BE BRAVE: Let your words fall out!
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?
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!
1) *I* like to share and *you* like to be (choose any of the following): inspired, entertained, challenged, interested, and engaged.
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
All of the above are things I've posted on my new Together Walking Facebook page. And let's not forget links to interesting articles like this one about The Island Where People Forget to Die or 12 Unconventional Habits of Highly Productive People. I'm also posting some of my own thoughts like these:
Did you know? You can do a lot for yourself AND others in a day. Today I meditated, got outside and walked, drank tea, and had a bubble bath... all in the company of my wonderful kids :-)
Random Ramblings: Today there's no "I can't wait for..." Today I fully appreciate that everything I need is right here, right now, in this very moment.
2) It would make me so happy! I found out that yesterday was World Kindness Day - maybe you didn't know either? If you're upset that you missed out on it, you can make up for it by heading over right now to my Together Walking Faceook page and clicking "Like". Now you've done a kind thing for someone else (me me me!) And doing kind things for others is actually good for you! Win, win! It may not be on this list of 237 Kindness Ideas - but I promise you it will make someone happy (me me me!)
I've found that I actually *do* feel freer to "be myself" and post many more things that resonate with me - even more than I have on my personal page in the past. I've also found that I am posting less to my personal page, so if you have found any of the articles, quotes, or pictures that I've posted interesting or inspiring in the past, I think you will enjoy what I'm posting at my new page.
I know some people have negative feelings about Facebook, but I have to say that I love it! I view it as a tool - and yes tools can be misused or even abused - but tools can also be used in powerful, positive ways. I've found so many people and pages that inspire me every day - and I really love the idea of doing that for others!
Even if it's not for any of these reasons - maybe you're just nosy and want to see what nonsense Susan is going to post next - I don't mind, really!
I imagine some people may wonder, why is she pushing this? Is she trying to sell me something? Is this a trick of some kind?
And to be honest, I still wonder why I'm so into this blog thing myself. The best answers I can come up with is that it is helping me become more completely myself and to live my best life, that I love to share because it inspires me, and I love hearing that I inspired someone else, that I love to think about life and how to live it in a meaningful way and writing helps me do that.
As for selling anything - for the time being, nope, nothing to sell here. Just me and my wild ideas. But I want to spread love and peace, compassion and kindness everywhere. (And someday I may actually get around to writing a book, and then yes, I would love to have people buy it!)
So I think I've been completely honest with you... no tricks, promise. I learned earlier this year that begging sometimes works. Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to ask.
See you over here soon!
Happy Blog-iversary to Me!
It's hard getting a good shot of yourself with your iPhone. So I decided instead of picking one, I would collage-it-up. And yes I do realize that it is October 24th, not December 24th - Remember that party we planned? Yeah... besides I think the lights add a perfect festive touch. I'm trying to see how long a caption can be... are you still reading?? Anyways - HAPPY BLOG-IVERSARY! Let's celebrate ;-)
Exactly one year ago today I got this beautiful blog up and running complete with my first post! I have such a feeling of accomplishment from keeping up this habit of writing for a full year. When I stop to think about it, I believe this is the first time I've ever consistently stuck with something that was completely born of my own internal motivation. For example exercise - sure, I've been in REALLY good shape before - but I was always involved in highly structured competitive sports - since graduating from college my exercise routine has been spotty and completely inconsistent (that's changing though, I can feel it!)
So, who knew? I'm so close to actually calling myself a WRITER (although philosopher may be more accurate, but perhaps they go hand-in-hand?) Ha! I think I've mentioned before but I just have to say it again - I have always considered myself a READER and never a WRITER. I only wrote throughout my school years because it was required of me. Was it the coerced nature of the writing then that made me resist it? Who knows. But now I stay up late and get up early willingly to write because it feels great!
I'm really excited to celebrate by doing some new things here on Together Walking. First of all I finally took a leap and invested in my own domain name (my blog-iversary gift to myself!), so no more "weebly" in my address - you can now go directly to togetherwalking.com
Also I've created a facebook page for sharing blog posts and as a place to inspire myself and others.
