Live What You Know

Learn, Grow, Accept, Appreciate, Realize, Love…Truly Live It All! Make Every Day A Masterpiece and Live Each Moment In Joy! —or— You are Divine. You are All. We are One. Let us Be still. Let us Listen with an open heart. Let us Live what we hear. Let us Love with All of our heart. BE. YOU. I AM. —or— wherever you're at and growing from now.

Tag: Family

Problems vs. Peace

We choose which we will bring to this world — problems or peace.  Which one will we bring with us wherever we go today?

Finding problems is the easiest thing in the world.  There is no shortage of them.  It can always appear as if something has gone wrong, we made a mistake, something is happening that shouldn’t be happening, someone has wronged or offended us, something is annoying us, we can’t be happy until something else happens, etc.  Living in a world of labeling, comparing and judging all things mixed all the while with the struggle to survive without awakened presence makes it feel impossible to see anything but problems…they just roll in…one problem after another.  There is another way to live.  We don’t have to see things as problems, we can turn toward peace instead.  We decide.

As we come to realize that we want more peace in our lives, we have to find ways to practice peace that work for us in our current life situation.  Observing how we see things and how we allow them to come through us is a great practice.  As Life gives us things to work with, big and small, we can choose how we will let them come through us.  Will we find a problem and stay stuck in our head as we resist it, find faults with it, label it, judge it and spend out time trying to convince others to see it as a problem as well?  Or, will we put some space around it and let it be what it is (Life) without the label, content in not knowing whether it is good or bad while trusting that all thing are happening as they are meant to?   It is as simple as that — each little thing…label, think, cause suffering about it or let it be and live in peace.

I have the good fortune of practicing with children.  They are at the beginning stages of labeling all things.  In many ways they must learn countless labels as they grow, figure things out and strive for a great education.  Still, we make an effort in our house to understand the difference and dance between the labels that help us learn and the ones that aren’t necessary.  It is an intense practice with them, because they are so open with their labels and judgements, they don’t hide them secretly in their head and fester, they just blurt them out or have a melt-down and present their problems.  We always have a lot to talk about and practice with.  It is my practice and it works for me…most of the time.  Of course, I don’t have it mastered.  I start the days saying things like, “okay, let’s not look for problems, let’s find peace”… I always tell them that problem-finding is just too easy, we could find a bunch at any time…but what we really want is peace…let’s find that.  Then it takes helping them do that while keeping my peace in tact…a delicate balance.  By the end of the day, it gets a little harder for me to stay with the peace.  The more tired I am, the easier it is to judge things as problems.  It becomes harder to put space around my reactions and choose peace.  This week I began adding some quiet time with a clear-minded meditation for me in the afternoons to gather my energy and keep with my peace in an effort to start fresh even late in the day.  Always something to work on.

Life isn’t trying to annoy us, it’s trying to wake us up.  We choose again and again whether we will create problems or peace.  We create with Everything.  We can feel apart of everything and flow with it or get stuck slugging it out with the smaller stuff and trying to bend things our way.  We can thrive in the ride of not knowing and truly living or we can think we know best and struggle through it all.  We never really know when things are good or bad.  We have all lived through thinking things were one way and finding out we labeled it wrong.  Real Life is lived in the not knowing.

Just this morning after writing the above, I stumbled into this lovely poem that works so well here.  I want to share it with you.

Repeatedly We Are Asked

to embody or consume;
to be in kinship with everything larger
or to order and manage everything smaller.

We are asked, every day, to align or separate;
to coordinate our will with everything living
or to impose our will on everything we meet.

And not choosing is a choice.  Acquiescence
is different from patience or surrender.

All this leaves us needing to know:
whether to better the song through practice
or to better ourselves through singing.

–Mark Nepo

I want to better the song.  Today I pray to answer well when asked again and again if I want problems or peace.  I also pray for those that aren’t yet aware that they too want more peace.  I pray that they may be blessed with a little bit of peace today so that they may learn to search for it and practice it.  I add my gratitude for the practice to the song.  Life is a great practice.  It really is.  Peace and blessing are all around and I am so grateful!

Sending you joy, love and peace today and always.

Love Everything…It Makes Everything Loveable

Meet Mouska The Duck!

Mouska 1

Mouska has taught our family many lessons about love.  I want to share some of what we have learned here.  The picture above shows what Mouska looked like the day he came into our lives.  We were on a family vacation and we told the kids they could pick out a souvenir in the hotel gift shop.  George spotted a little duck on the top shelf in the back corner beyond our reach, we had to ask for assistance to get him down.  Once in Georgie’s sweet little hands, he was immediately hugged and named Mouska.

