"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posts tagged ‘interactive’

The Never Ending Story

There are some wonderful things associated with memorable moments in my life and this movie is one of them. It brings me right back to my early twenties and all that was happening in my life then with a clarity that reminds me once again what a pivotal set of moments this was in my life.

I was a 22-year-old mother of a 4-year-old child who was born with a heart defect. I was in many ways still a child myself. I was a stay-at-home mom by choice, a decision my husband and I wholeheartedly agreed on. It was easier to survive on one income then compared to how it is today yet it was still pretty darn tough. We lived in poverty, from paycheck to paycheck, here and there receiving assistance from the Women, Infants and Children program as well as a time or two where we were grateful to qualify for and receive Food Stamps. Those programs got us through some lean times for sure.

So much was going on with me. I was doing my best to do what I thought I was supposed to do. I remember asking my sister-in-law, who became a mother at an age even younger than me, “Is this it? We just pop out babies, drink coffee, clean, watch soaps?” And her reply of “Yeah, pretty much!” It was the first time I realized how much meaning was placed on the roles outside the home and so little on those inside the home.

My son, Jeffrey and I were closely bonded. We sorta grew up together those first years. We were alone together a lot and found lots of things to do to keep us occupied. We talked a lot. I always asked him “What do you think?” Or “How do you feel about it?” and would get the most interesting answers. At the age of two the answers were short and to the point as he was learning to communicate with me. As his vocabulary expanded it brought some really interesting perspectives on the many questions within life through the wisdom of a toddler.

As I can see it so clearly now with my grandchildren, babies are input machines. They soak in – eat, sleep, breathe, feel – EVERYTHING about our environment as quickly as their little brains and bodies will allow. Curious about everything and everything is input. When they have something to say and can pick the words out of those they’ve been given to communicate with, sometimes what comes out of the mouths of babes can be profound.

That summer before Jeffrey’s fourth birthday was when we watched The Never Ending Story together. It was a story about a young boy coming to terms with his death of his mother. We watched it over and over and over again. Together we followed Bastian on his journey to defeat the nothing. We were with him being chased down the street by a gang of boys, we were with him in the book store. It was as magical to both of us as it seemed to be to Bastian.

We talked about the emotions and questions the movie brought up for each of us. Artax and Atreyou in the swamp moved us to tears together. We talked about why it felt so sad. As the Nothing raced across the land spreading its fear and darkness we jumped and gasped together at the first sight of the wolf and his glowing eyes. It prompted us to talk about our fears and what we can do about them.

I do my best not to talk down to my children. I believe they arrived in my life with more wisdom than I will ever possess. I do my best to honor their intelligence and tell the truth in the best way I can. I speak in language that isn’t baby talk or dumbing it down, but is age appropriate and real. I believe there is a part of them that may not understand the intricate meanings of the words but can get the essence of them regardless.

Just after Jeffrey turned four he was scheduled for open heart surgery. It was to be the first of a two-part series of surgeries to correct his heart defect. He would then have the second part when he turned five. We arrived at the hospital prepared to stay for about a week. Although the hospital was only twenty minutes from my home I chose to sleep there in the room with my son. I didn’t have my own car to travel back and forth and even if I did, I’m not sure I could have left him there alone.

The first night was spent preparing for early surgery the next day. Papers were signed, questions were asked and answered and we were all a little on edge. After Jeffrey laid down to sleep for the night his nurse suggested I go over to the playroom where several moms who were also spending the night had gathered. I was homesick, lonely and afraid and it sounded like a great idea.

There were four or five women sitting in a circle of rocking chairs chatting when I entered the room. I made my greetings and took a chair to become part of the circle. Topics moved across the small talk spectrum for a few minutes when it got to movies. One mom asked if anyone had seen The Never Ending Story. Most replied that they had and how scary it was. I added that my son and I watch it together all the time. Suddenly I felt pounced upon. “How old is your son? Four years old and you let him watch that? That’s insane. You don’t do that to a child. It’s too scary for them.” Etcetera and on and on. I was instantly the worst mother ever born.

I left the room feeling more homesick than ever. I called my husband and cried on the phone but all I could say was how homesick I was. I had trouble communicating what had just happened in the playroom and how it made me feel. The Never Ending Story had been a beautiful bonding experience between me and my child and it was something I treasured. To have no chance to even explain that to these women and to have been so set upon with such judgmental hatred had really upset me. Five out of six women agree that you suck as a mother, Lisa. Majority rules, right? It must be true.

