This month I am soaking it all in and enjoying a staycation... in the beautiful Okanagan, living a life doing the things that feel the way my favourite vacations feel...
This month I am soaking it all in and enjoying a staycation... in the beautiful Okanagan, living a life doing the things that feel the way my favourite vacations feel...
It's my favourite month of the year! That transition from winter to spring - as well as my birthday month... I am taking stock and thinking about how I would like to show up for this next go-around...
Wintering in the Okanagan means THE most sensational weekend morning commutes. One of my favourite mindful moments: riding to the mountain peak...
This year, let’s turn traditional New Year’s goal setting on its head. Let this be the end of resolution-ditching by February. Here’s how (and it’s deceptively simple):...
The holidays. Do they inspire a great, big, inner *sigh*? Anticipation of some R&R, welcome traditions and time spent with people you cherish? Or does the thought of the holiday season make you groan even while you force out a smile...
Have you heard? Desire Map Sessions are about to begin in Kelowna!
I am beyond excited to be opening the doors to my new home studio (inner celebration happening daily!) and feel that the best way to kick this off and welcome you is with...
I have been intending it for some time and am very excited to announce that I have launched a video log! Please join me on my journey and explore with me the questions that come up in my life, themes familiar to all of us. Enjoy the guided meditations, share with your tribe and create with me a community of seekers in this space.
Summer in the Okanagan, one of the sweet spots of Canada. What more could a person ask for? It has been almost eight years since my family of four relocated here and I continue to feel spontaneous gratitude every day: the hikes, the bikes, the water, the wine, the sunshine, the double rainbows. Does it get much better?
The snow is melting! Along with it I feel myself beginning to shed some of winter's influences on my body and mind - in particular that inclination to be cozy and nourish myself with comfort stews, dark chocolate, extra rest, and long baths. It's been a good run this season, but spring is springing and I'm feeling the pull towards the green!
I am learning to give myself good love.
Give... Receive... Really these are the same things; there cannot be one without the other. Giving and receiving are "different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe," the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success teaches; "every relationship is one of give and take. Giving engenders receiving and receiving engenders giving,"
What do I want? What do I really want? I have asked this question daily, for years, as part of my meditation practice. I introduce it prior to beginning my meditations, letting the answers be whatever impressions show up...
I love community. There is so much joy in connecting with people. I can feel most inspired by opportunities to engage with others in honest and authentic moments, often through conversation and sometimes simply through sharing space or a common experience. This, to me, is what life is all about - connecting in, to, and through each moment.
I love November: the smell of the earth as it prepares for winter; the pleasure of an unexpected sunny day to break up the grey; the anticipation of the holiday season around the corner; and, the memory of my wedding day...
I confess, regardless of the surge of local hubs that roast and brew some off-the-hook decaf espresso, I continue to frequent Starbucks and have a special appreciation for the Seattle based coffee behemoth. Countless hours I have spent studying and working over my computer at the Bux, or sinking into one of their over-sized chairs with a massive ginger cookie and my books. Part of its early appeal was the free Wifi, a huge draw. I have a warm place in my heart for my virtual Starbucks’ access. Signing onto their network I have come to anticipate the warm welcome on their browser page by what I like to call my Starbucks’ mantra:
Being a student of the Chopra Center I have immersed myself in the teachings of the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. One that has always deeply resonated with me is the Law of Least Effort. There are three components to this principle of “do less and accomplish more.” The first is Acceptance.
Maybe it is the looming federal election, or the past weeks I have been solo with my kids, or it could be the newest evidence of aging I’ve noticed on my face… Each has triggered me in some way. My instinct now when I feel inner conflict brewing is to look to the Seven Spiritual Laws for insight. So here I am with Acceptance, letting it percolate.
The premise of Acceptance is to make a commitment each day, to decide: “today I will accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they occur.” In short, Acceptance is a commitment to say “yes.” The Law of Least Effort teaches us that committing to Acceptance means we release resistance to whatever is showing up for us at the moment believing that this moment is precisely as it should be because the entire Universe is as it should be.
