Category Archives: Relationships

Expectations and Adventures in Parenting

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Parenting is one of those skills that is never quite as clear-cut in Reality as in Theory.

 
We all had grandiose ideas about what we would “never do or say when WE became parents”, and all those places where our own parents “didn’t quite get it right” wouldn’t be problems for us.  Hah!

I remember back in the “Pre Chaos & Disposable Income” days of yesteryear, I had a friend who imagined her future child as a well-mannered, mini adult. She described how they would spend intellectually stimulating afternoons at the galleries, dressed in light shades of cream and white linen; finger foods and television would be unheard of, bed times never up for discussions, and she would magically be able to continue her successful legal practice AND be the perfect PTA mom.

 
Yes, I too had my ‘confusions’ … I envisioned ONE little girl to whom I would pass on my knowledge of cooking, knitting, embroidery and globe-trotting.  We would live in the city yet always have our backpacks ready for an adventure.

Well, here we are:  My friend has an athletic, tomboy who excels in engineering, rock climbing, and dirt bikes, and would rather die than be seen wearing a dainty dress for afternoon tea.

And how did things work out for me?  I can’t complain, I have THREE young men (none of whom have any interest in knitting) and I ended up trading the city for a bunch of acres in the country.  I get to have exciting “jaunts” to the supermarket and soccer fields.

loveAs I considered the few things over which I still think I have some control.  I realize that what matters most is the quality of person I bring into the world.  That means instilling core values such as integrity, compassion and mindfulness.

An awareness of how we affect other people, to be respectful of differences, and most importantly to maybe even generate a little happiness when we interact with the world.

Two things I try to inculcate in my sons are the principles of Patience and Non-Stealing.

Patience, as I present it, is an internal practice.

We all fall prey to the need to hit the elevator button a couple of extra measures because it will somehow make it ‘come faster’; and kids have little innate tolerance for long lines at the supermarket (or any other place for that matter).
I take the time to explain that such impatience is not only hard on themselves, gnawing at their insides even when they ‘appear’ to be calm outwardly, but that it is also hard on the people around them.
Bumps in the road will happen, delays are even more frequent, that’s Life – however, we DO have the power to decide how to react to these challenges.  They can choose to be miserable, or calm and serene, but either way the delay will run its course.
I read somewhere that a synonym for “Patience” is “Self-Possession”, I like that … to be in charge of yourself.

What opportunities do I use to illustrate my lesson?

  • I say ask yourself,  “What’s the worst that can happen?” and is it worth the hissy fit you are sharing with the world?
  • If you feel you are behind on your school project, try to look at what you have accomplished instead of grousing about what is yet to be done.
  • In an argument, try to count or take a couple of deep breaths before you let loose your snappy reply – “Engage your brain before your lips”.  I still struggle with this one.
  • And, remember to thank others when they are patient with you.  Try to remember how they make you feel by not grumbling at you, and be a person who can do that for someone else.prayer

Non-Stealing I express as an outward focused practice.

This isn’t the obvious rule about NOT taking physical things or the dangers of relying upon plagiarism to get that school report done on time.  This is a much more subtle teaching about the value of the intangible but equally valuable assets of Time, Energy and Praise.  It’s about showing consideration for someone’s possessions AND needs.
People who are always late, the chronic complainers … the little drips that wear away at the stone.  Who hasn’t experienced these people?

How do I try to inspire some “non-stealing”?

  • I express that debts should be repaid promptly – whether it’s money or a favor, it’s not kind to make people wait for having helped you.
  • Punctuality is always appreciated because it says that you recognize the value of the other person’s time.
  • Be honest when you catch a mistake at the register, give back extra change or the cashier will have to pay for it.
  • Pay attention when someone speaks to you, and be generous without thinking about potential rewards.  Generosity is more than giving money, it is also about giving some of your time or talents.  Generosity is the extreme version of ‘non-stealing’.

I can’t make these teachings lengthy exchanges or their eyes will glaze over, but sprinkled here and there I can only hope that some of these seeds will sprout and then … Victory will be mine!!!

Er, ahem … I meant … they will hopefully carry these lessons forward to their own children.  Whew!

 
Now, if only I could manage to teach them how to knit …

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There is no such thing as failure. There is only Sweet and Sour reality …..

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The I Ching hexagram, ‘Oppression‘, comes to mind:

“… Hard times shrivel our spirits, and give rise to a multitude of “crows” in the form of troublesome worries. Times of great loss or personal failure break weaker people; but the strong of heart can bend with fate …”

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Valentine’s Day has a habit of highlighting the Sweet and Sour around us.  For every kiss that ‘begins with K’ there’s a lonely heart sitting at home.

No, this isn’t about affairs of the heart … more like it’s about Challenges and Change, and relationships are examples we can understand.

When things go sideways, it doesn’t mean the entire experience was a fail.  Not every lesson lasts a lifetime, and it’s important to glean the wisdom we are offered and to honor the opportunity for growth.

Sometimes we resist change because we are afraid of the unknown, sometimes because we fear being seen as ‘quitters’ or failures. My thoughts are that each of us must walk our own paths, listening to our deepest instincts, and everything else is simply people on the outside looking in … opinions and theories.  Background noise.

“… Keep in mind that failure – the final taboo in modern society – is but one part of the inevitable cycle of life for those who dare to live fully and completely. Never to fail at all is to fail in the biggest way.”

New experiences, new relationships, even the release from a toxic or dead relationship … Change … are all wonderful reminders of how much Life has to share with us.  These ‘re-dos’ can be blessings in disguise.  Old patterns and dead-end habits must be purged to make room for growth and fresh starts.  We see this in the cycles of Nature, the leaves that fall from trees aren’t ‘garbage’, they also become compost to nurture what will be further growth for the tree.

See?  We are the trees, and even our worst mistakes will carry something of value for us.

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I was at a Yin Yoga Teacher Training recently and the instructor (the super-duper Corina Benner) read a poem that really stayed with me:

‘She Let Go’
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do
it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or
congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…
There’s only one guru ~ you.

The author of this poem is unclear. A few sites list Ernest Holmes as the author, another Jennifer Eckert Bernau, and still another Rev. Safire Rose.

Wow, right?