Need vs. Want

Today marks Day 4 of my Master Cleanse, the third time I’m trying it, hopefully the first time I actually make it through all 10 days.  I’m not doing it alone, though.  My husband and two other couples are doing it, along with some others.  Were it not for the support, I would have already quit.  My constitution is weak.  I dearly enjoy a good meal and am blessed to have the ability to provide such.

burger.jpgBut do I need lavish meals?  No.  I want them.  I enjoy everything about preparing a meal, no matter how much I might complain.  I especially enjoy when the meal is shared, when I can provide nourishment to others.  During the Journey class I’m taking, we took our spiritual gifts inventory, and hospitality is definitely one of my gifts.

Having elaborate meals is a want, but being in relation to others may very well be a need.  Dinner parties give me the best of both worlds, and my husband and I are deciding to make this a regular part of our lives.  Our goal, however, is to prepare healthy meals.  We just need some more planning.  When I have a list of resources, I promise to share.

What other ways can we consciously see where our needs and wants combine?  What wants can we truly give up, do without?  Are all our needs being met?  We may think we want a space of our own, but isn’t it really a need if it improves the quality of our life?

It’s a difficult topic, determining what is crucial to our “quality of life.”  At the core, our needs are the same.  Our layers, though, begin to differ depending on where we live, our society, our livelihood, etc. 

What are we doing to improve our own quality of life?  What are we doing to improve the lives of others?

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Genuine Connection

Recall the last conversation in which you spoke from the heart.

Think of the last time you listened with so much awareness and presence that you truly felt what the other person conveyed to you through words.

When is the last time you maintained eye contact long enough to glimpse the soul and true feeling of the person across from you, not diverting your gaze out of societal propriety?

Forget the e-mails, the Twitter, the insincere chatter and texts of your day and seek out what is truly meaningful in relationships — we have to genuinely relate.  Our souls need contact.

Our recent ice storms left many without electricity, many without heat.  Neighbors came together and helped each other, visited with each other; they connected.

In our Women’s Leadership Circle curriculum we’re using in our women’s spirituality group at church, the meat of the curriculum comes from the conversation that conveys our experiences, our observations, reflections from our heart.  No book, brochure or digital anything is going to replace the connection of souls sharing in Spirit.

Many lost or man-made electricity, but the current of energy that Spirit provides may have just been given a boost.  I hope your power is restored.

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With Gratitude

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with abundance, friends and/or family, and a warm, comfortable place to settle and rest and marinate in the deliciousness of a life filled with gratitude.

My day isn’t quite like that.  Mine is more of the get up and finish making everything, make sure kids and self are presentable, drive half an hour to one part of the family, eat too much, drive to another part of the family, help make more food, eat too much twice (dessert can be its own meal), spend half an hour trying to make a dent in the mess created, collapse on the couch for a bit and then drive home exhausted around midnight.

But I am blessed to have the family I do.  The more, the merrier, right?  I will gladly spread four meals of thanks throughout the month to get to spend time with my loved ones, and I do sincerely love them.

Complain as we might, some of my fondest memories and the best conversations are had while preparing meals and doing the dishes.  It’s like talking to a man while driving; you can get into deeper conversation there. Women talk well while driving, too, but for me, it’s best when sewing/crafting, cooking, dish washing . . . and, of course, over some tasty beverages.

May your love and conversation be rich, and may you be filled with gratitude.

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The Value of Family

I daresay that none of us would put a monetary value on our family.  The truth is that our family is invaluable, but how often do we take them for granted?  Not only do I mean our immediate family but also our extended family.  When was the last time you gave thanks for each person and truly thought about all you have to be grateful for?

On this, my 100th post, I simply want to encourage you to think about who you consider family, think about your role in the family and give thanks for everyone in your family.

And to my own family, my husband and children, parents, brother, brothers- and sister-in-law, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, old friends and new friends, thank you for all that you bring to my life.

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A Relfection on Marriage

bridge_couple_love_268704_l.jpgToday, my husband and I share our tenth wedding anniversary.  For a couple of young folk, being married for a decade is a big deal.  Not only does it mean that we’ve made it longer than most marriages in our country, but with every passing year, we’re getting closer to having spent more time in our lives with each other than as a single.  Do I have any secrets to share?  Newfound wisdom?  The truth is that life holds all things before us.  It’s just up to us to see what we will see, discover the reality that we choose.

