Saturday, February 23, 2008

There May be a Light at the End of this Tunnel

Someone on my Consensual-Living yahoo group just shared a link to A Guide to Cultivating Compassion in Your Life, With 7 Practices. I just find it so interesting how the universe works when you are open to the possibilities! This is exactly what I needed to read this morning.

There’s been some very strange stuff going on in my world that I’ve been alluding to here in my blog, and up until the last couple of days, I’ve been successful in staying in a space of compassion for the person who has been trying to shut me and my daughter out of the unschooling community. This has helped me to stay light and calm throughout this experience. But recently, I’ve slipped into a mindset of being frustrated and angry (probably because of how these events are affecting my daughter – it’s really hard to be compassionate to everyone and to help guide my daughter through this maze of injustice and help her let go of the hurt – be there with her as she learns her life lessons and help her come out the other side proud of her actions and who she is).

I do not want to live my life frustrated and angry. I want to live my life in the light of love, compassion, and connection because it just really feels so much better here!

The part of the seven practices that really speaks to me today is #6: “Those who mistreat us practice. The final stage in these compassion practices is to not only want to ease the suffering of those we love and meet, but even those who mistreat us. When we encounter someone who mistreats us, instead of acting in anger, withdraw. Later, when you are calm and more detached, reflect on that person who mistreated you. Try to imagine the background of that person. Try to imagine what that person was taught as a child. Try to imagine the day or week that person was going through, and what kind of bad things had happened to that person. Try to imagine the mood and state of mind that person was in — the suffering that person must have been going through to mistreat you that way. And understand that their action was not about you, but about what they were going through. Now think some more about the suffering of that poor person, and see if you can imagine trying to stop the suffering of that person. And then reflect that if you mistreated someone, and they acted with kindness and compassion toward you, whether that would make you less likely to mistreat that person the next time, and more likely to be kind to that person. Once you have mastered this practice of reflection, try acting with compassion and understanding the next time a person mistreats you. Do it in little doses, until you are good at it. Practice makes perfect.”

As I read through this I realize that this is what I’ve been doing all along and this must be why I’ve been able to feel the way I do about the situation. I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand what has happened in this person’s life to cause her to do what she has done, but through this exercise I don’t need to. I only need to imagine what might have been for her and to continue to have empathy for her, which will lead to maintaining my compassion for her. And, I think this is my last step, to accept that she will probably never have empathy for my daughter and will never be able to see what my daughter risked for her friend.

I’ve learned so many things about mothers/daughters, forgiveness, empathy, compassion, respect, etc. through this whole process. I don’t feel like I’m quite done examining all of this yet, but blogging about it is such an amazing way of examining how I’m really feeling and who I want to be and how I want to live my life.

To me, living an authentic life means living the way I want to live, not putting a front out for everyone to see and then doing things that don’t match up to the ideals I say I hold. It takes a lot of practice, but I must say, this experience has really helped me to clarify who I am, what I stand for, and how I live my life. I’m still not perfect, and I don’t really think people are meant to be, but I am proud of who I am and the choices I’m making.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What to do, what to DO?

A note to readers: Anyone for a little whine with their coffee? If so read on. The following was an exercise in dumping. However, I would love suggestions on helping Bekka find what she wants to do at the bottom if you are so inclined.

Yesterday I belayed for Steve so he could climb to the top of one of the walls at the climbing center to get a Geocaching clue. Today I’m paying for it with a splitting headache and a sore neck from looking straight up for that long (my neck has always been wimpy).

Since, of course, it’s not enough to just feel yucky, we are stuck at home because we didn’t really think through the great idea of getting Steffi exposed to chicken pox two weeks ago. I was thinking that she would get it in two weeks and then we’d be home for a week. Well, the reality is that she could get it anywhere between 10 and 16 days after exposure and is contagious two days before the spots appear, so being considerate people, we are staying home so we don’t infect someone who doesn’t want to be infected.

To top it all off, Bekka just can’t think of anything to do! Ever! (At least that’s what it feels like.) I give her ideas, she rejects them all. I feel at such a loss. And now she’s stomping around because I can’t help her (remember the horrible headache mentioned earlier). I read about all the perfect unschooling families whose children are always happily engaged in all kinds of interesting activities, and while I know that isn’t really the reality, it does often feel like I’m failing Bekka somehow. Surely if I were a better unschooling mom she would be happily engaged in interesting activities, right? Or at least she wouldn’t be storming around the house.