Thankfully, there is always a dawn after a dark night of scary storms. The morning of the surgery had arrived and we were anxious. Jeffrey was bright and happy and ready to get started so he could feel better. If he was afraid, he never showed it. We trusted and believed we would see each other in the recovery room. And we did.

For the rest of the week in the hospital I did my best to encourage and support my son in his recovery. I avoided any contact with the playroom moms. Sometimes our eyes met in the hallways or elevators but there was no more conversation. There didn’t need to be as the lines were clearly drawn. As sure as they were that I sucked as a mother I was equally sure that they were dead wrong. The evidence of that was in my child and my relationship with him and THAT was all I needed to put their negative voices to rest in my mind.

I do wish I had been able to communicate my story in the playroom as an example of how they might bond with their children over things like scary movies. I feel it’s such a gift to both mother and child to have that kind of soul connection. So much of what we are taught to do as parents is about authoritarianism and bending our children to our will in obedience, mostly because as adults we are supposed to know better and know what is best for them. But what if we don’t? What if our children are as equally our teachers as we are theirs?

So, there’s one of the “untold stories” of my early days of motherhood and figuring out how to be the best version of myself in a world that I sometimes seem to have little in common with. It felt important to finally document this time in my life.

 

 

One Word – What is YOUR word?

Recently I had the opportunity to spend the weekend at the shore with some of my favorite people, my family. After a long night of fishing we sat together on the beach talking and enjoying breakfast in the morning sun.

Alexandria quietly played in the sand at our feet. She used a small piece of wood to scrape the sand smooth, like a blank canvas, and then made fingerprints, foot prints and bumble bee prints with a plastic bumble bee we found on the beach. Sometimes she coaxed one of us to make prints, too. Every so often she picked up the board and wiped the area clean to start again.

BE

If you could summarize the purpose of your life with one word, what would it be?

Our conversation shifted into wondering aloud about why we are here or what our purpose is in life. I shared that I had heard from different places that our individual purpose in life can be summarized with one solitary WORD. And that we can find clues to what that word might be in some of our most challenging moments or life patterns.

For example, for someone who is overly critical of everything that is “different” from their perception of what “should” be, the word might be ACCEPTANCE. Being overly critical and always finding something wrong or something to complain about feeds the negative energies of hate and intolerance. It also indicates a rejection of one’s own SELF. It attracts and brings more situations to complain about … often over and over and over again.

So, for this person, what is required is to become aware of the pattern of rejection. Then to make the conscious choice to evolve from the energies of hate into those of LOVE – to make the shift into being more accepting. That choosing to shift the energy from hate to love requires practicing ACCEPTANCE, beginning with accepting the SELF … over and over and over again as life brings its challenges. And life will bring challenges to practice on!

We were quiet for a few moments and then began sharing around the circle what our greatest challenges were and what we each thought our word might be. After everyone had a turn speaking it was again quiet for a few moments … Alexandria, still looking down and playing in the sand said, “I think my word is be …” and the rest of what she said was cut off by a loud noise from somewhere else. I asked “What did you say, Alex? Your word is be happy?” She looked up at me, right into my eyes, and with the perfect certainty and wisdom of a four year old said, “No, my word is BE. Just BE.”

no words …

~LM

Happiness: Where does it come from?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about feeling good. It seems sometimes that much of my actual time is spent feeling bad about something when I  know what I really love is doing, saying, thinking and reflecting on things that make me feel good. As I give more conscious attention to watering those “feel good” seeds I have discovered a few “weeds” representing me giving myself permission, or allowing myself, to be happy or feel good.

Last night I watched The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer on DVD. One thing at the beginning that really resonated with me was his sharing of his voice mail message. It was something like “I’m not available to take your call right now. Before you leave a message please be aware that I want to feel good. If your message is designed to make me feel anything but good, please hang up and call Dr. Phil.”

Hearing him say this illuminated the unhappy, faceless voices in my head that are sarcastically saying, “What are YOU smiling about?” or “Why are YOU so happy?” In response to wanting to be happy, they deliver messages that it’s wrong to be happy. They are there to plant the seeds of doubt and guilt in my happiness garden. They say that there’s too much in the world and perhaps in my own life or with the people I love to be unhappy about. That things in my life are not perfect … that I am not perfect … so how can I even consider being happy?” And these seeds want me to water and nurture them.