But what I am most excited about is that I am going to be doing a series of give-aways over the next couple of months. I have been lucky enough to "win" quite a few blog give-aways the past few years (a potty and book, homeopathic remedies, and admission to a writing e-course - not bad!) and I feel like it's time for me to return the favor! So I'm going to give away one of my favorite things - books. Some are new copies and many are my personal copies that I'm ready to part with, but they are all books that have had a huge positive impact on my life.
My first give-away starts this week and is dedicated to my friend Scott Wischmeyer for giving me the push to start this blog a year ago. I was actually just thinking of "reviving" my other blog but through a series of comments on FB (also known as the modern day "conversation" ;-) he inspired me to start a whole new kind of blog - the kind where I actually write what I think and share my experiences.
To thank Scott and to celebrate, I'm giving away a book that I bought through his blog Our Tiny Earth, by clicking on his affiliate link Chelsea Green Publishing (find the link on his about page). The book I'm giving away is called "Journey for the Planet: A Kid's Five Week Adventure to Create an Earth-friendly Life". You can click here for a review, description, and peek inside. Scott is a huge inspiration to me in an area that we are growing a lot. (And by growing, I mean we have a long way to go!) Sustainability and living in an earth-friendly way are topics that are really important to me and I know that there are so many ways that I can do better. I also adore his focus on community and feel like that is where the two of us really share a common message.
I love watching Marisol learn about earth-friendly living because she really embraces it all and *wants* to protect the earth and all its creatures and treasures. I know we are going to learn a lot from this book (I bought us a copy too!) It seemed like the perfect choice because it is for kids (my passion) and it is a cause that is near to my heart.
To get your name in the random drawing for this book leave me a comment here. To get your name in the drawing two more times, "like" my Facebook page, share it and let me know you did in your comment!
Thanks to everyone for your energy... and for reading, commenting, and supporting me as I follow this strange, new urge... to write and live out loud.
EDIT: Kathy is our winner! This give-away is over but make sure to check back for more!
One Note Nelly
This is going to be just a stream-of-consciousness type post - just some of the thoughts I've had swirling today.
After my post on Monday - which I stayed up quite late to finish before the "deadline" for Blog Action day - I've been thinking how I must be irritating some people by insisting that some parenting practices just aren't nice. And I have to admit it makes me a bit uncomfortable because I don't like making people feel bad. But then I thought, well hey, that's kind of good if someone's bothered by something I wrote, because that means that it got into their head and it's sticking there. Maybe it's like a little grain of sand that will rub until it turns into a beautiful pearl.
Tonight Marisol and I were reading Dr. Seuss' story about the Grinch and she said that she likes people with the Biggest hearts -then she looked right up at me and into my eyes and said, "I think you're one of them". Oh my goodness, did I melt and cry? Oh yes I did!
I don't write here to brag about how wonderful my kids and life are, or to show off how perfect and compassionate I am. Because although my kids are wonderful and I love my life, we're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination - we have meltdowns every day and I feel my heart contract and turn cold when she freaks out about something that seems insignificant to me. But we've been making a habit of saying what we're grateful for at night before going to sleep and tonight she said, "My life", and she keeps telling me in so many ways, and I just want people to know that they can have that too! I see a lot of hurting parents and kids and I just want them to know it doesn't have to be that way.
I feel a bit like I'm becoming "One-note-Nelly" and my monotone mantra is "Be Nice to your kids!" but I guess it could be worse. And I have some different stuff coming up soon that I'm excited about (how's that for a teaser? Stay tuned!) So in the near future I'll be a little bit less like a 1-Hit Wonder (although I'd be excited just to have 1 Big Hit at this point!)
