I Never Thought I’d do this . . .

Remembering, of course, that I’m a most mild-mannered person, the realm of things I never thought I would do is rather broad. Even some things I thought I would do remain undone, and this isn’t a bad thing. My life is full of potential!

IMG_1779_1I never thought I would cut my own hair, let alone my daughter’s, into a very short cut . . . using clippers. But this I have done. I continue to cut my own hair short for convenience, cost, and practicality. Cutting one’s hair isn’t a big deal, really, but I never imagined cutting and then dyeing my daughter’s hair blue, especially not just the little bit up front that we left long enough to tuck behind her ear. This, too, was done, and most likely will be done again.

I don’t know, however, if I will ever get another opportunity to wrap someone in duct tape. That’s right. My ever-creative relative needs a corset for Halloween and found clever instructions here

that advise using duct tape to get the form/pattern needed. This is definitely a project to be done with someone you trust, and it is incredibly funny. Left alone, I think it would also make for a great superhero garb.  🙂  She didn’t have to consent to a photo, but I’m glad she did.

I hope your fall time has brought such creative exploration and new experiences.  I’ll look forward to sharing the many projects that this coming Christmas season promises.

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Why I Have to Cancel Netflix

After a busy day, a fulfilling, worthwhile day, I truly love to get the kids to bed and kick back and relax.  Cue the DVD dvdplayer, escape to another reality, and vicariously experience a range of emotions.  I consider it my down time, time when I don’t really have to think about anything.  I unplug from my life for a little bit, plugging instead into a different time and place.

Netflix has facilitated this down time for me, increasing my repetoire of movies viewed, some of which I wouldn’t have ever seen had it not been for their lovely search engines and categorizing.  I may not be able to watch their movies online (because I never got it to work), but I do have three movies at any given time to choose from.  This is helping me dwindle down our personal DVD collection, facilitating that clearing of “stuff” we don’t really need.  For that, I am grateful.

But then I began to feel like I needed to push movies through my que, like I needed to watch a movie a night to feel like I’m giving myself a break.  Truth be told, it is escapist, and not necessarily healthy in my opinion.  Occasionally, sure.  I love a good movie and always will.  I grew up loving John Hughes movies, watching them repeatedly.  Somehow other people’s lives, fictional Hollywood characters’ lives were and are more fascinating than mine.

So, I’m cancelling Netflix.  We’re getting rid of our big, old t.v.  It’s not a flat-screen or anything fancy, and it’s a family hand-me-down.  We’ll get the big entertainment cabinet out of the living room and re-use it for pottery or something.  Not to worry.  We have two computers and a laptop in the house.  We have video capabilities.  We have family with plenty of television/cable viewing opportunities.  We’ll just be encouraged to moderate the time in front of the screen.  Why not keep the t.v., movies, games, etc.?  Can’t you just moderate your time and keep the equipment?  We’ve been asked.

We have four kids.  We have hobbies.  We have precious few hours of time as a family.  And my “down time”?  If I seriously need down time, I need to unplug and stay unplugged.  Filling my mind with static doesn’t help anyone.  And there are books.  So many books I haven’t read; so many books I have yet to write.  There’s also good old-fashioned staring off into space.  I can just sit and look out the window, gaze at the stars or the trees.  In the silence, I can hear myself, allow myself to be still, and maybe, just maybe, realize how close God really is.  Why keep something around that we don’t even use?

My life is a far-cry from Hollywood, but each of us is given an amazing opportunity to find what is magical, what is truly Holy.  Two hours a day or night is a lot of  time to search for something, to discover something that has been there all along.  I would hate to miss it because I was too busy watching the screen.

Thanks, Netflix, for helping me discover what I knew was here all along — time to do everything that needs to be done.

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Magic of Family

All that’s left of last night’s magical family dinner is a heaping bit of ashes in our backyard make-shift fire pit.  Reheated leftovers and fresh canteloupe might not sound magical, but a quick meal for mom is.  Partner that with fading light, newly-mowed yard and crackling fire; you can almost hear the twinkle in the children’s eyes above their giddy laughter and chatter.  To top it all off, we had s’mores.  Yes, even on a school night, and I pretended not to notice how many marshmallows the kids were really eating, though I did close up the bag and keep everything right beside me.  It was a perfect dinner together.

