Use and Value Gifts from Nature

Choosing Joy Over Fear

11856373_10153468917466181_6721893235607617988_o

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.”

-Albert Einstein

There is a difference between intention and our emotional attachment to our intentions.  One can still have the intention for something to come to fruition, while detaching emotionally from it turning out in a certain way.  Although it is difficult to do, nearly impossible at times, the natural world and the unfolding of the mystery of the universe will take us along for the ride whether we concede to it or not.  All the while we must continue observing and interacting with the shifting and unpredictable landscape.

Someone said to me recently that although our emotions are real and an important piece of the puzzle, they do nothing to change the outcome of any situation.  Seeing them as separate from the event somehow makes it easier to feel emotion in its intensity, and let it pass through, knowing the situation will advance regardless of how I feel about it!  In my opinion, getting caught up in the emotional mess of life usually pulls me away from my intentions.  ‘The voice of reason’ – which is a lovely placating way to describe fear – pulls me back from living out what I feel innately called to do.  When I find myself working my mind around the ways to figure out the final outcome, the destination, I know I have hopped back on the ride.  This mental wandering into the unknown, the unknowable does nothing but fuel emotional fires.

Having our focus set on the end result is effectively driven by our consumerist society, where we get instantaneous results and gratification, served by the invisible hands who have done the hard work of bringing us cheap consumer goods.  This illusion that we create for ourselves, over and over again, sets us up for malcontent in all other areas  of our lives.  We expect the same results, ease and unseen support  and are left feeling marooned instead when it does not spontaneously appear.  Seeking joy outside of ourselves and removed from connection is enforcing a message that cheats us out of enjoying the journey and ultimately trusting that everything will work out as it should.  The consumer gears have sped up to the point where our culture often sees work as undesirable, which is an attitude that robs the joyfulness available to us in the process.  In focusing on the destination alone, I have missed the journey.  I have missed life.

We have found the farm of our dreams and our conditional offer has been accepted.  As a result, I have been fixating on the sale of our home.  It has not happened.  I am stressing myself out by trying to find ways to make our home more appealing.   I wrack my brain about how things might work out, or how they might not.  While the inner storms rage, I try to keep everything ‘together’ – an approach to life I thought I had left in the dust until we put our house up for sale.  Not only is it stressful to maintain a visage of perfection, but it isn’t real.  The more my life looks great from the outside, the more I realize what is lacking on the inside.  What happens when I strive for external perfection is that my internal self becomes bound.  I am no longer able to ride with the flow of things.  I try to control.  Once I unleash that beast, it seems to lash out at anything and everything it has a hope of affecting.  Feigning control is a joy thief.  I feel like I’m ruining my current life because I’m so worried about my future life.  My fear about what may or may not happen is causing me to lose sight of what is and sits right in front of me.  A loving husband, three amazing and adorable children, a beautiful house we still call home, a wonderful and supportive group of people we have the pleasure of calling family and friends.

When I can refocus and see all that I have from a place of gratitude, when I can really see that I am living in fear, I open up to the possibility that I can choose joy.  If I want to actually have control in my life, making the choice to pursue joy is the best way to achieve it.  I hereby release all that is bringing fear into my vision…at least for this moment.

 

Inner Buoyancy

11874976_10153468918501181_2889582485882958511_o

I have found myself indulging many of my deepest fears lately.  As we make the conscious choice to step out of our conventional life and into the murkiness of something completely uncertain.  Selling our home without a new one to inhabit has been pushing my edges with intensity.  Most days I feel convicted.  But lately, I’ve been swirling around in puddles of ‘what if’ and regret.

I have chosen to jump into a deep pool without being prepared and have been here for quite some time.  There are times where I’m able to stay calm enough to tread water and wait for the way out to appear.  My recent feeling has been more like I’m drowning; thrashing around looking for something, anything to grab hold of.  I remember from my lifeguard training that when someone is drowning, they are fully under the influence of their amygdala gland, scrambling toward survival.  Writhing around is not only an abundant waste of energy, it creates a situation where the people around the victim need to worry about keeping their head above water too, since saving oneself might be achieved by pushing another beneath the surface.

