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: Parenting

The Gift of John O’Donohue



John O’Donohue’s work has been an amazing gift in my life.  I hope you will take some time to listen to this wonderful discussion with Krista Tippett from On Being (  She sat down with him just before his passing.  May you give yourself the gift of listening long enough to hear his voice and feel his passion as he shares so much about what is most meaningful for our souls…  When I first heard it years ago, it spoke to a deep place inside me.  I am ready to revisit his work now and bless myself with all the healing it brings.  I love how these lessons expand and go deeper each time we open to more of them.  My favorite part of this interview is when he says in his amazing Irish accent, “You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘When was last time you had a great conversation?'” …he says it with such depth and reverence for what I hold so dear…my heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I heard it the first time.  I knew I was meant to know about him and the essence of this interview feels like a magnificent conversation…with him.  What a blessing!

I heard bits and pieces of it this morning and knew it is just what my soul is craving right now.  This is a gift I am giving myself today, during this busy holiday season.  I want to share it with you so that it may bring comfort, love, joy, and meaningful conversation to your life today and always.  Once you learn about John O’Donohue, you will know what a gift he is to the world.  I read everything I could get my hands on from him.  I am excited today, to realize I am ready to go back and experience that gift once more.  I think that is the perfect Christmas gift to give myself!  Here are some wonderful words from him to share:

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”
― John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

“When love awakens in your life, in the night of your heart, it is like the dawn breaking within you. Where before there was anonymity, now there is intimacy; where before there was fear, now there is courage; where before in your life there was awkwardness, now there is a rhythm of grace and gracefulness; where before you used to be jagged, now you are elegant and in rhythm with your self. When love awakens in your life, it is like a rebirth, a new beginning.”
― John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

“One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.”
― John O’DonohueEternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong

I am sending you and me encouragement today… to slow down, to be open, to find the beauty and meaning in all things, to listen to our souls and be guided by our divinity.  Thank you for encouraging me by taking the time to read this!  I am so very grateful!

I should also note that there is one more amazing gift within this message…  Do visit the website and dabble in the amazing library of radio shows that are available for us to listen to.  Krista is my all-time-favorite interviewer…a dear friend shared On Being with me years ago and I am forever grateful!

Wishing you so much love and sending you joyous blessings!

Our Family School of Compassion…Love IS Always The Answer

“The family is a school of compassion because it is here that we learn to live with other people.”  –Karen Armstrong

My sweet six-year-old boy has been stressed lately.  It has been noticeably escalating and it has been heavy on my heart.  To see his little shoulders up so high and tight and hear the sound of his voice so heavy with stress while responding to everyday things has been tearing at my soul.  He has been frustrated and easily irritated.  It has all been very out of character for this light in our lives.  I can remember how this phase of life is stressful…in between the cute tiny guy and the little kid with budding responsibilities and expectations, etc., so I was trying to accept it and go with the flow of it a bit.  I do believe firmly in guiding him towards his personal best though, so I am sure he has been hearing plenty from me about self-control, etc., along the way.  His stress wasn’t huge…just there…and taking my boy further and further away from the joy he so easily resided in before.  As I tried to be in the flow and avoid the fear of this being the new normal with him I kept it real with myself, knowing that I am the mother of our environment and I must be contributing to this in some way.

One night this week I found myself just about in tears from what felt was becoming a different relationship between he and I…we are very close and I just felt so sad about the new disconnection.  I just missed him so much and it felt like he was constantly on me about one thing or another…just kind of checking with me all the time saying “What is it Mom?” when I wasn’t even thinking anything and taking every move I made personally as if I had some serious issue with him.  It was like being under a microscope and it was dreadful.  I felt tight all over and not the best version of my mommy self as I tucked him in.  Tuck-in time was even different.  Ugh.

