Little bits of inspiration

I’d like to share with you a few inspirational finds from around the web:

This post by Kat about how your honest self shows up in your creations.  She writes:

“My art is there. It comes from that constant core, the “me” that’s me regardless of the name I’m using, the role I’m playing. The same self I get in touch with in the forest is the same self that I’m tapping in to when I create my art. It’s always there, always ready to be accessed. It just takes me finding a moment, finding ways to connect with it.”

And a similar topic by philosopher Alain de Botton as described in this Brain Pickings article by Maria Popova:

“The question of what art is has occupied humanity since the dawn of recorded history. For Tolstoy, the purpose of art was to provide a bridge of empathy between us and others, and for Anaïs Nin, a way to exorcise our emotional excess. But the highest achievement of art might be something that reconciles the two: a channel of empathy into our own psychology that lets us both exorcise and better understand our emotions — in other words, a form of therapy.”

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This post by Linda of 1,000 Mitzvahs about releasing emotions:

“There is a deep connection between two people who are speaking honestly about difficult experiences, but there is also a bond that is created when we relate to someone on that level. I have offered my hand and shoulder to someone during a difficult period of tears and many kind people have done the same for me. These emotional times have made me feel connected to these friends or colleagues in a way that a mere conversation really doesn’t. I also believe it is what helps us recognize and learn from each other through difficulties we all face in life.”

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A deeper look at sanctuary by Tania Wojciechowski on Mindfulist.com:

“There is magic in these places we think of as sanctuaries, places in which we have a strong sense of place – there is a dance that happens between ourselves, the place, and the sacredness of life. We go to these places to recharge, to find solitude, and to reconnect to ourselves – to refill our well of being.”

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We just received our first order from Primary, a new and simple kids clothing company. They offer high quality, simple and comfortable clothing (without itchy tags).  It started because two moms were frustrated at the inability to find simple and quality clothing at reasonable prices.  There are no middlemen or sales gimmicks. They offer 11 pieces in various color options. My daughter loves what we bought, especially the pjs, and I’m guessing we’ll place another order at some point.

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This article on Daily Good about what a miracle it is to have clean water and that we don’t need to walk hours and hours to find a water source. 10% of our planet does.

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I love David and his thoughtful articles on Raptitude and this recent post doesn’t disappoint.  “How to Take a Day Off” describes something I don’t know if I’ve ever done:

“I paid little attention to the advance of time. I suspended all aspirations to shaping the future. The only goal was to enjoy the setting and characters of every moment I found myself in, which is refreshingly easy when you’re not trying to get anywhere else.” 

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Elizabeth Gilbert’s article for the Chopra Center, “The Final Obstacle is Us.”

“Many of the big external obstacles (political, legislative, cultural) have been cleared for us by the great and brave women who came before us. We stand on their shoulders and we should be grateful. But now we are left to battle the lingering prejudices in our own minds that convince us we are not worthy—not good enough, not strong enough, not talented enough, not brave enough.”

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David Brooks’ Sunday NYT opinion article, “The Moral Bucket List.“I came to the conclusion that wonderful people are made, not born — that the people I admired had achieved an unfakeable inner virtue, built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments.”

What’s been inspiring YOU lately?

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Living with an open heart

squirrel and quoteThe antidote for hate and violent acts is not more hateful acts.  No matter what unkind events are occurring in the world, and there are always many, we must monitor our stress and anger levels, not giving in to the darkness, sadness, or sense of betrayal.  The only way out of darkness is to add light. Most of the time, and eventually, I consciously decide to be that light.

I think it’s natural for those feelings to fade as we experience life, so we must be ever more vigilant in protecting that urge to be generous.  This weekend, in the sheer insanity that was the traffic jam of cars headed to see Frozen on Ice, it looked like we were going to miss the beginning of the performance since no cars were moving.  The traffic lights went through several cycles before we inched ahead a tiny bit.  Still, I waved another car in to merge ahead of me.  Mr. B, not wanting us to be late, asked why I did that.  I guess I figured we were all in it together anyway.  I would want someone to let me in.

If we decide to be kind only when it’s convenient for us, are we truly living by our beliefs?

