling blood cools down.
It's easy to get behind the message, "Just be kind" when we witness terrible events in the world - unfathomable acts committed that harm innocent people. What's difficult is being consistent in our day to day lives with people in our immediate environment. Sometimes the most difficult thing is to Be Kind to a family member that always seems to do things that go against our values. Perhaps our neighbor does something annoying that we can't understand. How kind are we to strangers we see at the grocery store or what thoughts do we have about other drivers on the highway?
And of course - how do we show (or NOT show) kindness to our children every day?
Be Kind may be a simple message but it is NOT an easy one. If it was we would have figured this stuff out already. So we keep trying. We keep challenging OURSELVES every day to be kinder. (And admit and forgive ourselves when we are not. The more I focus on this message the more I notice when I'm falling short. It's ok to admit we aren't perfect. Instead of beating ourselves up it's more important to make things right and learn from our mistakes.)
So yes. Just. Be. Kind. Even - no ESPECIALLY - when we see others being Unkind. It is the only answer that makes sense.
Although some people may think it is so, Kindness is NOT weak.
Kindness is strong. We can build kindness up - within us and out in the world - one small brick of kindness at a time. But just like a brick wall can be worn down byrain and wind, Kindness can be worn down by the elements of judgment and selfishness.
Kindness is tender too. Like a seedling that needs sun and rain it will flourish if we protect it. Like a vine it will grow wildly and cover everything it touches. We can nourish our vines of kindness with mindfulness and compassion.
Be Kind. Even - no ESPECIALLY - when it's difficult.
Just. Be. Kind. ♥ ♥ ♥
In Hypnobabies our students learn to create and use a "Bubble of Peace" (BOP), to let only positive words, ideas, thoughts, and feelings in about birth - and to keep the negative away.
One (of many) things that I adore about teaching Hypnobabies is that most of what I teach applies to everyday life - not just pregnancy and birth. After last week's madness in Boston, we could all use our Bubbles of Peace reinforced.
My bubble is pretty big and beautiful. Unschooling creates another large, strong bubble around me and my family. Peaceful parenting adds another iridescent layer. Sometimes our bubbles get little pinholes (or large gashes) in them though and they start to deflate and let more rubbish in. Last night I read some really disturbing things that animals do to each other. Then right before bed I read some stories of humans doing unimaginable, hurtful things to one another (who am I kidding - we are animals too, we just like to put ourselves in a different category.) I thought about linking these stories here, but I don't want to spread those ugly vibes this morning when so many people are still reeling.
Somehow I went to sleep last night - I attribute it to "Peace breathing" (yep, more Hypnobabies' awesomeness), deep breaths with some mantras to still my mind, and, oh yeah, it was really late by the time my kiddos fell asleep so I was tired! But this morning Marisol sat up in bed and said she had a bad dream, and the first thing I thought of were those sad stories. And I wondered if I had given off bad energy that affected her. I literally woke up feeling sick to my stomach. So I worked (again) on shifting my thoughts to the positive.
I know some people think that living in a "bubble" is unrealistic or even wrong. I disagree. Because choosing to focus on the good in the world doesn't mean that we are denying the bad. We already know that bad things happen. But focusing on sad, horrible, awful events does not make us or the world better. And more importantly the good IS REAL too! I've written before about whether Hypnobabies is realistic - and I think that this same message applies to life in general. We will not make the world a more beautiful, loving, peaceful place by dwelling on things that are not. It's up to us to choose differently. Because you know what? The majority of the "bad things" that happen are created BY US. Yes, there are the inexplicable accidents and illnesses, but most of our suffering is self-made. So please, reinforce your bubbles today! See the good so you can be the good.
The mug I had my coffee in this morning - an active reminder, "Life is Good!" Also reminds me of the amazing friend who gave it to me. And the band-aid reminds me of my sweet daughter. I woke up NEEDING to write this morning. Now the only things I plan on doing are cleaning and connecting with my family. Sounds like a good Saturday and way to mend my bubble.
I'll end with one of my favorite quotes that is making the rounds lately - spread by hopeful people all over the world:
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let the pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
- Kurt Vonnegut
Sending you all so much love and peace today.
This thought has been in my mind for a while. And the longer it sits the more I know it is true:
My choices about how to parent my kids are more about me than they will ever be about them.
This may sound wrong. It may come off as selfish. But it is the truth.
How many times have we heard how "resilient" kids are? How they can adapt to so many different situations, environments, and people? How about people that like to say, "well I was parented in x, y, or z manner, and *I* turned out 'fine'!"
How important is it that we really think about this parenting stuff? I mean why stress about it too much if they are probably going to more or less turn out ok - regardless of my specific parenting philosophy?