I was messaging with an old friend a bit and talking about how writing here just fills me up in a way I never could have predicted. She mentioned that she's not surprised and it's a good way to connect with like-minded people. I guess it kind of is. But actually that was more what my "secret" blog was for - and Xanga is a great blogging community for that because you can search for specific things, like homeschooling, and then "friend" or follow people. Other great places for finding people you gel with are Yahoo groups - I've found international and local groups which have been great for inspiration and making friends in real life.
But again as I wonder why (wonder but don't question... it's too good to doubt it) I'm doing this - writing, sharing - why I've been able to keep it up so consistently for so long, I'm realizing that it's my way of living out loud. And it feels great.
I love life!
I love that it is 1:30 am and I can't sleep. I love that I was hungry so I got up and ate pancakes with butter and syrup and drank milk. I love that my daughter is my teacher even though everyone thinks that I am hers. I love butter. I love food. I love hearing my son's laugh everyday and watching his whole face light up with joy. I love that I will probably be tired tomorrow and maybe even grumpy, but that I've noticed I am less grumpy since I've started writing. I love that now when I can't sleep I try doing different things.
I love sunny, breezy days. I love seeing friends and impromptu play-dates. I love going for a walk with a neighborhood friend and her dog. I love syrup. I love knowing that even when things are really hard, they will get better. I love that when I feel alone, there will be a time in the near future when I won't. I love to say the word FUCK in my head - still not out loud, but it's fun to write too! I love people who curse and OWN IT. I love people who never swear and don't need to. I love learning every day. I love trying new things and going to new places. I love carbs. I love giving birth. I love helping other people prepare to give birth. I love that my kids like watching birth videos. I love that Gerry has put baby dolls through a model pelvis. I love the cherry blossoms in the spring. I love Christmas carols. I love Wubbzy songs....
Lyrics: Bob Boyle / Music: b. Mossman
Life is filled with treasure
For everyone to see
Having fun with every day
That’s the way to beThere’s no map to show the way
Find the treasure in every day
There’s no X to mark the spot
Find the treasure in what you’ve got
Yes! Life is filled with treasure
It’s everywhere you look
It’s in a piece of chalk
And it’s in a comic book
Ah! Life it filled with treasure
Just listen and you’ll hear
A happy singing bird
Or your friend approaching near
The treasure has been found
Now that we know:
There’s treasure all around!
Life is filled with treasure
There’s no need to dig
It doesn’t have to be of gold
It doesn’t have to be so big
Oh! Life is filled with treasure
It’s not hard to find
Animals of every kind
You can find it under a rock
Or in a dirty sock
It might be a piece of string
‘cause there’s treasure in everything
Oh! Life is filled with treasure
And the treasure never ends
You can feel it in your heart
And share it with your friends
Yes! Life is filled with treasure
Life is filled with treasure
Life is filled with treasure!
So the synchronicity continues. Through a new friend on Facebook I was led to another awesome new blog. The first post I stumbled onto is here. It spoke to me deeply. This woman has a way with words and I felt like she was writing about me (I guess really great writers do that!) Also she used the word "synchronicities" in the second paragraph.
So I explored Jess Morrow's Invincible Summer some more and found this post that includes an awesome give-away. I just found this last night and the deadline is tomorrow. We are out of town - in Ohio to celebrate a cousin's graduation. But this idea grabbed me so here I am trying to fit in a blog-post on the road.
The give away is for a spot in her summer e-course and the instructions were to:
1. Rearrange something/create some space. (Think creatively: is this physical space or mental? Or something else?)
2. Try something new.
Since I stumbled onto this late and the week is almost up I had to take some creative license (isn't that something a writer would do??) with the directions and think about things that I have been doing recently. I can't help thinking that it was meant to be for me to find Jess's give away - I am so excited when I read her description of her e-course.
My new space is definitely this blog/website. This is very new for me - writing, writing consistently, and really, REALLY enjoying it. I actually have that urgent feeling that I have heard other writers talk about - like I *have to* write (or what? I guess my brain might explode!). It is evolving in ways that I could never have guessed when I began last fall. It is both a physical and a mental space. It began because I finally felt ready to share my voice, and as I have begun to share I am discovering more - about myself, and the world, and the world that we can create if we believe enough to follow through. I have a big dream of writing a book and it actually doesn't seem that far-fetched. Beyond that I am not sure. But I feel something tugging at me and Jess's direction would be an amazing place to begin answering my heart-tug.
