Love Day

I have to admit to occasionally finding Valentine’s Day to be a let down. I mean to date no male in my life has ever rode up on a white stallion while serenading me with an arm full of long stem red roses. I have gone through stages where I put the day down completely or ignored it or tried to pretend it didn’t matter. But it wasn’t until I started to grab up the love in the day that it all turned around.

You see love day, as I like to call it, is not about Hollywood images of romance or Hallmark sentiments. It’s about true love. The kind of love that notices when your favorite soap has run out and shows up with a bar to replace it. Or the kind of love the remembers you like a splash of cinnamon on your coffee and puts an extra dash on just cause. The kind of love that is for now and ever in all its forms.

So if today on this day of love you find yourself disappointed with what you got or how the day is lacking, turn it in. Turn it in and see where your disappointment stems from? Is it truly that the people around you don’t love you? Or is it more about them not loving you in the expectation filled way you wanted. Try tossing it all out and rebooting. Instead of looking for the perfect gesture of love see where love is unexpectedly hidden. Uncover those moments through out the day that otherwise might have been missed. You know the gentle hand on the shoulder at the right moment. Or the toilet seat finally put down. Or the underwear tossed in to the laundry basket. Or the hand made note.

And if you come up short at the end of the day. Go out and do it. Go out and find what was missing in your Love Day and give it to yourself. Write yourself that brilliantly romantic poem. Pick up those long stem red roses. By all means get the HUGE box of chocolates and delve in. Your love for yourself is just as radiant and brilliant as any love coming at you from the outside.

Shine that badass super awesome fabulous you love all over your day. It will spill on to other folks. They will touched, moved and truly lifted. And I dare say they will give you some back. Cause loves the kinda thing that grows the more you give the more you get.

So HAPPY LOVE DAY .. may your uniquely you love be the fountain from which you drink for the rest of your days ..

Upon a death

This week the world lost Steve Jobs. Most of social media has sparked like wildfire with folks sharing how he has touched their lives, inspired them and made the world a better place.

And some are questioning how he chose to spend his time. For some reason it is really hitting a chord with me. Mostly likely because the posts I have read are in reference to the time he “chose” to spend away from his children at the office, with a publicist or in some other place and I wonder how folks can know this.

But that’s not really what’s got my knickers in a knot.

I have a dead dad. Yep he died before any of us were ready for him to at 62.

My dad worked long long hours far away from his family at times. He did this because he was raised to believe that as a man he was to provide for his family. And providing meant working and making money. He did not have any role models from his growing up to show him any different way of being a man. There were not any fathers in his line of work putting parenthood before “getting the job done.”  My dad did hit the soccer field and baseball field as both coach and cheer leader when time permitted. My dad did kiss each of us goodbye every morning that is was possible before heading out the door to work (even when I was in college).

As time does it marched on and we my father’s children began to form in to our own people. In doing this we stood to provide examples of others ways of being in the world. My father was open to listening, watching and learning. And in doing so his soul got to stretching so that when he met his grandchildren he knew that children were for playing with.  That is just what he did with each of his four grandchildren.

When death faced my father I was lucky to be near for his final month of life. We sang in a choir together (his first ever). In the car rides to and from those few practices and performances I got to hear quiet exhales of regrets randomly released from my father’s mind.

“I guess not in this lifetime”

“Maybe next time around”

“If I could I would have”

They were not offered as topics of conversation but as after thoughts spoken in a lower tone then usual.

This is what triggers me when reading “I wanted my kids to know me…I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.” ~ Steve Jobs

And then seeing people’s response about his “poor kids” or “how sad”. Because this was a comment made by a man starring death in the face. Noticing everything he was not going to get a chance to have, witness or do with his children. And cause I have never stared death in the face I can’t imagine what I might say in the very similar position.

The missing piece to the quote I think is his children may have a very different idea of how their dad was in relationship to them. Me looking in from the outside could never possibly pretend to know.

I can tell you. That when my father regretted working away for long hours, I cherished the kiss on my forehead. I even pretended to be asleep some mornings to make sure he would sneak in and kiss me goodbye. I adored the reflections my father had that lead him to get down on his knees and play with rocks with my son. I have a bank full of memories of my father. Some of them have him fully present, others have him rough around the edges and doing the best he could with the skill set he had.

But at the end of the day my dad is dead. It’s up to me to keep on living and loving him for just exactly who who he was flaws and all. Or spend a lifetime wishing for something I can’t have.

