Tag Archives: parenting

The Love Environment

I woke to the angry tapping of my window glass against the frame as it sat restlessly in the pane, the once sweet slumber of my bedroom’s sole occupant destroyed by the harmless wind that had no idea how hard it was for me to get to sleep last night. Tossing and turning, I tried to shut out the noise. Of course, I couldn’t. Thoughts churned in my mind, turning over and over on how love is about embracing and accepting things that don’t always rub you the right way. Love has a way of stretching us, of taking us past our comfort zone and teaching us about ourselves through the lessons it gives. I know I have learned the most about myself in my love experiences, from the painful ones to the joyous ones.

Photographer, D. Sharon Pruitt.

Photographer, D. Sharon Pruitt.

Friendships are with people you love. At least, I hope so. I’m going to assume (cringe @ ass-u-me) your friendships are with people you care for and not void fillers. Love has many flavors, many shades and expressions that can look like anything we understand or receive as caring. The love I have for my children is different from that of a lover, another family member, or a friend. Even friends have their different levels of closeness and depth. All are different aspects of love. I have yet to meet a person I could not love or try to love in some way. Some of these people have no idea how much I care, while others second-guess it. That is ok. Love is something you can feel on your own; however, the expression of it/the action bits require some form of mutual participation.

Balance plays a big part in the perception of love and how well a relationship functions. Most people see balance as tit-for-tat, or you give me this and I pay you back (and vice versa). That is a trade relationship, in my opinion. Last time I checked our interpersonal relationships are not business transactions. Our relationships are about connection, and everything I’ve seen involving keeping score brings an element of competition to relationships that degrade the foundation of connection. Viewing love with expectations, which are about your viewpoint rather than what the other person sees, is a sure way to place distance and stress on a relationship. Being in a curious state of mind, seeking to understand instead of to blame goes a long way in keeping connections flowing freely.

Checking judgment is also vital to the love experience. How many times has someone shared something with you that was just as surprising to you as it was for them to actually say? In a space that is safe, where you know retaliation or negative speak will not come, is the space of non-judgment. I am a highly sensitive person, and if I see judgment on someone’s features (or worse out of their mouth) I am not likely to be very vulnerable with that person again. Opening up is a risk, and is an indicator of how safe someone feels with you. Being in a place of non-reception is a disservice to the honor a person gives by handing you a piece of them. Stowing thoughts about what you would do in someone else’s shoes is a great way to begin active listening and bridge the gap of understanding. Which moves you closer to true connection, something we all want.

photo credit: Gerhard Singer via photopin cc

photo credit: Gerhard Singer via photopin cc

Curiosity and empathy help to edify communication and freedom. Asking “why” and double checking your reception of statements help your loved one feel understood and heard. What an amazing feeling to experience and hold inside as you move through the world! Empathy is closely associated with compassion and is more than just trying to logically understand where someone is coming from. Empathy means pulling from your own similar experiences to viscerally understand where someone is in their experience of the moment. It means remembering that once you were not as knowledgeable as you are now, and that we all learn as we go. We take in our experiences and grow from them, or we keep experiencing them until we do.

How we communicate our level of caring, the words we choose, the space we give them to be themselves, how well we listen to understand, and how often we reach out creates an environment of trust and acceptance for others. Hopefully, we are creating a similar environment that we would also like to feel at home in. Love, trust, and communication is a doorway that swings both ways. Working together with an attitude of flexibility and empathy brings us closer to having the best experience of love each relationship brings to our mutual table.

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Death and Freedom

What is it about death that makes me ache to let go of my limitations? Maya Angelou, Robin Williams, and now an Uncle are gone. Their light snuffed out forever. I look at the projected time I have left and know that I still have my training wheels on. Why? Why have I been so afraid to assume my own talents and passions? The answer is simple. They don’t look like societies version of life.  How many of you hate the idea of nine-to-five work? Me, too.  I can do it. At least, I have in the past. With fourteen years of military service under my belt, I’ve done more than the nine-to-five. It doesn’t fulfill me. Working for someone else’s dream makes me feel like a robot, and that is merely existing to me.

How can I teach my daughters to get to know themselves and to step into their dreams; how can I ask my friends what their passions are and how they move forward on their passions, yet not do the same for myself? I’d be a very hypocritical leader and teacher if I didn’t embody my own advice. I’ve had opportunities coming in small waves for over a year now, and I’d been to insecure to take some risks and step into my dreams. No longer. Life doesn’t have to be a struggle. It can be fulfilling, even if it doesn’t look like what everyone else is doing.

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I know that I’m not the only one with my interests, though it seems we are a dying breed. Maybe that is why these passions burn so brightly in me, to bring them back into the light. Either way, there is no known second lease on life. Being here is a one-way ticket. Looking hard at this, I feel compelled to live as fully as I can, deeply, with as much love and excitement as possible. Bring on the adventure. Bring on the color. I want to be on the roller-coaster of hills and valleys with my hands held high and not clenched in my lap.  Life is too short to live it less than fulfilled.