George changed the day he got Mouska and the little duck changed as well.  George tapped into his loving and nurturing side as he showered this little duck with so much love that continued expanding toward many more things in his life.  Mouska ceased being a little ducky made of terry cloth and stuffed with cotton…he came to life for George, and soon after, for our whole family and even many friends.  The love Georgie felt for him made him so lovable to the rest of us.  We all love this little ducky dearly.  He isn’t just a stuffed animal, he is love.  He became lovable because he was loved so much.  Georgie became more of his natural loving self by having the sweet relationship with his beloved Mouska.

George and Mouska have been together for over four years now.  They have been through many things together.  That sweet little duck has been all over with us.  He even survived being left behind at a Disneyland hotel and getting a “makeover”… George fully understood what it meant that Mouska had gotten a makeover…he felt the loss and embraced the solution.  When the new Mouska arrived in the mail all fresh and fluffy again, the love was no less.  Mouska’s spirit and all the love and precious memories had moved on and inhabited the “refurbished” version.  What a lucky duck and what a lucky ducky family we are.  We all love Mouska so much.

Mouska and George’s little family has expanded over the years; they have plenty of love to share.  Meet Coco and James.  They are a loving little bunch.  At first I resisted more and more animals coming to live and sleep in George’s bed…but Mouska and George live the lesson that there is plenty of love to go around…there is no limit.  George does a great job sharing the love, leaving no one out, making everyone feel special and creating joyful moments with all his little buddies, no matter how many in number.

Mouska 3

The family has continued to grow and much love is always beaming out of the room and lingering around the house.  The current gang that lives and sleeps on George’s bed are Mouska the duck, James the Monkey, Coco the big bear, Ben the little bear, Dan the big giraffe, Bob the little giraffe, Snoopy the dog, Eagie the eagle and Jones the jellybean duck.

Mouska family

There are stories of love behind each animal.  Many were precious gifts from loved ones, one was George’s first purchase with his own money.  I have watched these little love stories and felt more of my own heart along the way.  It truly is amazing to see these little spirits come to life just by being loved.

The lessons of Mouska and friends makes me think…What else could be changed just by being loved?  The real question is…what wouldn’t be changed by being loved?  I love this Emerson quote…

Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is.  Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

If Mouska had been treated like terry cloth and cotton, none of this love would have been felt.  He was treated like family and filled with love and he gave it back to us.  More Mouska lessons show just how much we benefit from giving love.  The more love you give, the more love you have to give.  We all know all these things of course, but I am so grateful for our little ducky friend and Georgie who live them so clearly for us to witness, allowing us to expand our own love from having seen them.

Some things are easy to love and some are more difficult.  We must learn to love it all and spread love wherever we go so there can be more love for everything and everyone to feel.  Love is always the answer.  No matter what we are going through or who is appearing before us, we can always step back and put some space between the thing or person and our reaction to it.  If we can add space and stillness, very soon, we can feel our heart soften and our willingness to act from love expand and fill us.  It is always possible and with more and more practice, it becomes much more automatic…we can more easily embrace what we are truly capable of…pure love.  We truly can love everything and make everything more lovable.  It is a practice, but it is worth it.  I pray to get better and better at it each and every day…just a breath, or a moment can help us be our truest self, with plenty of love to give to every circumstance.  Some things take a few more breaths or a bit more time, but watching the process can shorten the time between our little reaction and the true one that comes from our heart to add love to the world.

These days Mouska isn’t as fluffy as he used to be.  He has lost his hair twice and he is quite worn by love now.  Each year at his birthday party (yes, the kids throw him a birthday party each year), it is easy to see he is changing over time and his experiences are showing.  But, no matter how flat he becomes or how much fluff he loses, the love for him is still growing.  I love to think that all of us aren’t aging, we’re simply showing our experiences and being worn in with love.

Wishing you the space to live from the place of love for all things that transforms how you see the world and how you can BE in the world.  Lets leave nothing on the top shelf unloved, lets pull it all down and fill it with love.  No matter what it appears to be…love can change it!

Sending you so much love and joy today and always.  Happy love spreading!

You Are Already There

Time is a bully!  Let’s stand up to it!