After getting him to bed, I shed a few tears to clear out my energy and bring myself back to the present moment…and, of course, made the connection.  All that I had been feeling from him must be exactly how he had been feeling from me.  Although I had been trying to help with his stress in various ways and at times just accepting it and going with the flow…I had been adding to it.  I just knew I could help ease his suffering and in the process ease mine…

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”  –Dalai Lama

To be honest, I didn’t give it much thought after that.  Answers like the one I needed don’t come from thoughts.  I went strictly with the heart on this one.  It was perfect.  He came into my room first the next morning, which is unusual around here…my daughter is the morning person.  He came first and alone.  I scooped him into my arms and without having planned it or rehearsed it or even thought about it in any way…I poured my heart out in just way he needed to hear it and could understand it.  While holding him tight, I told him…”Do you know that I have never ever been disappointed in you?  I have never been.  I have always been so very proud of you.  You are such an amazing person and you are just the best thing in the world to me.  You are my heart and I love you with everything I am.  I have never been disappointed by anything you have done and I just adore and appreciate you so very much.” …I went on to explain that I still need to be the mommy and help him make good choices, but I truly feel only joy and gratitude for all that he is to me.  I asked him if he knew the part about me never being disappointed in him…he said he didn’t.  It all made sense.

He’s been getting bigger and he is preparing for more expectations and responsibilities.  He was feeling that we were disappointed in him for the first time in his life.  What a terrible feeling.  That is what takes the joy and spark out of the kids…feeling that they disappoint.  It is hard to make the transition from baby to little kid.  Love and compassion are the only way.  Since we had that discussion he has been back…in a big way.  He immediately expanded and softened and all the stress came out of him.  His eyes have been sparkling, he has been giggling and going with the flow of life again.  Hurray!  When I tucked him in at the end of the night, I asked him his favorite part of the day, he said, “I just loved hugging Mommy.”  We had such a cuddly happy day and we were reconnected and back to ourselves.  We have a few days under our belts now and we’re better for the experience.

I know I never want to allow my kids to feel I am disappointed in them again.  I never was and he still felt it in some way.  It’s worth taking the time to tell the children that I’m not disappointed just to make sure they don’t take my mothering personally.  I know I must do everything I can to live in that space that isn’t reacting to life…that calm force in the kids lives that can make them feel safe, loved and connected no matter what comes our way.

Mommy Reality Check – Today my daughter, who has been the picture of happiness the whole time her brother was stressed showed signs of a big case of bad energy.  I felt the shift and realized that even though she loves us both dearly, it was hard for her to feel he and I so close again.  Some part of her thought she would lose something.  I did everything I could to connect with her and reassure her that she means the world to me just like him.  We discussed how we always want all of our team members in this family to feel their very best and having one of us stressed out in any way is bad for all of us, etc.  She tried, but her energy lagged here and there and required lots of talks.  Whew, motherhood is a major spiritual practice.  I am up for it and so very grateful for the gift that it is.  Sometimes I feel like I have been squeezed dry of all my energy, but I always replenish and get back to spreading love.

Love Story – when I shared the discussion my son and I had about me never being  disappointed in him with my husband that night, I saw tears in his eyes.  He was visibly touched for us both and his deep love and compassion showed.  We had a great talk about it, it was lovely.

“The dew of compassion is a tear.”  –Lord Byron

This family is a school of compassion.  All families are.  What a blessing!

Wishing you all love, compassion, joy, cuddles and a family full of team members that know they haven’t disappointed each other, ever.

Cultivating a Poetry Practice

As detailed in my previous post, after learning all about Coach Wooden, I read and studied all of his work with a voracious appetite to learn and a grateful heart for the spirit and gift I had discovered.  The thing that Coach expresses first and foremost in most of his work is his great respect, love and admiration for his father,  Joshua Wooden.   As you read Coach’s work, it is quite something to hear about his childhood on the farm and the many life lessons he encountered there.  His parents were a great example of exemplary character through hardships and all life brought their way.  It was quite meaningful to have a glimpse into another time with such amazing people working so hard without complaint.

