Listen With No Agenda

I LOVE the blog posts by Hands Free Mama.  Always so insightful and spot on to reality. Not over the top floofy.  She’s down to earth, heart wrenching, and loving.   Her recent post referring to a conversation with her daughter entitled, “The Conversation I Almost Missed and the Future it Could’ve Cost” is the epitome of that description.

Check out this quote:
“In the moment I could have crushed her spirit, I supported her.
In the moment I could have made her doubt herself, I reminded her she was human.
In the moment I could have taught her a harsh lesson, I taught her a loving lesson … a trust lesson … a grace lesson.”

Doesn’t that just tear you apart?!

I’ve learned that one of the hardest – if not THE hardest – job as a parent is to listen to my child speak and be present with them without any agenda whatsoever. No agenda of teaching them right from wrong. No agenda of what other people will think of their actions. No agenda on their appearance. No agenda about their futures.
I’ve taken my “job” as parent so seriously that it’s been difficult to lay those down even once in awhile just so that I can hear what my child thinks/feels/desires.
Oh it’s easy when we’re laying on the grass looking at the clouds. Not so easy when they’re saying hurtful things about a person, or their opinions on love and life, or how something isn’t fair.
Can I listen to them in THIS moment without the agenda to fix or teach them??

I Deserve Compassion

I had an amazing self facilitation session in the Work yesterday. Quite accidentally on purpose.
I was fresh off an argument with my husband, driving our ride-on lawn tractor, mowing some of our acreage. As I usually do while mowing, I was listening to Katie on my iPod. This time it was “The Work on Relationships”. I’d listened to it before and was being opened up yet again to the courage and discoveries of the young woman with whom Katie was working. So many of her “finds” reminding me of the pain I felt around the disagreement with my husband. After some time, I realized I was using the recording to avoid my own inquiry Work. So…I switched it off and while I mowed, I turned inward.
It seemed to me that I could literally hear Katie’s voice in my head gently guiding and asking me the questions. Muffled by the sound of mower I spoke my answers aloud.
The gist of the situation is that I neglected to thank or even mention that I noticed something my husband had worked hard at doing for me.
My thought: I’m hurt because “He is mad at me”.
At the end, I noticed that with the thought I was entrenched in my defence and justification. Without, I felt the desire to go and apologize. While I contemplated doing so, I felt fear rise up inside of me. But why?! If I don’t have the thought, “he’s mad at me”, where is this fear coming from?
By this time I was sitting, staring straight ahead, on the quiet mower parked inside our shed. And as I sat quietly staring, what appeared was the thought, “I deserve punishment when I do wrong”. Whoa! And then I heard Katie’s voice again: “Is that true? You deserve punishment?”
Something broke open in me and I wept and wept at the realization that – yes!! I believe that it’s true. And a flood of images from my childhood and into my adult years rolled through my mind at how I react when I hold that belief. It’s at the root of so much of my distancing or running away when I feel responsible. And on and on. I was overcome and sat there clearing years of hurt and suffering.
Who am I without the thought? Someone who can own up to her mistakes. Be forthright. Not manipulative.
And the sweetest turn around: I deserve compassion when I do wrong.
Love. Simple as that. And I am the one to give me that compassion.
How exciting is that?!
It’s a new day.

Letting Go of My Agenda

I would like to talk about “letting go”.  We all have our own educational philosophies and I’m not preaching or pushing any particular one on any of you.

We homeschool.  My son is 16, is at the end of his grade 10 year and the year didn’t go according to plan.

The plan was to get the 10 level courses done along with some extracurriculars and be right-on-schedule.  That’s what this mama likes.  Her children to be on schedule.  Who’s schedule?  I dunno.  Let’s see…THOSE kids over there.  THEY already have their own companies and are musical geniuses.  They’re awesome at sports and have a tonne of friends.  They’re reading the Iliad for fun, are hard workers and never waste time on computer games.  In fact, the only time they play them is when friends are over and even then, they’d rather be outside building a cabin in their back yard.  But most of all…they are motivated individuals with a clear view of what they want after highschool and they make the effort it takes to get there.

That ^ is what I’m working to let go of.  The ideal.  And, btw, I do know kids who hold many of those qualities and they’re awesome.  They rock!  YAYYY them!  This is not to diminish them.  I’m proud to know them.  I’m addressing the pervasive comparison bug that is actually very unfair to the high achievers of the world.  They shouldn’t dim their light to make someone else shine.  Not EVER.

The thing is I didn’t even know that I held onto that ideal and letting it go has become one of my biggest hurdles as a parent.  Letting go of that ideal and accepting my child as-they-are has taken a surprising turn.  I can only let go of the ideal I have of my children when I let go of the one I have of me.  And therein lies the rub.

Acceptance of who my child is, how they are in the world, what they think and say, and how they learn is anything but a passive process.  It’s a choice in every situation.  A LETTING GO.