When we do come up with something interesting to do and she gets excited about something, she loses interest before we even have a chance to follow through. For example, I thought it would be fun to invite all the unschooling teens within a one hundred-ish mile radius to come hang out for an evening like Roxy’s been doing in NY. I emailed Roxy’s mom, Lisa (sending well wishes their way as I type this) and she sent me back the details of how they’ve organized their teen gatherings. I checked with our local unschooling teens for availability (knowing that it may only be Bekka and the two of them), picked a date on the calendar, and before I could even write up an email, Bekka no longer wants to do it. Ugh!

As I write this out, I’m realizing that I may just need to take this question to the Radical Unschooling yahoo group – maybe I can get some good guidance there. But, if you have read this far and you have any great suggestions, PLEASE leave me a comment. I could use all the help I can get!

So, sock it to me – what do you or your kids like to do instead of being bored?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Happy Day

My birthday was full of authentic joy and love. I got to spend the day connecting with two of my favorite people.

Since we were up in Portland, we had to hit Ikea, then we enjoyed a wonderful Vietnamese lunch where we laughed, cried (that would have been just me!) and shared parts of our lives with each other. After taking care of myself by making a difficult phone call while I had the support of my close friends, we spent a few hours painting pottery.

Alicia, Dominique and me surrounded by creativity

It was already 5:30 when we finished painting and our plan was to treat ourselves to fabulous dessert - so off we headed to Papa Haydn's. Mmmm! What a treat - and yes, they taste as good as they look!

Looking back over the day, I realize that the day was full of a lot of self care, which is something I've been needing. One of the activities we do in our GUTS work is to make a list of 100 ways to love myself. While my list is only 28 items long right now, I did a great job of loving myself on Saturday by listening to my heart, accepting myself, letting others love me, loving others, helping someone, listening to music (Amy Steinberg speaks to my soul), dressing up, taking a shower, brushing my teeth (sometimes it's the simple things!), giving someone a hug (lots of hugs), meeting friends for a meal, inviting a friend for lunch, following through on something hard (the difficult phone call I mentioned earlier), sending an uplifting email, being an advocate, remembering who I am, sharing my talents with others, and painting - that's 18 of my 28 - pretty darn good for one day!

One of my highlights came in a simple manila envelope. My friend Alicia made me the most incredible gift.

It reads:
You alight with such softness
The flower’s head does not bow.

You partake of the nectar
And leave life giving pollen in return

You must be treated gently lest your wings become ragged with life

Your wings fold to conceal the
brightness of your colors

When warmed by the sun they unfurl to reveal your brilliant colors

You soar with the slightest breeze
And you flash in the sunlight

You walk with such softness
on the Earth you leave no footprint

You partake of the Earth’s delicacies, friend’s time, and family’s love,
And leave life giving compost, energy,
wisdom and love in return

You treat yourself gently with soft beds and organic fibers, lest your body become ragged with life

You are a rare gem,
concealed by a quiet spirit...

In the presence of friends you reveal
your beautiful and brilliant colors

You soar with grand ideas and
shine in the light of many successes.

And I am proud to call you friend!

It is an 8.5x11 page and it is beautiful in more ways than one and I cry every time I read it.

My life is full and good and beautiful.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Tomorrow's My Birthday!

And I'm gonna be 44! I'm looking forward to spending the day with a couple of wonderful friends in Portland. There are a couple of others who will be sorely missed, but I get to see them both in Minnesota this summer.

I better get to bed, I have a full day of HAPPY ahead of me!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Another Meme

I picked this up over at one of my favorite blogs.

1. What is in the back seat of your car right now? Some old napkins and about eight bingo cards (highway, interstate, regular – ya’ gotta be prepared!).

2.When was the last time you threw up? Thankfully I don’t remember. I hope this doesn’t jinks me!

3.What’s your favorite curse word? I’m kind of a language prude – I don’t really care if others swear, but it’s not something I care to do.

4. Name 3 people who made you smile today? Bekka, Steffi, and Gracie (the little girl at Folk Dance who kept sliding around on the wood floor on her poodle skirt – too cute!)

5. What were you doing at 8 a.m. this morning? Uh, SLEEPING!!!

6. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Reading blogs.