Besides this blog I have been exploring a lot of new territory mentally and spiritually. I started meditating during Lent and it is now an almost-daily habit. I don't have words to describe how meditating is transforming my life - the way it is grounding me and helping me live out my ideals in my every day life - I hope that Jess can help me begin to tap into powerful, beautiful words that can describe this experience. And of course affirmations. Another very new practice for me that is proving to be life changing.
I am reading books (Louise Hay, Deepok Chopra) that are inspiring me to take my life to another level. I am comforted by their wisdom (Louise mentions both that people these days want things NOW, and that truly good things take time. She also didn't really know where she was "going" when she started out, but she trusted and kept taking steps - and now look at her!) and I'm inspired by their consistently positive attitudes.
I have also reached out to two authors and one has responded. She is willing to speak to me on the phone! I am looking forward to my first "interview" and writing it up later this Spring.
Jess's course appeals to me for many reasons. The first is finding my voice. I think that is a huge part of Why I'm writing here and I know I'm getting there, but I think I'll get there quicker with help. Also the Manifesto that I linked earlier speaks so much to my heart - saying what others may be afraid to (like here), dreaming big (like having Mayim Bialik write the forward to my book!), and just following my heart so I make sure to soak up all the beauty in this life meant for me.
I guess that covers it. I am creating space. I am doing new things. And I'm ready for the next new thing.
Every week I have ideas of what I want to write about, but usually at the last minute I end up changing my plan because something going on in Life actually sparks a new direction. Balance has been on my mind a lot lately. A post titled "Balance" has patiently waited for months in my drafts folder. In fact not a day goes by that I don't think about this word. What does it mean? What does it look like and how does it feel?
There is no formula for perfect balance. Balance will look different for every person and it changes with time too. This makes sense to me intrinsically. Individuals need varying amounts of sleep, different types of foods to thrive on, and are stimulated by a unique pursuits. Yet we seem to think that there is a magic number of hours or a specific percentage of our time to spend on various aspects of our life that will lead to this magical state called, "Balance". And then we judge and compare ourselves to others when we perceive what we think is an "imbalance". I am certain that what is a good balance for me would not be a good balance for many people.
What is it exactly that we are trying to balance in our lives? Here are a few simplistic dichotomies that jump to my mind:
Work and Play
Work and Family
Activity and Rest
(and one especially near and dear to my heart...)
Thinking and Being
For all of my fellow homeschooling parents, there is the balance between home-tending (got this from my friend Shan and love it so much more than house work!), supporting our childrens' learning (however we decide to do that) and of course we can't forget, self-care. So I guess that is a "trichotomy".
I'm currently reading Deepak Chopra's book "Perfect Health" which is based largely on the ancient Indian system of healing called Ayurveda. It is fascinating. In Ayurveda there are three doshas inside each person - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - and the amount of each one in a person makes up their "body-type". (This is a very simplistic explanation of it and I'm still just learning about it). But what is really interesting to me is the idea that for each person there is an ideal level of these 3 doshas, and that it is different for each person. When one or more of them rises or falls from the optimal level it manifests in our bodies - often in illness. I'm sure we've all noticed that during times of stress, lack of sleep, or poor diet, in other words poor balance, we are more prone to getting sick.
Speaking of illness, there is a nasty cold/virus making it's way through my family right now. Currently I have a sore throat and just really low energy. Yet, it is one o'clock in the morning and I am working on this post. Balanced? Most people would probably say, "No way!" (I can hear Mike yelling at me right now - Go to bed!) But I dozed on the couch for about an hour earlier and these ideas are buzzing in my head. I know myself, and I know that sleep wasn't happening right away. So here I am writing.