In our culture, our days are split into segments of time and our moments are given varying degrees of importance.  It is kind of crazy how we have allowed time to push us around.  We watch the clock, waiting for things to happen…”When will they arrive?”, What time do we need to be there?”, “When should we get ready?”, “How long will the drive take?”,  “When will this line get moving?”, “I can’t wait until…”, “I will be so happy when…”, etc.  We constantly think the next thing is what we are waiting for.  The truth is, we are already there; but, unless we can really feel that, we stay stuck in the world of being pushed around and bullied by time.

We are all at our own perfect place on our path toward self-realization and awareness.  We each have varying degrees of presence we are able to access throughout the day.  No matter where you are on your path, you can observe how you are treating the moments in your life and find ways to honor them and experience them more fully.  Are you using parts of the day that are your least favorite or that you dread as a means to an end?  Do you rush through things to get to the next?  Do you allow yourself to feel that things will be better when this chore or task is complete?  Is there constantly some future moment that seems like it will be a better one that will bring you happiness?  Is there some change that would make things much better?  Are you distracting yourself from your real life?  Are you truly present to the Life you already are (we don’t have life, we are Life)?

Many people live in the state of waiting for the next thing much of the time and don’t even know that they are not present in their life and much of their experiences are passing them by.  It is like sleep-walking without knowing it.  Your real life is there waiting for you to join in and you’re busy wishing something else was happening and resisting what already is.  Our life is made up of a bunch of moments and the one we are in is the only one we can ever actually live; life only comes in the form of now.  This crazy relationship we have developed with time is truly a dreadful way to live and sure to bring suffering as we dwell in resisting what is.  If we have a certain number of moments while here on Earth in this form, why should standing in line at the pharmacy be any less meaningful and present than attending a party or celebration?  Why is the drive to the event something to hurry and get over with?  How do we treat any moment as something to throw away?  We don’t have to; we can treat all of our moments the same and enjoy Life the way we are meant to.

Here are a few ideas that may help us do this no matter where we are on our path; they should apply in every situation (easy to say, harder to actually do…wishing us all the ability to live these things…with practice, we can do it!):

  • Accept Everything – Yesterday, for example, I woke up with excruciating back pain that was making it hard to breathe and a sore throat that felt like swallowing cement.  As I groaned in pain at every move I made, I also felt this wonderful sense of peace in the background.  I knew I had all these reasons mounting that would prevent me from doing what I needed to do for the day (or thought I needed to do)…but it really didn’t matter.  It slowed my day down and gave me many joyous moments I may not have experienced otherwise.  I resisted nothing, adjusted with the details, and in doing so, my throat pain eased up and my back improved dramatically.  I had a really peaceful day filled with a lot of sweet moments (even the kids and I cleaning up our third plumbing issue in the past few weeks…we just made it fun).  I could have resisted and been frustrated and stayed in all kinds of pain and misery, but in going with the flow, I accessed my inner peace and it was quite lovely.  I know from past experience that resistance and worry over things helps them hang around longer.  My day didn’t improve because I started feeling better…I was already there in the peace found in the moment and the details came to match the real me…rather than me allowing my circumstances to pretend to be me.  The truth is that everything happens as it should and everything passes.  So, why resist anything?  Just accept it all.  Sometimes we face little things like the examples above and sometimes we must face major difficulties and tragedies…practicing on the little things will help us when things really get tough.  Accepting every little thing as if you chose it will prepare you for anything and lead you to true inner peace that won’t depend on your outer circumstances.
  • Label Nothing – Part of accepting everything is learning to label nothing.  We have a tendency to label every single thing that happens as good or bad.  Truth is, we don’t really know which it is and we’re just guessing or reliving past experiences and assuming they will be the same…the experience is really neither good, nor bad, it just is.  By not labeling, we don’t have to draw on the past or take ourselves to the future to project how it will work out.  We get to truly experience each thing and each moment and use the energy we would have wasted on labeling it for actually living it.  We open ourselves up to all that Life is and expand to more of ourselves and the world around us.  We truly grow.
  • Get Comfortable With Not Knowing – If we already know how this is going to go, then we aren’t really present to it.  If we are playing things out in our minds by reliving things and projecting futures that may never happen, we aren’t there, we’re lost in some other experience.  Not knowing means we really open up our senses and awareness and see what happens.  It is magical.  I actually think this is an entire post on its own, so I will try to keep this short.  The not knowing is so much better than the knowing…it is amazing.  You know how the more you learn, the more you realize that you have so much more to learn…well, it’s kind of like that.  It’s like, the more you don’t already know, the more you have to live.  I love it!
  • Slow Down – Just try it.  Nothing bad will happen, you can add more space around things, take more breaths before you talk, more quiet before you react, more opportunities to just be.  You can build your life to support slowing down, even in today’s world.  You can choose your pace and make it stick.  You can make little choices and little changes slowly that point you in the direction of taking all the time you need to enjoy all the life you are.  You can do it!  On time is when you get there because you are already there.
  • Ritual – Anything can be a ritual.  We recently started a tea-time ritual at our home.  It’s a work in progress, but we’re trying to have a midpoint in the day that reminds us to slow down and enjoy where we are.  We are assigning duties to each family member to put it together and we are formally sitting down to sip tea, talk, enjoy silence together and eat our crudités, fruit and tea cookies in presence.  As we prepare it, enjoy it and clean it up, we can bring honor to it by making it a true ritual.  This ritual is a new one we are adding midday, we have our morning meditation and prayer, then we have poetry at night.  This added reminder in the middle of the day is quite helpful.  You could pick anything and make it a ritual worth honoring and as a tool to bring more presence into your life.  We recently added meditation bracelets to our morning practice; we put them on to remember the peace we felt on our mat and bring it to whatever moment we are in throughout the day.  Pick anything and make it sacred…even sorting the laundry, sweeping the floor or brushing your teeth…it really can be done.  Taking the time to honor things and make them sacred is so healing and can add so much peace to your life.
  • Listen — To everything and everyone.  Rush no person and no experience.  We are not in this world, we are of this world…everything is speaking to us and telling us something.  Manage your relationship with time so that you can hear Everything.
  • Love — Just had to put it here because it is always the answer and of course, all we ever need.  Spread it and receive it well.

