Live What You Know

Waking up is more than it seems. You KNOW more than you've ever been "taught"! You chose to be here now. Make yourTRUEself proud!

Category: Marriage

Nurturing The Souls Around You…Including Your Own

by Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

Over the shoulders and slopes of the dune
I saw the white daisies go down to the sea,
A host in the sunshine, an army in June,
The people God sends us to set our heart free.

The bobolinks rallied them up from the dell,
The orioles whistled them out of the wood;
And all of their singing was, “Earth, it is well!”
And all of their dancing was, “Life, thou art good!”

These days I know the importance of understanding that our peace comes from within.  We cannot depend on what is going on around us to bring us the peace, love and connection to life that we seek.  We must find it within.  Having said that, I am learning that even though it is up to us to find it within, it is still important to acknowledge and understand how the souls around us are there participating in our soul journey as well.  There is a oneness that is happening around us.  We each have our individual soul and that individual soul is also part of the one soul.  We have so much power within and we also connect to the souls around us at the same time.

The people around us are there for a reason.  Those closest to us that are sharing their lives with us and that we have chosen to share our lives with are there to be cherished.  With how busy our lives have become and how many things we have coming at us at once, it is important to remember to make soul care a priority.  It is so healing to shift the focus to really building each other up and nurturing our souls.  When we nurture the souls of our loved ones, we nurture our own.  Sometimes it takes a shift.  Life is busy and routines can set in.  Taking the time to really show our loved ones how much we value them is good for them and good for us at the same time.

Sometimes, being a good spiritual partner means letting the other person work things out and grow through things on their own.  Sometimes, being a good spiritual partner means being that soft comforting place and providing extra love and attention.  Always, being a true spiritual partner means balancing the two.  And, of course, love is always the answer.

Love those around you a little bit extra today and always.  Let them love you back a little bit extra…even as you grow.  Ask for what you need and give what you most want.

Seeing The Unfamiliar In The MOST Familiar Things

It is a shame how familiar we become with so much of our lives.  It would seem that we would find comfort in the familiar…that is not the case.  We completely check out and become numb to what is happening around us.  We can’t see the people or places around us that have become too familiar, we see it all through a veil of our past observations, images and experiences.  With the MOST familiar people and places in our lives it can do the most damage.  We can be completely missing what is right in front of us…the very thing we love the most, we sometimes give our attention to the least.  Learning about this concept from John O’Donohue in Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom was a gift in my life.  The gift of seeing the unfamiliar in the most familiar things can wake us up to life.  Life takes on a whole new energy when you can really do this.  I have had experiences where I felt as if I snapped into attention and really saw my child’s face for the first time in too long.  Children’s ability to notice this right away is really something to behold.  I cherish those moments when I was really looking at them with unfamiliar eyes.  I have also been thrilled to look at my husband and see him as if we were just getting to know each other; it’s so fun to experience the excitement of the early dating days…it just takes a little shift in attention.  It takes practice to dwell in this for any length of time, but it is so worth trying to improve at it…life changing when we can do it.

Seeing the unfamiliar in the most familiar things doesn’t mean trying something new to wake you up.  It is quite the opposite.  It means really watching where you put your attention and what conditioned responses are running in your head.  It takes watching your thoughts and not identifying with them.  It takes letting those thoughts pass by so that you can create new and fresh ones that are found in the unfamiliar or the fresh moment.  The truth is that no one is ever exactly the same as the last time you met them.  I know for sure I am not.  Sometimes I could just cringe at running into someone I knew well ten years or so ago…I think, oh my gosh they know me from two lifetimes ago… Even when we see people once a week, they are never the exact same person they were the last time you saw them.  Allow this freshness to be there and try to see them fresh in the moment.  With our MOST familiar people and places it takes the most heightened focus, but what it can do for those relationships and experiences is miraculous.  Seeing only the familiar takes all the excitement out of life.  Dare to see those closest and most familiar to you in new and unfamiliar ways.