Right now I’m reading a book called The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle.  This “Emergent Christianity” talk has a way of getting people talking for sure.  Where I am in the book at the moment, she’s talking about the different points in history that change our perception and understandings of our reality.  At this point, she’s talking about women’s rights, on up to the point now where both parents in the family are working.  Family dinners together are no longer the sacred time they once were.  The family works to pay for the house.  Both parents work to have a sense of personal, social and financial freedom.  The house is a resting place for both parents and the children who are exhausted from a full day at school and/or day care.

I’m not further than that right now, but if, like my kids do in their reading classes, I were to make a prediction, I would say that she’s going to say our next shift has to be from working to the point of exhaustion to working at that which brings us energy, fills us up.  If we work solely to pay the bills, it seems we do sell ourselves out.  We’re draining that which invigorates us, and not only from ourselves but from our families as well.  Our children sense it.  We sensed it from our parents, right?  Precious few of us, and maybe there are actually more than I realize, got to witness our elders doing what they loved.  The work ethic from the Depression to the Consumerism of the 80’s led to the workaholics we know only too well.  But now there’s an employment crisis, partnered with this seeking, this longing.  People wonder what they’re “supposed” to be doing.  Yes, pay the bills, but what’s my “purpose”?

Michele Odent, a renowned OB-GYN, was quoted in The Business of Being Born as saying that, like a traveler who realizes he/she is lost, you have to go back to where you were on the path before you took a wrong turn.  He was talking about midwifery care being the right path, and the alienation of them being the wrong turn.  The analogy works for us, though, too.  Families striving to accumulate material wealth doesn’t cut it anymore.  Yes, both parents or both partners need to work at something.  Both need to feel appreciation, accomplishment, success and a sense of service to others, but it doesn’t always have to be outside the home.  It doesn’t have to be white collar.  It would seem that we are on the brink of realizing that the place of judgement isn’t ours.  We have to work to help each other.  We need to realize that we all have gifts and help each other live into those gifts as fully as possible.  How do we do that?  I haven’t the foggiest, but I’m sure my children will be part of a generation that learns to live that way.  I do hope so.

I’m curious to see what Tickle says about our current era, where she sees us going and how.  I know it seems like my husband and I have a rather traditional relationship; it works for us for him to work and me do what I consider my work from home or through church.  But now he’s out of the corporate realm.  We share home tasks.  We’re showing our kids what a partnership is like.  We also revel in the blessing of extended family.  Hopefully we’ve been able to keep the right things on our path as we’re moving forward and find that which keeps us invigorated.

The only thing that would have made last night even more perfect would have been if dearest and I had had enough energy after getting the kids to bed to go back out by the fire and watch the coals burn down, just the two of us on the quilt, wrapped up together in my shawl.  Maybe next time.

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The Excitement of Firsts

The anticipation in my oldest child leading up to the first day of school nearly pushed me over the edge.  I was ready to trash the school supplies and send her to school with a piece of paper and a pencil.

The second child got stung by a wasp the night before school started and still has residual swimmer’s ear (which will probably lead to a doctor’s appointment soon).  This probably attributed toward his emotional instability before and after his first day at school.


Our third and wild child who started kindegarten this year seems to be doing the best of all — at least outside the classroom.  Could it be that our seemingly most troublesome child is actually the healthiest?  He has consistent behavior and seems to be going with the flow.

Our fourth child informed me she wanted to go to school, too, yesterday.   However, this morning, after being awakened at 7am, she’s not so keen on the early morning school thing.  She’s still in her jammies after 9.

I share all this not only to document my children’s first day of school but also to comment on the different perspectives we take in life.  I remember the excitement, the anxiety, the anticipation not only of first days but of first kisses, first love, first home, first birth.  I hope to experience many more firsts.

Onward now in my spiritual journey and life in general, I realize that part of living life to the fullest is to experience every moment as a first, to bring the childlike enthusiasm to the moment — a beginner’s mind.  I am so quick to make things routine, anxious to make it a habit so that I don’t have to think about it.  There’s nothing wrong with making something healthy a habit, but only if I can do so with awareness and an open mind.

So now I get to practice.  Bring the enthusiasm of the first day of school (that helped me get up at 5:40 am) into every morning.  To make breakfast and help prepare lunches with a happy heart, blessing the food that it might nourish my beautiful, brilliant children.  And then I can move onto practicing in other moments, as if they were the first or might be the last.

“Today is the first rainy day” at my new school, my daughter told us this morning.  Oh, that I might appreciate this day as such.

photo: everystockphoto.com by bies — no, not my child because the only picture i took was on my phone!

