Month: April 2016

How to Be Authentic and the Mother-of-the-Groom

How to Be Authentic and the Mother-of-the-Groom

Authenticity
Carnaval de Venise, Carnevale de Venezia, Venice Carnival Photo by David Pin on FlickrBeing authentic.

BEING AUTHENTIC.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what this really means for you? A thousand times each day, with each action, decision, choice or lack thereof that we make, we are called upon somewhere deep inside of ourselves to show up authentically. It’s an energetic, biochemical necessity. Research keeps supporting what many spiritual teachers and healers have known for eons and that is that if we are living a lie our body is going to reveal its dissatisfaction through illness, discomfort or worse.

When we act from a place that is not in alignment with our heart we experience stress in one way or another. It takes effort to live in confusion and it is exhausting. We may experience it as depression or anxiety or actual illness. We may become irritable, angry or confused. Decisions are hard to make and nothing feels right.

I have been in the process of shopping for a dress to wear to my son’s wedding in May. You’d think that would be reasonably doable. Every other woman I know who is attending the wedding has already happily purchased their attire. I find that almost comical! I’ve gone to numerous stores in the area and shopped online until my eyes crossed. Nothing. I’m down to two weeks.

This may appear to be a rather mundane example, but my confusion and disconnect from yet another part of me, is simply another step in my healing and growth process; in my search for my authentic self. It’s also evidence that I”m not quite there yet! 🙂 I have gone through enormous changes over the last decade – enormous interior changes. I am much more in touch with who I am than I was at fifty … or even sixty. What I am facing now in this superficial decision of what to wear to my son’s wedding, is a continuation of my attempt to bring forth the real me in external form. I want to wear something that reflects who I am now, for myself … not anyone else.  Nothing I have found so far does that. What started out as a very unconscious struggle – frustration with my choices and endless shopping – is now coming to the surface in a deeper understanding of the nature of my growing, evolving self.  I have kept my true self buried for so long, have dressed it in a thousand masks, that the excavation has taken numerous iterations and now this is one more.

[tweetthis]”The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something our hearts know is a lie” Karen Marie Moning..[/tweetthis]

When I step back from my ridiculous, over-analytical, crazed self in this moment I realize how internal this struggle really is. In those moments when I can get outside of myself I just have to laugh and think, wow, this really isn’t all that important! True. It is not. My son’s happiness on that day is what’s important. My showing up is what’s important. I know that and I have great confidence that I will show up in whatever form it takes as a proud, excited, loving Mom and I will forget all this pre-wedding chaos. In the meantime, I have to take on this conflict as it presents itself and learn what I can about myself in the process. Finding the truth, finding our truth is never easy, but it’s always worth it.

Have you had a recent experience where your mind was telling you to do something your heart didn’t want to do?

Authenticity

Everyday Is Earth Day ~ Feel the Earth, Feel the Gratitude

Everyday Is Earth Day ~ Feel the Earth, Feel the Gratitude

Earth DayOur earth is a spectacular gift … a miracle … a source of constant amazement to me. When I stop to think about its riches and abundant beauty it boggles my mind. Particularly those of us who live on the western hemisphere have so much to be grateful for, far exceeding the wildest imaginations of those sequestered by circumstance to other parts of the world. I need only watch the news one evening to be reminded of the abundance that is ours for the taking. Not only have we been blessed to be at home in a country that affords us some distance from the destruction of war, but the freedom to enjoy what we have. With all freedom comes responsibility. The more freedom we have, the more responsibility we bear for tending to and protecting what is sacred … and the earth is sacred. The earth provides for our very existence.

I whisper a prayer of gratitude in my heart whenever I see, sense or touch a thing of beauty … a reminder to maintain some semblance of humility for the gifts I have been given. Gratitude is a reminder that our ego will never provide for us, or care for us in the way that we think it can. Our mental gymnastics and machinations will not do it for us either. Rather, it is humbling ourselves so that we can surrender to and rest in all that stands outside of reason, logic and ego, and outside of the cultural norm.  This alone keeps us grounded in the awareness that we are a part, not only of the earth itself, but of the universe. What is in one is in all. What is in all is in one.