These are just a few ideas to help us stand up to time.  Your soul already knows which ones will help you most; sometimes we just need the reminder that the time to do it is now.  Now is all there ever is.  Wishing you presence, peace and freedom found in timelessness. Sending you love and joy today and always!

Becoming The Ocean

If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick every day.  –Leonard Cohen

This quote is such a great realization.  I came across it in my reading this week and it put all I was feeling into clear, loving and true perspective.  To live on the surface of life, where we allow our inner state to depend on our outer circumstances is rocky, stormy and sickening.  It does feel like navigating during fluctuating storms that just keep rolling in.  It is possible to live from down deep in calm waters and to be fluid as we flow through life with the understanding that the moment is all we have and things are happening just as they should.  How do we do it?  We use every experience we encounter to build more presence in us, to ground us in our true essence of love and connectedness to all things…which can only be found in the present moment.

As we grow our presence and ability to live from the quiet place inside us, we still have to navigate the circumstances and people around us.  As we get better at this, the opportunities to practice it seem to mount.  We all have loved ones we hold dear and often those very relationships are the ones that allow us to grow the most.  I spend a lot of time with my two precious little ones.  They bring so much joy, laughter and moments of love, but, they also bring many many opportunities to practice all of the things I have learned about presence and consciousness.  If I didn’t have the day-to-day challenges with the kids, I would probably have myself convinced that I have evolved to a much higher level of consciousness.  I have little encounters with them all the time that remind me of what I can work on and just where I am at.  It is a gift to have these two to work with as I try to stay in the deep waters for longer periods of time and teach them to do the same.

Here’s the thing, the kids are constantly trying to pull me into feeling whatever they are feeling and as they grow and encounter new challenges and responsibilities, their emotions are all over the place.  Sometimes it feels like living with little emotional bandits, taking me on a ride over getting their jacket, tackling a math problem, clearing the table or tying their shoes, etc.  They are little, vulnerable and highly identified with me.  If they are stressed or upset about something, they want me in the same state.  I think they feel that if I am feeling the same stress, they will feel better or get help; its like they feel that if I’m upset too, they won’t be alone in it.  I can feel the pull between the three of us of how they want company in their emotions.  I am always trying to live from a place of non-reaction by putting more space around my choices.  It is kind of funny to hang out with people who really really want to get a reaction out of you when you so badly want to stop reacting to everything that comes your way.  There is a kind of perfection in it that allows me to feel just how connected I am to everything and how God/Life lines up the perfect circumstances to grow you to be more of your essential self.