There is some merit in this line of thinking - it is good to keep perspective. When I was a teacher and things were getting heavy, I had to remind myself not to take myself too seriously. I wasn't responsible for saving the world or single-handedly turning my students' lives around. There are so many factors that contribute to life.
So the bottom line is that we do our best. That's it. This is how I came to the conclusion that my parenting is really all about me. What kind of person *I* am in this moment. What kind of person I aspire to be in my best moments.
Now, when I say "do our best" this is no small thing. Doing our best means dedicating ourselves to always improving ourselves. To being the best example we can be. To finding ways to be present and loving every day. To improving our communication skills with our loved ones. To apologizing when we fall short. Because we will fall short. But that is to be expected, because doing our best will never mean that we are perfect. So the question is, what are you going to do when faced with the inevitable? What kind of human being are you going to *choose* to be?
Our focus has to shift. Instead of defining our parenting by what our children are doing, we need to define it by what *we* are doing. When we raise the standards for ourselves, our children will naturally rise with us.
This is how we will change the world together. This is how a new way will be defined. This is how peace will begin to spread from one mama and papa at a time to their children, and then outwards through the world.
There's lots of talk about "Random Acts of Kindness" (RAOFK) lately. I think that more kindness in the world is a wonderful thing. But I've been thinking about that word, "Random". Here was one of my Facebook updates last week:
Random Ramblings: I've been thinking about "Random Acts of Kindness" (as many people are talking about and doing them to do more GOOD) Anyways, does doing thing for friends, family, and neighbors count as a "RAOFK" - for example, I've taken to making my lasagna for friends and neighbors that have a new baby - already made 3 in the past 6 months and 2 more are "in line" (it's a baby boom in our neighborhood!)...
So while I love the spirit behind the idea of RAOFK I'd like to concentrate more on Everyday kindness. Kindness to our neighbors and loved ones. And yes, kindness to strangers we see in our everyday lives (should we even classify this as "random"? I mean, I hope we all strive to be kind to people whose paths we cross every day).
Of course a topic that especially important to me is being as kind as we can to the children in our lives. What does it mean to be kind to our children? Some people think it *is* "kind" to punish a child if it is out of "love". Some argue this is the (only?) way that children learn important life lessons.
I do not agree with this assessment. A great barometer to use if you are unsure if an act is kind: would you say or do this same thing to your best friend/sister/partner/mother? If the answer is no, you probably shouldn't do it to your child either!
I'm not a fan of guilt, judgment, and finger-pointing either. No one is perfect. This is not about being perfectly kind 100% of the time. It *is* about recognizing how we can be kinder in our everyday lives. Patience, listening, putting ourselves in others' positions, taking deep breaths when we struggle - these are all ways we can demonstrate kindness in situations that don't bring out our best selves.
This is why you must start with yourself. If you aren't being kind to yourself it will be difficult, if not impossible, to be kind to others.
Up the kindness factor in your life starting with yourself. Love yourself, give yourself compliments and affirmations. Do kind things for yourself. The ripples will extend outwards to your family and community. Just think, if we all started doing this kindness would become so common the term "Random Act of Kindness" might become obsolete! Or even if it doesn't become obsolete maybe they will feel less urgent and necessary. Kindness anywhere is awesome. Kindness that changes the world will come from being kind close to home.
1. influential: able to exert a lot of influence and control over people and events "a powerful nation"
2. strong: having or exerting great physical or mental strength
3. effective: possessing the strength or qualities to produce a fast and effective result "a powerful antibiotic"
There is no doubt that we are a very powerful species. Whether this power is used for the benefit of our own and the rest of the planet or for destruction is the question. A remarkable man who calls himself the Peace Artist has a unique perspective from his experience of running across the United States with only Art Supplies and the clothes on his back. Before his adventure he noted “We will either learn to live together in peace or die in mutually assured destruction.” After experiencing the kindness of countless strangers on his travels he hopefully asserts "I say this wholeheartedly: everything that is done from compassion will be met with success. The nature of the universe is love.”
The key to harnessing our collective "power of we" and to promoting peace and quality living for all of earth's beings, is compassion. It sounds so simple, and yet, it is not easy or we would have it all figured out by now. But the message is everywhere if our hearts are open to it - uniting the major religions of the world in the Charter for Compassion or in Sprouting Seeds of Compassion's mission to plant trees.
As our greatest strengths are often also our weaknesses, in this case the problem is contained within the solution - Passion. We all have our causes that make us burn. Just as real fire can help feed us, warm us, and keep us safe, our passion can be a very powerful force for good. Passion causes us to cry out when we witness injustices and brings us to action. But what happens when someone or something flies right in the face of beliefs that we may have spent many long hours, days, or even years piecing together? It's as if someone threw gasoline onto our fire! The explosion will potentially burn anyone too close to our fire - ourselves included. Passion divides us when we use it to judge or condemn others and creates an illusion of otherness. The truth is that we are all interconnected and our actions will always affect each other - it's up to us to choose a loving path, and the sooner the better.