Speaking of writing - I suddenly seem to have this intense desire (need?) to write every day. (My sister thinks this is weird. I have to agree. But what can I say, it's there and I'm going with it!) Anyway, one of my challenges right now is figuring out my balance point - for myself and my family. I really want to write, but my top priority is to be present with my kids during the day. Difficult to do when you keep having these awesome ideas for blog-posts! So I usually write late at night, or right when I wake up, or sometimes even the middle of the night if I can't sleep. I also write little notes and snippets down when I can (journals and scrap paper are now easily accessible).
Speaking of my kids - how do they learn about balance? Many parents think that they have to control things for their children because they haven't developed the capacity to make decisions about "balance" on their own. Unschooling has led me in a totally different direction. As much as I can, I support them in finding their own balance. This means with food, television, computer games, going outside, social activities, reading, sleeping... really anything you can think of. This can be difficult for many parents who are attached to the idea that children couldn't possibly know what is best for them. I see my children prove this idea wrong every day. Just the other day Marisol said, "I have to listen to my body so I'm going to stop eating this cupcake now. My tummy's starting to hurt." Later she asked for more "healthy food" and chose a ham sandwich. Marisol can watch TV when she wants and every day she is itching to get outside and play with her friends. Was it always this way? Nope. When she was 3 1/2 she didn't want to get outside or see other people hardly at all. (She was also adjusting to big sisterhood). Her balance was different that winter. It was challenging for me when I got serious cabin fever, but I pushed myself and I'm glad I did. We both learned a lot about ourselves and trusting each other through that experience.
Allowing our children to learn about their own balance does not mean that they will always make the "right" choice, or the choice you would make (you know, the one you want them to make). (Side-note: Do you always make the "right" choice?) Sometimes we have to experience extremes to find out what is really right for us. I know sometimes I just need to sit around, because I'm tired or uninspired, or whatever the reason may be, until the urge just builds up in me and I can't to it anymore - I just *have* to get sh*t done! I firmly believe that allowing our children to figure out what is right for them when they are young helps them develop and believe in their own decision making abilities as they grow older. Yes, I give them input and my *opinion*, but really there is very little in life that is black and white, cut and dry. Marisol recently asked me if sugar is bad for her. Lately I have "heard" vague "whisperings" through the internet that there is "scientific evidence" that sugar is a "toxin" to our bodies (By that I mean, I've seen some headlines, but have not read deeply or paid it much attention.) So I proceeded carefully when I answered her question, not wanting to allow fear to color our conversation. I told her that some people think it isn't good for you. But that what I think is most important, is to listen to her body. She concluded that a little bit of sugar probably is ok for her. I'm sure that her relationship and understanding of food will continue to grow and evolve as she does. I feel very strongly about letting her make her own choices and learning through her own experience. I also know that I will be by her side supporting her in the best way I can. It's not always easy but I believe the benefits outweigh any fears I still have. Gerry is already pushing me out of my comfort zone even farther - that kid LOVES his sweets! I feel better by making sure he also gets fruit (strawberries and apples are a favorite now) and a carrot every day. I know that they are learning about their own limits and developing their own internal sense of what's good for them instead of relying on me to tell them what is right.
And besides all that, I just look at human nature. If someone tells *me* what to do or what I *should* be doing I immediately dig in and don't want to do it! Why would I want that dynamic in my relationship with my children? For instance, I can't stand it when Mike "nags" me to do something. I rarely get up and do something cheerfully if I feel like he's asking in a not-so-nice manner. But as I'm making my own choices to get things done, I feel his nagging fading (also I think my response is changing, but that's another topic). And I am feeling good about what I am doing. From his point of view, the "nagging" may have worked. But I know differently. I know that I am *choosing* to do things that make me feel good and to please him too.
