Saturday, January 23, 2010

Simmering Love Affair

"A great love affair begins in the mind and has many rebirths." ~~ Cherie
My cousin and I have been talking about romance. Both moms of many kids we understand the preciousness of time alone with our husbands. Keeping romance alive amidst the pressures and expectations of society can be daunting.

But it's important to us to keep in touch with why we married our husbands, why we love them enough to walk a shared journey for all our lives.

So Cousin and I talk. And think. And share.

Like any beautiful garden marriage is plagued with weeds which require diligent discarding. Bounty rains upon those who tend the garden religiously. Love finds its way through tangled vines of neglect.

A matter of the mind, it is. One cannot simply wait for a surging mood. Infatuation is for teens. Remembrance is the key. "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

Count. And count again. Even when you are annoyed with your mate, especially when you are annoyed with your mate, count the ways.

Tended love simmers in the mind and heart always available for pouring out in ways splendid, intimate, and kind.

Revel in your love.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Your Own Life

We were talking about the space between us all
And the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion.
Never glimpse the truth, then it's far too late, when they pass away.

We were talking about the love that's gone so cold and the people
Who gain the world and lose their soul.
They don't know. They can't see. Are you one of them?

When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find peace of mind is waiting there.

~~Within You/Without You, George Harrison
When I was young, really young, the words, "The older I get...." followed by an observation were causes for eye-rolling sighs. Overused words - 'the older I get' - but the insights that follow can be pristine. Helpful, useful, valuable, though I didn't recognize that then. Why would I? I already knew just about everything.

The older I get the more I find my attention snapping to when I hear the words, 'the older I get.' I'm finally beginning to realize that if I can grasp what a further-along-person is sharing with me, I can perhaps avoid a pitfall, or better, glean a truth without struggling quite so hard. The nuggets are not freebies because they have to be ingested, pondered, understood, before they can be fully digested. But they can be easier to come by than hard-earned wisdom.

The older I get the more I realize I don't know. How many times have I heard that? Many many many. What I 'don't know' is more than ordinary knowledge of everyday worldly-type things. Sure, there are new words, new foods, new techie things, places, people, books and songs to discover. Any fool knows that the longer a person lives the more he or she will encounter. Naturally.

But this fool is surprised to find dimensions of life new to her. Deeper levels of understanding and confusion. Harsher bites from life than imagined possible. Painful realizations of her own, well, badness. And, happily, illuminations of higher potential and achievement than dreamed. While the dark stuff is unsettling - truth can be a stinker - the good stuff is more than pleasant.

To find that, somehow in the course of my existence, I have transcended from darkness to light, or inability to ability, or misunderstanding to understanding in certain areas - seemingly while I wasn't looking - soothes and excites my heart. To know that the struggles, choices, and mistakes I've made in a span of years were knitting together a gift for me of some sort of betterment is humbling and exhilarating all at once. Gives me hope. Knocks some of my crustiness away.

Steve Jobs says it better in his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford: " can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

So true! I guess the reason we older-than-some people find amazement in life where younger people don't is that we can actually look back and see a long, jointed line of connected dots. It's thrilling! When the outcome is positive, of course. If one looks back and sees bad choices and unfortunate events connected together to create immense, painful disappointments, well, the reaction may still be amazement but it could be sad. Very sad. I think we all have sections of dots whose connections lead to regret. Thankfully, as long as we live and breathe, possibility exists that the negative will work together for good.

Steve spoke to me in another paragraph of his speech: "When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

The older I get the more I see that this is an outstanding perspective, and excellent advice. Not for the lazy or ignoble; they'll abuse it. But for those of us who realize we only go around once and that our time is what we make of it, that look in the mirror and the answering of the question may revitalize our senses, our purpose, our joy.

Dare to live your own life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Circle of Friends Award

One of my good friends, Tshsmom, bestowed upon me a Circle of Friends Award back in early December. In response I'm to list 5 Things I Like.

First, thanks, Tshs! It's been a positive distraction, the consideration of which has made me happy.

I put this little adventure on my back burner while the drama, trauma, and Obama of my life took over.

Alas, today I pencil-jotted pertinent notes on a teeny scrap of paper.

Here's what my storming brain has come up with:

Five Things I Like:

1 - I like going to the movies on Monday mornings when other people's kids are in school. 'Old' people - besides the occasional phlegmy hocking up of stuff - are quieter and usually considerate.

2 - I like walking in warm pouring rain. Getting dripping wet. Soaked.

3 - I like when the small, red piggy bank that catches leftover change from spent grocery money cashes in at over thirty bucks.

4 - I like playing devil music - i.e. Rock - and wildly dancing alone or with any other equally uninhibited bystander.

5 - I like meditating, showering, and bathing amidst the glow of candles, string-lights, a diminutive low-wattage lamp, moonlight, sunlight, or an amber sunrise or sunset.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Joyful Heart

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.. ~~ Proverbs 17:22
A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.. ~~ Proverbs 15:13

Friday, January 08, 2010

Breaking Kids

When asked why kids are committing suicide at such alarming rates, Goldie Hawn, a children's advocate, answered, "Hopelessness. An inability to be effective. They don't matter, I mean, they don't count. How can you count in a school when you're so pressured to make test scores? That's the measure of your excellence? Einstein was thrown out, he couldn't get into university.Where is the innovation, where is the creative energy? You can't take music and art out of schools. Not everybody is a student. But some of us can dream, some of us can create things. Who created Google? That's what's great about America. We are innovators."

She went on to say that rather than teach children by rote, "We want eager learners. We want kids who are inspired, who have wonder."