Which leaves me to say “Steve,  job well done, flaws and all may you rest in peace.”

A random flow of thoughts

When the wolrd gets shakey below my feet I wonder what to do. I want to find my way back to the place where it all felt okay. And then I remember that it is likely true that the events that occured that shook the ground below my feet have likely shifted something inside of me. Which means there is no going back! The place that was safe and familiar behind me has disappeared just has the moment it existed with in. The options are one and one only keep on moving. And not keep on moving in a numbed out  sort of way. But in a replant your feet in this moment and keep on doing those things you love sort of way.

Yesterdays events shocked me to the core. I never imagined myself living in a place where the phone could ring to alert me to a armed man on  a shooting spree. Those words in and of themselves conjure up a whole lot of images that leave everyone afraid. The call could have looked a lot different if it went like this ..” a man frightened of loosing everything he has desperately clung to as a measure of success as a human being worthy of living in this great nation is roaming lost in your neighborhood. And due to the fact that we here in this country cling to our right to bear arms he is also carrying a weapon.”

This sort of warning illicites with in me compassion. I can see the human being tragically and desperately lost.  But that is not how the day plays out. It plays out that some monster let loose on a room full of folks and is now running through the streets armed looking to kill. So much of the media is based on fear. I was afraid for sure. But I was also grateful. I was grateful that I was with my children.

I thought of those mothers receiving the same call I did along with a call telling them their childs school was on lock down. There were parents in the world yesterday who could not get to their children. They were not permitted access to their children. They were not there during a very very scary time to console and explain. They had to trust someone outside of the famiy, who barely knows their child, to be the one who instilled a sense of safety when the world around them was so very unsure.

I was home with my children. I was wrapping my arms around them. I was reminding them that they were 100 percent safe. They were in their home. They did not know the scared man and he was not going to knock on our door and ask to be invited in. We were in the safest place possible, each others arms. We could be vulnerable purley authentically vulnerable with our fear and concern. And release it in to the hearts of those who have committed to love us with in that authentic place. With this we were also able to move. We didn’t have to stifle our fear, our shove it aside, we got to feel it in the safe place. And I have to believe that feeling our fear is what allows us to let it go. To thank it for the lessons it came share and then send it on its way. Opening our hearts to the next moment of emotion that floats in.

We were also able to question. My boys had a lot of questions and I did what I could to answer. They were not the sorts of questions that pertained to any kind of details but more they were wonderings about how a person gets to such a place that they harm innocent folks. We talked about just those sorts of things. About how the world is made up of many different events and stories and sometimes people don’t get the sorts of messages that  help them be all loved up. I tried to show that even in the darkest and scariest of times compassion can be born. The person whom the police were hunting can be seen as something much larger then a gun man. Seeing the world for all its ugliness isn’t what makes it easier to walk out the door in to the uncertain. Knowing we are all humanly capable of compassion in devastating moments and that there are folks who see and adore our authentic self is what build that sort of courage required to walk out that door.

Go ahead and quit!

Here’s why it’s okay to quit (used to also include stop, change directions, reconsider etc.) in this house.

Recently our family headed out for our first kayaking experience. Everyone was on board and excited enough to agree to be roused from their beds earlier then their bodies would choose. The car was full of excited chatter and the singing of favorite tunes as we battled through unexpected traffic (that could be the theme of our life here in California).

We got to the dock a little late which didn’t seem to phase anyone, not even the folks holding the kayaks for us. We were gathering our gear when the kind fellow used words like “get wet and flip kayak”. I now had a terrified six year old buried in my lap. He was really not up for this sort of thing.

I am guessing that no where in his mind along the preparation for this journey had he ever considered such things as the kayak tipping or some on the ocean water being in the kayak with him. And these big ideas were just too much.  He looked at me with frightened eyes and said “mom I really don’t wanna do this.”

Now I know there are several responses that could have been inserted here based on a wide range of parenting philosophies and ideals. Thankfully for me in that moment the only consideration was my child and his sense of safety. Cause when we as humans are trying to meet our need for safety every thing else melts in to the background. The primal kicks in and the need for safety takes priority over reason, logic and any other strategy I might have employed. So, he and I did not go kayaking.

We watched, we listened and we questioned. But we did not step foot in a kayak. His brother and dad cautiously headed out and returned 40 minutes in to their 4 hours rental. Cause that was enough for a first timer. And when they returned they had stories of dolphins, pelicans and sea lions. The telling of tales over lunch left my six year old announcing “I totally want to do that next time.”

