Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘transformation’

Catching Joy

I have set a trap in my front yard. The idea for it started a couple of years ago when I saw a ‘free’ sign scribbled on an old Adirondack chair while on a walk with my husband, Alan. Alan knows I cannot resist an orphaned chair. Soon enough he plodded back to where I stood admiring the chair and picked it up as I grabbed the matching footrest and we made our way home.

The old chair sat in our back yard for two years as an idea began to percolate in my mind. Finally, this year I set my trap. With the help of my bewildered husband, we laid fresh green sod on the chair’s seat and footrest. We built-up the arm rests and planted ground cover in them. We stapled chicken-wire to its sloping back and filled it with potting soil and upholstered it with hundreds of little succulent plants. We tucked the chair under the shade tree on our front lawn, right next to the sidewalk and waited.

My home office is on my front porch and I often get to witness the joy I capture in my trap first hand. It began with the children who often run ahead of the grown-ups on their walks. They are almost too easy to catch.  With their fresh, inquisitive eyes and low stature, they are drawn into the chair’s whimsey from a block away and they easily  ensnare their adult charges with squeals of delight.

The next to fall prey are the older men and women. Their un-hurried pace and seasoned gaze never miss the chair, and though they are not loud like the children, very much like the children they always stop and cheerfully go over every detail with wide smiles.  Often I will capture the amused attention of dog walkers who notice too late the lifted leg on the chair’s footstool as they yank the leash and guiltily look up to the house. (It’s okay, I don’t mind!) New parents lazily pushing sleeping babies in shiny new strollers whisper their admiration.

But the hardest and most elusive prey are the joggers, with their headphones and determined, focused attention on the road in front of them. As I watched them pass by over and over again, oblivious to my joyful trap, I realized I had to do something clever to grab their attention. So, one beautiful sunny day I hung my parakeet’s cage from the tree, right over the chair. He sang and chirped his delight at being outside. “Irresistible,” I said to myself, “surely this will catch them!”

Soon I noticed a jogger coming up the street, she breezed past the bird and chair without breaking stride. I sighed. But, what’s this? She is circling back! She stands panting, smiling at the chair for a moment before bounding away again.

That’s what I love most about my trap, it’s a catch-and-release program!

While out watering the chair one day a man drove past, then reversed his car and pulled up next to me to say how much he loves driving by our yard on his way to and from work. He thanked me for creating the chair, for the joy it brings him.

And so it goes. Surprise, joy, delight and gratitude fill me too. Just one of the many ways extending even the smallest gesture of love comes full circle. Isn’t that just so beautiful, the way love works?

Mammaste, notice the divinity in the everyday!

I want to tell you something.

What might you say if you could whisper through time into your own sweetly curved, perfect little newborn ear?

Read more

An Open Apology To My Eldest Daughter

There is a sweet little drawing of a smiling face scribbled on the wall next to my bed. The artist is my youngest child when she was about three years old. At the time I calmly told her that walls are not for drawing, and then complimented her on her artwork.  I left her original graffiti there on my wall because it is beautiful, and because it reminds me of the lessons I’ve learned since being a new mother of one child, to a seasoned mother of five children–a span of 19 years between the oldest and youngest.

When my oldest daughter first drew on a wall, first cut her own hair, first filled the toilet with non-toilet items, first lied to me, I did not yet know that all children do these things (or some facsimile). I did not realize then, as I do now, it’s part of growing up; of curiosity, testing, exploring, imitating or avoiding. I was harder on her because I was young and didn’t know better. Her actions were not personal, but in my own immaturity as a parent I perceived them as direct affronts. I would overreact and make a big deal out of ‘bad’ behavior by shaming or lecturing her at length for what I perceived as big infractions. By the second, third, fourth and now fifth child I know better as a mother. I don’t claim to know best, it’s just that I know better the mother I choose to be.