Stop right now and take stock: this very moment is the culmination of every moment, every choice, leading up to it. To struggle against it, as so many of us do, is pointless and yet can consume an inordinate amount of our energy. So, what happens when we let go of the struggle and instead commit to Acceptance? We release our inner resistance and without resistance we can access the creative genius otherwise available to us in every moment. Sip on that one. This tastes inspired, doesn’t it? But, there is more…
Acceptance, as I understand it, asks us to show up. There is nothing passive about it. Acceptance is an active choice to take responsibility for what is going down in our lives. First, we make a decision to look at what is in front of us. This means that we do not shy away from or deny what is staring us in the face – whether we are acknowledging what is before us on the political stage of our country, or whether we are looking at what is taking place inside our own homes and hearts. Sometimes it’s rosy and sometimes it’s grey.
Acceptance begins by seeing it all. Seeing it all and acknowledging - owning - that the reaction rising within us is not a response to the person or circumstance we are facing, but to our feelings and conceptions about the person or situation. Through first Accepting we can then begin to take responsibility for what we are seeing and experiencing. Taking responsibility implies our ability to have an appropriate response. We can accept the present as it is and still choose for things to be different in the future.
Every challenge in our lives urges us to revisit our vision for our future. Every stumbling block and every unforeseen turn in the road has inherent within it an opportunity to exercise our ability to respond in new and inspired ways. Life calls us to get tuned in, tapped in, and turned on to every holy moment presented to us – and they’re all holy. All that is required is the tiniest shift in perception - one that through Acceptance,opens us up to fresh interpretations of reality and ways of Connecting.
In my own life this means that I accept the Canadian political system as it is today and I am taking responsibility, choosing to respond, by voting on Monday. It means that I stop judging myself and my kids and my spouse and instead accept our differences, honing my ability to respond by finding the value in our distinct personalities. It means that when my body starts sending me cues I welcome these with an attitude of gratitude and respond by honouring it – fewer hours in the sun and more hours of sun salutations.
This is the practice. In each moment life invites us to wake up and smell the coffee.
(*IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS PROFANITY THIS MAY BE AN UNCOMFORTABLE READ FOR YOU. IT IS NOT MY INTENTION TO OFFEND. I DO ENCOURAGE YOU TO SIT WITH YOUR DISCOMFORT AND JUST NOTICE IT (#MINDFULNESSINACTION). YOU ARE ALSO WELCOME TO SHUT THIS SHIT DOWN AND MOVE ALONG (#CONSCIOUSCHOICEMAKING). IT’S ALL GOOD.)
Truly, I live a privileged, blessed – very blessed – life. My basic needs are much more than met, I love and am loved, I have my health, I have the luxury of contemplation – of space and time to sit and do nothing should I choose – I live in the midst of mountains and trees and lakes, and with North American comforts at my fingertips. In fact, the majority of us on this continent are living relatively abundant and uncomplicated lives of well-being. And yet, shit happens. Aggravating, annoying shit at best, and heart breaking, life-shattering shit at worst.
And all of it – every last ounce of it – is holy.
Although in the midst of our struggle and our heartbreak nothing could feel further from the truth. As we are moving through it (or sitting amidst it) it is so tempting to feel like the shit is happening outside of us and to us. Other people, circumstances, and situations can really bung us up. “If she hadn’t said that…” or, “if he had just stuck around…” or, “if my parents hadn’t screwed me up…” If it weren’t for THEM then life would be a bowl of prunes. Maybe…
But, I believe we know better than that. I know better than that. I know that surrounding me are people who are unconditionally loving and supportive and yet I may be the first to tell you when something is rotten in the state of Denmark. And, frankly, more often than not it is not someone or something outside of me fouling up my mind/heart/spirit, but simply my own unpleasantness – some days I am a walking shit storm.