We choose joy.  It is clear now that what I choose to focus on contributes greatly to my perception of the world.  My emotional landscape is correlated to my ability to meet the world with myself.  It is often that I am drawn into feeling like an external object can solve a problem.  I have been seduced by our culture into thinking that it is the ‘thing’ – in this case my home – that will bring me happiness.  Feeling between things means that I am forced to find inner security.  We have created a situation where we are forcing ourselves to grow beyond materialism.  I know from my experience over the past weeks that there is no room to indulge fear in my new landscape.  I am happy to acknowledge it, thank it for it’s messages of warning, then to put it into perspective and ultimately set it free…at least temporarily, in favor of joy.  Deep joy that is only possible from within.  I just keep bringing myself back to the surface…again.  and.  again.

Red Lights

1bc5962f273acaac56043f0b4978851c

Last night as I was coming home from a primordial movement class I was stopped by a red light.  I sat there daydreaming through a song that had come on the radio, reflecting on the nourishing experience of the evening.  Then I clued into how long I had been waiting there for the light to change.  I considered running the red, since it was late, and there were no visible cars.  I thought better of it…being someone who does not like to chance things by breaking rules. A few cars passed by in the opposite direction.  Then the song”Renegades” by X Ambassadors came on the radio.  I listened to the song in its entirely…another 4:17 passed…the light was still red.  As I sat there, I considered running the red a few more times.  Then it dawned on me that there was a different way!  I didn’t need to sit there waiting,  I could turn right on the red, then left into the plaza on the corner, then right again onto the road toward home.  I smiled at the notion, and did it.  As I continued my drive home, I continued to glance at the light in my rear view mirror.  It was still red for the entire time it was visible to me.

I don’t need to break rules to get what I want, I just have to find new, different, and creative ways to work around road blocks.

Let’s be RENEGADES!!!!!!!!

Equinox Blessings

10863928_10152975001851181_7481355021539385769_o

At Winter Solstice we participated in a giving ceremony.  We were to bring an item to give away to someone to set our intention for the coming lunation.  The object did not have to be related to the intention, but instead be something of significant attachment so that it was not easy to let go of it.  Since our big purge, it was easy to fulfill this requirement since there is very little in my life that doesn’t have personal significance now! The idea was to set something in motion.  To actualize a deep desire for change – change that I wanted so much that I was willing to give something away that was important to me.

Now that it is Spring Equinox, I can reflect on this past quarter with admiration for how far I have come.  My intention at Solstice was to release my fear of making mistakes.  I wanted it so much that this quarter we took it one step further listed our house before we had somewhere of our own to move to.  I want to live with integrity so much that I’m willing to part with the memories attached to this ‘thing’ which has come to represent my home.  Home is actually found inside myself and within the embrace of my loved ones.

So I set out into this Spring with determination to find the way along our new path, overgrown as it may be, it has been there all along.  I brave myself for the journey, reminding myself to be unafraid of taking a wrong turn.  For no turn is wrong when any effort to forge this path will only lead to new and previously unimagined possibilities.  The seed of change which was planted in late summer is bursting with new energy, ready to break the surface of the soil!

Blessings for balance this Spring Equinox!

What new things are sprouting in your life?

Cutting the Tethers

10931681_10152975027296181_7827267807795421190_o

Making the descent into the unknown is a scary ride.  We are currently working our way out of this wonderful home that has been our comfort for over 8 years.  I love this house.  It makes me feel good.  But it has become clear that it no longer serves us.  We were different people than when we moved in.  We wanted to live in a neighbourhood so that our future children would be able to play with their classmates.  We now homeschool our three little ones.  We wanted a large property where we could grow our own vegetables and fruits, but not too big.  It is no longer big enough to hold our vision.  I hold such gratitude for the deep and meaningful ways this home has held us.