One of the great things Coach shared was about his father reading to his children at night.  He grew up with no electricity, plumbing, or conveniences.  For their entertainment, his father read to them by the light of a coal-oil lamp.  He read them a lot of poetry and Shakespeare and more.  In Coach’s own words he says, ” The poetry Dad read to us when we were kids instilled a love of reading, English, books and knowledge.”  He also recalls, “Dad reminded me often, ‘Johnny, you’ll never learn a thing that you didn’t learn from someone else.’  Good books help us do that.” 

When Coach graduated from grade school, his father gave him what he called The Gift of A was a little card that had a very special verse on one side and a list of “Seven Things to Do” on the other side.  He eventually called the seven things “Dad’s Seven Point Creed”… When his Dad handed him the card, all he said was, “Son, try and live up to these things.”  In Coach’s humble way, when sharing about these things, he says he wishes he could say he lived up to them.  He says he tried.  I think we can all see how he more than tried, he soared.  He lived up to his father’s Seven Point Creed and he brought it to so many in a time when it is so needed.

Number four on the list was, “Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.”  Coach certainly did that.  His love of books and reading started those nights listening to his father reading.  When I learned of this in his various retellings of it, it hit me deep and it changed me.  I thought of my own little ones and my heart tugged and I remember feeling, “Oh, how I wish we lived in a time when we could do this.”…next thought was something like, “Duh, we can do this now.”  Mad dash to the computer to order poetry books and our family poetry nights began…

We have kept with family poetry nights over the years and we have practiced in various ways.  At first we would rotate turns and let each family member lead the reading and discussion.  Whoever’s night it was would read the poem and then we would all discuss what it meant to each of us.  It was delightful to hear how we would each interpret things in our own way.  It also helped us to understand each other better and see things through the eyes of our loved ones.  We went through a stage of everyone reading each night, as we discussed several poems or at least listened to several.  We began to crave going deeper into just one or two poems again, so we returned to assigning nights.  Sometimes the kids are so enthusiastic, we read more.  We are going with the flow of it now.

Our family poetry practice has been a great gift in our lives.  Poetry cannot be read quickly, you must slow down and give it your full attention.  It speaks to the soul.  It brings meaning to our days.  We are by no means poetry experts, we simply follow our hearts toward what speaks to us.  It has led to so many wonderful works, discussions and experiences.  Often when we’re out in the world, one of the kids will see something that reminds them of a poem…they will begin reciting it and excitedly experiencing life in a deeper way.  It is miraculous.  The poetry doesn’t just stay in the house with us where we practice it…it lives with us all the time and blesses us constantly.  We love reading poetry from all corners of the world, it connects us to more than our lives here.  We have been blessed by poetry in our lives in countless ways.

As the years of our poetry practice are adding up, I can truly see just how much it has added to our children’s lives.  It makes them willing to look deeper at things and try to understand that which isn’t immediately obvious.  It has also developed their love of reading and learning in so many ways.  For my husband and I, it has been equally amazing.  Cultivating a poetry practice was new for us both and it has been the most delightful gift.  The poems have a way of finding us.  We have been exposed to so much more than we expected.  We will keep this family practice alive in our home and hearts as long as possible and continue to cultivate it and go deeper and deeper into our practice.  We are grateful for this gift!

Wishing you a life full of poetry!

The Gift of Sam and His Family

I stumbled into a beautiful gift recently.  I received it due to an unlikely chain of events.  It came in the form of a documentary that premiered on my birthday.  It was a life changing gift.  I shared it with my husband and last night we showed it to our children to bless their lives as well.  It is called Life According to Sam and it is airing on HBO right now.  It has touched me deeply and I will carry a piece of it in my heart always.  I am so grateful to have found it and I know I was meant to see it exactly when I did.  Such an amazing gift!  I want to share it with everyone…I hope you will take the time to see it or at least learn about Sam.  Click below to see the trailer.