You can be sure that whatever circumstances you are working with, they are the exact, perfect ones made just for you that will deliver you to all that you are meant to experience on the path leading in the direction of becoming more of who you really are.  Whenever I hit a bump or fall flat on my face by forgetting everything I know, I can feel the meaning in the experience and be grateful for whatever the details looked like.  Me and my little emotional bandits get up and forgive each other pretty quickly and jump back into the joy of life.  We talk openly about all these things, so they are learning right alongside me.  They teach me so much in such a pure way.

Let’s have a moment of get-real perspective here; perception is always a great teacher, it is usually a good idea to flip things around and see how they look from the other side.  As I was thinking about the “emotional bandits” part of things, I realized that I am an emotional bandit as well.  I have heard myself say, “Why can’t we just be in the moment?”, “Let’s get into the flow of life.”, “Joy is waiting for you whenever you’re ready.”, and many more such statements.  It would seem that I, too, am guilty of resisting the emotions others are experiencing and trying to get them to feel something I want to feel.  Even if I am trying to get them to feel “good” things, it is still me trying to get those around me to feel and act the way I want them to, so that it can come more easily to me as well.  To be honest, I have seen myself in bad times trying to get others to feel bad with me too.  It is a hard thing to admit, but as I look at things from this perspective, I cringe at some of the times I was down, stressed or overwhelmed and my husband was happily buzzing around and I dragged him through my emotions just to have some company.  Fear makes us do all kinds of weird things.  Thank goodness we have always come out of it pretty quickly and we know where it all comes from.  The yuckie stuff is always fear and the lovely stuff is love…no exception.

So, we all do it…we all try to bring our loved ones with us on our little emotional trips.  As we ride the waves in a storm, it is lonely to do it alone…we seek company and we drag them into our boat because we are afraid of making the trip alone.  Once we can learn to live from a more spacious place that allows others to have their feelings and express what they’re going through without it affecting our state of mind, we can be free of the seasickness and truly taste the freedom of acceptance, present moment living and inner peace.  Next time you notice an emotional bandit trying to take you for a ride, just give them love and let it pass through you.  Try comforting them by intense listening that allows them to be heard without resistance from you that would cause them to try to convince you and pull you into their emotional boat.  If you notice yourself trying to take others for your emotional ride, turn towards love and remember that everything passes, things are always as they should be and even though it feels like it would be lonely to go it alone…it isn’t.  Sometimes we just need to feel our feelings deeply and pass through them alone to let them lose their power over us.  We can grow and become more of who we really are by swimming deeper, feeling more stillness and realizing that we aren’t ever truly alone…we are connected to all that is around us…what we can see and what we cannot.

Picture it, if you are living at the surface of life, riding the waves, you need that little boat and you constantly seek company in there to endure all the seasickness and storms.  If you are the ocean, you don’t need the boat.  You don’t need to get in the boat with others and you don’t need to drag others into yours.  You can just be the ocean and heal yourself and others as you spread love and stay calm and peaceful in the moment.

Sending you love, calm, peace, joy and presence.

A Great Conversation

Nothing delights me like a great conversation!  To really connect with someone and find a piece of yourself in the connection is like a little window to the soul.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I love John O’Donohue’s description of what a great conversation is.  I previously suggested taking the time and provided the link to hear my favorite interview with him (see previous post); I genuinely hope you can gift yourself with this wonderful conversation.  I realize, however, that my favorite part takes place around the forty-second minute…I understand that not everyone will feel as though they can spare the 51 minutes and 9 seconds listening to this discussion would take.  For those without the time to hear his wonderful words, I want to share a bit more of my favorite part here (please read with a fierce Irish accent…it makes it even better)…

“You have to ask yourself, ‘When is the last time that you had a great conversation?’  A conversation which wasn’t just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversation a lot in this culture.  But when had you last a great conversation in which you overheard yourself saying things that you never knew you knew, that you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you thought you had lost and a sense of an event of a conversation that brought the two of you on to a different plain, and then fourthly, a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterwards.” –John O’Donohue

He goes on to talk about some great conversations he has had lately… he describes them as “food and drink for the soul”… In his next words he says the second thing to always ask one’s self is, “Who are you reading and where are you stretching your own boundaries?”… which prompts, of course, more lovely conversation.  This man is a poet, everything he says is like music!  He covers so many topics in this talk, but for me, great conversation is worth spending some time on.