And that is why quitting is okay in this house. I could have forced the issue and potentially left my child hating kayaking or fearing kayaking for a long time, potentially the entirety of his life. Instead he was inspired by people he trusted who showed him this was a safe and super cool experience. Now he is motivated to give it another shot (and in case you are wondering if at the last minute he changes his mind again he will be supported just as he was here).

When we create space for our children to quit, stop, change directions or reconsider a sport, activity, choice the underlying message we send to them is that that they are in control. And by that I mean that they are in control of their own boundaries. They are able and capable to pushing and stretching them when the moment it right. This in my humble opinion ups the chances that they will want to repeat this sort of behavior because it feels good. When the control lies outside of us and in the hands of someone else it can be terrifying, out of control and down right unpleasant. When the control comes from with in it feels right, connected and perhaps just as scary but in a whole different I really want to do this kind of way.

Having the freedom to walk away from an activity can also create the breathing room necessary to re-enter or see things from a slightly different angle.  Sometimes that moment of pause where you know you have the freedom to just quit is the space where a whole new level of courage is able to bubble up. In the moment where you are walking away you might just feel that feeling of “wait I really want to do this” and that extra surge of certainty can be just what my child needs to meet their goal or intention. This is why this option is always available in our house.

Ultimately for me it comes down to this, I want my children to know the edges of their comfort zones and boundaries. I want them to know them so they can push them. I want them to know how they feel when they are standing at the edge ready to push and deciding if the time is right. I want them to know what it feels like to break through that edge, of their own choosing, and delight in the new space. I want them to feel confident in their own ability to manage the sorts of big feelings that come from being alive in the world. And this can’t happen if I am in charge of the what and the when of their risk taking. I can provide a host of opportunities for the boys and stand by with the kind of open arms that receive them whatever they choose to do.

I used to think

.. the folks around here really could care less about me. I would go for a run, visit the pool or meander through the grocery store with rarely a hello or even one of those half smiles. I came dangerously close to concluding that Americans, in general, were an unfriendly bunch.  I was astounded by people’s ability to appear unaware that they were sharing space with me. Then one morning, I decided to share a smile and good morning with all passerby’s (or those I passed by). I was prepared to be ignored by everyone, who I had decided was trapped in their own world. Turned out, folks were just waiting for me to notice them first. I got smiles, startled good mornings and what can only be coined as an awakening of sorts.

When I say an awakening of sorts, I am referring to the hint of sparkle you see in the back of someone’s eyes when you take the time to notice them. People weren’t not noticing me they were just waiting for me to take the first step. The woman with the grumpy face might not be grumpy after all.  In the moment that I notice her she is able to shift, in her heart to a place of presence where maybe just maybe she will have a smile to share with the next person waiting to be seen.

It can be easier to stay in our place of comfort or live the stories constructed in our own minds. However, it is with in the simple shifts where we have a chance to see the world (and our stories) just a bit differently. And who knows what the impact of one of those little smiles or good mornings can make in the world of someone else. What’s one tiny thing you are willing to try out that might, just might shift your world (and undoubtedly the world you live in)?

 

Go Canucks Go!

Hockey fever has been alive in our house all season long. And now with the Canucks just one game away for the Stanley Cup, it has reached a feverish pitch.

The neighbors watching might wonder, what’s that all about? Or might mistakenly take it as a by product of our Canadianism.  Trust me it is about something much more important then that.  Simply put the Stanley Cup run is exactly how we strive to live.

It’s about community or tribe which ever term fits you well. Reports from last nights win put close to 100,00 folks together in one place, celebrating rejoicing (I know as with most things in life there were a few unsavory characters doing less then that). Closer to home, my phone was ringing as I connected with friends and family, sure the initial contact was “Yahoo we won” but the calls ended with “I love you and am glad you are in my life.” In my social media world there were tons of virtual high fives.  Alongside reminders that from California to Vancouver Island I have folks who I could stay with should I wish to dash toward Vancouver to join in the celebration. And those connections are alive even when the hockey fever settles down.

It’s about passion. These athletes are mentoring children the world around in what it can look like when you follow your passion with determination. It is rough, you can get hurt their are plenty of mistakes to be made along the way and every now and then you breath in the scent of your dreams and it revives you.

It’s about enthusiasm. The kind that gets you up off the couch cheering. And heck life with out continuous opportunities for a variety  of enthusiasms ain’t worth much (in my somewhat loud but humble opinion).