Life According To Sam – Trailer

This documentary is worth every minute.  See it from beginning to end!  Sam has a very rare condition that is aging him rapidly.  When he was diagnosed just before his second birthday, there was no research or foundation to go to.  There was nothing for parents to do; they were simply told that their child would live about 13 years.  Sam was born to two doctors who couldn’t understand or live in a world without research and search for a cure.  The movie is full of love and it takes us on a journey through a clinical trial as Sam’s amazing mother, with the support of her family, put together a team and found the gene that causes Progeria.  This led them to a drug that could help the children live longer, less painful lives.  We meet other amazing little beings that are dealing with Progeria as they participate in the trial.  We are blessed by everything we see on-screen.

There are so many reasons that this documentary is a must see.  I cannot do it justice…but I will try.  It shows us a great example of hard work and determination.  It speaks to the soul about pushing through even with rejection and seeming failure…never giving up.  It inspires us to believe anything is possible.  It connects us to the world as we see joy in the faces of these young heroes.  MOST importantly, it teaches us about making the most of your time here in this life.  Sam is an amazing person, he is really using his time wisely and showing us all how to live life to the fullest, embracing everything and accepting our emotions as we move on.  He believes in his future against all odds and he always sees the bright side of things.  He is a beautiful example of not complaining or making excuses; he makes it clear that he doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for him because his life is amazing.  He is just so grateful for every moment and he is showing us how to live more fully in our lives.  I fell in love with this special spirit and those around him.  His parents are awe-inspiring and his community supports him tremendously.

Give yourself the amazing gift of experiencing Life According to Sam and share it with your loved ones!  May it bless you and help ground you in the joy of fulling experiencing your life in the present moment.  Sending you love and joy!

The Way It Is

Love is always the answer.  No matter what.

Whatever you’re doing, if it doesn’t feel good, it’s not working.

Love is available to access in every single moment.


The “Sweet Little One” Inside Me… and You

I can remember a time during childhood (well, it lasted a long while) when my mom would say to me after some silly choice, bad decision or rude interaction, “What happened to sweet little Stacy?”  I heard this for a long time whenever I kind of got out of line or needed some parenting I suppose.  In the beginning this question really upset me and made me feel like I wasn’t a nice person.  Over time it haunted me even more and I began to ponder it myself.  Had I quit being sweet?  Was I a bad person?  During adolescence I distinctly remember her asking this question again and I had this fury inside where I screamed, “She NEVER existed, all I have ever heard is ‘where is she?’, she was never here, it’s just me, quit asking.”  (I don’t think I had the courage to say it aloud to her, I think I imagined I did, but didn’t…I probably played that scene in my head over and over, I’m really not sure if I ever discussed it with her).

Now I am the mom to an eight-year-old daughter.  I sometimes wonder what has happened to her.  I wonder where my sweet baby has gone.  That is how I became reminded of the question about “sweet little Stacy” above.  I am truly grateful I had the experience of thinking about who I was.  I am so glad my mother asked this of me and especially now, at this point in life, I am truly grateful my mom continued to direct that question to me.  I can go really deep with this question now and I am thrilled with the answer.  I almost feel like picking up the phone to call my mother and tell her that I found her after all these years…I have found Sweet Little Stacy.  She is there in me and she is in you too!  I will explain…

First, let me say, my daughter is amazing.  She is so many wonderful things…too many to list here.  Because I am her mom, I also see another side to her.  The mom gets to see it all.  I can see she is growing and changing.  Because of all the reading about spiritual things I do, I can see that the ego is trying to take hold and her identity is changing.  I can see when it happens and I am also painfully aware that I am the one she is most comfortable lashing out at.  She is so kind in her heart…its just me she will melt down with and show another side to, growing up is tough.  I have heard myself say to her so many times, “you would never treat anyone else that way, only me.”  Sounds a lot like the question my own mother had of me.  I am sure I have said even worse to her in tough moments (forgive me sweet girl).  This parenting stuff is not easy.  When I can lean back and look at things I can see what is happening and not take it personally.  Other times, it hurts so bad.