We recently returned from a three week ‘vacation’ to Florida, where we were trying our hand at a transient lifestyle.  We thought we might be able to sell the house and hit the road for a while, becoming ‘roadschoolers.’  It was a fantastic trip and brought us a lot of clarity.  Having a napping baby in the mix made it really difficult to do much, especially since our children don’t sleep in the car.  What ended up happening is that she missed her naps for nearly the entire trip!  This resulted in some undesirable behaviour, and really got us questioning this as a longer term solution.

Two days before the end of the trip, as Rob and I sat around the campfire together after putting the kids to bed, we reviewed the pros and cons of life in an Airstream.  We could easily identify the challenges, since we were living them moment to moment.  But the benefits were abundant as well.   Living minimally was such a breath of fresh air!  We have been trying to push into reducing our stuff for a really long time, so experiencing life with few belongings was refreshing and inspiring.  It was so meaningful to take the children places to learn things first hand.  They were able to experience so much more than is possible in one place…it was incredible.  We tried not to do a lot of ‘attractions,’ but went to a Titanic exhibition and saw Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  Even the day we hunted for seashells along the ocean shore was amazing for the children!  They have grown in so many unexpected ways as a result of our travels.

By the end of the campfire conversation, we had decided that as difficult as it was to live this way, things would be different if we stayed in one place for much longer periods of time.  Changing how often we moved ourselves would allow us to set better boundaries for the children, fall into a nap routine for the baby, find better food to eat in each location, and generally make it plausible to find enough creative solutions to make our dream into a reality.

That night after we went to bed, there was a huge rainstorm.  We had been blessed with precipitation-free travels up until then, so sleeping through a rainstorm in the Airstream was a new experience for us all.  The dream we had created the night before were swirling around like the puddles in the children’s bedroom!  The trailer was leaking (badly) in several places and a mildew smell came to join the party.  As much as we were ready to make the jump, the rain had made it clear that this was not the right time.  Now that we’ve returned the trailer to the dealership and our lives to our version of routine, we have decided that traveling with thee children five and under is not ideal.  It seems that our family isn’t quite old enough for this type of lifestyle…yet.  We’ve filed this idea away for a few years down the road.

We did come home with clarity on a few other things as well.  It became clear while away from our routines that things in our life were no longer serving us as we had assumed they were.   We decided that in order to move forward, we needed to let go of the things that are no longer serving us.  We need to cut the ropes which tether us to the shore.  We identified that our mortgage/house and the number of hours that Rob is working outside the home needed attention.  We have a beautiful vision of where we want to end up…living debt free on a rural property somewhere with gardens, fruit trees, livestock, and joy.  The trouble has always been what steps we should take to get us there.  So, we are cutting the tethers in order to take a first few uncomfortable steps toward something new.  Toward the unknown.  The house will be listed shortly.  The hours of work are being negotiated.  We would rather choose to make an uncomfortable change from a place of security than to wait for it to be imposed upon us.  I also believe our finest human creativity is born of necessity.  So it is with courage and determination that we begin to drift from this beautiful life we know and continue watching for shadows dancing upon the horizon to guide our journey.

 

Harvest Season

At this time of year, harvest is abundant!  Processing food for the winter months is all consuming and the incoming volume of produce seems relentless.  We have been working our way through bushels of tomatoes, peppers, apples and cucumbers that have blessed our counters.  It’s hard to see that volume of perishable food as a blessing when you’re drowning in domestic tasks, but it truly is.  We have such gratitude for the fresh fruits and vegetables that have come to us from toxin free environments and loving hands.  In the midst of feverish attention to kitchen tasks, I am trying to stop and remind myself that this food will sustain us, that my work now will be what sustains us.  The process of storage and use undulates between stressful and easy.  The beauty is in this binary relationship of catching and storing energy for later release.  This burst of hard work makes room for the more laid back introspective months to come.  I love the ability to pop down to the cellar for a jar of this or that in the winter, opening a jar of homemade whatever brings back a rush of summer in the midst of snow covered branches.