It’s about dreams. The having of dreams, the pursuing of the dreams and the sharing of dreams. We will not all win the top seed in our given sport/activity/interest but it feels good to join in and get a taste of it from those who will. This sort of event is a reminder that with in each of us we have dreams, big big dreams and the ability to put all of our effort in to reaching them (written with a tear as I hear a hockey stick hit the driveway out front and a boy shout, “Scores”).

It’s about compassion. I wanted to use the word sportsmanship but the words not quite what I am looking for.  Running for a never before achieved title/honor allows us to see the blood sweat and tears it has taken to get there. It allows us to elate in the victory, remorse in the loss and feel for those who inevitably are saddened along the way. Doors open for conversations about adversity. Opportunities for feeling what others might feel both the good and bad are presented game after game. There is a chance as well to talk about your own values and how personal actions convey these to the world. The hit from Rome, witnessing his devastation, reading about Horton’s injury, the suspension have been talked about over and over in our home. The penalties called or miscalled lead to conversations about perspective and choices professionals make in tough situations. Those kind of in the moment heated decisions that require access to personal ethics and responsibility for actions.

It’s fun! Every couple of nights we get to gear up and come together as a family to cheer for a common goal. Heck Ya! (this might be my favorite one)

It’s about history. The living kind potentially being made in your lifetime, with you as witness! No matter the end result the tales will be told to grandchildren.

I want, more that I might admit out loud, to see the Canucks mark this their 40th year with their first ever Stanley Cup. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt the memories and messages my children have witnessed through out this journey, will remain a part of who they are far after the cup is awarded.

My House is a Mess

Why?

 

Because it is so much more then a house.

It is an art studio prepared for messy adventures. And displaying both process and product.

It is a science lab fit for experimenting with anything from explosion to disection.

It is a jungle gym full of spots for flipping, hanging and softly landing.

It is a movie theatre, where you can bring in as much of your own food as is required to enjoy the show.

It is a dig site, where excavating treasures happens on a near daily basis.

It is a library of the noisy sort where pouring over, piling up and dog earing pages is encouraged.

It is a video arcade, with out the necessity of coins and the welcoming of drinks and food near the machines.

It is a gathering space, where all are welcomed just as they come and hooting, hollering, mentoring and celebrating is invited.

It is a infirmary where people, pets, stuffies and plants are found in varies stages of healing.

It is a coffee shop where beans are roasted, shots are pulled and friends are toasted.

It is a workshops where things are taken apart and not put back together. Where projects are started and not finished but always waiting to be revisited.

It is a hockey rink/soccer field/wrestling ring/golf course/tennis court where skills are tested and tried.

It is a dressing room with costumes and props fit for the making of imaginations finest films.

It is a super heros backyard with gidgets and gadgets poised for use and repurposing.

It is a chef’s kitchen where testing, inviting and preparing elaborate meals happens over and over and over again.

And it is many more things then I can remember to mention.

So if you stop by please look passed what appears to be mess and join in the magic.

I’m the problem

At the most recent Life Is Good Conference, I attended Laura Flynn Endres talk “The Kids are Fine: You’re The Problem!” She left me with plenty to think (and blog) about.

First off, I was reminded that the kids are just that they are okay. They are naturally driven to explore, create, inquire and learn. I simply need to get out of the way. And by that I do not mean go sit in a corner and let them be, in fact it is quite the opposite. I need to get out of the way by checking my baggage at the door and joining them in the moment to moment passion following that they are hard wired to participate in.

It is so easy as a parent to loose sight of what my role in my children’s life really is. There are plenty of outside influences that would tell me my role is to make sure they are prepared for the adult world. Really? Is childhood honestly a dress rehearsal for adult hood? If so the whole human existence seems, well less then appealing.  Other sources might insinuate my role is to make sure my kids grow up to be responsible, contributing members of society. Okay, but who defines what responsible and contributing means? That one is a bit too vague for me.   Others still might say my role is to keep them safe. Again, that is a bit vague and can over extend in to a place where I actually am getting in the way of my children pushing the edges of their own comfort zones in order to find new interests and skills.

I digress, back to my point, that it is so easy to loose sight of my role in my children’s life. So in order to check my own baggage at the door I  need to daily remind myself of what my intention is as my children’s mother. And simply put it is to be the mom they need me to be. Easy to say, less easy to actually pull off. It means being available beside my children to know them in the kind of way that allows me to provide just what they require to continue existing authentically. Tall order ? Hell Ya! Worth it ? Double Hell Ya!