Is there someone you always want to get to know better, but are too nervous to talk to? Do have a passion you hide from your friends and family?  Are your friends telling you what a great story teller/artist/singer/insert- your- thing-here you are?  Why not take some baby steps toward making those passions a reality? Why not allow yourself to shine in the way only you can? Join me as I step into myself, and into freedom. It is time to take the training wheels off and ride like the wind.

Transitionary Moments and Judgement

My oldest daughter recently promoted from eighth grade, and is now an official High Schooler. At her promotion ceremony I sat behind the mother and sister of a girl who had a solo with the choir. They sang a song about how the voice of one can make a difference, about letting go of judgement and ending hate. It was another of those moments where society and separation fell away from my awareness, and I felt so connected to the collective that I felt like I was that beautiful voice encouraging myself to dream, to do those things my heart longed for, and to embrace myself.
When the girl starting singing her part I heard the mother say something about not knowing she had a solo. I listened to the comments of the sister, about how beautiful the girl’s voice was. They both shared how amazed they were that she could sing like that. Part of me wanted to judge them in that moment. I wanted to say “why doesn’t she feel safe enough to share this part of herself with you?” but I didn’t say it. I sat with that thought, the feeling that came with it, and instead began to open myself to their reaction. There was no anger there, just genuine surprise and awe. That girl did a brave thing, standing up in front of her entire graduating class and singing her heart out, exposing herself and her passion. The tears welled in my eyes and spilled over, her vulnerability and courage as she stood stripped bare in that moment moved me. It moved everyone in the place that was present and listening. Several people around me discreetly sniffled at various times, apparently feeling very strongly as well.
I looked again at the mother and sister of that talented new High Schooler and noticed their beaming smiles, the joy on their faces. Maybe she didn’t share that she had a solo for another reason. Maybe she didn’t feel safe to share it before showtime. Maybe she wasn’t sure if she would really do it until the last moment. Who knows? It is not my place to make a snap decision about it. The point is that Mom and Sister showed up, participated, and got to share in an unforgettable moment. I hope they encourage her passion, hope they help her cultivate the talent and unrealized potential there. Passion like that needs the freedom to expand and the room to roam.

 

 

The power of one person can feel nonexistent, like a drop in an endless bucket that is the people on our planet. The kicker is that one person is more like a raindrop falling into a body of water than they realize, and once that catalyst touches the other rain drops, the energy casts ripples far and wide. We get to choose the charge of our ripples, be they negative, positive, or neutral. Have you ever been around someone who expressed an opinion about something and you felt bad inside, like you were less? Hearing about a tragedy or experiencing toxic people can feel like that. Experiencing feelings that trigger the negative can color how you see yourself, as well as how you see others. Suddenly you will be seeing the negative all around and feeling worse and worse. Have you had someone say something that resonated, that felt good inside your body? A feel good song on the radio that you find yourself nodding your head to? That woman down the street that always has a kind word to say or a genuine smile as you pass? A moment like that can make your whole day, and you spend it singing to yourself, dancing in your car at a stop light, or wearing a megawatt smile all day long. Sometimes your experience is neutral, no charge at all, just chugging along as you go. Either way the charge tips, there is a reason why you feel that way.
Putting awareness on the charge of how you receive communication can teach you so much about yourself. Noticing emotions can clue you in to when you are judging yourself, and gives you the power to transform that judgement into something else, thereby giving you the power of choosing and/or changing your charge as you need to. Letting go of judgement starts with yourself. How are you ever going to see how awesome you are while telling yourself that you aren’t, or not allowing yourself to feel your feelings? I see memes all over the internet that say things like “I just want to inspire people”. I think I understand the sentiment behind that statement, but not so much the focus on outside and external. Why not inspire yourself? Why not live those dreams and light the fire that lives within you? The ripples created by happiness, by people living their passions and their dreams ignites other by proximity. Enthusiasm is contagious. Love is contagious. That fire within you that is your passion (or passions) is love, which can be shared with others. The key about sharing is that you can’t consciously share what you aren’t aware that you already posses. Isn’t life cool?

Love and Silence

I could start this blog with a post about all my mundane basics, about my past struggles, my obstacles, or my “win’s” in life, but I won’t. I’d like to start with something near and dear to my heart, something I never thought I’d be able to feel or express in any kind of healthy way. I’d like to start with a post about love. Sitting on a bus full of rowdy kindergartners, I experienced a moment for love that was so beautiful that I was moved to tears. My past self would have been irritated and tense, overwhelmed by the noise of the children and not have felt any kind of connection at all with my daughter as she chattered excitedly about the farm animals we would be meeting when we arrived at our destination. I’d like to take a moment and explore love through my own perception, to hopefully highlight just how profound all small things can be.