Seeds of HappinessIn sitting with these voices I could see just how easy it is to allow these seeds of guilt to be planted in my happiness garden. Misery certainly does love company and there’s no shortage of misery out there. I could see how I have spent a great deal of time and energy giving these seeds of dissent water and assisting them to grow. That I have based my own happiness on external things like, I will be happy when I ‘have this thing’ or ‘do that thing’ or ‘achieve that goal.’

Going through life this way means that happiness will always be just out of reach and is always based on some thing or event outside of me. It also means that happiness is fleeting. For example, I can say that I will be happy when I get a particular car, but I know that after a few months driving the new car the feeling of happiness will wear off and I will once again be searching for a new source of future happiness

I began to ask what it would it take for me to know happiness right here and right now, in this moment, no matter what is going on outside of me. I began to wonder if and how I could be happy regardless of have’s or have not’s. I began to reflect and understand happiness through my own life experiences and have observed that the happiest moments in my life have been at times when it would appear on the outside that I had the least to be happy about.

In the book A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson wrote “The key to happiness is the decision to be happy.” This would mean that happiness is not about having the perfect things or the perfect care-free life, but that by deciding to be happy I would be fostering within myself a sense of peacefulness no matter what is going on on the outside.

I picture my happiness as a garden filled with various stages of seed growth with everything inside my garden fence having been selected and/or nurtured by me. I can choose to pull the weeds of sadness or guilt right out as soon as they appear. Pulling them doesn’t mean sadness and guilt do not exist at all in the world, as I can see that they are still growing in wild abundance just outside my garden fence.

Pulling them means that I acknowledge that they do not contribute to my happiness. Clearing the weeds on the inside means that no matter how wild, insistent and overgrown the weeds become on the outside, inside the borders of my fence, my happiness garden remains a peaceful sanctuary where I can go any time I want, to relax and luxuriate in what makes me feel good … right now.

Sometimes I let new weeds that I am unfamiliar with grow for a little while so that I can know what they are before choosing to either let them grow or yank them out. In doing this I have found that some things that I thought at first were weeds, later revealed themselves later as elements of happiness that I had not been aware of.

What do you feel is the key to happiness? Are you planting seeds in your own happiness garden? Do you find it easier to let weeds grow or do you pull them out as soon as they appear?

Stewardship and The Five I’s

Fern GulleyMost of our land is designated as a Stewardship Forest which means that any actions we take to conserve and manage are done in a way that improves the quality and productivity of our woodlands for future generations.

Curious about what being in stewardship to a forest means, I began researching forestry and farming and discovered there is a name for what we have in mind to do – agroforestry.

Forest farming is an agroforestry practice characterized by the four “I’s”- Intentional, Integrated, Intensive and Interactive management of an existing forested ecosystem wherein forest health is of paramount concern.

What I found most interesting and what sparked a huge aha moment for me was the characterization using the four “I’s” – Intentional, Integrated, Intensive and Interactive. These were the same principles I was already using within the practices of my own personal growth. For my personal practice however, there is a fifth I – Inspiration.

These four characterizations alone each have their own essence of power, however when combined with inspiration it all began to click together. To me this felt like an affirmation of being on the right path. I began to see how honoring my inner voice, or the voice of my spirit, sparks a feeling of inspiration which in turn sparks creativity which then moves me to begin to take action.

I discovered that taking action is only effective and done with ease when the intention of the actions are aligned with the essence of my calling. As I begin to move forward the process of integration begins.

Personally, this is the space where new beliefs principles and practices are blended, or integrated into my current ones. It is where I recognize the aspects of me that are, or have been, on automatic pilot and assess whether those things serve me to be the best me that I can be. I then choose my own programming from that point forward, integrating it into my daily practice, a process which requires both embracing and letting go.

Look to the LightIn the forest it is the space where the intention or vision for the forest requires human interaction. Some actions, such as the selective cutting of trees to allow sunlight to reach the forest floor bringing sleeping seeds to life are both intensive and interactive. This interaction is part of assisting it to be while some actions are passive and without human interaction, allowing it to be.

And so for me, the four I’s were transformed into the five I’s – Inspired, Intentional, Integrated, Intensive and Interactive.  These principles or characterizations became SEEDS that when applied not just in stewardship to a forest yet in all aspects of my life, are supporting and assisting with moving from a state of surviving into a life thriving … in harmony and oneness with mother earth – HOME.

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