Like many people, I presume, I judge myself in these moments. I’m “in a rut,” or “out of balance.” I’m “not at my best” or “really screwing up my kids.” I “don’t know what has gotten into me,” or I’m “just in a bad place.” These are the times that maybe cause us to shake our heads in disbelief at the crap and mutter an expletive. These are what I call ‘holy shit moments’.
I was living a series of these moments not long ago when something happened. All of these stink bombs were going off on the heels of me coming to my daily meditations with some specific intentions, seeking out growth and clarity. Coincidence? Indeed. And in my world all coincidences are meaningful. So I took notice. Here I was looking for direction, connection, empowerment and finally at a place where I felt ready to allow these into my present moment when bam – a ‘holy shit moment’ would happen. Initially these felt like such a departure from where I felt my spirit to be; so why, I wondered, was this shit happening? Then one morning after expelling some verbal excrement in my driveway while loading up my kids and tripping over one emotional obstacle after another, clarity kicked in. “THIS SHIT IS HOLY.” Here was everything I was seeking, all of it a perfect opportunity in this present moment for me to show up to what was showing up for me.
Here I was receiving everything I had been asking for: opportunities to allow all of my potential to express itself. Yet I was standing in my own way judging situations, people, and events as 'un-perfect' when the truth is that all of this shit and dealing with this shit is what gives a person the acumen to show up to life in a fierce, vital and fully actualized way.
Because, what if?
What if all the crap in our lives is sacred? What if every aspect of this ‘being human’ – all of it – is worthy of our reverence?
What if we could transmute all of the shit that crosses our paths so that it becomes an opportunity for us to move more fully and completely into our own power, awesome-ness, and authentic selves. What if accepting the presence of shit is the key to accessing our wholeness?
What if shit is ‘not happening to us but for us?’
What if the only thing that is keeping us from experiencing our completeness is the separation, the sense of separate-ness between our individual self and our universal Self, that we create when we start making distinctions between what is good and bad, worthy and unworthy, welcome and unwelcome in our lives.
What if this shit is holy?
This little tweak in my thinking has been changing my life. It has become a daily practice for me anytime I am feeling challenged, overwhelmed, disheartened, or less-than to turn this shit over.To call my power back to me.
I invite you to join me in the following practice. When someone or something causes you to remark to yourself in shock and disbelief, “Holy shit!” as you wonder how or why this is happening to you or around you:
(1) IMMEDIATELY PAUSE: allow yourself to be in the immediacy of the moment and do nothing, inserting a space between what is happening and your response to it,
(2) INTENTIONALLY BREATHE: calm down that nervous system so you can reflect before you react,
(3) NAME WHAT IS HAPPENING: identify what you feel happening in your body and in your mind. As you witness this moment you shift it from the unconscious to the conscious realm, thus permitting yourself to become active in your choice-making,
(4) SMILE: because you are down with this shit (and because smiling releases feel-good neurotransmitters that are, in short, part of a heart healthy diet and serve as a prescription-free anti-depressant),
(5) TURN IT OVER: declare to yourself or whoever else may be in earshot, “This shit is holy!”
(6) NOTICE THE SHIFT: become aware of the subtle change within your body and your mind when you decide to release resistance to the present moment and when you allow yourself to move through life with finesse and faith in your ability to show up to the here and now.
Make this a way of life. Don’t let yourself get distracted by self-condemnation. There is little opportunity for growth in that. The shit, and embracing – and I mean truly welcoming – the shit is what gives you the insight and perceptiveness to discern how to step into and access your depth and potential as a fully actualized human being in this time and space.
This is the practice.
And so it is.
Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index: http://www.well-beingindex.com/americas-lead-highs-sub-saharan-africa-lows-in-well-being
#truthbombs via Danialle Laporte: “I call my power back to me now. I am whole and I am complete.” http://www.daniellelaporte.com/truthbomb/
For more on conscious choice-making and the Law of Karma: Chopra, Deepak. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.San Rafael and Novato, California: Deepak Chopra, Amber-Allen Publishing, and New World Library, 1994. Print.
