Trusting What Is

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When I stop for a moment–
just one little moment–
and I take a deep breath,
I wonder what I was running from
And why my mind was clouded with so much thinking.

If I take a good look at my thoughts
I discover that I often attempt to control outcomes
and many of my efforts are devoted
to creating a future that fits with my vision of how things should be.

This way of acting creates suffering.
When I want it to be cooler out
and it’s 96 degrees and humid,
I feel irritated because of the discomfort.

When I want it to be warmer
and we’re stuck in a polar vortex,
bundled head to toe in multiple layers–
I curse the winter and wish it could be summer again.

What would life be like if I could trust what is?
What would this moment be like if I loved it completely?
How would I interact with everyone around me–
my husband, my children–
if I accepted them exactly as they are?

How would I feel about myself
if I could focus on this being in me,
instead of all the things that I perceive as faults?

Sitting in meditation brings me closer
to this place of knowing, of loving,
of trusting what is.

May I carry the wisdom of my deep self with me
when I rise from my cushion to be in this world.

The Everything

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Lost my temper today…
I was jumping up and down so hard
that when I went down in the basement
there was some thick wood dust
on my craft supplies
directly beneath where I had been stomping.

My kids heard me yelling and ran…
They were scared of me,
and then I was ashamed.
“Now I’m angry and guilty…great,” I told myself.

I took some deep breaths and moved on.
If we view emotions like the waves of the ocean,
they crash and recede,
crash and recede.
They crest and seem impressive one moment,
they become a flat nothing in the next.

Here I sit musing over all the waves that
flowed through me today.
Instead of fixating on the waves,
I’d like to notice the immensity of the ocean
that contains and holds it all:
the water, the waves, the fish,
the light of the sun and the moon,
the hot and the cold,
the day and the night,
the salt, the air,
the everything.

This Now Freshness

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Tonight–
lavender, rosemary, and lemon
essential oils diffused,
tiny billowing clouds floating on the air
a cheerful scented vapor, uplifting.
a light invitation,
freshness.

Although my body has had enough of this day,
My mind continues to whirr.

Hopefully meditation will help me to see
what I was looking for all day long.

Hopefully my sitting still
will remind me that I am more than this body, this mind
this name, these roles and responsibilities,
these hopes, these fears, these projects, these goals.

Hopefully the quiet will give me what I was wanting–
More of myself as a human being,
not a human doing.

And even if my mind wanders,
I can revel in the lavender, rosemary, and lemon
scented air,
this now freshness.

Go to Bed

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Whoops,
Patience just flew out the window,
heart is beating more quickly.
Reactivity reigns supreme.
Body is tired.
Mind is tired.
But tongue is hot and spitting venom.

No thought, no filters,
just increasing volume,
eye flashing, fast talking,
later regretting what was said.

When the anger supersedes the love,
this is when I need to be put to bed.

In the Presence of a Friend

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The starlight falls silently on my cushion
and the night breeze wanders in through my window.
A friend sits with me tonight,
a dear friend whose physical self is normally thousands of miles away
but whose spirit is always near.
Tonight she sits with me
and together we practice going inwards.
From time to time I hear the neighbors being noisy with each other,
the call of a child, a dog barking, the crickets’ night music,
and sometimes there is just silence.
In that place of stillness and silence, the awareness arises within me.
The awareness that I am not who I think I am,
I just am.
Why is it so much easier to come back home to myself
in the presence of a friend?

Being a Good Enough Parent

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As a life-long perfectionist, I am near constantly tormented by a voice that lets me know that nothing I ever do is good enough.  For some time now, I’ve been paying attention to that voice, noticing how the noise level changes–sometimes quieter, sometimes louder, depending on what I’m doing–or not doing–in the moment.   My big discovery:  nowhere is the critical voice of impossible perfectionism louder and more clear than in the context of the parenting of my children.  It doesn’t matter how good I am, how patient, how many times I overlook something annoying–it’s that one time that I become irritated, impatient, and bark at my children that sticks in my memory and rises up over and over to confirm how terrible a mother I am.

And then there’s real life that happens around me outside of my prison of perfectionism.  I was an elementary schoolteacher for five years and worked with children coming from all sorts of backgrounds: kids of single parents working multiple jobs; kids being raised by aunts, uncles, grandparents, older siblings; kids whose families were homeless, living in shelters; kids living in a two parent household where the parents’ marriage was on the rocks; and there were kids living with parents who had a balanced and happy marriage.  The last group of kids had a tendency to be the most well-adjusted.  Given that my husband and I are happily married for the most part, I know that we already have something huge going for us as parents.  Working together as a team helps us to be more successful, there is absolutely no doubt.

And then there’s the fact of my keeping my children fed and clothed, providing a living space that meets their needs, keeping them clean and groomed (mostly), taking care of them when they’re sick or injured, reading to them, playing with them, giving them lots of love, affection, praise and encouragement, and offering them opportunities to grow, to explore, and to enjoy the magic of childhood.