It’s tough to juggle knowing if we’re parenting or judging.  I have been thinking about this recently and trying to watch it with her.  I don’t want to judge her or make her into me.  I want to help her be the best version of herself.  I want to honor her growing and help her learn to make good choices.  If she feels judged by me, she won’t be able to feel my love, she will turn towards her fear instead.  Oh, how I want to be the mother that doesn’t judge.  I am so trying to figure out how to parent well without judging.

Recently, she lashed out at me because she was struggling learning something.  Often, when something seems hard, her fear brings out the worst.  Understandable.  Anyway, like I said, I struggle with allowing her to be herself and still guide her towards making good choices.  After appealing to her with explanations of kindness, etc., she just kept pushing, I allowed her actions to hit my buttons and I decided she needed a break and told her she would be in timeout.  In fact, I gave her a double timeout.  This would mean 16 minutes to think about her actions.  As she stormed down the stairs in anger, I had a change of heart.  I sent her brother to tell her that mom had changed her mind, this gave me a minute to breathe and pause and choose well (that non-reactionary living I am striving for).  When she returned to me, I said to her, “You get to choose who you want to be.”  That was all I said, she returned to her work.

Within a few minutes, she came to me and gave me a sweet kiss and hug and apologized.  She had found her “sweet” and turned towards love.  I knew she could do it!  We talk to the kids so much about character and our choices.  We explain that your choices make who you are.  We have so many ways of explaining it to the best of our ability.  I also believe that people treat you how you let them treat you and I don’t want to raise kids that are rude and disrespectful to their mother.  Not just for me, but I know they won’t feel good about themselves if they choose that.  Allowing my sweet daughter the space to find who she wants to be on her own with just the right amount of guidance and a big dash of modeling my own good choices seems to be the recipe.  For now.

I am going to continue pondering parenting without judging.  I think it’s worth the effort to try.  As I embrace the freedom from being right or wrong, I do want to impart some of this concept to the kids.  It is tough because they so badly want to be right…all the time.  I told them recently that I really don’t want to parent every single little thing and be right and make them wrong…but what I do want to do is parent for peace.  I explained that even when they are corrected or get in trouble, they really haven’t done anything wrong, but we must try to work towards creating more peace and harmony.  If we’re behaving in a way that creates more peace and harmony, then there won’t be much chance of getting into trouble.  As we discussed this more and exactly what harmony means…we were turned to look outside at nature and observe the perfect harmony all around us.  I love how the answers are always there in the perfection of nature.

Mom – THANK YOU so much for guiding me towards finding “Sweet Little Stacy” – slowly over time I am finding her in the essence of my true nature.  What a gift it is to know she does exist and she is there in the purest form in me just as she is in everyone else.

Wishing you all a quiet moments with the Sweet Little One inside you.  Joy!

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.

Perception – Lessons For Children of All Ages

Perception is a wonderful lesson for children of all ages.  It is so helpful to teach them to step back and consider different points of view.  We want to raise kind compassionate children and teaching them the skill of looking from various perspectives is a great way to start.  My daughter and I first began talking more deeply (past simple sharing) about perception in preschool when she was dealing with what seemed to her like a mean little girl.  We discussed the other possible options or reasons why it may seem like she is being “mean” and tried embrace other scenarios, etc.  We tried to put ourselves in her shoes and see things from her eyes.  It helped.  In the end, they became friends.  These conversations continued throughout the years.  It also helped me teach her to try not to take things personally and to always look for the good in others because it is always there.

Perception can open up so many things in life and you can take the lessons as far as you are willing to open up your mind.  You can start with simply seeing things from another view-point and take it all the way to the ultimate illusions in life that we all experience.  Ultimately, perception can lead you to constant peace.  For children, just introducing and discussing the concept can free them from a lot of heartache that would stem from judging others and insisting they are right, etc.  Some of these concepts may go over their head at first, but not for long.  I figure it’s like songs written in consciousness, at first they just seem like catchy tunes and then as you change over time you hear the profound wisdom within and it’s like being hit over the head (I remember singing Imagine along with the radio one day and finally hearing the words I had memorized long before, I had to pull my car over I was so awestruck and thrilled to finally understand what was being said).  I figure someday they will have a moment where it clicks and they will say, “Wow, that is what my parents were talking about.”  Sometimes they surprise me and say something so profound I am sure they remember where they came from.  I often wish I was as present as my son, so I am sure we are learning from each other.