I realized with my own children recently that I am the MOST familiar thing in their lives.  I am the thing they have been the most familiar with for the entirety of their lives.  I used to wonder why they would say and do things to me that they would never dream of doing to someone else.  I struggled with why they save their exquisite manners and politeness for everyone else.  It finally dawned on me that I am the MOST familiar thing to them and they are also the MOST familiar thing to me.  We could spend our entire day responding to our ideas and images of each other rather than actually seeing and experiencing each other fresh in the unfamiliar.  I want to really stop and listen to them and see the new expressions that cross their faces and the new things they are excited about.  Just because I am so very familiar with them and so involved in everything they do doesn’t mean I am really seeing the unfamiliar and allowing myself to look at them with fresh eyes to spot new changes and truly hear what is important to them.  It is something I have to practice, especially if I want them to do that for me.  It is a terrible feeling as a mom to feel like you repeat yourself a million times and no one is listening.  Argh.  I think I have stumbled into a great truth.  If I want them to look at me with fresh eyes and see me, then I must do that for them.  This is true for the MOST familiar people and places as well as everyone and everything else too.

Wishing you the profound joy and fresh aliveness that comes with experiencing the unfamiliar in the MOST familiar things.

Below is one of my favorite passages from Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom, by John O’Donohue.  What a gift!

Behind the facade of our normal lives eternal destiny is shaping our days and our ways.  The awakening of the human spirit is a homecoming.  Yet ironically our sense of familiarity often militates against our homecoming.  When we are familiar with something, we lose the energy, edge, and excitement of it.  Hegel said, “Das Bekannte uberhaupt ist darum, weil es bekannt ist, nicht erkannt”– that is, “Generally, the familiar, precisely because it is familiar, is not known.”  This is a powerful sentence.  Behind the facade of the familiar, strange things await us.  This is true of our homes, the place where we live, and, indeed, of those with whom we live.  Friendships and relationships suffer immense numbing through the mechanism of familiarization.  We reduce the wildness and mystery of person and landscape to the external, familiar image.  Yet the familiar is merely a facade.  Familiarity enables us to tame, control, and ultimately forget the mystery.  We make our peace with the surface as image and we stay away from the Otherness and fecund turbulence of the unknown that it masks.  Familiarity is one of the most subtle and pervasive forms of human alienation.

Growing Together…Not Growing Apart

Recently I was watching my husband as we were going about a lovely weekend day and this funny feeling came over me where I thought – it’s so cool that it’s you.  I was feeling how he is that same constant person I adore, but we have changed so much together over the years.  He is like a fresh and unfamiliar excitement, and at the same time, my most comfortable and familiar spot in the world.  What a great combination of feelings to feel for your spouse!  I began pondering how we got to this place and taking the time to feel the gratitude for such a gift.

As I looked back over the years, a few things jumped out that I think are worth sharing.  During the first years of our marriage, we were so busy with babies and providing for their needs, we never really had the opportunity to celebrate our anniversary.  This was fine, we were in survival mode and just embracing parenthood, it was a choice and we allowed that to be our priority.  Even though we weren’t pausing to celebrate our marriage, we were building a strong foundation for trusting each other and always being there for each other.  Becoming a parent is such a huge change; we had already begun our changing together and doing it well without even knowing it.  Our fifth anniversary was the first time we really celebrated.  We began a new tradition that year.  We made five promises for five years.  We spontaneously came up with five things we would try to do together or get better at, etc.  We put the list away and looked at it the next year to see how we did.  We didn’t obsess over it, just a guide for our discussion the next year when we made another list…six promises for six years.

One of the promises that has been on the list each year is how many books we commit to read together that year.  It turns out this was our magical promise!  This promise came naturally to us because we had already realized that when you read something that changes you or means a lot to you, you naturally want your spouse to read it to.  We had made this choice before and seen how important it is to honor what is meaningful enough to share with each other.  When we decided to take it up a notch and commit to a certain number of books each year, we were opening the doors to much more change and growth together.