For more on the power of your smile: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile.
© Miriam Desjardins, 2015
Posted in Conscious Choice-making, Reflections | Tagged aha moments, be here now, being mima, conscious choice making, emotional intelligence, gratitude, karma, meditate on it, mindful moments, my journey to vitality, optimism, rumi, taking ownership, the guesthouse, the seven spiritual laws of success, this shit is holy, truthbomb, wellbeing, yoga off the mat | 3 Replies
If there is one thing about social media that can both warm my heart and make me cringe it is the plethora of kitschy, optimistic quotes it produces, tweeted and re-tweeted, posted and shared amongst the masses. True – I love a good, heart-opening, tingle-inducing bit of wisdom. But the flood of optimism sometimes drowns the inspiration before it reaches my shores. And yet…
I continue to subscribe. Because when it comes down to it it’s who I am: a big ol’ optimist. I just can’t resist. Even when my Pages feed is in optimism overload, I can retreat, unplug, tune out, feeling grateful (even while mildly annoyed) that a community of optimism thrives just a click away and is ready to deliver as soon as I am open and ready to receive.
What is it to be an optimist? What do I take this to mean? It does not mean that harsh realities pass us by as we strut the cakewalk of life. It does not mean that every moment we feel ourselves brimming over with beauty and joy. It does not even mean hoping and expecting our challenging and distasteful circumstances to change.
“What if life was not happening to you, it was happening for you?”
To be an optimist means to accept circumstances and choose to see them as opportunities forchange: opportunities to grow, to expand, to transform, and to shift. To optimize is “to make as effective, perfect, or useful as possible; to make the best of.” Being an optimist requires takingresponsibility for our choices. Responsibility. We can think of this as our ability to have a response, to be accountable for and in charge of how we respond, of what we choose.
To optimize is a choice.
What happens when we choose to greet every person, situation, and circumstance in our life as an opportunity – an opportunity to refine ourselves, an opportunity to practice being conscious of the choices we are making?
We transform our reality.
Challenges, when we optimize them, become opportunities to learn, to grow, to evolve –opportunities to walk our talk, and to connect with who we really are, and what we choose to be. This is the yoga of optimism. To optimize, to make the best of, requires acceptance; it calls upon us to release our resistance to the present moment and be open to the infinity of possibilities offered to us that can inspire creative responses to challenging situations.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston S. Churchill
Let’s be really clear: there is nothing FLAKEY about being an optimist (although I am learning to embrace my inner flake… she’s got it goin’ on). Sometimes optimists get this questionable rap, as though to be an optimist is uninformed and naive. But we are talking about brain science here – about as UN-flakey as one can get.
As it turns out, Optimism, along with its cousin Happiness, is a learned trait. With practice, our brains can be trained to adopt an optimistic state of mind*. And research is all over this. People who are generally optimistic have better physical health, perform better at tasks, are better able to manage their stress, and have healthier relationships. Regardless of how gooood it feels to choose optimism, it is easy to continue to get hung up on “facts”. So, check it out – now we skeptics have some science to soothe our rational minds.
How is your brain wired? How would you like it to be? Look, it’s okay to want to feel good, and it’s okay to see the glass as half full. And, at the end of the day, we all can only speak with any real authority from our own experience. So try it on. Play the optimist for a week and see how that works for you.
Here are some exercises to get you started.
Feeling a bit self-conscious? Start by introducing the idea of optimism to the kids in your life. They’ll be all over it. Kids have this way of giving us the permission we do not give ourselves to wear rose-coloured glasses, reach for the stars, and drink from glasses half-full.
