Seek First to Understand

I seek first to understand what in the world this thing is. Like a hippie dandelion or something.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” –Stephen Covey, also derived from a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi.

Have you ever met someone that you just did not like, who you found obnoxious, annoying, overwhelming, or just plain nasty? Especially someone that you were forced to work with for whatever reason and could not easily escape?

My list of those who fit this bill could wrap around the Earth, especially in my younger years, before I happened upon a revelation that changed how I approached my relationships with others.

Back when I was doing computer repair for a big company, I had a user who just got on every nerve I had available. She was a Type A personality gone explosive: very demanding, easily frustrated, and didn’t seem to trust my opinion or like my presence very much. I did my best to be respectful and keep my opinions and irritation to myself, but every time I saw a ticket come in for this woman to do a repair, I practically writhed on the ground with green foam spilling . . . → Read More: Seek First to Understand

A Frugal Idea for When the Little Ones Just Gotta Go!

It’s not what you think. This is volcanic poo.

As a busy mom on the go, I know that children, especially the young ones, don’t always operate on our schedule. Neither do their bodily functions. I was reminded of this today when we visited a playground, and lo and behold, the porta-potties were behind a locked fence (genius, I tell you, genius.) I thought I was the only one who had to go when my son blurts out, “But I have to poo!”

Now we’ve had some hiking poo instances that are stories for another day, but in an upscale, suburban park such as the one we were visiting, digging a hole for “business” would not have gone over well. Thankfully, I had a backup plan.

When my son first started serious potty training, he had already grown too big for training seats. Therefore, as I went about looking for portable toilets in case nature calls him a little too loudly, I was disappointed to see they were both expensive and would be outgrown in a few months if not before then. And then what would I do with the thing? Second-hand toilets typically don’t go over too well.

. . . → Read More: A Frugal Idea for When the Little Ones Just Gotta Go!

The Power of Deep, Honest, and Continual Encouragement

And to think you were one rude comment away from never getting to see this awesomeness. Go ahead. Click on it. I dare you.

What difference would it make in your life right now if someone saw even a hint of what you’re capable of in an area of your personal passion and he or she said, “I see in you such talent, such capability, such power. You have a natural knack for what you do, and I can easily see you taking this to such great heights. You keep at it and don’t ever give up, because you can bring such greatness to this world with what you can do.” What difference would it have made 5 years ago? 10 years ago? In college? In high school?

Now, what if you had someone encourage you like that on a regular basis? What difference would it have made in how you approach the world, the choices you would have made, and where you are now?

In 2004 I joined an organization called Toastmasters. Known mainly as the club that increases public speaking skills, it teaches through firsthand experience effective communication (both public and interpersonal) and leadership skills. I joined . . . → Read More: The Power of Deep, Honest, and Continual Encouragement

Death and Spirit Through a Child’s Eyes

The other day, my 4 year-old son’s pet fish passed away. He had the fish since he was 2, and after how devastated he was when our rabbit died, I was really not looking forward to telling him the bad news.

In our family’s spiritual tradition, we believe that our bodies go back into the Earth to become a new body while our souls/hearts go back into Spirit to become one before branching out again to become something new. When our rabbit died, I went through the explanation a few times and answered some hard questions (“Yes, one day you’ll go back into the Earth, too, and your heart will go back into Spirit, but I bet that won’t be for a long long long long long time.”) After we had our funeral in the backyard, I listened and watched as he played with his toys. There was a whole storyline going on about one of this Thomas trains going back into the Earth. It’s the way kids process, through their toys.

So upon telling him that his fish now had to go back into the Earth, I was expecting waterworks the likes that would shame Niagara Falls, but it . . . → Read More: Death and Spirit Through a Child’s Eyes

Mother May I — Permission to Be Who We Are

The Earth, Moon, and Sky never need anyone’s permission to be the Earth, Moon, and Sky, why do we need permission to be us?

I have the strangest affliction. Strange little bug in my system, it has convinced me that certain “quirks” of mine — meaning things that do not fall under the category of how I “should” act and “should” feel — are somehow a terrible reflection on my character and me as a person. For instance, I am someone who needs a lot of alone-time in order to recharge and work on projects such as writing and art that do not require a team effort. I thought all this alone-time made me anti-social or that something was wrong with me because I don’t like being around people all the time. Then I learned that’s the way introverts recharge. When I heard that, I was thinking, “Wow! Yes!! That’s exactly what it feels like, recharging!” And with that, I finally gave myself permission to do what I’ve always done and what always felt best for me — get my ample amounts of alone time to recharge.