One thing that was magical about the decision to read together each year was the magical way the universe sent us the perfect book selections for us.  We never chose ahead of time, we were just open to what came to us in a meaningful way.  It became exciting to see how the dots connect and messages are delivered when you’re open and ready and willing to see and hear.  It has been a delight to do this together.  As we go about our life, we are always on alert for what the universe is sending our way.  We are ready to embrace things together.

Another magical outcome of our little promise to each other to read meaningful things together was how much excitement it brought to our lives with being willing to try new things.  Our partnership on some of these meaningful discoveries allowed us to really implement changes for our family and changes in our way of seeing the world together.  We have embraced all kinds of new things and we have been up for them with excitement, here are just a few examples:

  • Switched to a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet – this was the first major change we did together as a result of reading.  We read enough to know this was what we wanted and we went for it.  This would have been impossible to do without the support of each other.  I love hearing my husband say how exciting it actually was to try something so completely different.  I think taking on this huge change together opened us up for many more new things.
  • Became Pyramid of Success Enthusiasts – this one was lovely for our family, it helped us teach the children about character what real success looks like – knowing you did your best.  It has shaped many areas of our personal success and family life.
  • Poetry – We have family poetry time each night.  It is a lovely part of the day we share with our kids.  We get to tap into a beautiful frequency in the world, it’s a gift…our reading led to this delightful practice (I will detail our poetry practice another time – we love it so much).
  • Quit/Limited Watching TV – somewhere along the line, we decided to quit watching television.  I am sure the reading and special family time with books had a lot to do with this.  After a few years, some specific mindful entertainment has come back in and of course tennis, but other than that, we remain a family who doesn’t watch television and it has enriched our lives in so many ways.  Just getting out of the habit of having the TV on helps.  Then when you do decide to watch it, it is more meaningful and exciting.  (confession – I do allow junky television to creep in sometimes during workouts…I figure one good choice cancels the other junky one…I feel better if I make it a meaningful choice, but I still choose the junk once in a while).
  • Great Discussions – as we grew our reading together and learning new things, our discussions have opened up so much and we have really become better versions of ourselves with much more interesting things to talk about.  It feels like purpose and really living and encouraging each other rather than just going through the days.
  • Meditation – we started this together.  One of us is better at it than the other…good job honey!  We both know how important it is for supporting growth and stillness and clarity.  We encourage each other to make time for it  and we teach it to the kids.
  • Prayer – we feel meditation is listening to God and prayer is speaking to God.  We are able to tap into the power of Life by learning and implementing these practices and our reading and openness got us to practice more regularly and know what we want to talk to God about.
  • Open Heart – I think this is what I noticed recently… the spirit of our hearts have changed together.  It feels like we were meant to be together and to bring out these changes in each other.  We are so very different (which is a good thing) and still have found such joy in making meaningful changes together.  Within our love we can feel how much more open we have become and it is stellar!
  • Unfamiliar – in our reading we came across this and it is amazing.  It is possible to become too familiar to feel what is going on around you.  We have been able to foster the comfort of our familiarity and still find new and exciting things together that allow us to see each other in new and unfamiliar ways all the time…keeping it thrilling!
  • Courage – we found courage to be more of ourselves.  We learned what fear really is and we support each other as we turn away from it and towards Life. We feel up for anything and more connected to life and everything  and everyone around us.  We have found a more soulful connection.

This is an incomplete list of just a few of the things that came out of one little promise we spontaneously made a few years back!  I am so very grateful.

Reading together and changing together doesn’t mean you see things exactly the same way, it means you make it more exciting by sharing your own point of view and listening to another.  It leaves enough room to grow and change together rather than apart and still be true to your own soul and honor your own journey.  Now that we have been doing this for a while we aren’t so strict about how many books we will read together each year…we just go with the flow and know that we will do it!

If you don’t have a spouse or partner, you can still do this practice with a dear friend or family member…just pick someone who loves you enough to support you becoming the best version of yourself.

Lets grow together and be courageous about change and trying new things!  Sending you so much love!

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