This is what it feels like to accept my child in a particular moment:  In order for me not to push my agenda onto them, it’s as if I am allowing them to ruin their ENTIRE lives.  That’s the feeling.
Example: an opportunity comes up for them that I think would be great and they don’t want to go.  I’m thinking, “If they don’t go, they will never learn to push themselves.  Not EVER”.  If they fail a class it translates to, “They are FAILURES!”  If they dare to talk back to me it becomes, “They will be disrespectful people and no one will ever want to hire them.  They will become homeless and die alone!”
How can I just accept them when their very LIVES are at stake!?!

So…I am willing to let them ruin their entire lives in order for me to listen to them right now.

Sound crazy?  It’s the mind game I play with myself in order to ease the constant urge I have to push my agenda onto my children.  I intend to be the kind of parent they need – not make them be the kind of child I need.

A balance would be beautiful. One I strive for. Encouraging while accepting. Giving a nudge in a direction while not outright shoving. Guiding while not dictating. Talking and hearing. That’s the tight rope of parenting. One that seems even thinner, perhaps, for the homeschooling parent especially in the highschool years.

Oooh and like that tight rope analogy, I need a net for the times I fall so I can get back up and try again.

Flip It

I absolutely love looking at things in a radically different way.  I love when after seeing life one way for years, something (a conversation, event, etc) happens that causes me to see it completely differently.  It’s a mind blowing – mind growing – experience.  It’s invigorating.  And, conversely, it can be exhausting as years of poisonous beliefs dissolve. I’m often physically blown back in my chair and can’t help but exclaim…”WHOAAAA”.  

These can be perceived as minor things. Not seeing the dishes all over my kitchen counter as a disastrous mess, for instance, but as lovely evidence of our abundance.  (this was actually no minor thing for me).  They can also be bigger concepts like, “My child needs to earn my trust.” flipped to “My child does NOT need to earn my trust.”  Say whhuuuut?  To even bigger concepts about our world.

Take something – anything – any thought or belief (one that’s stresses or even merely irks you) and just flip it to the opposite.  “My kitchen is a disaster” could become “My kitchen is lovely.”  “These people aren’t being helpful” could become “These people are being helpful”.  Try it on and blow your mind.  It sometimes requires stillness to see what your own judgments are trying to teach you.  You may even find that your mind’s first instinct is to rail against it.  NOOOO!  That’s ridiculous.  And I invite you to flip that ‘no’ and just TRY ‘yes’…for even a moment.

It’s a wondrously exciting trip.  As an amazing woman  just recently said: “It’s like reality has permission to live again.”

Willing to Fail

It’s that deep down, terrifying vulnerability that is at the heart of the stories I believe in life. Stories like, “he/she was rude to me”, “they shouldn’t talk to me like that”, “I need him/her to apologize”, “I want to be liked or approved of” and (one I use often), “they are being so inconsiderate!”.  Mmm. And then there’s: I’m afraid they’ll judge me. I’ve done some work on that last one while getting ready for the play I’m a part of at the moment.

I am amazed at the sweet, bone wrenching vulnerability I found within me when I contemplated who I might be, standing on that stage, while NOT having the ability to think “they will judge me”.  I was expecting exhilaration yet what I noticed was naked, unprotected, vulnerable me.

Wow. It just hit me. I wonder if that’s why we have those “naked dreams” when we feel nervous about something. Perhaps it’s not something to fight or feel worried over. Perhaps it’s our subconscious getting us ready to be who we NEED to be – who we really are – in those moments. Our true natures. Open. Vulnerable. Willing to lay it all on the line. And willing to fail again and again. Imagine that…because the hard hearted alternative living from a space of “not willing to fail” may be a life closed off to everything that can bring joy and love.

Willing to fail.

A powerfully vulnerable statement.

Beeeee Sofffft

11130239_10155405007235486_497396199446976705_nBeeee sofffft.

So beautiful.
I’ve found that the mission of all missions is to be soft with ME – and then I can’t help but be loving and soft to others and the world around me.
It’s so easy to be hard on myself. I often don’t even notice I’m doing it. Internal dialogue – however brief – like:
“I shouldn’t have done that!”
“I’m doing it wrong.”
“They don’t like me.”
“I suck. I’m fat.”
“I’m a bad mom.”
“I can’t to do this.”
“Stupid!”
All of these and more are self abusive, violent thinking which lead to my pain and suffering that I, in turn, end up blaming and inflicting on everyone and everything around me.
It can be as subtle as having a bad day or becoming quiet and withdrawn, confusing those around us. And it can be as blatant as lashing out in harsh words to those we love. Or it can look like blaming the economy or environment or whatever for our miseries.
Sure…I wish the environment was healthier. I wish people didn’t lose jobs (my husband included) and that groceries weren’t so expensive.
Or that the government…what? What do I wish the government would do? Take better care of us?  Sure lets go with that.
I wish there wasn’t what seems to be an underlying plot by the “Big 5” to keep us humble folk down.
I wish there wasn’t greed.
I can sink into misery and relinquish all of my happiness and love to the hardness I see around me.
Or I can look within and see that the hardness is actually within me:
I wish I was healthier.
I wish I didn’t lose my job – the job I have of taking care of my thinking when I blame others for my fears.
I wish I would take better care of me.
I wish I didn’t have an underlying plot to keep me and those around me down.
I wish I wasn’t greedy. Greedy for even more of ANYthing than what I already have in this very moment.
I’m not trying to be naive. I can’t control all of those others things! Corporations. Tax hikes. Isis. Police brutality. Violent attacks on the innocent. The big garbage pile growing in the pacific.
I can talk about it. Learn about it. Pass on what knowledge I garner. And then I’m still left with me.
War and anger and pain heals within me first. It’s the same for all of us. THAT’S where we have the ultimate power for change.
Love you. Wishing you a wonderful loving peaceful time with your loved ones this Easter weekend.
❤️❤️❤️❤️