There are other harvests happening at this time too, as we take stock of how we spent our time this past year.  We have been noticing which things we’ve put our energy into that were fruitful and which were not.  It is in the harvest season where we already begin to dream ahead to next spring, postulating on which plants to keep and which to replace with something different.  Did we have enough of this or too much of that?  We are also thinking on our time as a commodity as of late.  Looking at how we spend our minutes, with too much of this or too little of that.  The beauty of harvest is that even though our hands are busy, we are set to a task which helps our busy minds sort out the emotional harvest of the year.

The Sound of Crying

Our culture has a very low tolerance for crying.  I know this because I feel it in my gut every time one of my children begins.  I think that our mammalian instinct to run to the aid of our child has been misplaced.  Instead of a genuine care for the well being of our child, our instinctual response has been directed toward ‘making it stop.’  I frequently observe people trying to find ways to stop the expression of children’s heavy emotions.  It’s like some sort of emergency when a child cries.  People leap from chairs into action like something I’ve never seen before.  It would be one thing if we were rushing toward our children to comfort them and be present for them during their difficult emotions.  Instead, many people say things like, ‘You’re alright’ – which clearly they aren’t, or try to distract the child by whisking them away from the situation toward something else.  I only wish this type of urgency could be redirected toward things which warrant our swift attention.  If only we were that on fire for something we actually have the right and power to control…ourselves!

There are indeed safety considerations when we are thinking of children crying, because it is fear that moves us to action in a hurry.  But most of the time my children’s cries are over emotional hurts rather than physical ones, and the fear is more of being judged as a parent than for the well being of our children.  Our children who cry because they want to be heard, understood, and ultimately comforted in their moments of discomfort.   I want to raise children who know how to embrace a diverse range of emotions including the not so savory ones, with the knowledge that they will pass.  Our emotions can blow over, just like clouds, if we are able to learn how to honour them while they are here.  When we fail to acknowledge our emotions, then they find unhealthy ways to stay within us, manifesting and expressing themselves in other and unexpected ways.  Should we not be valuing expression of emotions in order to value the person?

I am learning to slow myself down.  When someone is crying, I begin by taking a few deep breaths and centering myself.  I don’t pretend to be separate from the culture I was raised in and still participate in.  I make mistakes, and sometimes feel impatience towards my crying child.  What I can do is try to push back against it, recognizing what a wonderful gift I have in knowing that there is a different and in my opinion, better way – to choose support.  I make a lot of mistakes, but don’t we all.  Honouring my self as a learner in need of my own support  who is also capable of my own emotional storms is only human.  And in effect, good modelling for my children.  So long as compassion remains at the heart of my interactions, the way I ‘make things right’ when I’ve messed up may be the most valuable lesson of all.

Earlier this summer during a visit to a local splash pad (an interesting invention that is ace at wasting water) we met another family with two young children.  The young boy had recently had eye surgery, taking him from legally blind to nearly perfect vision.  The day we met them was the first day he had been able to play outside since regaining his sight.  He and his sister  were running around so quickly that at one point that they hit each other head on.  There was an audible crack when their heads made contact.  I watched the little girl fly backward onto the concrete, hearing another thump.  My eyes welled.  I felt helpless, but my discomfort swelled as I heard their mother’s first reaction…”You’re alright.”

Perhaps it was her own discomfort in feeling there was nothing she could do to make it better.  She couldn’t undo their pain.  She couldn’t do anything to remove the hurt.  But what is available to us as parents is the opportunity to meet our children emotionally.  We have the ability to comfort them.  We have the capacity to be present for them in their struggles.  This is what I wish for myself in difficult times; compassion.  Why is it that we cannot treat our children with the same compassionate respect that we hope to receive ourselves?