 

EARTH DAY QUOTES:

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”
– Ancient Indian Proverb

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thich Nhat Hanh

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“The earth has music for those who listen.”
George Santayana

[tweetthis]]”In the spring at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Attwood #quote[/tweetthis]

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want.”
Andy Warhol

Intricate Beauty — Living, Learning and Letting Go

Intricate Beauty — Living, Learning and Letting Go

When I first saw these flowers in the nursery, their beauty stunned me. I discovered they were called Blue and White Columbine (Aquilegia). There were only a few blossoms on the plant when I purchased it, but within the week it was full of flowers.

via Intricate Beauty — Living, Learning and Letting Go

Perfect pictures for a beautiful Spring morning in NC. I just had to share. Enjoy!

The Greatest Gift You Can Give … or Receive

The Greatest Gift You Can Give … or Receive

The greatest gift you can give another, is to be fully present with them and to give them your undivided attention. The greatest gift you can give yourself, is exactly the same.

I came flying in for a crash landing at mid-life, after several decades of living hell-bent on creating a life I loved to live.  I’d the greatest giftmanaged to run fast and long and hard into a giant brick wall. In fact, I even managed to get up, brush myself off, get back on the track just long enough to smash into another one. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much effort, work, thought and determination I put into achieving my goals, they didn’t happen. I did not, in any way, shape or form, have a life I loved to live. Quite the opposite.

Part of the problem, was that I wasn’t paying attention. I wasn’t fully present in my life. I was looking out beyond the stars, and missing the journey completely. Instead of giving myself the greatest gift, I was working overtime trying to give it to others. I didn’t think I was, but in retrospect I see now that I was so ensconced beneath the masks I wore that I had no idea who I really was or what I really wanted.

At an early age, I learned not to listen to myself or pay attention to my own needs and wants.  The last in a long line of children, little attention was paid to me.  I more or less raised myself, with a little help from my very bossy older sister. As time went on, I came not to expect attention or approval, and interestingly enough, I developed a deep commitment to paying attention to others. (It’s a question of balance.)

I developed powerful radar for those in need. I would give them what I knew somewhere deep inside was the greatest gift we can give another human being. I was able to intuit what they were feeling and thinking, often before they knew themselves, and, as a result, I was able to provide for them what they needed in any given moment. I was not listening to myself so I had lots of available antennae to pick up their signals.  My loss was their gain. Or was it?

[tweetthis]”Be present where you are otherwise you will miss your life.” Buddha[/tweetthis]

I learned a great deal from that part of my life. It has given me skills I might not have otherwise had. I learned that giving another person our undivided attention, being fully present to them and for them in any given moment, is valuable, and it requires setting aside all of our agendas. It means putting aside not only our cell phones, our to-do list, but also our expectations, and to some extent our own needs. Being fully present to another is a gift. It must be freely given. And, it is priceless.

However, as I have said many times, it is essential to give from our abundance. We must give, not to fill our own needs or to balance some imaginary scale of giving, but from the very core and essence of our heart and soul. This is a tall order, and one that is always a work in progress. However, there are two steps that we can take every day toward this end.

  • Be fully present to yourself. Being present to yourself means listening to your own needs and tending to them. Do not put off caring for yourself for some other imagined priority. Love and care for yourself first, as you would a child until you feel anchored and present from deep within. Then the next step is easier.
  • Be fully present to others when it is asked for or needed. This does not mean solving their problems. It does not mean indulging their every whim. It means listening. Hearing. Looking into their eyes and seeing them. It means turning off judgement, turning down the volume on your own agenda, and tuning into their signals and energy. You are looking for a heart and soul connection, so that you might hear their heart. Interestingly enough, one can often hear the most in silence.