I love how he describes the common conversations in our culture as “two intersecting monologues”…that is so true!  You can feel it when someone is just waiting to say their next thing and not really interested in what you have to say.  You can also feel it in yourself when you’re doing the same thing — just waiting for them to pause so you can talk.  It is deadening for the soul.  I often find that people are surprised when someone really listens to them.  I can feel it when their heart comes alive a bit more and they just open right in front of me.  It does hurt when someone can’t listen to you, but it isn’t something to take personally (nothing is).  People will listen more when they are ready.  We can help them along by truly listening to them and honoring them with our fullest attention and interest.

The holidays are upon us, we’re blessed with so many moments of family togetherness and friendly celebrations this time of year; now would be a lovely time to practice having great conversations.  They don’t have to be as deep as what John O’Donohue describes above, it would be nice if they could be, but we just have to start somewhere.  When we’re with our loved ones and friends and even meeting new friends (every friend was once a stranger), we can bring honor to the words we share with them by truly being there with them and listening to what they may share with us.  Your heart and soul know how to do it, you just let yourself be there in the moment and your soul will do the talking, and more importantly, the listening.  Dare to ask great questions and truly listen to the answers.  Have fun with it.  Have joy with it.  Your heart will open and you will feel more fully alive.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all really talked to each other as our true selves, without the image of us that we project throughout our days.  It is lovely to truly show up and authentically BE wherever you are at.  It may seem as though it isn’t practical, but it is.  We can truly be where we are at and honor the moments as the sacred gifts they are.  Things are waiting to be seen by you and moments to be experienced by you.  My wish for us all this holiday season is the gift of great conversation that awakens the soul and comforts the heart.

May you see kindness wherever you look and spread joy wherever you go!  Sending you love and joy!

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.

Help Others…Help Yourself

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no person can sincerely help another without helping himself.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There is a mystical law of nature that says the three things we crave most in life — happiness, freedom, and peace of mind — are always attained by giving them to someone else.  Your true happiness comes from giving, not getting.  It’s the basic precept of all great religions: the Golden Rule.”  — John Wooden

We are so connected to each other.  When you help someone, you expand and feel more of yourself through that connection.  You sense more of your true self, the one that is timeless and connected to everyone and everything…your soul.  Helping others takes the focus off our own stuff and allows us to break down a false sense of separation from everything.  It is easy to go around feeling separate from the world, but that isn’t real.  We are part of it all and with it all.  We connect deeply to all the little things around us…those we can see and those we cannot see.  The more we can feel those connections, the more we can see them.

The ego seeks to divide and separate.  Spirit seeks to unify and heal. –A Course In Miracles

We want to help others from spirit, not ego.  The ego loves to see others “in need” and itself as the “helper”…what we’re talking about here isn’t that kind of help.  We’re talking about the kind of help that unifies, not the kind that separates.

There are big ways to help others.  We can seek them out and give our time, talents, energies and resources to them when we are able.  It is important to build in time for giving back and we get so much in return.  But, there are also lots of little ways we can help others on a regular basis:

  • Listening — People love your full attention.  Simply giving it to them can help in so many ways.  Your fullest attention to show the other that they are important to you in that moment can heal them and nurture them in many ways.  This is for our closest loved ones and anyone we come into contact with throughout our days.  Wherever you’re at…that is the perfect place to truly listen to everyone and everything around you.  It is a gift for others as well as yourself.
  • Eye Contact — This may sound silly, but it is important.  There is something magical behind the eyes.  We don’t want to be creepy about it and stare too long, but we must honor each other by really looking each other in the eye. There are so many distractions these days that it is easy to keep a wall up.  Having that wall up is deadening…it feeds the feeling of separation and creates suffering.  Looking into the eyes of others is like a window to the soul.
  • Smiling — A true smile feels so good for your heart.  Do it right now.  Stop reading this and smile your truest deepest smile.  Your heart tingles and the connection of it is obvious.  Now, imagine spreading that tingle and true form of loving energy wherever you go.  You can.  Years ago I was walking into a Costco with the kids and two older gentlemen were heading towards us.  I smiled and greeted them as we passed each other.  As they went on I heard one say to the other, “Wow, there is nothing like a woman’s smile.”  I was rather surprised at the time.  Now I understand it a bit more and I know what smiles are…true smiles (not the fake ones) from anyone are soul nurturing.  Spread the smiles — nurture souls!
  • Sharing Your Spirit — I have a few close loved ones that allow me to share my spirit.  I also share it here on Live What You Know.  My deepest and truest intention and desire when sharing my spirit is always to help others become more of themselves and make great choices as they know more and live more.  I can feel how uplifting it is for my spirit when I have touched the stillness and allowed the expression of my spirit to flow through me.  I feel so much better when I have quieted the personality and all it’s noise and truly touched the spirit.  Those close loved ones I mentioned that allow me to listen to their deepest feelings and concerns about their life situations are such a gift.  In listening to them, understanding their journey and responding from a deeper place, I get the gift of spirit flowing through me.  If I have truly done it and they can hear it, it is such a miraculous gift.  To have spirits share in this way is what connection is all about.
  • Being With — Things change and evolve, lifetimes go through a natural expansion and contraction.  Everyone is in a different stage of life and viewing life through their own perceptions.  Knowing this and accepting the impermanence of all things, we can give more focus to truly being with each other wherever we are at.  If we can stop expecting our loved ones to behave in certain ways, we can be with them exactly where they are at.  We can be the place of love that allows them to feel loved and accepted as they are.  If we can stop expecting things in general, then life can open up and bless us in miraculous ways.