Personally, besides writing I'm also learning what is a good balance for me and my family in regards to teaching. I'm so happy that I found something that I really love in Teaching Hypnobabies, but I also am constantly evaluating if it's the best fit, not just for me, but my kids and husband. Right now I don't feel perfectly balanced. I'm so hyped up about a lot of things (teaching, writing, and just life in general), that I'm feeling a little lop-sided. I'm also a little sick and that is my body's way of saying, "slow down!" Also as a mom to young children I can't always take care of my own needs immediately, in the optimal way. Sometimes I have to suck it up and take care of them. But I'm learning small ways to get my own needs met at the same time. Just this week we had an amazing day, followed with two very low key days at home. Instead of looking it as a "high" followed by a "low" I know that they are just different kinds of days. We are all sick and need some down time.
I guess that sums it up for me - listening to our bodies, minds, and spirits the best we can. It's about being mindful and checking in with yourself. All of the important things in life require practice and dedication (ie inspiration and positive thinking). At first it might seem like a lot of work, but it is worth it. I am consistently asking myself now, "what do I want to do with this moment right now?" One time I am especially aware of my choices are when Gerry naps. I can do the dishes (or other home tending), I can get on the computer, I can take that time to connect with Marisol, or I can rest myself (usually while cuddling with Marisol). But I know whichever I choose I have thought about what is best in that moment - for me and my loved ones. I am not just rushing to the first thing that jumps in my line of vision and then wondering later why I didn't choose something else. Will we always make the "right" choice? Probably not - but we can get better at it. And we can always get back on course.
Stop letting others or what you "think others think" dictate what you choose. If you are tired the house can wait. A clean house with an exhausted mama is not balanced (in my opinion!) Don't worry about what others say about how much time you spend with your children - listen to the people that matter - yourself and your children. If you are working so hard that you cannot enjoy any other aspects of your life, examine why you are doing that. Is it serving you? No one except *you* can tell you what is *your* perfect balance. And your balance will change - that's why you need to be in tune to yourself. Your needs for exercise, for nourishing food, for stillness, for connection, for stimulation are your guiding posts. Of course, we have to balance our needs with our loved ones' needs too, which is where things get trickier. But we try. We listen to each other with love and problem solve when our needs seem to clash. I loved this status from a friend on Facebook, "Balance is taking care of what matters MOST at the time it matters most!" This especially rings true to me for mothers of young children. Sometimes when you have a sick child there just isn't anything else that's going to get done except caring for that baby. And that is the perfect balance for that moment.
I lay in bed tonight at 10:30 - Gerry went to bed "early". I thought, "I'm just going to go to bed in my clothes (at least they were linen pants) without brushing my teeth or anything." It felt so good. I thought of this post on "balance", and it seemed fitting. My body is tired. But habit and my bladder weren't listening and the need to release (my thoughts!) won out. My kids - if they are tired you can't convince them to brush their teeth or anything else. It's just time to sleep. Things are simpler for them. I hope that maybe they can stay that way.
Anyways here I am working almost till midnight like a kid in school with a paper due. And I love it! I feel good and I know tomorrow even if I'm tired I will be more present with my kids. Sometimes I am better at being still when I'm tired. Guess that's part of my balance.
Two more things and then I really must retire. During Lent I was randomly opening the Bible some mornings to read. A few days after I wrote in my journal about balance I opened up to Proverbs 11, which state, "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord but an accurate weigh is his delight." (it also went on to say "whoever belittles another lacks sense, but an intelligent person remains silent" guess we better not knock other people's sense of balance!) Powers bigger than me continue to speak to me. I try to listen.
And finally, check out this sticky note that has been posted on my computer's desktop for months now:
I don't think I could say it any better than that. So thank you, whoever I saved that from.
What are your thoughts on balance? What are things you do to help you achieve your optimum balance? Have there been times in your life where you felt either particularly balanced or unbalanced?