Take this squirrel… many birdwatchers would think him a pest.  He’s eating the bird seed that I put out for the cardinals and bluejays in my backyard.  However, I can’t see him that way because I think he’s just as worthy of food as my feathered friends.  His antics are far more comical too.  The only solution in my mind, rather than get squirrel-proof bird feeders, is to put out a squirrel feeder as well.

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Where is your thinking spot?

My thinking spot

My thinking spot

Each person in my family has what we call a “thinking spot.” It came about as a way to model for our daughter how to gain control of strong emotions in a healthy manner. Anytime one of us feels angry, frustrated, or not ready to speak calmly, we encourage them to go to their thinking spot as a way to calm down.  It is probably why most parents use time-outs, except that instead of trying to end a negative behavior through enforced separation or reflection, which leads to defiance in this house, this is an attempt to cultivate positive emotions in a soothing environment.  It is available any time, not only after negative behavior.

If someone needs to relax, regain focus, or remember who they most want to be, they can sit quietly in their thinking spot, surrounded by their favorite things. It assumes the best about someone: that they must not be themselves at the moment because they are not behaving in a positive, loving manner.  We don’t necessarily need to discuss the cause of what made someone need to go there either, because they naturally come to it on their own while there.  A few deep breaths helps immensely no matter what the issue is.  There is usually an apology afterward too.

Every person’s thinking spot is different.  Mr. B’s is simply his favorite living room chair where he can close his eyes for a few moments.  My daughter’s is a comfy chair in a corner of her room and it is surrounded by a little bench of (unlit) scented candles (it’s very hard to cry or scream when you are trying to smell something), squeeze balls (for anger release), paper and markers for expressing emotions, and her CD player for soothing music.

My original thinking spot was taken over by the cat, and since I naturally gravitate toward spending time in our sunroom watching the birds and flowers, I made that my thinking spot.  I enjoy spending time there every day.  I rest, read, write, and enjoy being close to nature.  It’s my favorite spot in the entire house.

There are times when my daughter is particularly exasperating and I will take a deep breath in front of her and say, “Wow.  I am feeling very frustrated right now.  I am going to go sit in my thinking spot for two minutes and then we can talk about this.”  Not only does she see me trying to calm down before my emotions take over, but she also sees that it’s ok to separate from the situation for 2 minutes to take care of yourself.  (I hope she will use this on the kindergarten playground or with her friends.) I want to teach her that it is best to speak calmly and rationally and to listen just as much.  If we can’t do that, we usually end up at some extreme that we soon regret.

There are also times when she is very upset, repeating the same thing over and over again and not listening to any reason, when I will say, “Wow, you seem very angry.  You need to go relax in your thinking spot until you can discuss this calmly.” And I walk away.  Since it is a safe and comfy spot of her own creation, there is no resistance.  Works every time!

And the best is when she will say to us, “I think it’s time for you to go to your thinking spot!” She usually recognizes our frustration before it escalates and likes to tell us we need a minute because, well, who wants to be with an angry parent? She is usually right.

I encourage you to try a thinking spot of your own, even if you live alone.  It can only be a good thing to have a favorite spot where all your favorite things are, where you can go to find your center, remember your priorities, and focus.  Let me know if you have one or try this!

Posted in Home, Motherhood, Soulful Home prompts | Tagged , | 27 Comments

It’s raining diamonds

raining diamondsNothing much to share today, friends.  Just a quick note to wish you a happy Monday. It’s been a bit dreary here and we are told it’ll be rainy all week… so I’m grabbing my Sleepytime tea, blankets, and books.  :)

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My neck of the woods

wauwo1My friend Amy Potkonen started a new weekly series called “What Are You Working On?” and I figured I’d join her this week.  Be sure to share in the comments what you’re up to as well!

Body: Doing pretty well, especially since it’s Passover.  Another 2.2 pounds gone.  Where exactly do they go???

Eating: Lots of oranges and broccoli.

Watching: Is this supposed to be about tv? Besides the Disney channel, no tv for me.  I have been watching flowers bloom in the back yard and I definitely enjoy watching the squirrels hang upside down munching from my bird feeder.  They are hilarious.