Love can be a dirty word for some, spat out like an epithet with all the bitterness and bile of love gone wrong, love betrayed and misused, love that was full of manipulation and pain. These are great examples of love expressed in the negative. Love in its truest sense, has no real requirements, no limits, no boundaries save for the comfort level of those that experience it. This concept is demonstrated best after a child leaves home to live on their own, and how that changes the relationship after the illusion of interdependence is shed. Love is freedom in a way that most adults never experience, because by the time we are under our own power we no longer see or understand love in the innocent way a child does. We see love as manipulation, because that is what society agrees it is. You give me this thing, and the gesture means you love me this much. If you want to get married you propose with an expensive diamond ring, and anything else is not “good/big/expensive/insert other superlative” enough. A person won’t share love with you in a sexual manner unless you give “fill in the blank”. If you love me you will (or won’t) “fill in the blank”. Love in the adult world is full of exchanges laden in expectation and obligation. Where is the freedom in that?

Alternative lifestyles like Polyamory and open relationships are on the rise and have been getting lots of press in the last few years (shout out to San Diego’s own Kamala Devi and Showtime’s Polyamory). Why? What makes people turn to things like that? What would allow people to open up and try new things, to love with more perceived complication? Love opens up many things when expectation, obligation, and insecurity are made transparent and handled/processed in a healthy manner. When you awaken unto love as a state of being, all things become possible. Why? Simply because when you are full of love, nothing can be taken from you. Everything that is you can be shared with others at no cost to yourself. You are free to move as you please and will, taking into account the clearly set boundaries of self and others. The need for approval from anywhere other than self falls away, and what is revealed is joy.
From joy and love comes an ease of connection with trusted others. It is from this state of love and joy that some of my most profound moments of connection have come. How did I learn to experience love as a state of being? That could probably be a series of blog topics. To sum it up, I stopped judging myself and others so much and started accepting instead, and looked to myself as the generator of my emotions. Acceptance and allowing are the first steps to really loving something or someone. It is the process of looking at self with fewer and fewer judgments and criticisms and seeing what is there, not through a filter of fear/insecurity/attachment/past/insert your favorite blockage here. Just look and see it for what it is, as if it were outside yourself. I often was hyper critical of myself in self talk, the way I speak inside my head. Saying I don’t like things about myself is saying that there is something wrong with who I am. There is nothing wrong with me, I am just in my body. Experiencing. Growing. Evolving. I look again at myself and I see my body. As it is. I love those things I saw as “imperfection” because they are pieces of me, and I am worthy of love in all of its forms.

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Here I was on my middle daughters first field trip to a farm. I was surrounded by rowdy kindergartners on a bus and she was so excited that she couldn’t stop asking questions. My middle daughter is very special. Special for many reasons, but the ones I speak of here are about behavior, mental capacity, and energy. She is a high energy child in a physically adventurous way, highly intelligent beyond her grade level, and very curious. She knows exactly what she wants, where she wants to go, and what she wants others to do, too. So, we were on this noisy bus and she, as always, was asking a million questions about animals and the farm. I only had so many answers for her. We arrived, explored, and learned together. I had this amazing time being a student along side her, for once on equal footing (sort of) and surrendering to the leadership of others for a time. Too soon, it was time to go. I sat next to her on the bus, with her near the window because me being the protector I am, I have to sit on the outside. She took my hand in her tiny one and rested her head on my shoulder, pretending to sleep. The noise of the chattering children and that of the rhythmic shifting of the Diesel engine fell away, and for the space of the 20 minute drive back to her school, we sat in silence. She lay heavily against my arm, completely relaxed and trusting, more quiet and still than I’d seen her in months. I stared straight ahead, lost to this rare moment of connection in which all the noise faded away, and all I could feel was the pulse of our hearts loving each other in silent communication. I wish I had better words to describe it, but I don’t. Time slowed down, and I was hyper aware of the weight of her hand in mine. In many ways I felt her energy like I used to when she was an infant, this tiny hurricane of intelligence and spunk held in the palm of my hand.
Suddenly, I was filled with acceptance and my heart felt so full, like it would burst into a geyser of joy and rain all over everyone riding with us. I felt my shoulders relax and suddenly tears slipped slowly down my cheeks. My heart was so full, I was so full of love that it had to spill over. Since I couldn’t share it, it spilled over through my eyes. So I sat, just feeling with my heart and sharing this moment of connection with my daughter. In those moments my frustrations and hurt feelings that had built over the last few weeks fell away, my resentments dissolved, and suddenly I could see her, my energetic, sensitive, little leader in the making. I loved her more deeply with my filters and responsibilities no longer blocking the way.
When I am in this state of love it is much easier to see her motivation for her actions and help her learn healthy ways to meet her own needs and to ask for help when she can’t. Being in this state of love helps me be a better parent and enhances all of my relationships. My goal is to have as many of those heart-full moments as possible. Those moments are priceless, and make life worth living.