7. Where were you born? Biloxi, Mississippi – lived there for a whole two months.

8. Have you ever been to a strip club? Nah.

9. What is the last thing you said aloud? "Are you almost done?"

10. What is the best ice cream flavor? Mmm, chocolate mint (NOT mint with chocolate, but chocolate ice cream flavored with mint – I’m VERY particular about this!)

11. What was the last thing you had to drink? Water.

12. What are you wearing right now? My jeans that I got free from Goodwill with my birthday credit, a purple turtleneck shirt and last year’s annual Sibling Revelry sale sweater (I’ve gotten a fab sweater at their great after Christmas sale the last two years, so it’s my new tradition), my cool new striped SmartWool socks and my purple Heflinger clogs. (And a down throw, ‘cause we refuse to heat our house any higher than 65 in the winter!)

13. What was the last thing you ate? Dreyer’s Thin Mint GS Cookie Ice Cream.

14. Have you bought any new clothes this week? Not for me.

15. Where were you last? The Kitchen (to get my ice cream)

16. What's the last sporting event you watched? Uh, hmm. The closest I’ve come is Bekka’s Irish Dance competition.

17. Who is the last person you sent a comment/message while blogging? Peace Goddess

18. Where do you live? Corvallis, OR

19. What song are you listening to? Nothing right now.

20. Do you tan? I am a shade goddess.

21.Do you drink your soda from a straw? Not into carbonated beverages, unless it is a smooth, dark beer.

22. What did your last text message say? No text messaging for me.

23. Who’s your best friend? I'd have to say Carole, but there are many wonderful, authentic women I absolutely love and would hate to not have in my life.

24. What are you doing tomorrow? Taking my daughter to her piano lesson and working a little more on cleaning the pit our house has become.

25. Where is your mom right now? Her body has returned to the Earth and I hope her energy/spirit has found good work elsewhere. (Okay, I stole this answer from Peace Goddess, but it fits, so I’m gonna use it.)

26. Look to your right, what do you see? My beautiful and wise daughter, Bekka.

27. What do you think of when you think of where you live? Mindfulness, respect, peace, beauty, connection.

28. Ever ridden on a roller coaster? Yeah, but don’t really like it much any more.

29. What is your birthstone? Amethist.

30. Do you go in at a fast-food place or just hit the drive through? Yuck.

31.What is your favorite number? 24

32. Do you have a dog? Nope, we’re cat people.

33. Last person you talked to on the phone? Lisa (and Ruby in the background)

34. Have you met anyone famous? Depends on what you consider fame.

35. Any plans today? Well, since it’s 10:15, just playing on the blogosphere and watching Friends with Bekka.

36. How many states have you lived in? Oh Jeez, let’s see, Mississippi, Washington, California, (West Germany), Washington, California, Washington, Texas, California, Texas, California, Washington, Oregon – I know, a lot of repeating, but man! Lots of moves! Only five states and one foreign country, but I’ve lived at more than 30 addresses.

37. Ever go to college? Yes.

38. Where are you right now? Home, in the living room.

39. Biggest annoyance in your life right now? Feeling used.

40. Are you struggling to forgive someone right now? No...I think forgiveness is earned. I struggle with letting folks be who they are when I am not afforded the same. (Oh My God! I did not write this answer, but it is SO great – I hope Peace Goddess doesn’t mind my using it!)

41. Are you allergic to anything? Not officially, but I think I’ve developed a grass allergy, what with living in the grass seed capital of the world.

42. Favorite pair of shoes? My Keens – so comfortable and they keep all this Oregon rain from my cold toes. (But I agree with Peace Goddess on the no bra thing, justs in case anyone was wondering)

And now if any of you wanna consider yourself tagged, TAG. If not...hope you enjoyed reading.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Let's Change the World


If you haven't seen this yet, please take a few minutes to do so.

Home Alone

What a treat! I got to be home alone all morning. Now, this has probably only happened about five times in the last fifteen years, so it really is quite a treat.

I slept in really late, got up and exercised while listening to NPR's Weekend Edition, checked email, read a few blogs (even found the one Bekka started), had a bite to eat and then had to run out to my FLOW (learning co-op) meeting.

All the while, Lyra, our perfect kitten was all over me! Bekka spent the night at a friend's house and so Lyra was all alone all night. She HATES to be alone! She just couldn't get enough of me. What a sweetie and what a nice morning.