Wait, what? Since when did we have to give ourselves “permission” to . . . → Read More: Mother May I — Permission to Be Who We Are

Holiday Spirit and Why it’s Okay to be Grumpy

The holiday season is a strange paradox, especially in my area of the world. It’s getting colder, very few fresh, local foods available if at all, daylight is minimal (and for those of us affected adversely by lack of light, we’re just a little extra moody,) too many people are rushing around blowing the very little money they have in a brutal economy to fulfill increasingly exorbitant gift expectations, the traffic is horrendous on highways and by any major stores, and that’s all just counting minor aggravations. All too often loved ones pass away during this time, and recent tragic events (children and adults killed or traumatized in Newtown, CT and in China on the same day, just to name the most popular,) also deepen this sense of lowness. In my part of the world, Nature is entering her hibernating phase and calls us to join her, yet we’re pushing ourselves to the max, forcing smiles on our faces lest we get fed up and be called “Scrooge” and somehow, during all this, we’re supposed to be imbued with a “Holiday Spirit,” whatever religion, spiritual path, or tradition you follow.

I have been thinking these past few weeks as things . . . → Read More: Holiday Spirit and Why it’s Okay to be Grumpy

Of Gurus and Wisemen and a Set of Keys

Some of these inner doors of our being get pretty darn weathered before they’re ever opened.

I have spent a lot of time in my life looking for someone who had all the answers for which I searched high and low. Every time I thought I found him or her, I also eventually found disappointment. In a desperate bid to find the answers to my endless questions about life, I was guilty of nearly deifying those who (at the time) seemed to have all the answers I was looking for. And then to find out they weren’t perfect? That they weren’t the be-all end-all to what I needed? That they were just as human and flawed as me? Perish the thought! But I admit it. I was guilty of it. And it was all because I had been expecting all my “right” answers to come from the gurus, the wise masters upon the mountain who know it all.

Yet all the while there was someone waiting who did have the answers, someone I had overlooked time and time again in my vast search. Someone upon whose hand dangled the most grand and glittering ring of keys I had ever seen . . . → Read More: Of Gurus and Wisemen and a Set of Keys

A Quick Statement on the Terrible Tragedy in CT

Today, 27 lives were tragically ripped from this world, 20 of them young children, in a school shooting in Newtown, CT. I will not go into details. That can be found elsewhere. I only want to make a brief statement about it.

I can only hint at imagining what the families are going through right now. I couldn’t stop crying watching the news. Right now I’m praying with every breath, and it seems so trite to even attempt to pray for healing, because with something this horrific, recovery is so distant. But the pain is now. And what else can one do when one is so far with nothing in the world to offer that would make any of it go away?

So I’m praying love, praying hugs, praying the tears of a nation if not a world to bathe those wounds. And gratitude, praying gratitude like you wouldn’t believe, for the gifts of my loved ones and my beautiful boy, and gratitude for the first responders, police, paramedics, 911 dispatchers, clergy, volunteers, and especially the teachers who stood in the line of fire to save lives, for some at the cost of their own. And I’m praying the Light . . . → Read More: A Quick Statement on the Terrible Tragedy in CT

In Perfect Space

She calls us and stirs us to the depth of our being, grasping our hand and pulling us to dance in Her sacred groves beneath Her silvery light.

I have been fasting for the past 3 days. Unlike past fasts, I don’t feel hungry during this one. Maybe a spot here or there, but it usually goes away. It started out with my catching little guy’s intestinal illness. Since I had no appetite anyway and had only had maybe 4 brussel sprouts and a slice of meat that day, I just had water the rest of the day and called it a fasting day. The next day I continued on water though I was feeling better having recovered from the illness. I continued until I felt I needed more, so I added a little apple cider to water and had that and water most of the day. I then added some frozen chicken broth and some frozen fresh apple juice I found.

I’ve been waiting for my body to tell me it wants to eat. It doesn’t. Not yet anyway. This has never happened before. I’m usually hungry the first day, a wreck the next and by the third . . . → Read More: In Perfect Space

Amazing moment

So I’m officially getting my mother’s day present which is TIME ALONE!!! I was outside in the hammock listening to some Dead Can Dance. There’s one song where the line goes “the rising wind blows” and a huge gust of wind went in perfect cadence to every time that line was sung.

I got up after that because I was afraid one of the branches were going to hit me. Right after, the neighbor turned on the lawn mower, so it was a nice hit of synchronicity. Then one of my favorite songs came on. I happened to have two yellow poplar flowers in my hands and was staring at the sky. I danced along to the song with the flowers, the winds swirling around me, the sky open to the point that everything on the ground seemed to fade. A cloud the perfect shape of a dragon cascaded across the sky. The whole experience was so beautiful, so needed, and so powerful that I had tears in my eyes afterwards.