Personal note — I am so grateful for this space to share my spirit.  As I wrote this, I had some realizations of my own and I can see ways I can focus my actions towards these points even more.  I am grateful that my spirit always has messages for me too!  It’s always possible to live what you know a little bit better.  Now is always the time because it is the only time that ever is.

Wishing you blessed opportunities to help others and feel the lift in spirit as it helps you in return.  Sending you love and joy!

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 Lifetime...it 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!

One of The Great Blessings In My Life…Wooden Wisdom

Coach John Wooden passed away on June 4, 2010.  That day was a life changer for me.  We happened to be sick that weekend and uncharacteristically had the television on, allowing us to see some of the coverage…I am so thankful for that.  I was deeply touched by what I learned about this amazing man that day.  I haven’t written all that much about Coach Wooden here yet because every time I think about putting my feelings into words, I get a kind of terrified feeling.  I think it is because I fear that I could never quite express how knowing about what he did with his life has affected mine and that of my family.  Even now, I sit here with tears starting to form, a sick feeling in my stomach and a lump in my throat.  What is this?  I don’t really experience this with my writing, I am willing to share and be open about just about anything…  Fear is a ridiculous illusion that tries to stop us from so many things, so I will just bulldoze right through it.  Wish me luck please!

As I sat there learning about Coach Wooden that day, I was stunned to see that someone like him had existed.  There was so much more to the story than the man who had coached basketball so successfully.  So much more.  I SAW LOVE!  I think it stood out because it was all men talking about this man and they were just so completely raw and open and loving as they recalled what Coach had meant to them and what knowing him had done in their lives.  The coverage included a little about his great love for his wife who had passed away many years before.  We saw that he had written her a letter every single day for twenty-five years since her passing.  We saw some of his Pyramid of Success.  We saw so much, but for me I wanted to know much more.  I had to.

I decided to read everything I could get my hands on that Coach had written.  He has many books out there.  I devoured all of them.  I would never be the same.  This man knew what success meant.  He began thinking of it back in high school when his math teacher asked his students “What is success?”… Coach never let the question go, he worked on his Pyramid of Success for thirteen years.  He lived it and he devoted his life to teaching others how to live it as well.  His pyramid is something my family has studied since we discovered it and we will continue to do so for years to come.  Coach’s definition of success is this–

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.  –John R. Wooden

Here is his Pyramid of Success:

wooden_pyramid

I could attempt to explain all that the Pyramid and all of Coach’s work mean to me, but I know that it really can’t be put into words.  It is much more than words.  I will just say that I think it is very strange that they put his books in the sports section at the book stores.  He taught about much much more than sports.  He taught about life and he lived as an example.

I am grateful for many teachers in my life.  Just prior to reading all of Coach’s work, I had been reading various spiritual awakening books and memoirs.  I was really trying to grasp consciousness and awakening and in some cases, reading and rereading the same books again and again.  Somehow Coach’s work was exactly the piece of the puzzle that I needed at the exact moment…a gift from God.  It felt like my grandfather explaining life to me in understandable terms.  I probably couldn’t have understood Coach so deeply if I hadn’t already been changed by awe-inspiring lessons from many before I found him though, so for that I am grateful!  I think of Coach’s work as the glue I needed as my foundation to understand all the other lessons coming my way and to make sense of all that I had already learned.  I believe Coach Wooden was an enlightened being among us and the best part about him was that he was so humble he didn’t label himself at all.  He was just a man, doing his personal best.  We are all so blessed to have his example.