As I lay sleepy in bed this morning, my husband shared his own reflection of our ten years together (though we’ve been together eleven and a half) as he hurriedly put on his socks and shoes.  We’ve been through much, watched each other grow and change, never fought or yelled at one another and continue to grow in our respect and deep love for each other.  We are partners in our journey together, and we have a conscious choice as to whether or not we enjoy our time or make each other miserable.  Fortunately for us, we enjoy good times together, with or without the kids.  Yet we also respect each other’s space.  Sometimes a romantic evening is sitting in bed together reading our own books.  At our pace these days, being in the same room, quietly doing our own work while the children sleep, is bonding time for us!

Some say that their marriages dwindled after the children left the nest.  Suddenly couples find that they don’t have anything to talk about with each other, nothing in common.  While I can see how this might happen, here’s what I’m doing to prevent this breakdown — keeping my own interests and sharing them with my husband.  This doesn’t mean that he’s involved in my activities, knows or understands them completely.  He does, however, have an idea of what I’m doing.  I tell him what meetings I’m going to, which moms/dads I’m hanging out with.  I treasure the nights we share an evening beverage and just check in with one another, even if I’m not sure what to say because I can’t exactly communicate where I am; we’re just together, and for the moment, that’s where we need to be.

It would appear we have a pretty stereotypical marriage since I stay at home and he goes off to work all day.  However, he doesn’t expect me to be subordinate to him; even the thought makes me smile.  Definitely, we have a mutual respect and sharing of the load when it comes to caring for the children and the home.  We each do what we can, when we can, and hope for the best.

But that’s true for life, and what is marriage but the joining of two in life together?  As we dance along, we try not to tread on each other’s toes.  We don’t have to be clinging to each other the whole time, for we know that eventually we’ll come back together and find our rhythm again.  We may be awkward and clumsy at times, but as we get older, our dance will only get better.  I imagine us in our 90s doing a beautiful waltz.

Happy Anniversary.   xoxoxo

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Cooperative Spirit

mural-maryland-wall-488216-l.jpg
Co-ops seem to be a big thing these days.  By definition per the International Co-operative Alliance’s Statement on the Co-operative Identity, a cooperative is
 

“an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet
their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations
through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
A cooperative may also be defined as a business owned and controlled
equally by the people who use its services or who work at it.”  (cited from wikipedia)

My husband and I belong to our local grocery co-op where we know we can get natural and organic foods.  I just joined a local preschool co-op, which is definitely not a “business”.  We are very much into working together with others to support common goals.  It works amongst smaller (even seemingly large) groups of people.  Our electric company is a co-op.

A cooperative seems to embody the principles of democracy.  It would seem like our society would be full of such enterprises, but it also seems like profit has gotten in the way.  Lest I sound too socialistic, I’m all for making money; the socialist in me, though, would have those with the most money making the biggest difference for the poor.  It’s a hard life we lead, those of us in “industrialized” nations.  Balance income, debt, wants, needs . . . listen to stories of those in other countries (heaven forbid it be just across town) who don’t have food for their children or themselves.

What do we need to do to truly align our values?  If we all believe in compassion, why don’t we practice it?  If we all want our way of life to continue, why don’t we make the adjustments to make it truly sustainable?

Because it’s hard.  That’s why. 

Oversimplified, think of altering your diet and exercise so you can lose weight.  It stinks.  I love my cake and ice cream, thank you very much, and I’m not happy about giving it up, even temporarily.  On the other hand, I don’t like being asked if I’m pregnant when I most definitely am not.  I’ll do this, making the changes necessary so I can have the desired results, and it makes the world of difference to have support along the way.  Soon enough, I’ll have my results and a renewed lifestyle that will hopefully have eliminated that which made my old way of life dissatisfying and unsustainable.  It gets easier as you go, right?

So I think about our health care, our energy crisis ($4/gallon is a crisis for our budget!), carbon footprints, education, etc., etc.  How could it all be different if we worked together a bit more?  What if we got off our rump and actually did some of the hard work that needs to be done?  It’s hard if you’re by yourself or if your group is small.  But eventually you reach a point when your voice has to be heard.

Hopefully your voice is speaking for what is truly good for all, that your cooperative spirit benefits us all in a compassionate way.  Hopefully we can join together and make a difference for the better.