 

Navigating Family Drama – Crazy Relatives and Jousting Fests

Navigating Family Drama – Crazy Relatives and Jousting Fests

Family Drama
Pyrography and acrylic paint on oak panel – 12 x 8 inches – Jousting colours from Sir Thomas Holme’s Book of Arms. Originally published/produced in England; before 1448.

Family drama shows up in everyone’s life at one time or another.  Who doesn’t have at least one relative that drives them slap crazy? I know I sure do! In fact, there was a time when there were more family members who agitated me, than those who didn’t! Going to family gatherings was like trying to take a nap in a brier patch! I invariably walked away battered and bruised and completely exhausted. I felt depleted for days after and churned inside like the hand cranked ice cream maker we pulled out to try to smooth things over.

In all honesty, I walked away from these family jousting fests hating myself more than I did anyone else. I’d argue with myself about all of the issues, who was doing what and why; what was driving them, what I could have said or done differently for a different outcome. If I just said the right thing in the right way they’d understand, or they’d see my perspective. Then I’d get mad at myself for getting so worked up over it all! Why did my mind have to sort and chew, sort and chew, for hours or days after? Let it go, I’d remind myself. But, I didn’t listen so round and around my mind would go like a Merry-Go-Round gone rogue.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Of course you do, because there’s not a soul alive who hasn’t found themselves mired in family drama at one time or another and ruminating about it afterward. It’s human nature. At last, I have figured out why we do that, and why the drama happens in the first place.

Family drama is designed to create chaos in our lives in order to inspire us to change and grow. It’s a wake up call, a prod to get us moving in the right direction. It’s a law of the universe and a part of the very reason we are alive on this planet. There’s no getting away from it no matter who we are or how far we run. If we do run, it will follow us … if not in the precise embodiment of family, then in our mates and co-workers and bosses.

[tweetthis]”In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” — Deepak Chopra[/tweetthis]

Family drama exists to push us to listen to ourselves … to our intuition, our heart, our soul, and to bear witness to our values and beliefs. The universe offers us this gift so that we might grow into our very best selves. Contrary to the way we’d like it to be, we can only do this by wrestling with our demons.

Only, we don’t. We don’t listen. We don’t engage. We don’t take hold of the challenge we are being offered. We don’t tune in to rumbling and urging inside of us that is pointing us in the right direction. We shove the noise aside and pretend to be someone we’re not. As a result, chaos ensues, and the chaos is all inside of us. It’s not reality.

WHAT FAMILY DRAMA IS REALLY ALL ABOUT

I will give you one small example. In anticipation of my son’s upcoming wedding, where of course family members will assemble en mass, I had an imaginary conversation with a particularly irksome relative who will remain nameless (not out of respect, but I value my life. :)) In my mind’s eye, I stood there, my feet planted solid as a rock on the ground, my hands on my hips, my body squared … (I’d like to note that I absolutely never take this stance), and I looked the person straight in the eyes and said, “what is it about me that you hate so much?” Of course, even in my imagination the individual didn’t answer. I’ve been asking myself and the imaginary replica this question for decades without a satisfactory answer.

[tweetthis] Dysfunctional families have trouble knowing where they stop and others begin. — David W. Earle[/tweetthis]

The silence I encountered, where the answer was supposed to be, caught my attention. It pushed me a step further. I realized I was asking the wrong question. So I tried again.  “What is it about me that reminds you of something about you, that you don’t like?”  This time I got a few glimpses of possibilities, but I’d done this before as well, and it wasn’t helpful. What I think I know about them is only a guess and, after all, I can’t change them.

Later, while washing the dishes it hit me. I was not only asking the wrong question, I was asking the wrong person! I needed to be asking myself the questions: “What is it about them that reveals something in me that I don’t like or can’t accept?” Bingo! It was like opening a floodgate. Each time I dared to look a little closer, I saw something new. The more I pushed myself to look and examine myself the more I began to see the two of us were really kindred spirits! We should be best friends!