More Important Than Dishes

A quote from the post, Thankful for this mess, from InspriredRD hit home:
“If I have a mess in my house, it means I have everything I’ve ever wanted. And that is something to be thankful for.”

It’s so easy to get annoyed at my family over messes. For me, it’s when I return home to find the kitchen in a disaster (it’s funny how I use the word ‘disaster’ to describe dishes and crumbs on a counter). I’m instantly annoyed when I see evidence of meals made & eaten with seemingly no effort to clean up afterward. My feeling of happiness to see my children or husband slips away unnoticed and I become naggy and bitchy.
Instead of hugs I give glares and sighs.
Instead of loving greetings I give words of reprimand.
And I can justify it. Oh yes. THEY’RE the inconsiderate ones. Is it so difficult to put your dishes in the dishwasher and wipe a counter?! REALLY?!
Sigh. And now I think…
Is it so difficult to walk by the mess and lovingly greet my family? Really?
It’s just a mess. It’s not killing anyone. It’ll get cleaned up – by me or someone. But whether or not it gets cleaned up, I have the choice to have a loving connected relationship with my family or a disconnected, harsh, passive (or not so passive) aggressive one.
I’m feeling a “ya but” coming on for me.
Ya but…I need to TEACH them them about responsibility and respect.
Yes, yes. That may be true.
AND
I need to teach them (learn from them really) about kindness and softness. Forgiveness. Patience. For ourselves, primarily, and then how that sweet softness transcends to those around us.
Much more important than dishes.

Staying Home…In My Own Business

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Staying in my business is not only a full time job…it seems like my ONLY job. And one which, often, I need to be reminded.

Who’s business am I in? ANYtime I think you should do, think, or be any different I have stepped over and entered the world of your biz-nessss.
Oooh. Sidebar: You have my permission to give me a gentle reminder of, “Who’s business are you in?” any time you suspect I might be leaving my own sphere. ‘Cause it’s painful to step out of my world and attempt to enter yours. It’s painful, I think, because it’s actually impossible to do.

I mean that’s the kicker isn’t it?

We THINK we have control or even influence over others but we-do-NOT. This includes our children (although, admittedly, this is a grey area…or is it?). People only allow the ideas in that they choose to allow. I had that revelation one night while contemplating a discussion I’d had with my, then 12 yr old, daughter. It was late, I was writing in my journal, and reflecting on the wisdom that she possessed.  I decided to relinquish control on her only to have the mind boggling realization that I didn’t have it anyway!

And..when I’m sitting in a room looking at you , worrying about what you think of me which, in turn, causes me to change my behaviour to entice your approval, I am in your business. And I am in pain…because who you approve of is your business…completely. Just as who I approve of, is my business.

That may sound crass or uncaring. It might be like I’m saying, if you don’t like me…I don’t care ’cause it ain’t my business. But staying in my business – and not obsessing over whether or not you like me – is the most generous gift I can possibly bestow. Staying home with me means that I can step fully into my own potential.
Gone are the fake niceties to impress you – gone is the need to impress you.
Gone is the approval seeking and the sucking of your energy.
Gone are the innuendos that you might not be meeting MY approval.
Gone are the uncomfortable silences because to just BE with you fills me with joy.
Gone is my neediness of you and that you are required to do anything but just be your own beautiful self.

Just imagine that. To sit with someone and have a completely accepting heart.
Mmm. Wait…
Imagine that. To sit with ME and have a completely accepting heart.
Now THAT is love’s divine…right there^^^.

“To think that we know what’s best for another person is to be out of our business. The result is worry, anxiety, and fear. When we mentally step out of our business, we think that we know more than he, she, or God. The only real question is, can we know what’s right for ourselves?” That is our only business. And, as we eventually come to see, not even that”. – Byron Katie

Subservience…How Exquisitely Innocent

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That word “subservient”….
When I wake up to one of my “stories” and reflect on the experience, “subservient” rightly encompasses my feeling.
I can be subservient to my thoughts and beliefs.  I can be subservient to my self-inflicted pain, hurt, and suffering.  To my misonceptions.  I can be – oh so – subservient to my perceptions of the world and projections onto my ever self-creating universe.

And…

I can also be FREE from them.

Freedom and Subservience.

Both are sweet in their love and innocence.