My daughter and I have continued these conversations about perception over the years to help her embrace her compassion and willingness to see things from various points of view.  We are a homeschooling family so we can spend a lot of time on subjects that interest us, it’s just one of the many perks.  We have a lovely assignment we would like to share.  This year we saw Wicked at the theatre and knew immediately we could make a great perception assignment out of it.  My daughter already knew Wizard of Oz very well, she had seen the movie several times and played Oz in her children’s theatre production.  Once we saw Wicked, it opened up an entirely different viewpoint of the story.  We loved it and we spent a lot of time on her related essay about perception.  Her essay is below.  She was seven years old when she wrote it.  We spent a lot of time having editing meetings and getting to this final draft.  Another home school perk we enjoy is learning through editing and editing until we get to her personal best version.  From a seven-year old point of view, it is just precious.  It is a great lesson for us all.

Please enjoy the essay below on perception from my kind and compassionate daughter.  I had to include this adorable title sheet she created.



            People see situations in different ways.  Perception means how you see things.  This paper is all about how you look at things.  The Wizard of Oz and Wicked are great examples of ways we can perceive things differently.  My fright of the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard of Oz was equally matched by my love for her in Wicked.

The Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz was so scary.  The Munchkins were terrified of her. They were so scared that every time the Wicked Witch came they would hide from her.  She always had this funny and terrifying laugh.  Whenever she saw Dorothy she would say, “I’ll get you my pretty,” and then laugh afterwards.  The Wicked Witch wanted to kill Dorothy and her friends Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man.  She really wanted the ruby slippers badly and she would do anything to get them.  She was completely terrifying and I felt so relieved when Dorothy melted her!

In Wicked, the Wicked Witch of the West was loveable!  Her name was really Elphaba.  She was born green and everyone was mean to her.  She was smart.  She took good care of her crippled sister Nessa.  She wanted to help the animals.  She tried to do good things but they did not go well for her.  She was totally tricked by the Wizard of Oz and everyone thought she was bad even though she was good.  She just wanted those ruby slippers to remember her sister.

In the Wizard of Oz I was so scared of the Wicked Witch of the West but in Wicked I loved her.  In the Wizard of Oz the story was told from Dorothy’s perception, it made you see things how she did.  In Wicked, the story was told from Elphaba’s perception, throughout the whole show you see her side of the story.  The way these stories were told from the perception of different characters made it possible to equally fear the Wicked Witch in one story and love her in the other.

My fright of the Wicked Witch of the west in Wizard of Oz was equally matched by my love for her in Wicked.  In both shows there was a different way of looking at things.  This is what perception is all about.  In all things in life people have a different perceptions of things.  This explains why people make different choices.  Understanding people’s perceptions can lead us to kindness and compassion.  I want to always remember that people have different perceptions because kindness and compassion are the most important thing in life!

Your Super Power Is Joy!

Last night as we were doing the nighttime routine getting the kids ready for bed, one child said something to the other and then came the annoyed frustrated reaction…we know how it goes with little humans (and many big ones too).  I bent down to get closer to my sweet six-year-old boy who was pretty agitated.  I wanted to ease his suffering.  I thought of superheroes.  We were in his room, so they were nearby.  I said to him “hey buddy, YOU have a super power.  Do you know what yours is?”  He looked at me with the sweetest surprised expression (still mad, but curious).  I told him, “Your super power is joy.  You have always had it.  From the moment we met you, you have always had the power of joy.”  I went on to explain, “Don’t give your power away or let it be taken, it’s your special super power.”  I whispered in his ear, “You always choose.”  We looked at each other for a moment, then I whispered it in his ear again.  He looked at me with understanding and knew what I meant.  He took his power back and returned to joy.  He has always been good at this.