Insecurity and Inspiration
Sunday morning I felt anxious, nauseous and panicky, and I was having a hard time focusing on anything. One thing good about nervous energy is using it to do stuff - like dishes, laundry etc. But it isn't so great for being present OR joyful, as your mind races around in circles. I revisited my post from Friday and thought about my timing - I chose Good Friday and Easter weekend to reveal that I can't think of my children or myself as sinners anymore. Good Friday - the day Jesus died for our sins. Oh the irony. I really didn't plan it that way it all - it just happened. So I definitely felt more than a little bit hypocritical today as my kiddos looked for their Easter baskets and indulged in chocolate. I felt like I had jumped out of a plane. I thought that my parachute was in good working order, but today I was feeling the need for my backup. It is so easy to get paranoid after you lay your soul out for people to see. Especially when you get very little feedback. Our minds quickly jump to what we "know" others must be thinking about us. This is what I was doing.
So, what helped me re-center myself was a few things. First lying down with Gerry during his nap and putting a guided meditation on. That helped a lot, my mind relaxed and I woke up rested. Then the rest of the day I spent with my kids and husband, mostly outside. It was wonderful. And just like that I am back in a better space and all the things I was telling my panicked self this morning, I can see are true. (Namely, I can only be true to myself and control my actions/reactions. I cannot control how other people react, nor can I "know" what other people are thinking. As of yet I still don't have any supernatural ESP powers, or anything like that.)
So, I need to talk more about insecurity and inspiration. I'm going to level with you all. I think that this space will be more inspiring for me and readers if it is more interactive. Even though I have not been getting a lot of comments, I know there are people reading. No, once again I'm not psychic - Let me show you how I know:
Pretty cool, huh? I really like weebly! If you want to start a blog yourself, I think it's a pretty good way to go. Anyways, part of me wonders if my friends are just too nice to comment. They *may* be thinking, "Wow, Susan has *really* lost her marbles! But you know, she is nice and I don't want to hurt her feelings so I'll just read and not comment." Or maybe most of what I'm posting is just really not that interesting or thought provoking to people, in which case I don't blame you. If I'm not stirring anything in you I don't expect a comment. And part of me also wonders if I really am ready or want comments - I mean do I have tough enough skin? Ideally, even if you don't agree with me you could post a comment in a respectful manner and we could actually have some interesting (possibly inspiring!) dialog. I remember way back when I started my first blog my good friend Kimmy (are you reading right now??) told me that it was a faux pas for people to read and NOT comment. I now realize that really most people don't ever comment - I know that I read blogs way more than I comment.
Anyways, readers I know that you are out there! I would love to write more about what you are interested in and maybe get more interaction. But either way I'm still feeling good about writing. It's fun. I've been thinking about inspiration and how to keep it going lately. I've realized that inspiration and most things in life are just like exercising our bodies. We have to actively do things to keep inspiration flowing. Just like I can't expect to show up at a 10K race and run if I haven't been working out, I can't expect my creativity to just turn on if I haven't been using it. One practice that helps me is to read other inspiring, thought-provoking writers. I'm also finding a better balance in my life and tuning into things that I need to feel good. I have a new idea that there are 3 things right now that really feed me - writing, meditation, and exercise. I feel like if I can do at least 2 of these every day and regularly do all 3 I am taking care of myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. (I haven't really gotten on the exercise part yet, but I will get there, I know it!) It's quite amazing to me how since I've been writing and meditating how much more present I've been with my family and just so... happy. I don't feel like I'm constantly fighting what my needs are versus my kids' needs.
But every once in a while, I feel like - oh man, maybe I'm going to run out of things to write about. But usually when I feel like that it is because I'm needing something else - namely food or rest. Once things get back in balance, the ideas and inspiration flow again. So I think to keep inspiration flowing one needs to taking care of oneself, actively seek inspiration, and also take time away - to get out into the world and most importantly, be with the people who matter most to you.
It hasn't escaped my attention either that the most feedback I've gotten has been about pictures and periods (oh and being a feedback junkie, ha!) I do feel a bit like I'm getting lost in a lot of philosophical ramblings and that maybe it would be good to mix it up with some more actual experiences I've had. So far I've kind of been writing about whatever is on my mind at the time, because that is the easiest (especially when your baby doesn't go to sleep till midnight!) But I have quite a few ideas and even some posts started. Things that I definitely will touch on sometimes in the future: any and all things (attachment) parenting - from sleeping and breastfeeding, to food and poop (ah, who doesn't want to read about that!), natural birth, more on unschooling and what I see happening every day with my kids, what does "balance" mean to me, and how the heck did I get here...