As I sat on the edge of my bed looking at the smiling graffiti, I was thinking how much I wished I could change the parent I sometimes was to my oldest child. Then the phone rang and there she was, on the other end of the line.

I shared with her all I had been thinking about. I told her I was sorry that when I was raising her I wasn’t as calm or as mature or as wise as I am now. I told her I wished I could talk to the mother I was then and tell myself all that I have learned so I could do better. I apologized. She laughed and acknowledged having to “pave the way” for her siblings and she told me I was forgiven. In turn she apologized to me for her teen years. We laughed together about pay-back. I loved her for the grace of absolution she blessed me with so easily.

I can’t go back in time and give myself the wisdom of mothering that I have now, but I can share it with you. (Lucky you!)
First: It’s not always about us. Our children are growing, stretching, testing. We can love, guide, offer reasonable consequences and did I mention; love, love, love them? But there is no need to bully, shame or just generally freak-out. Second: If we do freak-out or overreact (because we all do) it’s okay to forgive ourselves and do better when we know better. Third: It’s less okay when we know better, and we don’t do better. That’s when we rationalize, make excuses for ourselves or place the blame on our children for how we choose to react. We’ve all been there, let’s just choose not to live there.

My oldest and me on her wedding day!

My oldest and me on her wedding day!

And lastly: There is great courage and love in risking vulnerability and humility. There is no shame in admitting fault. Fallibility is an inherent quality of the human condition, especially in parenting. Instead of defending our less flattering behavior to suit our need to see ourselves in a better light, admitting our mistakes as parents is important in validating what our children experience, of honoring their truth.

A close friend said to me after I told her this story, “Do you know how many adults would love to hear; ‘I’m sorry,’ from a parent? It would heal so much for them.”

Wise words from another seasoned mother.

Mammaste~
There is so much divinity in the everyday.

Everyday Divinity

I have tiptoed across a dark courtyard at 2AM to spy on Greek Orthodox monks floating in black wool cassocks and high hats through a fragrant fog of amber incense. Chanting Vespers in the candlelit chapel of an Arizona oasis, voices carried to God on white smoke through a starry desert sky. My own soul seeming to rise closer to heaven on every note.

Read more

Of Signs and Wonders, Miracles and Mysteries

My sister Karen is a healer. She is a licensed Massage Therapist and Healing Touch practitioner who works out of a small office in the suburbs. In a recent phone conversation Karen told me about working with a client, Tim, who passed from Cancer. He was the husband of her dear friend, and the experience of his difficult death shook Karen to her core. “It’s been five months,” she says tearfully, “and I can’t move past it.” She is struggling with doubt about her practice she tells me, and she is questioning her ability to offer any real comfort to clients who suffer as Tim did.

As she is speaking, I suddenly remember something that happened to me while she was giving me a massage a long time ago. I had dozed off and dreamt I was being given a message about one of her clients. When I described it to her at the time, she said she did not have any clients by that name. We joked that I was a terrible psychic secretary and dismissed it at that. Now, while still listening to her on the phone, I rummage through my bookshelf to find the small journal I used to keep in my purse. Flipping through the meager number of pages that have any writing on them, I quickly find my scribbled note. I interrupt her to read aloud what is written under the date 4/29/06 (five years earlier). It says; “Message for Karen. “Tim” Your healing is making a difference-it is touching him, changing him. He has the hand of God upon him.” On the other end of the phone line, Karen is crying now, telling me this is what she needed to hear.

Our lives are filled with miracles and mysteries, folded and tucked lovingly into the everyday moments we so often miss, or, dismiss.  In the past year, I have written about them often. They are not always the hair-raising, skin tingling events like the message for my sister was, but they are all equally sacred:

“Many years ago during my darkest hour, I held a small grain of hope that there would be days like today. A still, clear, quiet, sun-dappled morning, children sleeping in upstairs rooms, an old dog curled at my feet–a populated solitude. I am alone, but not lonely. A day, extraordinary in its utter ordinariness. I had faith, and I am here and I am grateful.”