The Hawn Foundation works with schools to teach children that, "You can have control over how you think and how you feel." They teach children to recognize their emotions, to talk about them, to learn how to regulate them. Children are allowed specific times during the day to quiet their minds in focus on whatever they'd like, whether it be a flower, a picture, their feet, the horizon, whatever.

To quiet the mind allows it to recharge, in a way, its prefrontal cortex, the area where we create, learn, analyze, problem solve, and retain memory. According to Wikipedia, This brain region has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviors, personality expression, decision making and moderating correct social behavior. Tests have shown that when under stress the prefrontal cortext doesn't light up.

Where adults need to quiet their minds every 90 minutes or so, children require breaks every 25 minutes. In a world where over-extended busyness is foolishly considered 'productive success' we must ask ourselves, what are we doing to our kids when they are over-scheduled, over-schooled, and over-tired? No wonder school feels like an abyss. No wonder 'enrichment classes' feel like drudgery. No wonder there are conflicts galore among children - and adults for that matter - at school, at home, and out in the community. No wonder kids are often ill, with dark circles under their blood-shot eyes, behaving like lethargic little zombies. And no wonder some of them snap and turn to violence against one another, or to suicide.

I think Goldie is on to something because, as a tutor myself, I've noticed kids start to fall apart if they don't have regular breaks from schooling or from any sort of tedious task. I pushed my older kids pretty hard expecting things I shouldn't have before I figured this out. Amazing what a quick walk around the park will do or even a moment to just sit still and look out the window. What is learned with a rested brain is remembered better, too.

Personally, I find it interesting to learn that I can choose to have control over my feelings. Goldie mentions that the negativity of the news is depressing to her and she has to consciously find her happiness again. And she does. This is something I'm working on. The news - the state of the state, the nation, and the world - has a tremendous effect on all of us. More than we realize. We find ourselves depressed, sad, gloomy, anxious, having nightmares and don't really know why. I mean, it's just the news, right? That said, imagine how children feel hearing these things every day from the media, teachers, parents, and other kids. On top of that, they are expected to be top students, get into top universities, enter high-powered jobs, and well, yeah, change the world!

Our children deserve to be naturally nurtured, taught practical mental and emotional health concepts, and most of all, given a hopeful environment in which to dream.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Counting the Ways

Distress in life illuminates if one gives it enough attention and time.

There they are, my husband and children, loving me through the dark night of disillusion. In quiet and compassion those who know me best patiently carry-on, carry me, move and breathe in love for us all. They witness my struggle knowing I must do it myself in order to be free just as, to live, the butterfly must exit the cocoon and stretch her new wings alone.

Here I am, exhausted and catapulted to joy!
"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30:5
Thank you, Tom and kids! Your love is a mystery to me, a beautiful mystery."

'All You Need is Love'

Okay, so I've embraced the obstacle. I've forgiven. I've studied till my thinker is sore. I've prayed. I've listened to my loved ones' advice and input. I've meditated. I've wrestled with my 'self'. I've been quiet in my soul. I see some lessons to take away from this. I've written them down along with my impressions and responses.

Now, I'm letting it go.

“I must say that the biggest lesson you can learn in life, or teach your children, is that life is not castles in the skies, happily ever after. The biggest lesson we have to give our children is truth. We're all built with illusions. And they break.”~~Goldie Hawn
Oh, how they break.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Couple of Things

Whatever happened to the life that we once knew?
Can we really live without each other?
Where did we lose the touch
That seemed to mean so much?
~~ The Beatles, Free As a Bird
Wrestled with my heart until four A.M.

Then I slept.

And this morning a couple of helpful thoughts come about.

Love your enemies for they reveal to you your faults and virtues. Hard process but necessary.
"...having an enemy is very bad. It disturbs our mental peace and destroys some of our good things. But if we look at it from another angle, only an enemy gives us the opportunity to practice patience. No one else provides us with the opportunity for tolerance. Since we do not know the majority of the five billion human beings on this earth, therefore the majority of people do not give us an opportunity to show tolerance or patience either. Only those people whom we know and who create problems for us really provide us with a good opportunity to practice tolerance and patience." ~~ Dalai Lama
Another aspect comes to mind. Fleshing out the truth that God measures the heart or intention, I realize more clearly than ever that to do a 'good deed' is just about worthless if it's done negatively, disrespectfully, dishonorably, discourteously, or in any other 'dis' sort of way which results in frustration, anger, or hatred for anyone involved.

I have learned that it's not wrong to feel frustration and anger, it's what I do with them that matters. Succumb or examine and resist. Much is revealed if I pay attention. Also, harsh examples of bad behavior which play out brazenly before me are great teachers indeed. I am determined to spare others from that sort of behavior ever coming from me. I also realize the anguish of the struggle of a person who wants to be good being forced to endure ugliness, to personally struggle with it. It kills me to see my kids struggling, too, and yet, I am so pleased that they do, indeed, struggle rather than just let negativity take root without a fight. They are fighting, valiantly. And they strengthen me by doing so. I hope I am encouraging them as well.

Happily, during the tempest that has been ongoing for weeks and growing wilder all the time, I have continually recognized the voice of my inner being gently reminding me, "Don't get lost in it. Remember who you are." My True North inner compass is staying true, even when the shock, frustration, and anger churn the hardest. At times integrity is nearly overwhelmed, but my compass eventually rights things. Good to know.

Battening down the hatches. Storm on the horizon.

If it's true that Christians will be recognizd by love what sort of person is recognized by hatred?