So peeps, if you are curious about any of the above or anything else I have written about in the past, let me know and I will write about it sooner rather than later! (This is as close as I'm going to get to begging for comments... at least I know I'm in good company, I've read plenty of bloggers having similar sentiments!) Otherwise, I will just continue to obsess over my graph and write whatever fancies me at the moment. I hope you get your inspiration flow on this week! You deserve it ;-)
Fear of hurting loved ones
It feels good to be "out". To not hide the what, why, and how of my life. (Although, those that know me probably wonder when I ever hid! ;-) But with the exhilaration of letting it all hang out also comes fear and anxiety. I think it's been pretty apparent in a lot of my first posts and my disclaimer. I've been trying to set things up perfectly so I don't hurt anyone. Since my recent post about sleep training being a choice, not a "have to", I've experienced considerable angst. It's amazing how these feelings manifest themselves in our bodies. I can actually feel the tension inside like a spring coiled inside of me and even though I feel tired today, I also feel this coil as a nervous energy. Everything I wrote feels true and right to me. And I'm glad to give support to others that are going through hard times and questioning their choices - especially those who are feeling alone. I know that I felt that way early in my "parenting career" when I was beginning to make choices that weren't typical in our society. I felt uncertain, I didn't know how things would turn out and I felt like there weren't many people who could give me assurance or tell me about their experiences.
And yet. I worry that I am hurting those who I love - those who have been good to me and supported me regardless of *my* choices, in spite of the fact that I may have been choosing something quite different then them. It's a new, strange place I'm in. I spent a lot of time when Marisol was little worrying about my choices and what others thought of me. I tried to find "like minded" people. Friends who held similar values. And I found a lot of friends with babies and little children who had things in common with me. A while after moving to Washington DC I observed some things about my new friendships that led to an important realization. I shared something important with each of my new mama friends - one had a home-birth and was passionate about breastfeeding, one friend had similar sleep woes, breastfed her baby till he was over 2 years old, and held similar ways of dealing with toddler behavior, a third friend wanted to do things in an attachment parenting type way, but her children were much closer in age than mine and she struggled with sleep. The third friend was also very "natural" minded and limited TV. I have another friend who on paper looks very much like me but emotionally we are quite different. All of these observations led to the obvious realization - we each had things in common and areas where we were quite different. And that is ok. We don't need to be or think alike to love each other.
The past couple of days I've been deep breathing through my fear and discomfort. The cool thing is that I am comfortable and confident enough in myself to put myself out there. I've also fully embraced the idea that no one can *make me* feel anything - hurt, sad, even judged. I am in control of my own emotions. It is a truly empowering idea. I have to trust others to find their own way. I have to hope that those I love know my heart and my intention. (Also in the few hours that have passed since I started this post I've thought that probably some of the people I'm worried about hurting don't even really think about "cry-it-out" at all anymore. As our children grow our focus changes.) Perhaps (probably?) I'm blowing things out of proportion. I'm taking myself too seriously. But I do hope that if I hurt someone that I love, they would let me know. It's so hard to put your convictions into words in a way that doesn't sound like you are judging others! If I say I am judging our overall culture and not specific people does that really make a difference? Or maybe it is good if people are uncomfortable by things that I say, it means I touched something inside of them.
I'd rather people close to me think, "Oh Susan, she is crazy! But I love her" than to think I was attacking them. But perhaps change is never that easy or simple. Perhaps in trying to bring about change it is inevitable that people get hurt.
I'm at the rambling point and it is past my bedtime. If I wait to post until this things make sense or I make up my mind, I will never hit the publish button. Goodnight friends - know that I love you and hold us all in compassion in my heart.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.