Thursday, October 29, 2009


Isn’t the sun always brighter after a rainy day?
Last night my daughter went to her room to do some art. A few minutes later I checked in and her brother was sitting next to her on the floor doing art alongside her – in HER room. This never happens. They stayed in there and were absolutely silent for a good hour. Then Zach emerged proud of his accomplishment and meandered off to bed.

Zach’s Collage "The Art of Being Present" (from my little Buddha Boy)

A little while later Grace emerged with a grin on her face. She handed me a paper that said “To Mom, From Grace”. I flipped it over and found that she had created a very thoughtful collage for me. She explained all of the parts and why she chose them. It was quite thoughtful.

Grace’s Collage for Mom

Notice my favorite Rumi poem - "Out beyond the ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." Ok, I have to admit, she completely redeemed herself for now. Isn't life juicy?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Behind Anger

Last night my children sat in the living room preparing to watch “Underdog”. We needed some downtime. Zach has a flu bug. Grace is 13. I had worked all day. Rick had a painful visit to the dentist earlier in the day. Grace told Zach to scoot over and not breathe on her. This was understandable since he was sick. Zach said something about the movie and she told him he was spitting on her when she spoke, even though he had moved 3 feet away. He may have been letting the spit fly as he spoke, but it wasn't intentional. Grace has this way of speaking to her brother that just reeks with resentment and exageration. Zach became defensive and said Grace was being ignorant and criticizing him for being sick. They were both right in their own minds. They bantered back and forth until they reached my critical mass and I sent them both to their rooms. Then they turned their hostility towards me instead of each other. They did not feel justified in their imprisonment, but I sure felt better.
After a little bit I told them they may return and eat their dinner and that we could watch the movie providing there was no further bickering. Zach was totally cool with this and seemed to have moved on. Grace refused to speak or acknowledge my presence. She did say at one point during her confinement that I do not listen to her. I told her I would listen to her after we all calmed down but this was not good enough. “It will be too late!!!” she screamed. Oh to be 13 and female again. I am so glad to be 37.
She also made a sly comment under her breath as I sent her to her room. She grumbled “Why do we have to do this every night?” I felt like saying “Because you are mean to your brother every night”, but I felt that would not be beneficial. The problem is that she does not see how she treats her brother and that it is difficult to define. What does that “tone” sound like? How do you describe the anger and resentment that lingers behind the words or that “look” that says I hate you? How do you tell a child to stop feeling what they’re feeling? At the same time I see Zach suffering because of her feelings towards him. I don’t know what to do.
The family counselor said something very helpful the other night. She said that anger is not a primary feeling; there is always a feeling behind it. I know this also from my work with NVC. SO what is behind Grace’s anger? Is it fear? If so, of what? I have spent the past few months trying to find a way for Grace to see how she is treating him. I am realizing this may not be the best path. She may never see how she is treating him and even if she does, how does that help with the anger itself? I am hoping now to find out what is beneath the anger. I have no clue how to excavate this truth. Any ideas?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Saint Sophia

The pre-story:
Very soon after I moved to the farm with Rick, I awoke one morning to find this beautiful kitten sitting at my front door. I fell instantly in love with her. She had a collar with a bell and so I figured she belonged to someone. Over the next week she stayed very close to our home and followed Rick and I everywhere. I felt like she was choosing us to be her family. Every time I would hear the little bell on her collar jingle I would smile. We began to call her Sophia. I wrote this passage in my journal during that time.

August 12, 2008

I had an awakening moment with Sophia last night. I let her in the house at dusk as the coyotes were howling from the field. I fed her some dinner and I sat down to meditate. She ate a little and came over to me and rubbed up against me and then laid down on the ottoman in front of me and fell soundly asleep. I looked at her and wept. This tough kitten who has survived coyotes, bears, owls, hawks and racing cars; this tough kitten whose senses are so acute and on guard to stay alive, who is clever and wary, is resting sweetly here with me. She trusts me. And I thought: all this kitten really wants is a full belly and a safe place to sleep. Isn't that what we all need? I thought of the reptilian part of the human brain and how if these basic needs are not met, we cannot function from the higher brain, the higher states of consciousness. How many of us live life from this place of survival? When Sophia rubbed up against me and looked into my eyes I wasn't sure who was more grateful, me or her. I couldn't help but let her sleep in the house last night. I put her in the laundry room and she slept all night in a pile of socks on the dryer. I wonder if that's the first night of safety she has had in quite awhile. I love this sweet kitten.

I realized, somehow from this experience, that I have this great gift right now in partnership with Rick. I am getting to know myself and I am awakening more into this life. I couldn't do this very well until my own basic needs were met. I think to feel loved and truly seen must be among our basic needs for survival, and I don't think I have felt seen and loved for who I am until now, at least not for a very long time. This man loves me even though I am not perfect. This man loves me even though I sometimes live from this place of survival even now. This man loves me even though I am just being born into living fully. This man loves me even though I bring a whole collection of ghosts and family with me. He loved me enough to buy a farm with me in the beginning of our relationship because he thought it was our best chance at making it. He is willing to see me for who I am even more than who thinks I am. I think sometimes I am the lost kitten in our relationship that needed a safe place of refuge so that I could come home to myself. Now, with a full belly of gratitude, I can see how much I am loved. I can feel safe to "be" with myself, and to "be" present in this love. I know now that I do not need to be "worthy" of love, I just need to "be". I know I've said this before again and again…but each time the groove grows deeper and more real. And now I am starting to believe.

This morning the piece below pops up on my Google home page. The story is confirmation of all I felt last night. What a glorious moment of clarity. I think maybe there is some vision of us in this and some calling in here for me too. I believe this parallels the vision of the land we've both had and maybe calls in a little of the vision I have had for land all along. I'm not sure what that means quite yet, but I am curious. But first, I must continue saving myself.

Celebrated June 2nd
Every mother wins the "Mother of the Year" award in her own family, but if a vote were taken for the "Mother of the Thousand Years of the Byzantine Empire," the unanimous choice would be a valiant woman named Sophia who turned a personal tragedy into a triumph of the spirit. She symbolizes motherhood in the purest sense, sanctifying the role all mothers play in the daily grind of raising a family, elevating the mothers of the world to a sacred level in the eyes of God and giving them their due recognition in the divine plan of the universe. A woman acquires a spark of divine grace in bearing a child, and thereafter in caring for it she labors not only for herself but for the property of the Almighty as well, for we are the children of God.

The after story:
We did not know at that time that our Sophia carried 6 kittens in her belly. We brought her into our home and she birthed her babes in Zach’s closet. We watched them grow and we learned about mothering from her. She is an excellent mother. The kittens all found good homes. We kept one for our family. When I look at Sophia now I still feel that smile come onto my face like it did in the beginning. I love this sweet mama cat.