Later I found myself thinking about that little interaction with my dear boy.  It had all happened so spontaneously.  I was grateful for that moment.  Then I realized that I have been getting that message from God through so many of the wonderful teachers and books and so many of Life’s lessons.  God has been whispering in my ear, “Your super power is joy.”  Love and joy are everywhere and they are accessible to us whenever we can be there.  Whenever we lose our joy, we have chosen to give it away.  We always choose!

As I continue my journey towards really living what I have learned and opening my heart to this amazing universe, I have found myself saying this in my prayers more often lately, “God, thank you so much for how it is all designed, for how amazing it truly is to be here.”  I can’t really articulate it in words very well, I just sit in awe and appreciation of the love and joy that is waiting for us in every single moment.

YOUR Super Power Is Joy!  Use it and spread it today!  Sprinkle it Everywhere!

Compassionate Parenting


All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the


We put so much into our kids.  We love them so much and we do so much for them.  It can start to feel as though they owe us something or we deserve their respect, etc.   I want to be like the sun and just shine love on my children and not expect anything in return.  I also want them to be kind and loving people with great character and good manners who always do their personal best and see the best in others, so it can get tricky!

Parenting is the hardest job on earth (here is where I am supposed to say that it is also the most rewarding job – yes it is that too!).  It is easy to take things personally with our kids or feel like their choices are a reflection of us.  When they don’t do something they are supposed to do or make what seems like a bad choice, or require us repeating ourselves two thousand times, or are just plain rude to us, its easy to take it personally and let it bring us out of the place where we want to parent from…compassionate presence.  We don’t have to take it personally!

The truth is they are their own little people and they are doing the best they can to live what they know at their young age.  The more love and compassion they see, the more likely they are to be loving compassionate beings themselves.  Today, I commit to being the love and light for them no matter what choice they make; I will show them love through my non-reactions and present love and treat them exactly as I want to be treated.  I don’t have to take it personally if they lose their mind for a bit or make seemingly silly choices.  I don’t have to let my ego step in and think they owe me a bunch of respect.  Love is the answer and I choose to dwell in it!

I love my little ones so much, I can be intense about teaching them all I can, expecting a lot from them and then overreacting when it doesn’t go well.  As far as living a non-reactionary life, it is a tricky business when it comes to parenting.  I feel like it is the best spiritual practice around.  I don’t always react the way I want to, but I do my best.  When my best isn’t so good, I try to forgive myself; guilt is a waste of time and energy.  Kids are really forgiving, we can learn that from them.  I never hesitate to tell them I am sorry about my reaction if it isn’t so great.  They always say “its okay” even when I know it isn’t and I should have done better.  We sometimes do a little re-play (like a do-over)…I tell them okay do that or say that again and we’ll do it better.  We actually act it out as the best version of ourselves.  Then my true compassionate response can come through.  It helps me practice and allows them to see my true intention…love.

Kids are very intuitive, they can feel what we are feeling.  They know if we’re present and giving them our full attention.  They know if we are annoyed or impatient or if we are truly being in the moment and going with the flow.  Parenting really is the ultimate spiritual practice!  As far as not reacting to what happens, we may have our external reactions under control…but if we are resisting things inside and giving our peace away, our kids can feel it.  Even if we don’t react externally, if we aren’t at peace and coming from compassion and love, we are still reacting.  First step – external reactions, second step internally keeping our peace of mind and not giving our peace away whenever things don’t go our way or the kids don’t do exactly what we had hoped.  If we can model this for our children, imagine what they will become.

What I really want for my children is for them to feel love and compassion from their mother all the time, no matter what happens.  I want to bring the best out of them with love.  What I really want for myself is inner peace that remains no matter what is happening with my kids reactions and choices.

It should be noted that a lot of practice with staying present in the moment is essential for true compassionate parenting…stay tuned for many more posts on presence and the moment and inner peace.

Wishing you all love and compassionate presence in all that you do.  Think of that great poem by Hafiz above when you see the sun today!  Love it!

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