That’s why one of my bumper stickers says “Think good thoughts.”  It’s a start.

(photo from everystockphoto.com by
takomabibelot)

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Parenting with Awareness: Don’t Keep the Home Fires Burning

momandbabe.jpgWhile doing the dishes yesterday, I took the opportunity to listen to/watch Oprah’s latest A New Earth webcast.  Obviously I’m enamored with this book right now because it applies so much to my journey.  If you read it and think it’s bunk, it’s not for you right now.  Read it again in a few years.

The thing about Chapter 5 is the “pain body,” that emotional aspect of the ego that feeds on negativity.  Think Christmas and all the family feuds simmering until the first bubble surfaces and bursts, setting off the chain reaction until everyone’s boiling mad.  Think your child throwing a tantrum,  pushing all your buttons until you, too, are throwing your own tantrum or stifling it, building up for sometime soon.

I call it our ball of fire.  My kids have the brightest fire at times, and if I’m caught unaware, caught when I’m in my unconscious mode, mine is ignited, too.  Negativity spreads like wildfire around here.  But it doesn’t have to.

Often I can almost see the fire growing.  I can keep it contained to the affected being and send him/her to her own space until the cinders cool down.  It’s better for me to have one in her room smoldering than a whole house full of flames.  I get horrendous headaches, which was a huge signal for me.  I could feel the kids draining my energy when we were at odds.  Maybe I wanted to let go of my pain body, but one of my buttons could be pushed to manifest a headache.  It could go from bad to worse, or I could let go.  Often, I let go in tears.  As sad as it was, it helped the kids open their eyes to their own part in the drama.  Fortunately, this hasn’t happened in a while.

As Mr. Tolle suggests and we know, the only thing you can do — the only thing — is to be present and aware.  This means not taking it personally.  (We like The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.)  This means realizing that this behavior is not who the person truly is.  My children are not little devils set on ruining my life.  They are beautiful beings who at some level have an issue (to say the least) to work through in this life, to let go of.  I can feed that issue, fuel the fire, or I can realize that I, too, am just working through this life, my lessons.  Together, we can Be with each other, offer space to each other.  We were brought together in this beautiful relationship for a reason.  This holds true for my 18 month-old to my 9 year-old.  I’m sure it holds true for my husband and myself.

Again, it’s just one of those simple lessons.  Just Be.  Just listen with Compassion, not your compassion.  Experience the moment like a breath.

Parenting simplifies itself once we bring awareness to it, a sense of non-attachment.  Each moment, though, we practice.  Each day, we experience a new aspect of our pain body, a new side of our ego, and, thus, a new opportunity to grow.  This is our spiritual practice.  This is our Purpose at the moment.  Our children are wonderful teachers.  When and if they have their own children, they may see us as teachers, too.

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Maternal Connection

None of us can deny the fact that we come from a mother, at least a mother’s egg.  Some broaden their family by magnitudes and claim a mother country, while others open even more to say we’re all children of God (some even claim God as Mother).

Personally, I enjoy my relationship with my mom, though we don’t get to see each other often enough.  What’s more, I love learning about her history since it plays such a role in who I am, issues I have to work through — good and bad.  I love hearing about her mother and grandmother.  These women, too, are part of my being.

While I’d love to know more about my family history, I don’t have the time for genealogy.  What I do have are relatives from whom I can learn.  I loved my grandfathers’ stories that all shared a thread of hard work, simple pleasures, risky adventures and wise advice.  My grandmothers’ stories continue to relay a life of experience, how to make the best of what you have, caring for one’s self yet bestowing upon many others unconditional love.  I listen with fascination and wonder if I will have grandchildren someday attentively listening to my stories.  Will I have obstacles overcome with determination and skill?  Will I have adventure?  What lessons will I have to pass on if they are wise enough to ask and to learn through me?  Only time will tell.

We all have mothers to learn from, even if they’re not biological.  Maternal figures in our lives come in more ways than one.  We have much to learn from them even as we go our own ways, and then another generation awaits, looking to us.

When I stand in my utility room, I see not a curtain in the window but my great-aunt’s apron.  For some reason, it gives me strength and comfort the way the sun shines through the thin fabric made even more thread-bare from years of use.  My daughter knows it’s an apron, too.  Perhaps someday she will feel its strength and comfort, but probably not until she’s learned many stories and consciously tapped into the great maternal connection.

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