So step one, remain grounded in my intent as a parent. Whatever that takes, notes around the house, meditation, deep breaths etc. (or all of the above).

Step two; deal with my own baggage on my own time. My children do not need to see (or hear) all about my process and how I am dealing with it. For several reasons, one it’s not their s***. Two, it’s really confusing. And three potentially the most important, they could get super confused about their role in all of it and try to “help” in ways that have nothing to do with their existence.

Phew. It is easy to say that part about dealing with my own baggage and again perhaps tougher to follow through with . The truth of the matter is, it’s totally worth it. The pay offs are huge.  Finding out how to deal with the baggage does really depend on the issues that arise in the various moments of living with my people. However, there are a few general ideas that often apply. Meditation to ground in the present moment. Deep breathing, to bring my awareness to the now. Journalling through tough spots. Reading the huge resource of unschooling blogs available to me. Biting my tongue, anything worth saying in the moment will be worth saying in three hours time!

And this could quite possibly be my favorite lesson/reminder that I walked away with. Life is tough. Everyone of us could sit down in any given moment and list  reasons why my life is tougher then yours. It’s time to get over it already. Don’t get me wrong there is a time and place for reaching out for support from those who have passed this spot before you. But if this is the tenth time you have asked the same question or looked for the same support, it might be time to move along. Let it go. The other side of this, hard to swallow, if you are waiting for the day when it all runs smoothly (day after day after day) you might be missing out on a whole lot of life. This is not meant to be a downer at all, it is meant to be the opposite an upper!  Life is full of challenge, just as it is full of joy. The brilliance is being able to have the two coexist in a way that the challenge doesn’t win out against the joy. Tough order? Yep! Worth? In my opinion it’s the only option.

Being their mother

On Mother’s Day this is how I feel about them, gifting me this title.

To my beautiful children,

Thank you for making me a mother. But most importantly thank you for accepting me as the imperfect mother.

Thank you for loving me in my unkept, dirty clothed, bad breath moments. And by that I mean loving me the same as you would were I dressed for a grand ball.

Thank you for introducing me to the trueness of unconditional love. Before you I had loved. I had been loved. It was nothing next to the outside of my body heart wearing, momma bear protecting, fall to my knees love that I have for you.

Thank you for humbling me. Through your eyes, I see how everything that seemed so important to achieve, pales next to the tending of you.

Thank you for showing me the courage that is mine. Before you I would never had imagined I could live countless years without a full nights sleep and still experience wild joy. I never imagined I could give so deeply of myself and come up nurtured on the other side.

Thank you for trusting me with your gift of intimacy. For trusting me enough to yell at me, try out new feelings on me, toss frustration at me and know I could handle it and love you even more.

Thank you for all those teeny tiny moments that I will one day crave to live over again.

Thank you showing me the power of presence. For I know one day, sooner then I would choose, you will lift your strong wings and leave this nest and I will miss even the moments that challenge me today.

Mostly, just thank you, for filling me with this gratitude that words could never capture. I am honored to wear the title of your mother.

Born of Gratitude

Life is not easy.  There are a countless number of opportunities to be consumed by fear, dread and all sorts of other negative emotions. Alternatively, there is the chance to flip it all on its ass and see the other side.  I am here to admit that the darker side of life often tries to pull me in, like a familiar blanket I want to curl up with indefinitely. Luckily, there is that flip side of me that strives to live a vibrant and brilliant life.  Thankfully that piece turns up to rip off the familiar blanket and push me closer to the edges of my wildest dreams.  Today gratitude propels me.

Gratitude is a word used a lot, perhaps becoming more of a catch phrase and less of a deep feeling. I want to reclaim the word for myself. To me gratitude is the breath I take that connects me to the bounty of beauty surrounding me each moment I exist. The action part is remembering to open my eyes wide and long enough to see it.

Last night I awoke in a pool of vomit, thankfully not my own, disruptive none the less.  From this could be born many an emotion. I choose gratitude. Gratitude that I was nearby when my son was in a deeply vulnerable place. Gratitude that I was present to rub his back, change the sheets and gently snuggle him back to sleep. Yes, I am thankful for that pool of vomit and its gentle reminder that health is a gift that can swiftly be taken from us all.

I trust that if I can find gratitude in a pool of vomit all will be well in my world.