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Point of Contact

Walking in public places, do you notice the awkwardness of when to make contact with others?  Should I look into their eyes?  Smile?  What if they look up just as I’m looking away?  Should I send good energy their way or conserve?

Then I think about how ridiculous the whole concept is if, in fact, the energy isn’t mine to give but ours to share.  I sense an obligation to make contact with others who participate in this life with me, as I participate in this life with them.  I offer my smiles, my focus, even if it’s just a moment, as it usually is.  Maybe that moment of contact, of relation, with all its sincerity and lack of expectation, can be like the butterfly in the chaos theory, changing the course of events for the better.

It only takes a moment to let someone know, “I hear you.  I witness you here and now.  You are not alone.”

In our Circle of Trust, during our small group time, we conclude each focus person’s time with “We hear you.  We honor you.  We bless you.  We love you.  We are blessed by you.”  (something like that,  anyway)  And the miraculous thing is we really mean it.  How often do you get to say these words and feel in your heart of hearts the deep connection?  This practice is spreading into the rest of my life, opening my heart so that it’s not just those with whom I work closely that I feel a connection, that I experience a deep, genuine love.  I daresay this practice of compassion is growing into Compassion.

There is no one point of contact, no quantitative measure of when and where to do this or that in society, regarding when to smile and/or make eye contact or not.  It’s just as true to form not to make eye contact, so long as we feel the connection, honor the other and participate in our wholeness.

Your suffering is my suffering.  Your joys are my joys.  Your life is mine, as mine is yours.  I bow to the Buddha in you as you see the Christ in me.  Here we are, as One.

I hear you.  I honor you.  I bless you.  I love you.  I am blessed by you.

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It’s All in Perspective

Some days we really do feel like we got up on the wrong side of the bed.  Our outlook on life is upside down.  Anyone could look our way and risk gettng growled at.  Some days are just like that.  Truth be told, they don’t have to be, and just because they start that way, it doesn’t mean it has to continue that way.

I wanted to get up at 6:30 this morning and work out in the yard and garden.  I wanted to get the yard mowed.  Apparently it wasn’t meant to be.  My body wants to rest.  I took the kids to the park . . . again.  I’m sitting down to write a bit.  I’ll make the kids lunch versus getting something to-go.  It will benefit us all if I find what the source of my discord is and remedy it.  At least I should gently ride this wave through and try not to pull anyone down in the process.

Lot of fresh air.  More water.  Healthy food.  Laughter.  Love.

I visited with my grandmother yesterday and briefly with my grandpa whose health is deteriorating.  July 4th is my grandma’s birthday, but her party plans got rearranged a bit.  So, I brought card, gift, and welcome distraction to her.  I told her we were her comedic relief.  Funny thing is, I needed it, too, but probably not as much as she did.  My grandma is one of those treasures who make you feel like you’re the most special person in all the world.  I only hope she knows how special she is.  It’s hard caring for someone you love, helpless to take away their ills.  Sometimes the miracle is our constant love.

What ails me doesn’t seem like that big of a deal anymore.  My life is rich and full of vitality.  I can accept my bad mood, offer it to the sun, and water myself with compassion.

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Happy 2009!

Here’s a cheers to the new year and hope for all the best!

Enjoy this day with your family and friends.

Eat a bite of black-eyed peas, and remember that what you do this day may indicate what you do in the year to come.  At least, that’s some of my family’s superstitions.  I also heard that who you spend new year’s eve with will be someone with you through the new year.  Fun stuff. 

Blessings be yours!

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Reader or Lurker?

I’m guilty.  I’ve spent years on sites and never contributed.  Now in the blogging age there are blogs I follow semi-religiously, but few I ever comment on or contribute to.  I’m trying to get better, to be a better blogger in the community.

As I try to improve, I’d love if you helped me, too, by voting on The Blogger’s Choice.  Just click on the quote icons up to the right of the page.  You’ll have to create an account, but then you can vote for your other fave sites, too.  This comes around every year, and I’d love to grow every year in my loyal readership.  I’m not planning on going anywhere!

Thanks for being here, and I enjoy sharing with you.

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A Time to Rest

Sometimes we just have to let our bodies heal, let ourselves rest.  I presume that whatever infection I have is a sign that I, too, need a few days’ rest.  So, I’ll go to the doctor and return home to sleep the rest of the day (as much as that’s possible with two little ones about!).

I hope your Memorial Day was full of family and remembrance and that today you make time for yourself, whether it is to craft or to rest.

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