They often whisper to us:

“Returning to bed at 4:30am after letting the dogs out, I slip gingerly into the space between husband and child that still holds my shape. I whisper a complaint about my cold hands as I fold them over my middle. Two warm hands reach out from sleep and cover mine. One large, one small.”

They are small, precious gems, easily overlooked if we are not paying attention:

“I walk past the home of a woman I do not yet know and I am deeply and inexplicably moved to tears by the spring bulbs blooming outside her picture window. Little blue Scilla flowers spell out the word “ALIVE.” Years later, after we’ve become friends, I learn she had endured surgery for breast Cancer and, facing chemo treatment, she had planted this beautiful message of hope the previous fall to celebrate spring’s arrival and her survival.”

They are holy moments, all:

“I wake up to a 7-year-old stowaway in my bed. She is cuddled next to me, gazing straight into my blinking, bleary eyes. ‘I think heaven is different for everyone,’ she says to me, ‘like Candy Land or a beautiful meadow. For me it would be just like my life now, here, with my family.’ I nod, smile and pull her close.”

These experiences do not happen to me because there is anything special about me, my life, or my children. They are there in your life too, all around you. I promise you this is true. You just need to be present and aware. It takes practice to quiet your thoughts enough to really hear, see, and feel these glimpses of divinity, but I know they are everywhere. I believe that you feel it too.

Mammaste!

Divinity in the Everyday

CRE 8 IT INC.

I have consciously resisted “The Secret” ever since it was released many years ago. Not that I knew that much about it. It just seemed, I don’t know, hokey. But recently, on the cusp of starting my new business, MAMMASTE™, I’ve been filled with fear, doubt and anxiety. So I thought, “What have I got to lose by checking out the book’s message regarding the law of attraction?” I borrowed the book on CD from the library and threw it into my car so I could listen to it while driving.

A few days later, I was late for a breakfast meeting and I was rushing, driving faster than I should on the snowy, slippery Minnesota roads. The Secret CD was playing and the narrator was talking about how, if our inner dialogue is “I’m going to be late,” or “There’s never enough time,” we are creating our own chronic lateness. The trick was, the voice on my CD was telling me, to start telling yourself, “I have more than enough time, I have all the time I need.”

I smiled at the coincidence and decided to slow down and change my inner dialogue.  As I came around a curve in the road, a child darted out from behind a snow bank in front of my car. I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop in front of the child who froze, wide-eyed, just inches from my front bumper. He then turned and ran on. I sat there, my heart pounding, realizing that if I hadn’t slowed down a moment before, I would have hit him!  “What a fortunate coincidence,” I thought.

Later that same day I was heading out to a lunch meeting for my new business. The Secret CD was again playing and the topic was; “You are a creator.” The narrator was talking about how if we think about what we want to create in a way that feels like we have already received what we want, we can create whatever it is we desire. The essence of the message being, “You create what you want in three steps: Ask, Believe and Receive.”  I was thinking, “Okay, yes, it feels a little hokey, but I will apply this to creating Mammaste,” and then I looked up at the truck merging into the lane in front of me, and this is what I saw. My hand to God, this is a true story.

CRE 8 IT INC.

And that is all I have to say about that.

Mammaste.

There is so much divinity in the everyday.

Feel free to share this post, and share it abundantly.

This blog post was featured in author, Phil Bolsta’s blog, “Triumph of the Spirit” and also on the “Secret” website .

My Attitude is Everything?

I understand. All of us are a bundle of contradictions between what we practice and what we preach. But occasionally I run across folks who, when they believe they’ve mastered a higher rung on the metaphysical ladder, use said rung to clobber anyone coming up “below” them.

Read more

In Every Face, The Face Of . . .

One morning I slogged down the stairs, feeling cranky and put-upon for having to make school lunches for my kids at 6AM, something I’d been doing for more than 15 years--with another 10 more years of tuna, turkey, or salami on the horizon. (I blame my five children for being born so darn many years apart.) It was with this self-pitying attitude that I tore the clear plastic seal from the top of the cream cheese and saw this smiling back at me.