It's been helpful for me to think of wrapping my Passion in Love. Practically speaking this means taking a deep breath or waiting to speak my mind when I feel my passion as anger instead of love. If we can move towards doing this more and more, then we can begin to get to a place of Compassion. And from this space we can harness our true collective power to make positive change in the world.
Compassion is the ability to transform and we can see its metamorphic power in stories like this and this (I just noticed these both take place on airplanes! Is there something magical about being confined to a small space with strangers?!) Yes, compassion is the key to thriving in the future, but only by practicing it now. And let's not forget the past - how can compassion do anything about what's already over and done with?
Compassion for the Past
In one simple word: forgiveness. After learning whatever lessons we need from our experiences, challenges, hurts and trials it is time to look back on it all with a compassionate heart. We cannot change the past so to move forward effectively we must make peace with it and release it. We must forgive ourselves and others. I've read a lot of great material on forgiveness in the past year because it's something I struggle with personally (not because I've had such terrible things happen to me, but because I am a perfectionist and one side effect of this is dwelling on things - both about myself and others. It's not healthy.) All the wisdom I've come across states that forgiveness is for yourself, not for the person who hurt you. If you are carrying hatred, anger and hurt inside then you are not operating at your highest capacity. Not only that you just aren't living the happy, joyful life that you are entitled to! But don't beat yourself up too much if you struggle with forgiveness - forgive yourself for it and believe that we are all doing the best we can at any given moment. Then move on and strive to do better. If someone can release the abuse of their children or their family's killers, in the case of Immaculée Ilibagiza, then surely we can learn to forgive ourselves and loved ones for leaving the ice-cream out or telling each other to "shut up".
Compassion in the Now
Although this post is all about how through compassion we can finally harness the sea of communal power - of our "we" togetherness - I believe the present relies on us committing to individual, personal, and deep introspection. Only by knowing ourselves, our triggers, our faults and where we can improve can we then move from compassion. If something irritates us or bothers us that is our cue to turn the mirror back on ourselves and examine our own actions. Even if we really, truly believe (or even KNOW) deep in our core that we are in the RIGHT, we can still look at our reactions, how we relate and communicate with others, and most importantly what compassionate action we can take after processing. And actually, just looking at that word "right" kind of says it all. Because "right" and "wrong" sets us up immediately for competition instead of cooperation. Compassion is putting ourselves in another's shoes and seeing things from their perspective. It's learning about what they've been through or what their thought process is before jumping in with your own battery of explanations, reasons, research or stats.
Oh, and I know this isn't easy which is why we have to go easy on ourselves as we learn. It's especially difficult with those we are closest to - our partners and children. Why is this? That we often become our worst selves with those that mean the most to us? Perhaps because they are who we feel the safest with or maybe just the laziest with. But if we cannot put the effort in with our loved ones in our own homes, how can we expect peace to spread the globe?
My Alma Mater's motto is "Meliora" which the University of Rochester translates to "Ever Better". We may not be perfect but armed with forgiveness for mistakes and a willingness to always work on ourselves we may become ever better at this thing called compassion.
Sowing Compassion for the Future
I cannot believe how many amazing writers, causes, and blogs there are out there - I find new ones every day! And behind each one is a person. But how can we really maximize this human potential in our future? Through our children, which means through our parenting or any adult/child relationship.
My passion is my children and parenting - both personally and generally as a practice. I have a lot of very specific ideas about what it means to raise children in a loving, respectful manner and most of these ideas are not the norm in our modern, western culture. I truly, in my heart-of-hearts believe, that compassion in the future starts with our children, because they are literally our future.
Right now it is commonplace in our culture for children to be spanked (hit), punished for a wide range of behaviors - many within normal developmental ranges - shamed, and isolated. Are any of these compassionate? And how can we expect our children to grow up to be compassionate when this is the way they are treated from the time they are babies?
People don't like to hear it spelled out that way. They will say, well children must learn, or be taught, or have any number of reasons for their actions.
But here I go. You see - I'm becoming passionate and when I do that it becomes, "me versus them", and I'm leaving compassion and therefore our power behind. So what do we do? How do we become compassionate when we see others acting in a way we don't believe is?
I will say it is easier in every day life. Because I love the people that I know sleep train their babies or spank their toddlers. I love my friend who takes away her kids' candy because she's worried they'll eat too much or gives her kids time-outs. Right now the best thing I know how to do is to not participate in conversations that I don't agree with, to offer my life, my family's choices and our relationships as our living testimony, and to bare it all here on my blog.