*Interested in how your brain rewires itself? Google neuroplasticity. It’s all the rage.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss
Resources for your browsing pleasure:
And, must give credit where credit is due: thank-you, Coach Taylor.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0758745/quotes
© Miriam Desjardins, 2014
Posted in Conscious Choice-making, Mindful MomentsTagged conscious choice making, emotional intelligence, EQ, glass half full, heart mind education, karma, mindfulness, mojo, optimism,SEL, seven spiritual laws of success, taking ownership, yoga off the mat3 Replies
I became a mom. And then – somehow, somewhere – I lost my mojo. Yup – this was my Austin Powers moment – like waking up in a new decade to new music and not knowing any of the moves on this dance floor. But, of course, the beat goes on. The story does not end there. This is where it begins: the journey back to me, to the real deal, to my authentic Self. The upper case ‘s’, Self. Not that little ego-reflection of my-self, the one that is consumed with the roles that it plays, with this being a mom deal. Sure, I embrace being a parent. I feel pretty jazzed about all of the roles that I play – most days anyways. But, there came a moment after having kids – or rather a number of little moments that make up THE moment – when simply playing a part just stopped cutting it. I was losing myself in this drama. It occurred to me, if these roles that I play were to disappear then who would be left? Who really is this person that I am? Who am I?
Who. Am. I. Three little words loaded with bang when you ask them together. And I started asking them. Who am I? And, in the asking, I have embarked on a journey back to myself. Along the way I’m reclaiming my mojo – my personal power, my charisma, my influence over the circumstances of my life, the kind of magic that motivates us to leap our asses out of bed in the morning.
Who am I? Who AM I? Some moments I’ve hardly recognized the voice I hear speaking. That nastiness, nagging, whining – is that really me? I hear the words that have worked their way through my vocal chords, yet I don’t recognize myself in them. And I wonder, when did I disappear?
Who am I? There have been days when, going through the motions, I feel a smile on my face. I’m laughing at a joke my kid made. But, my laughter sounds hollow to me – like an echo of some distant joy. But, it’s laughter: check. Pleasant tone of voice: check. Successful multi-tasking of dinner on the stovetop, returning voicemails, helping with homework, wiping up another toddler accident: check. Going through the motions: check.
Check. Who AM I? There was a time when I avoided glancing towards the mirror as I passed it in the foyer on my way out the door. I told myself this was because I’m not that shallow. C’mon – there are bigger things to preoccupy myself with than my looks. I reasoned, “life is busy and I’m busy with important ‘busy-ness’ and I’m taking it all very seriously, so there is no time to waste with vanity.“ I almost had myself convinced. But, truth is a relentless nag: I avoided the reflection because I didn’t recognize it and that scared the hell out of me.
Who am I? Where did “I” go? At times I have felt desperate: desperate to reclaim my joy. Painfully aware that there was more to me beyond these roles I play. I knew this because I asked the question. And something deep within me whispered a reply. A glimpse, that’s all it takes to inspire change, a glimpse of a deeper aspect of our selves.
So, I made a new choice. I made the choice to sit every day – not just some days but every day – to connect with that aspect of myself that is beyond the roles that I play. I sit in silence. It’s a rare moment in my day, silence. I’ve had to get up before the kids and before the sun in order to find this space. But, surprisingly, it was easy to do because I have ached for this. Breathing in this silence, I simply sit. I follow my breath effortlessly, my attention on the rhythm of each inhale and exhale, lingering on each pause between one breath and the next, savoring those briefest of moments when all that exists is the silence and the potential for my next breath. And I know – the way that sometimes you just know – that it is this potential that is the source of all that I am, all that I ever have been, all that I ever will be.
This stills me. My thoughts come and go; I see them, release them gently, and return to my breath. The tightness in my chest begins to ease, and I am reminded of my grandmother’s 1970s window sheers that hung in every room of her home – flimsy, synthetic sheers. It is as though my heart has been shrouded in layer upon layer of these tacky accessories – cocooned, encapsulated. But, each time, as I sit with this stillness, my breath loosens a layer of this suffocation and one of those filmy, synthetic layers just up and floats off and is carried away… and, I feel myself again.
Who am I? I am many. I am mother. I am wife. I am daughter. I am sister. I am friend. I am teacher. I am student. I am lover. I am writer. I am creator. I am believer. I am artist. I am seeker. I am meditator. I am all of these, yes, but so much more. Giving myself this space to be, accessing this silence within me, the pause between my breaths, between my moments, I am pregnant with possibility. I am pure potential.
When I do this day after day, accessing the deepest aspects of my Self, glimpsing my soul, I begin to see with greater clarity. My reflection is transformed, the picture before me whole. I am whole. I am complete.
I remember me. I remember Who I Am.
Miriam Desjardins is a Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor and the creator of Mindful Mamas, a series of mindfulness and meditation workshops. Coming from a background of graduate work in International Conflict Management, she is committed to bringing peace to the global community by promoting a shift in consciousness; a shift that she believes must begin at the level of the individual with the world’s moms, dads, and children.
© Miriam Desjardins, 2013
Posted in Reflections | Tagged conscious choice making, conscious parenting, dharma, emotional intelligence,EQ, gratitude, heart mind education, mindful mamas, SEL, soul questions, taking ownership, unity consciousness, who am I, yoga off the mat | 5 Replies
Last weekend being a conscious parent meant practicing defenselessness, stepping back and allowing another to love and nurture and hear my child in a way that just wasn’t happening for me in that moment. It just wasn’t. I thought I had given it my best go, really. But, my daughter was having none of what I was putting out.
It’s the familiar adage: it takes a village to raise a child. Parenting does not have to be my solo act. But there is that inclination in me to want, or think that I need, to do it all, to be the ultimate source of growth and enlightenment and education and nurturing and love for my kids. I’m their mom! I’m the primary caregiver of mom-type-stuff. And, I’ve got this. I’m all over it. Or at least I thought I was. I was neglecting the Superbowl last Sunday to properly ruminate over this, when my co-parent who had been patiently listening finally put it to me simply. “As a mom you are like the quarter-back for this team. You touch the ball in every play. But, you don’t always have to be the one to make the touch down.” Bam. There it was. And dang – if it wasn’t all neatly packaged in a football metaphor… This idea, this self-applied pressure not to drop the ball, thinking this could really screw up the whole endgame, what is this? My need to be the one to do it all, it serves no one. It dawned on me that clearly there had been some important pages that had been overlooked in my parenting playbook.
It’s been my experience that we always get from life what we ask for, and in this case for me this was another opportunity to open my heart – lean in a bit more towards that lovin’ feelin’ that sometimes I work really, really hard to resist; and expand my consciousness maybe an inch or two. The practice of doing this, of shifting our internal dialogue, of dropping our defenses long enough to open our hearts and minds a crack, is always a bit tougher when it hits, literally and figuratively, close to home. Our kids, how we parent them, what they need and how we believe we can best meet these needs – we parents can become acutely sensitive and resistant to anything that diverges from our course, of anyone who suggests a diversion from our course. And yet our fiercest challenges and challengers can present our greatest opportunities for growth. Look – I like to control stuff. I like being in control. I’ve had to learn to chill out and go with the flow. I’m learning to become comfortable with, and even excited by, uncertainty. I’ve made a practice of detaching from the outcome – about many things in my life. But, my kids and my role as a parent, this is one area where the reins have been the hardest for me to loosen. My children, they are like these incredible little vessels of pure potential and I don’t want anyone or anything to mess that up. But I risk doing just that by restricting too severely who has access to their malleable little minds, by limiting the diversity of their upbringing to primarily my influence.
And so I came to this conclusion, during my own little super-soul Sunday, that sometimes taking a step back is the best way to step up as a parent. This doesn’t mean doing ****-all. It’s an emotionally intelligent appraisal of what is best for your kid in that moment. And sometimes what is best for them is to acknowledge that someone else can serve them in a way that you just cannot. It’s not always easy to decipher. Back in the ‘olden days’, as my daughter refers to them, the days before I was a parent, my thoughts about raising children were definitely colored in some stark black and whites. Now, for the most part, I am parenting in a penumbra. And by embracing all these hues of grey, by getting a bit more comfortable with some uncertainty, the ups and the downs, a bit more creativity and a lot more love have had some room to show up.
I’m realizing now that it takes a team. And that it is important to remind myself of this by occasionally giving a shout out to my team: to my co-parent, to the mothers and mothers-in-law, the grandparents, the teachers, the babysitters, the friends, the aunts and uncles, the neighbors, the customers behind us in the grocery store line, the baristas, the flight attendants, the other passengers… To the endless number of people who are part of my children’s extended community and who, whether consciously or not, are helping to mold who these little people are today and who they will become tomorrow. Thank you for being a part of my team. I trust you are doing the best you all can from the level of awareness you each have, and I am fortunate for the diversity that you bring to my family.
Thank you for covering me. And, the thing is, I’m in position. I’m ready, when anyone of you fumbles the ball, to pick it up and run. Game on.
© Miriam Desjardins, 2013
There are moments when I really impress myself. Times as a parent when I get a pride glow-on, where I feel like the million dollar mom and I can look at my mirror-image straight in the eye and shamelessly give myself kudos for a job well done, a tricky question maneuvered on the spot, a successful diversion from a tantrum, a progressive approach to parenting. There are moments when, if I do say so myself, I kick some serious ass as a mom.
And then there are others when I suck. Truly, at times, I’m a sh*tty sh*tstorm of a parent, showcasing episodes of irrational impatience with my stress hormones all fired up, that in retrospect will surely have me feeling mortified by the tantrum I have just thrown, when my 38 year old ego is dueling with one a fraction of its age, and any outside observer would insist that I am in need of a parental time-out.
In the absence of any professional referees, my kids have become quite proficient in calling me out. One night sitting with my daughter at bedtime, doing what we do and recapitulating the day, I acknowledged to her, pragmatically I thought, that I was sorry she and I had been disagreeing so much that day. Really, I was trying to gently remind her that maybe tomorrow she could be more intentional about turning her attitude around. She calmly smiled at me and said, “It’s ok mom – I know you just weren’t being yourself.”
Yes, my daughter, who was 5 years old at the time, had just volleyed back to me the gentle reprimand I had served to her. I smiled and swallowed my pride; and acknowledged that she was right. I wasn’t being my best self and tomorrow I’d pay more attention to that.
These little tête-à-têtes, and heart-to-hearts, they are typical. I am humbled, daily. This ‘conscious parenting’ thing, being mindfully aware of each action we are choosing as we engage and influence and co-create our lives with our kids, it’s intense. I used to be very much ashamed of losing my patience, of feeling irritable, of being short with my kids. But, what is it to screw up? My failure to meet some arbitrary measure of what it is to be ‘the perfect mom’? When I lose my patience, have I screwed up? When I raise my voice? When I’m distracted and not 100% tuned into my kids, is that screwing up? It’s true, these moments clearly don’t represent my best, but they still represent moments of me. And if I am to be authentic and real with my kids then they are going to know that sometimes their mom isn’t at her best. So rather than deny it or feel crappy about it I own it and I name it. I put the screws to the screwing up. I do for myself what I also am trying to teach my kids to do for themselves. When my toddler is crying and grumpy after a nap I name for him that he is still feeling tired and that maybe he needs a cuddle. When my daughter is throwing a fit and stomping her feet because she fell before reaching the last rung of the monkey bar, I name for her that she is feeling frustrated and impatient with her arms for losing their energy and with herself for not growing up as fast as she wishes. These are real moments with feelings that are as real as any others we experience throughout the day. We nurture our children’s emotional intelligence when we give them space to own these. We nurture our own and our kids’ emotional intelligence when we give them the opportunity to witness us naming our drama. Owning our sh*t is like a two-fer, big bang for our parenting buck: emotional intelligence quotients trending upwards all over the place.
In our home these days, we have a regular practice of calling each other out. Yes, at times the ego takes a beating. It’s not easy when you are in the midst of defending your point of view to have your child turn on the red light, remind you to take a deep breath, and reclaim your centre. This parenting thing, it is soul work. Sometimes we rock it, and sometimes we need to just roll – turning over a screwy moment a few times until we can see it for what it is: an opportunity. Indeed, “screwing up,” my little brother and parent of a precocious 4 year old has reminded me, “just means greater opportunity to approach any relationship with greater self-awareness.” A moment in the here and now to connect, an opportunity to get real with each other, a chance to remember, yet again, that we always have a choice, we can always choose differently – a different point of view, a different approach, a different definition, a different tone of voice, a different comeback, a different gesture. And, it begins with taking ownership.
Traditionally, as a new year is rung in, we do this – we take some ownership of where we are at and we make conscious choices, ‘resolutions’ if you will. We save it all up for January 1 and go hard for a few weeks, or maybe even a few months, and then, often, we fall off of whatever wagon we’ve been cruising. But being a conscious choice-maker, taking ownership of the moments in our lives, is so forgiving. Each moment can be its own soft landing, as we choose again and again to be present amidst all of our ‘stuff’. Each falling-off only creates more opportunity for correction, to reaffirm our choices, and maybe redefine them a bit to better suit whomever we now know ourselves to be. We can just go with it, fine-tuning at every turn, rockin’ and rollin’, welcoming the bumps along the way, knowing that all of it is getting us to where we are going. And in the meantime confident that here is the perfect place to be.
© Miriam Desjardins, 2013
As a parent, I ache to protect my children. It pains me to imagine their distress, to see them in fear, or to wonder what harsh realities have yet to rock their worlds. I would do anything to shield them from the horrible disconnect of fear. Naturally, I want them to be safe and happy, to be fulfilled and inspired. And yet…
Life happens. Sometimes, in the face of tragedy and unspeakable horror, I wonder, as we all must, just what is this game we are playing at of being human? In the shadows of pain and suffering, what is the point of this all? What does our human consciousness mean in this time and space, as we hang out precariously on planet Earth? I am no quantum physicist, nor do I hold any impressive knowledge of astronomy or a doctorate of philosophy… but it is pretty clear to me that the odds seem stacked against us being here at all. Yet here we are. And it does not matter what letters precede or succeed your name, or what angle you approach this life from – as a dear friend of mine recently pointed out, “something very special and unique is happening here on Earth, and that’s cool!!”
We can teach our children that when words elude us, and our hearts are breaking, this is our moment of salvation – if only we can recognize it as such. It is the paradox to which these words of the beloved Sufi poet, Rumi, speak: “the wound,” they remind us, “is the place where the Light enters you.”
The horrible, senseless acts that break our hearts apart, unite us in our mourning, bring us together through our compassion, and enliven us as a community as we seek answers and attempt to move through. We embrace our children tightly and are reminded to cherish every moment. We pause in our comings and goings to take notice of the abundance of blessings we enjoy. We get clear; we get intentional on what it is we do not want. And we turn towards that which we do.
When this occurs, indeed, something very special and unique is happening here on Earth. If in our pain, we can embrace the paradox, then maybe we open up space for our grievance to be replaced with a miracle. Our constricted hearts expand just a little; and a shift takes place in our consciousness. Where there was darkness, the light shines. And we look to our present as an opportunity to make new choices, refined by our shared experience.
God only knows what this life means. Together we can teach our children to embrace the uncertainty. We can get comfortable with being at a loss for words, and allowing every moment to surprise us with new perspective. We can urge our children to participate fearlessly in making new choices for this planet. And we can remind them to pay attention as something very special and unique happens here on Earth.
And that – that is profoundly cool.
© Miriam Desjardins, 2012