My kids seem happy.  Most of the time.  Occasionally they’re over tired, and they become very fussy.  Sometimes they get frustrated and openly express their annoyance.  Very loudly.  In public places.  But on the whole, my kids are happy little beings that wake up with an  enthusiastic smile, ready to meet the day and give it their all.

So why the mean perfectionistic voice that tells me my mothering is sub par?  Why does it tell me that to become angry and snap at my children means that I have failed them, myself, and the whole world?  Why does the perfectionist flash in front of me the faces of other mothers I know, and remind me how those women are so much more kind, gentle, and patient than I am?

It’s time to free myself from unrealistic expectations and allow myself to be a good enough parent.  It’s time to pat myself on the back for raising two healthy, happy kids.  It’s time to allow myself to be moody when I’m tired, and to forgive myself when I let fly some words of annoyance.  It’s also time to remind myself that it is perfectly normal to just plain lose my temper.

Knowing that listening to the hypercritical voice of the perfectionist makes me just plain miserable, it’s time to tune into a kinder gentler voice within myself.  It’s there, if I can quiet the perfectionist down and listen intently for a moment.  The perfectionist might be a disguise for the child in me who felt sad when her parents lost their temper.  This child might also balk at the idea that Mom can be aware enough of herself to practice some self-restraint.  She might be angry and envious that she wasn’t shown the same kind of consideration that I try hard  to give my kids.

To become a good enough parent means to me that I need to find some resolve within myself about the parenting I received.  This is pretty dangerous, because my emotional system wants me to stay exactly where I am and perpetuate what I inherited, so that I might pass it on to my children and my children’s children.  It seems disloyal to look back and identify mistakes that my parents made, instances in which they could’ve been more kind, more loving.  But looking back helps me to learn about myself and thus grow as a parent.  When I identify a painful memory and remember the feelings I had as the situation unfolded, I can muster the determination to not revisit that same pain on my own children.  Finding resolve within myself means that I can stop the cycle of not being good enough, and relax into who I am right now.

The change happens now.  I don’t have to wait to go a whole month without losing my temper to earn the title of “Good Enough Parent.”  I can identify where and how I am good enough right now. Here we go. Deep breath.  Say out loud, “I am a good enough parent. I am a good enough parent.  I am a good enough parent.”  Repeat until you believe it.

Whew.  Poem, then meditation, then bed.  Mama is tired!

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Dear sweet child,
do you see how much you’ve grown?
How the pain of your past
has carved a space in your heart
to give and receive great love?
Precious one, you are good.
You are talented, and lovable, and wonderful.
You need do nothing to earn love,
you ARE love, in every fiber of your being.
It has been a delight to watch you grow
into the fullness of who you are now.
I celebrate the being that you were,
the being that you are now,
the being that you will be.
From now until the end of all time,
my precious, sweet child–
I love you.

Harvesting the Bounty

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garden tomatoes 2014

A beautiful sight greeted me as I looked out into our back yard today:  splashes of red, orange, and purple peeking out from behind the leaves of our tomato vines.  When we left for our ten day vacation in Utah our vines were a sea of green, and I was asking myself when I could sink my teeth into a juicy tomato sandwich.  Ten days later it’s ripe tomato heaven. I got outside this evening with the kids and picked a bunch;  for the first time in years we actually have enough to do some canning.  Right before our vacation my two year old son had been picking and eating the green tomatoes much to our annoyance, and although we tried multiple tactics to dissuade him, he seemed hell bent on plucking every green fruit he could find. It was so satisfying this evening to pluck a big ripe tomato off of the vine and hand it to him, to see the juice and seeds on his face, to watch how quiet he became as he worked on finishing the ripe red goodness.

There is something so incredibly satisfying about harvesting something from my very own back yard garden.  Not only do I enjoy vine-ripened deliciousness, but I get to enjoy these gourmet beauties for a fraction of what I would pay for them at a grocery store.  Organic heirloom tomatoes are going for $6.00 per pound at our local Wholefoods, and we have them growing in abundance right here in our yard.  My husband purchased and planted the young seedlings and Mother Nature did the rest of the work, sending sunshine and rain their way so that we could enjoy this beautiful harvest.  Tonight I thank the earth for what she gives us.

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Dear Mother Earth,

Humbly I come to you in thanks;
please receive this appreciation I have for you.
You who ceaselessly give to us
that we may live in abundance,
You who hold me in your great green arms
and soothe me when the cares of our man-made existence
weigh heavy in my soul…

In you I find freedom, space, balance, harmony.
When I am graced with time in your untouched expanses
My heart leaps and dances with joy!

Thank you for your beauty, your bounty, your bliss.
Please teach me how to love your gifts
and to walk upon you gently, with grace.

Show me how to live in your balance, your harmony,
that I may reflect your supreme wisdom
with every thought, word and deed.

Reveal to me how I can advocate for your good,
and how to make daily choices that help to preserve you,
our greatest treasure.

Great Earth Mother,
I love you.