For me, the Pyramid and many more things I learned from Coach Wooden’s work are my foundation.  That foundation is always there for me reminding me to work hard towards becoming the best version of myself, while being open to Life in every way possible.  Life is always supporting and growing and blessing us with miracles and lessons, but we are also responsible for doing the work of co-creating with it.  Coach’s work brings good old-fashioned character lessons and supports us while we also tap into the moment and the flow of God’s love that is ever-present.  For me, it is the perfect combination.  I am so grateful for the gift of Wooden Wisdom in my life!

We love Coach Wooden’s books for children so very much.  He did a great job in the later part of his life bringing his work to kids.  In his last book, The Wisdom of Wooden, he shared a special picture and a great message about his children’s books.  He said that the people at the company that worked to bring his kids’ books into classrooms asked him if he had ever thought about changing the Pyramid in any manner.  Coach shared that when asked, he had replied, “No, except for one thing.  I wish I had included the word ‘Love’ somewhere.  Love is the basis for everything I do.”  He was excited to share that they granted his wish by making him the picture below.  You can see love in the cement holding the blocks together.  It is so very special.  I saw the love that day that I first learned of Coach and I will never forget it.

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The pictures in the children’s books don’t have the love in the cement…he shared this in his last book.  I scanned it directly from the pages of The Wisdom of Wooden.  I was not surprised at all to hear that was the only change he would make.  I could see on that first day I learned of him that he was a man who lived full of love and I am so grateful that he showed me what a lifetime full of love looks like.

From all the spiritual teachers I have learned that love is always the answer.  I know that is why Coach mentioned this late in his life when asked…he knew deeply that love is the only answer and it is always the answer.  He was and continues to be an amazing example of a life lived well and with lots of love.

I can see as I try to wrap-up this post that it would take many more words to even begin to explain my feelings for Coach.  I feel that I will have many opportunities to share my feelings in the future here on Live What You Know…for that I am grateful and to you, my cherished reader, I am grateful!  Thank you!  Please stay tuned for many more specific lessons I learned from our beloved, Coach Wooden.  For now, lets just try to remember that love is always the answer.  No matter what it is, stop and flex that heart muscle and you will feel it and summon the courage to use it.  You can move mountains with love.  You can forgive, cherish, laugh, cry, squeeze, smile, create, build, win, lose, adore and so much more with love and that muscle we call… the heart.

Love is always the answer.  Wishing you love!

Being At Home

What better place to truly be at home than anywhere in the world?!  When we can be our true self no matter where we are, who we are with or what the circumstances are, then we are really living and we are at home within.  Figuring out how to find this space and dwell within it is the most important achievement we can ever accomplish in our lifetime.  That space is in there waiting for us…we need simply follow the path to it.  There is no fear there and none of its many disguises.  There is unwavering comfort.  There is only love for all that is and ever was and ever will be.  There is peace.

Live What You Know is all about figuring out how to stay in this place.  I have peeked in the door and even stopped in for a bit…only to allow myself to be pulled back to all the things of this world that can pull us out of peace if we let them (and only if we let them).  How lovely it would be to take us residence there.  I would have that peace and I could bring it to everyone I meet.  I could show them my space and share with them that they have the same space within them awaiting their arrival.  They would be able to see it and recognize it as their own as well.  Oh, how lovely that would be.

We will get there.  There is no way we can’t.  The timing is fine, it all works out as it should.  We will find our way within.

Now is the only time there ever is.

Today, as I walk, talk, breathe and be I will remember that I am at home.  I will be in that space today because my soul is ready to be there today.  That is the prayer today.  I pray the same for you.  Whether you peek in the door, stop in for a visit or are ready to live there always, I pray you see home in you today and always.

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Today, our family is starting a stay-cation at home for the week.  We thought about traveling this week, but we all just really want to be at home enjoying family time.  As I was pondering staying at home this morning and truly making it the best it can be for my husband and children, the knowing that we are always at home within came through me.  I think there is a powerful connection to the actual living space we abide in.  I am grateful I had this awareness this morning and I can use this week as a time to honor our sacred space that we share.  I pray to use this time to bring more peace and love to my husband and children.  Making our living space more like the space we have within can only help us in finding that space, staying there and inviting others to join us.  Taking all actions from my home within is the only way to bring this peace to my loved ones.  I am so grateful to be at home!

Sending so much love!

 

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