Read more

A Love Poem from My Daughter

Her hands have always been a comfort to me.
They wiped away my salty tears,
picked me up when I was down,
and led me in the right direction.
Beautiful and giving. Firm and capable.
These are my mother's hands. ~

Read more

The Great Maxi-Skirt Debacle of 1972

Me and my maxi-skirt in happier times.

The year was 1972. I was a shy, awkward eighth-grader at Fridley Junior High in a working-class suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It all began innocently enough when my mother sewed maxi-skirts for my sisters and me one winter. Maxi-skirts were skirts that went all the way down to the floor and were high fashion in 1972; all the cool girls wore them.

Even though my mother warned me there would not be enough of the red fabric I picked out for my skirt, I insisted she use it anyway. The skirt turned out to be more of a red corduroy maxi-tube than the full, flowing maxi-skirt pictured on the front of the Simplicity pattern envelope.

Undeterred by the fact that my stride was roughly as long as that of a Geisha’s, I wore my maxi-skirt proudly to school that fateful day. I was shuffling down the hallway in a sea of my baby-boomer classmates, school books clutched to my chest when my friend Karen swept by me and gave me a slap-on-the-back greeting. That little push sent my torso flying forward at a velocity faster than my tightly bound legs could pedal. Factor in the weight of the books and my 80-pound frame and, well, you get the picture . . . an object in motion and all.

When I tell this story to my kids I insert a little lesson about the physics of this experience just to keep it educational. “Notice how ‘Turning Point’ becomes both a scientific statement as well as an understatement in this example,” I say.

My books flew ahead of me as I slid down the hallway on my belly. To the fast-moving current of students rushing up behind me, I was a rock in the rapids. They were stumbling and lurching trying to avoid stepping on me.

All the while, the tube-like geometry of my skirt and lack of traction supplied by my fashionable, but not-so-functional, ballet slippers made it physically impossible for me to stand up. I was flopping like a fish and polishing a nice, shiny clean spot on the dusty floor as my fellow classmates began parting behind me like the Red Sea, casting horrified backward-glances in my direction. My popularity, already weak and sickly, suffered its last agonizing death-throes right there in the hallway.

Enough humiliation you say? Oh, contraire my friends, this was just beginning. In the midst of my flailing efforts to stand in this sea of inhumanity, I felt two hands under my arms lifting me up from behind.  Guess what? Yes, it was the guy I had a huge crush on. (My compliments to God and his impeccable comic timing.) He was a big, handsome, popular, red-headed football player who smelled like Brut cologne, or maybe it was HI KARATE.  He was the lead actor in my romantic adolescent daydreams, all of them set to a score of David Cassidy ballads. (Heavy sigh.) What? I’ve already admitted I was not cool. Full disclosure.

After he placed me in an upright position, he steadied me for a moment to make sure I wouldn’t tip over again. He then handed me my books, gave me a quick nod with only the tiniest smirk passing over his dreamy lips before he quickly moved on. I scurried, face flushed red as my skirt, into the nearest girls’ restroom and tried to figure out a way to flush myself down the toilet.

Little did I know when I was experiencing my most humiliating middle school moment back in 1972, this story would become a favorite of my middle school daughter all these years later. She loves to laugh with me every single time I tell it, which she requests I do often. I like to think I am teaching her that seeing the humor in humiliation is all about not taking yourself too seriously, or some other equally noble life lesson.  More likely she just loves a good laugh at my expense.

The moral of this story, you ask? I have no idea, but my daughter seems to find comfort in it during her own awkward middle school years, and that’s enough for me. Fortunately for her, I’ve got plenty more stories I’m saving for her high school years!

Mammaste.

There is so much divinity in the everyday.

Please feel free to share this post, and share it abundantly.

%d bloggers like this: