Buried Treasure

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When I stopped repeating the story of what I didn’t want or didn’t think I had and instead turned my attention to believing in the unexpected, my brain switched from complaining about a problem to inviting in a solution.

Over and over again I discovered the power of this wonderful process.

When “I can’t afford a decent house” turned into “I have everything I need for the house I am meant to live in” I ended up sharing space with family where the kids could play freely in the yard I so badly wanted to have.

When “Exercise programs just aren’t for me” turned into “I love exercising in ways that are fun” I found a fitness class that was perfect for me (see Post).

And frequently, when I lost my keys, “I can’t find my keys” turned into, “where are my keys?” and I found them (with the exception of the time my then 2 year old son told me he threw them off the balcony of our apartment into the blackberry bushes).

Seeing how new things were working out lead me to try this technique on my relationship. After nearly eleven years, it still wasn’t functioning in a healthy way. So I decided to re-narrate stories I was telling myself. Instead of complaining, critiquing, and engaging in power struggles, I changed my tune to appreciation, surrendering to a higher power to guide me, and affirming character traits that I wanted to bring to my relationship.

Not only did I begin to step into the better person I wanted to be, I started telling myself how fabulous my dream partner was as if a real person had just walked into my life. This was not a form of denial but of re-creation. My husband wouldn’t stop drinking alcohol and getting drunk regularly. Instead of trying to change him, I was going to change my relationship to him. I gave myself permission to leave. I could let go of the toxic relationship and create a healthy relationship. I wanted our two kids to grow up knowing what a healthy, happy family life was.

What I didn’t expect was for my husband to become a partner in co-creating that healthy relationship with me. When I walked out, we were both able to take a step back and look at the ways we had maintained the unhealthy relationship together. It was not just him. I had my anger, I had my patterns of pain that were not aligned with the better person I knew I was inside and wanted to project into the world.

Hiking my own mountain and looking into myself to transform negative stories about my life into affirmations of love and gratitude, I put shovel to earth, and uncovered the glittering treasures that were within. My own inner strength, my connection and trust in a power greater than myself that is loving and supportive, lead me to see the ways that I was cared for and guided to make positive changes.

Not in asking someone else to change, rather, asking what I could change has empowered me to act from a place of courage, self-worth, and compassion. It has allowed me to forgive myself and forgive others.

I cannot underestimate the power of story. Stories are acts of creation, they are invitations, they are affirmations of the way things are and the way things will be or can be. Complaining kept me stuck in a story of an unhealthy relationship. Opening to new possibilities, shifting my energy from a place of anger, bitterness, and judgment, into gratitude and appreciation, valuing myself, seeking strength and guidance from a higher power, and inviting in love at a deeper level has lead to a new understanding of how I can show up better in the world.

I am truly grateful that my husband is shifting his patterns as well, choosing sobriety and collaborating to bring a shared vision of family come together.

Earlier this evening we played the board game “My First Stone Age” as a healthy, happy family – fully present to one another and the moment. A dream come true.

As the New Year draws closer and resolutions are being written down or spoken into the wind, what do you intend to create for yourself? How do you intend to show up for yourself in 2018? What stories will you re-write?

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Resolutions in Motion

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You read (in my post) last week that I was declaring myself financially able and enthusiastically ready to shop locally. It has seemed easy in the past to let myself fall back on old habits of shopping at corporate chains because it is perceivably faster and cheaper. But shifting my perceptions through affirmations of the opposite of what I had been doing is opening me up to see opportunities available to meet my intentions.

After writing the post I decided that I was going to begin exploring what shopping locally really meant to me. Is it ONLY getting food from Farmers Market? Is it shopping at the locally owned grocer? Is it buying Christmas gifts at locally owned stores? These are important questions because they can become ways that I sabotage myself. If I set too many limits right away then my goal of shopping locally could become difficult or impossible to sustain.

My first need for groceries landed me in the local grocer. But I kept in mind items I would find at the Farmers Market to guide my shopping. Although not everything I bought was made or produced locally, I acknowledged my process and my success at even beginning the journey. Every time I affirm success I invite in more success. The opposite – finding fault in my shopping – would only lead me into a bad attitude and lack of desire to continue trying or exploring.

Maintaining openness and a sense of adventure gives me inspiration to try new things. There is a small produce stand down the street from where I have been living the past few months. Now seemed like a good time to finally go down there. Since I had driven somewhere each day, I decided Thursday would be the day to walk with the kids for some groceries. I didn’t check where their food comes from, they had avocadoes available so I know its not all locally grown, but the produce stand itself meets the goal of local. It was an added plus that we had a no driving day!

I intended to go to Farmers Market on Saturday. I didn’t happen. I almost gave myself a hard time about how this shopping locally thing wasn’t going to work for me if I never went to Farmers Market. Instead, I told myself it was OK because I did my writing at a local tea house this weekend rather than at the Coffee-shop-that-shall-not-be-named. I also purchased loose leaf tea from the tea house to drink during the week, replacing the boxes of tea that I otherwise would have bought from the store.

Then I got a surprise later in the day. Have you ever heard of “Urban Gleaners”? If not, they are a non-profit organization that collects food from around town that would otherwise go to waste and brings it to places like community centers for people to have free. Well, they happened to be set up at the community center we went swimming at. My husband walked over to the tables, grabbed an apple, then walked away. I, on the other hand, saw dinner. A baggie of pre-cooked Spanish rice, one with precooked black beans and chopped cilantro, a pack of organic tortillas, and I was making tacos!

See, despite not making it to Farmers Market this week I found numerous ways to explore what “shop local” meant to me and gave myself credit for the choices and changes I did make to bring my resolution into motion. (I even picked up a couple Christmas presents from locally owned stores, more success!)

Part of setting resolutions and saying affirmations is exploring how opportunities show up and how I bring to life my intentions in unexpected ways. Synchronicity, new ideas, inspired action, and shifted perceptions all come when I am open to the possibilities.

Are you wondering about what your New Year’s Resolutions will be for 2018? Read my last post on how to rephrase them in a way that will help you bring them into being. You can find that post here.

Have you changed an old story into a new one that resulted in positive change? Share below in the comments.

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Inviting the New Year

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The technique I used for making one of my most elusive resolutions happen resulted in the actual manifestation of an opportunity (read that Post).

With such surprising success, I have decided to rephrase my intentions for 2018 the same way.

In the past my resolution list has looked something like this:

  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Shop locally

They are goals in line with my values for well-being and sustainability. Yet, with all of them success was temporary or partial.  Somewhere along the way I walked back toward the old worn path of past habits.

But intentions are supposed to be life changing, action producing, miracle workers, right?

Yes, unless there is a secret backstory taking up all the room in the brain, causing me to remain on that same old path, doing the same old things, and seeing the same old world.

What do these backstories look like? “I am just going to go the old way because it’s: easier, comfortable, familiar, cheaper, faster…because I can do better: later, tomorrow, next time, next year…because I’m: tired, overwhelmed, in hurry, short on money.”

Looking at these backstories is like laying out a platter of keys to help me unlock some new doors. These are the real stories that need to be re-written in order for me to find success with my goals and intentions. It doesn’t matter how nicely I say shopping locally is, unless I can release the problems behind them that are creating resistance.

Pam Grout tells me in her book E Cubed that in order to invite real change I need to adjust the language I use, “[the troubles I have been seeing are] nothing but the harvest of words [I] spoke up until now.”

Using her suggestion to change my story into something positive, into what I actually want, my new resolution would go something like this (and meant to be spoken aloud on the regular so that I can find evidence of its truth):

“I have all the money necessary and am filled with enthusiasm to shop locally and cook with the fresh seasonal ingredients I find at Farmers Markets.”

This sentence not only affirms that I will shop locally, but it also rephrases two underlying stories that were keeping me stuck, 1. That it’s too expensive to buy local, and 2. It’s too stressful to shop at Famers Markets because I can’t find what I need to fit my recipes.

What is going to happen by shopping locally is that my spending habits are going to shift, as is the way I decide what I am going to cook this week. And by affirming I am filled with enthusiasm rather than secretly harboring stress I can open up to the possibility that shopping locally won’t be a sustainability obligation but a fun-filled, life changing adventure.

Are you ready to change your life? What possibilities are you opening up to this year?

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Transformational Learning

Understanding ourselves and our habits of mind can bring attention, awareness, and intention to our interactions, deepening our relationships. These personal insights can help support us in letting go of those pesky old habitual responses and actions that are not serving us or our highest values and visions for who we are and want to be in the world. Adopting new perspectives, thoughts and actions that assist us in living our best is what transformational learning is all about.

If I want to “be the change” and co-create a healthier relationship with someone close to me, then I see the need to reflect on what has been going right and what can be adjusted in terms of my participation. Through an investigation of the inner narratives I am living in and how they are supporting or are not supporting me I am able to introduce space for growth and change. I do not want to continue with patterns of thought and behavior that are defensive, destructive, and dividing. I want to master instead those that are empathetic, constructive, and unifying.

Beginning not only with myself but within myself, I can look at how I use words to bring myself to life or put myself down. Constantly narrating an internal story that I am not understood or valued prevents me from creating an atmosphere of respect and understanding. It holds me back from living up to my desire to navigate challenging situations with empathy, grace, understanding, and respect. By first treating myself with the qualities I wish to be treated with, I can then treat others truly as I wish to be treated, thus bringing a new way of being to life.

In order to see our personal thought patterns clearly, it is sometimes useful to get an outside perspective. A month or so ago some friends brought up the Myers-Briggs personality test. Jokes were going around about which Star Wars character we each were and which Harry Potter character we were. It was funny, however, I didn’t immediately see any more into it.

Later, I happened upon the Enneagram personality test and thought I would give it a try. It was insightful as well, although, I wasn’t sure what to do with the information. On the same thought-wave as me, one of my friends said she had still been looking at the Myers-Briggs test wondering how it could be useful to her beyond simply reading it for amusement.

The next day, a new episode came out on The Homeschool Sisters Podcast about understanding personality types for use with our families. When we know that someone else (like our child or significant other) has a unique way of expressing themselves and interpreting the world around them, we can then align ourselves in a way that brings harmony to our interactions; we can approach that person with understanding of where they are coming from. Further, having an awareness of our own needs, strengths, and weaknesses that we may not have been giving voice too can bring us to deeper self-understanding, self-respect, and empathy for our own character.

For Spirit to really drive home a critical point to me, another blogger who writes about personality type in homeschooling, shares the idea that we can utilize the Myers-Briggs descriptions for personal growth. Having not only awareness of our strengths and weaknesses but having compassion for ourselves and the desire to harness our fullest potential, we can live more consciously aligned with our highest values and visions, living with the intention to create a better world beginning with ourselves.

Making the world a better place, living in ways that are sustainable, can seem like an overwhelming or daunting task. Yet, if we remember that sometimes the whole world is simply our own immediate surroundings (internal and external), we give ourselves a great deal more power to make effective change. So start small, start inside, and allow yourself to bloom into exactly who you are.

So what’s your “personality type”?

 

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Reading Up

I had always imagined reading picture books to my kids and having them say something like, “Oh, I see that Max is yelling and stomping his feet when he is mad…I see now that other kids don’t hit each other when they get upset…I guess I won’t hit any more either…I will just yell and/or stomp.”…right?! That’s how it’s supposed to work isn’t it?

Although we talk about feelings, label them in the moment, and recall what “appropriate” behavior to engage in when feeling the feeling, I hadn’t read a book with the kids that had significant meaning or impact on their emotional development or expression (that I recall or am aware of, I realize they are often internalizing and processing without communicating to me about it).

Recently, however, I was surprised while reading a chapter book that I had expected to be too advanced for them. I bought it because it looked funny and I have a mild book obsession. So, I didn’t actually intend to read it to them yet…it was just going to be on my “save for later” shelf…where I have many books living.

Thinking it was going to be one more of those books I read a few pages from and then set back on the “for later” shelf, I started it with the kids one day. We were between books and I was trying to find something fun and engaging (there are a few books I tried and definitely went on the “for later” shelf either because I suddenly couldn’t read further due to content or because the kids weren’t into it).  Now, this one almost landed there after those first few pages. It contained dialogue that I wasn’t sure I was ready to be reading with my kids. My son, however, is more interested in these “advanced” books than I have been ready for. For example, we read Old Yeller and although I left in all the dog and hunting parts I did cut out any text about “Indians”…we just aren’t going there yet.

Anyway, we have slowly been working our way through this chapter book and I was wondering what my kids were getting out of it. Then my daughter rolls into me and says, “that’s hilarious!”…wait…OK new word from the book…and then my son passes gas and says, “holy bagumba!”…(know what we are reading now?!). I love using new words and phrases from books. This is perfect. I’m happy with these. Then my son goes on to say, “Mom, you know why I do terrible things sometimes like hit Ember?”….Terrible things? I had just read that line in the book…Continuing he says, “it’s because I’m lonely.”…also from the book…

I am excited about his revelation for several reasons, 1. my son was able to recognize his underlying emotion which now I can help guide him with, 2. he is listening deeply and communicating about what he is hearing, 3. he is responding to more dynamic material than I expected him to.

Scholastic rates the book we are reading as being best suited for grades 3-8…that’s 8 years to 14 years old. My kids are 5. There is a big difference in development between those years. But what I have found with homeschooling is that when I offer the kids an experience that is developmentally advanced, they absorb what they are ready for at their own level. Of course there are still things I won’t read or do, but for now, this book has been advanced in just the right way for us. By the way, the book we have been reading is Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, which is in fact hilarious.

Have you read anything lately that was surprisingly enriching? What was it? I’d love to hear.

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Rhythms

 

I was watching the bows swing up and down along the violins, watching the conductor dip and swoop his hands, and listening as the orchestra grew loud, soft, fast, slow, in synchronized rhythm. It brought to mind how we synchronize with those around us or fall into dissonance depending on our emotional patterns or thoughts.

There are times when I notice my thoughts are causing me to carry a rhythm that is having a negative impact on my kids. When I am worried or stressed the kids are cranky and anxious, making it difficult for them to settle in on a focused activity. However, if I am peaceful the kids are open and attentive to their desire to play, explore, and create.

In addition to personal moods, they day itself also has its own rhythms. The morning has a different feel than the afternoon or evening. One of my favorite times of day is bedtime (and no I don’t mean after the kids are asleep). As long as I am not trying to brush their teeth or fight on pajamas, the kids can usually be found looking at books, coloring, drawing, or writing. This is a stark contrast to the typical energetic story-driven play they engage in earlier in the day (which I love too).

The relaxed and inward feel of the evening is reflected in our call to quiet activity. Since our schedule is flexible, I often let them stay up so long as they are immersed in this personal calm space.

These various energies or rhythms, whether they are moods or times of day, social or solitary, bring out aspects of ourselves that reflect what is going on within and/or around us. I am grateful that homeschooling gives me the freedom to follow the natural rhythms of the day and take the time to nurture the inner rhythms. And most days we make beautiful music together.

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The Inner Life of Sustainability

Most often I think of sustainability as being solely ecological, relating to waste and the overuse of natural resources such as trees and fresh water. However, there is another aspect of sustainability which is energetic in nature and other consequences … Continue reading

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Intentions Bridge Creations

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    To continue the conversation of setting intentions and acting on the opportunities that arrive as I wrote in Follwing a Trail I have a story about a recent connection I made. I had the intention all year to … Continue reading

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Following a Trail

The other day I wrote a post about how to design your own curriculum (Living Curriculum). In it I gave steps for revealing opportunities around you that are aligned with your learning goals. Well, the last few weeks I have … Continue reading

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Finding Our Center

With our long summer days coming to an end and the winds of fall arriving, I am wondering how I want to create a new routine. I can feel the restless energy of the kids as summer activities slow down; … Continue reading

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