This shift in perspective was eye-opening. I could see the gift the situation was offering me.  I was able to disengage from the mind games I was playing and take a hard look at myself. The individuals issue with me is still a mystery, but I am much clearer on my issue with myself.  Will the individual push my button again? Probably. I believe, however, that I will  respond differently; from a place a little bit deeper inside of me that will reflect back a clearer picture of who I really am. His crazy will be his and mine will be absolutely my own. No co-mingling of  crazy.

Everyone who comes into our lives can teach us something about our self-esteem or lack thereof, our self-acceptance or lack thereof, our gifts and strengths, and our shortcomings and shadows. What we see in them is a reflection of what is inside of us.

Family gatherings stir us up because we have so much unfinished business from our childhood. We like to think it’s over. It’s not. Not by a long shot. As we get clearer on who we are, and grow in acceptance and love of ourselves, the family drama slips away. It’s not that everyone else changes, although they might,  it’s that our reactivity to them diminishes. Our energy stays inside of ourselves.

Reflection Questions:

Who is your most challenging family member?

What do they reflect back to you about yourself?

When you examine the reflection can you get beneath the surface?

Is there a hurt or scar buried there?

Can you bring this wound to the surface and look a little closer?

Can you grieve the hurt?

Can you love that little child who was doing the very best she could?

If you need support in dealing with your family drama, reach out to me. 
The Silence of Morning by D.H.Hickman – A Book Review

The Silence of Morning by D.H.Hickman – A Book Review

The Silence of Morning: A Memoir of Time UndoneSilence of Morning  is a powerful memoir of one mother’s struggle to come to terms with the sudden death of her son.  Filled with wisdom and insight, Hickman’s  writings can only be described as a  prayer, one that comes straight from the center of her broken heart.

The author dives fearlessly into the void created by her loss and does battle with herself, external reality, and all that is unseen. She knows instinctively, even if not consciously during the process, that she is not only searching for answers and some kind of palatable acceptance of her loss, but for the meaning of life itself.  She is searching for the voice of her soul.

HIckman’s philosophical  writing style does not belie the pain beneath her words, but it does keep  the book from being voyeuristic or maudlin. In every word she honors the memory of her son.  As she recounts the days before and after Matt’s death, she does not do so in tedious detail, but in poetic reflection, and the deep questioning that is her style. She writes with a heart that is strong and courageous, even when it is broken wide open.

Each question the author asks of herself, of the Universe, of Life Itself, the reader needs and wants answered as well. We wrestle along with Hickman as she travels through heartbreak, anger, frustration, sorrow, longing, and the ever-present search for understanding.  She wants a reason to keep on going, to find meaning and purpose in life again.

The Silence of Morning offers a glimpse into the transformative process.

Hickman givesSilence of Morning us a glimpse into the transformative process. Unspoken in the loss of her son, was the loss of life as she knew it. One can never return to a life of innocence before loss. When the unexpected happens, when loss occurs suddenly, no matter what the preamble, we are in some manner traumatized. Something has occurred that our reasoning minds cannot understand. As we grieve we struggle to understand that which cannot be understood, and as such it becomes a spiritual matter. Hickman knew instinctively, before she knew consciously,  that she would have to follow the transformative path if she were to come through her loss and still find meaning and purpose in her life.

The Silence of Morning: A Memoir of Time Undone ultimately offers readers not only an opportunity to explore their own losses but to do so in the context of transformation. It is hard work. It requires that we ask the hard questions and seek the unexpected answers. Daisy takes her readers on this journey. It is a powerful gift to those who long to articulate the depth of their pain and to find meaning in it. If you have experienced a dark night of the soul, if you have experienced loss or trauma, and even if you haven’t, The Silence of Morning offers you an opportunity to wrestle with the hard questions that we all must ask if we are to live a life worth living.

 

Connect with the author:

Silence of Morning
Daisy Hickman, author of The Silence of Morning, A Memoir of Time Undone At home in The Sunny Room Studio


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