Ariel drawingAt home: We are at a point with my daughter and certain behaviors where it gets worse before it gets better.  For a few months now, we have made some changes in our expectations of her.  Long story short, she has had too much power for too long.  To get there, we’re working with a therapist to acknowledge her feelings, offer specific choices calmly, and to follow through.  My daughter’s confidence has dramatically increased over the past three months and school morning separation has gotten much easier, but just when she began to sleep all night in her bed and play more on her own, she has regressed. I’ll spare you the details.  This momma is tired and trying to do the right thing to remain consistent and firm.

Reading: As usual, my reading reflects where I am emotionally and mentally.

Joking: This was a fun April Fools joke in my daughter’s lunch box:

April Fools

Learning: Patience.  Also learning to listen to my intuition. Sometimes I notice a feeling of being uncomfortable with a decision but I act on it anyway.  I need to stop panicking and rushing and PAUSE to listen.  Not having personal space or time for several days in a row (my daughter was sick last week) severely cut me off from listening to my innate wisdom.

Appreciating: my time alone now that my daughter is back in school.  Also appreciating the weekly trash pickup, the dishwasher, and air conditioning.

Wondering: Do I tell people how much I admire in them? Do I complement enough? In working with my daughter, I am using very specific praise so she knows exactly what behavior is encouraged and repeatable.  Sometimes, I think people only communicate their judgements or criticism.  That’s true for me too.  Maybe they think I already know the good stuff? It’s nice to hear thankfulness when you do something for someone else… or just because.

Loving: Mr. B.  He rides my monthly hormone waves like a true surfer.  He’s a wonderful partner.

Thinking: I need to do more of this:IMG_8344-001Anticipating: The big 4-0 next month! I think it’s awesome that my daughter wants to have a party for me.  So sweet.  I have lots of ideas about how I want to spend the next 40 years, but I honestly can’t believe I’m that age.  I feel that I’m about 27 inside with some unexplained stretch marks and eye wrinkles.

OK that was fun! I may do it again sometime.  :)

Posted in Books, Home, Motherhood | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Rerun: Letting in the light

The following is a post from two years ago that popped up on my site stats as having been read, so I clicked on the link and read it… and it spoke to me! I am pleased to notice that I’ve made more progress in these areas since then and that I’m much more at peace with who I am.  Seeing the shared humanity in every single person has helped me become far more open-hearted and accepting, and that has led me to experiences and relationships I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  I thank you for your lovely comments on the original post too.

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“It is never too late to become what you might have become.” ~ George Eliot

You are loved canvas

We all, in our own ways, sometimes treat our inner selves with something far from kindness and love.  We walk around concealing our shame, those past experiences we are not proud of, our bad habits and our insecurities.  I have issues that I am more than afraid to tackle… we all do.  And yet, one by one, I am doing it.  I am shedding the extra layers and lifting up my arms to realize that there have been wings hidden there all along.

Knowing that I hide things from people that I wouldn’t want them to know about me is one thing.  Learning about what my beautiful friends consider to be their own secret shame is shocking and revelatory.   No matter what it is, I see them from a perspective of love and acceptance that I was not giving myself.  I look at them with forgiveness and pure grace, something I find very difficult to do for myself.  In gifting each person we meet with forgiveness and lovingkindness, we are gifting the same to ourselves.  And wow does it feel good.

I would rather feel the soft peace of understanding and love toward someone than my old standby – judgement.  I readily welcome feelings of acceptance and empathy, which just don’t leave room for harshness, sarcasm, or anger.

I have heard it said that you can’t truly give love to another person until you love yourself.  And yet I have found that my route to self-compassion and self-love comes by way of seeing the vulnerability in others.  We do not need to be perfect to be loved.  We all struggle.  We all need to be healed.  It has been in reaching out to other beautiful souls that I have seen the light.

This post was inspired by the life-altering connections I am making in Julia‘s online SoulClass, Getting Naked.  I highly suggest you gift yourself her course.  It’s 40 days (just the beginning of a lifetime) of knowing, living unapologetically, and loving yourself. 

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