I also remind myself that many of the parenting practices I find unkind are actually a result of parents trying to cope with our modern social constructs. Right now most families live in isolated "nuclear" units - parents and children. Most children are raised by a single stay-at-home parent, a nanny, or daycare or some combination of these. This is not our natural state. We are communal, social animals - evolved to live in tribes. Now instead of having a whole network of support woven around you 24 hours a day that consists of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, we have single adults raising multiple children.
Look at this beautiful picture and read the story put with it.
That is compassion. Would this ever happen in our neighborhoods? How can we start making changes so that does become our reality?
I was worried as I worked on this post about getting too preachy, self-righteous, and "know-it-ally". But then I released that worry (actually I mentally said "F**k it!" - but that's my new, not so PC way of releasing worries). I thought to myself, this is my theory and belief and something I've thought deeply about. I've read many stories and testimonies of families choosing to buck societal norms and who are raising amazing children. Children who may grow up to change the world. I believe each of us is here to experience life and part of that is putting our theories to test. The trick is to not get too attached to them. If what I'm practicing isn't working out so well then I will reassess. I think that is what we should all do and stop worrying about being "right" or "wrong". I want others to trust me that I am on the right path for me so I'm working on offering that same consideration to everyone else.
In the end the one constant is kindness. Compassion is what will enable our race to evolve further and preserve our mother-earth. And the only people who can tell me whether I'm keeping up my end of the deal in this regard are living right here, under this roof with me.
"peace" I whisper. Peace, I smile. I breathe PEACE in when I feel myself losing my balance.
I look around me. People hurting - parents, children, adults and teens - and I say a little more loudly, "Peace!"
Be kind to each other AND yourself.
Respect others AND yourself.
Love others AND yourself.
Forgive others AND yourself.
Know others AND yourself.
PEACE. I proclaim it loud.
If what you're doing or saying hurts someone else, if it creates separation between you, or if it causes you to harden your heart - then it's not the way.
Others don't want to hear it. And I'm confused. How is kindness controversial? Why is love radical? When did respect become something to be earned?
My own internal peace begins to falter. So I breathe. Breathe in peace... Breathe out love.
I remember my own ROAR.
We are all one... we all desire the same basic things, we are just on different paths.
Breathe in... Peace. The fierce, menacing ROAR of the "Peace Nazi" settles down to a gentle, content purr.
It is ok to disagree. It. Is. Ok.
I don't have to be right for everyone.
I am right for me.
And with that Peace, I can spread more to the world.
This post was inspired by the Wild Sister website and the September issue of the Wild Sister e-magazine. It was so worth the money - filled with amazing women, their inspiring messages, and how they are each changing the world for the better in their own way. Check it out!
Ironically, I can't breathe right now. I'm completely congested. There's nothing like losing something that you take for granted to totally make you appreciate it, eh?
Here's another great post about breathing. I have to agree, it really is the answer to most problems. Sandra Dodd (another of my favorites) has a whole page dedicated to breathing on her website.
So often we think we have to *do* something. Someone wronged us, or was disrespectful, or hurt us and we can't just sit there and take it, right?!? But usually our reactions or actions are taken too quickly, they are knee-jerk, usually thoughtless, and coming from an unsteady place. So this is where breathing comes in. If we can re-train ourselves to stop and focus on our breathing, for one breath, or 2, 3, or 10 or even many minutes of purposeful focused breathing, then we can change our old habits. It gives us time to think and our bodies can calm, dissipating adrenaline and emotions that course hot through our blood.
Today I had the chance to practice this skill. (And it does take practice!) Marisol got very upset with me a couple of times. Both times were things that I was actually doing to help her or be nice! (Remember my public service announcement? She was not being reasonable in my opinion! But what human being is reasonable all the time?) When I say she was upset I mean she was pretty much screaming, crying, yelling - a complete 6 year old rage. And when I say I was being nice - the one time was to do something she asked me to do (turned out I misunderstood what she wanted, but it was easily fixed). For whatever reason, today I was able to breathe through these incidents (one time better than the other - the second time I admit I was trying to reason with her as my voice became more intense - it didn't work). Both times within 5 minutes my little girl came to me apologizing, "I'm sorry for yelling at you" and was in my arms. She's already better than me at saying she's sorry.
I was so glad that I took the time to breathe and stay calm. There was no need to to punish or shame her. I calmly stated how I felt and what had happened in each instance. Then I let her be alone (because that is what she wants - if she wanted me with her I would respect that too, actually that would be easier for me!) And hopefully I'm modeling for her how to stay calm when I'm frustrated because as she told me, "It's just so hard sometimes when I'm frustrated!" I have had just a few more years to practice.
So yeah, breathing. It does a body good. And mind. And spirit. And relationships. I can't wait to kick this cold and experience the full benefits again!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.