Tag Archives: Unitarian Universalist

Strong girls, confident girls and American Girl

Standard

I love perusing the bookshelves at Goodwill. I have found some real treasures there. Sometimes for as little as a quarter. Sometimes for as much as two dollars. Over the past few months I have come across American Girl books. First of all, I had completely forgot there was a book series. Then I discovered they had these guide type books.

Having a ten-year-old girl to raise, I have wondered how to approach subjects. When do I approach them. I am constantly looking online for information on this. I had not really thought to find a book that explained it to HER.  The first one we came across was ” The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls.”  There was nothing in this book I had not told her already. However, she dove into it and really seemed to finally grasp some basic concepts. She was understanding why she needed to change underwear every day. Why she had to use shampoo conditioner and soap when she took a shower. I can’t tell you how many times she asked to take a rinse off shower. Why brushing your teeth last night doesn’t count in the morning.We read some of it together but for the most part it was just in her room for her to read. I know she read it as when I went in to check on how clean her room was, It was always in a different spot.

Now instead of figuring out how to have birds and bees talks and your changing body talks I could focus on other important issues. With school starting back up, I thought I would go check out the book store again. We had visited lots during the summer. She has more chapter books than she knows what to do with.

When I stumbled upon another great book from American Girl. This one is something that some of the other mothers I am friends with and I have discussed a lot lately. “Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends Dealing with Bullies and Bossiness, and Finding a Better Way. It is hard for me to comprehend that at Ten years old this is what she is dealing with now. She is my baby. Wait how is she walking? Why is she growing so fast? Alas, she is and the best way to deal with it is to pull up my panties and be ready. So I got the book, even though it was not remotely what I was looking for. I walked in to find books for a friend and maybe one for me.

Knowing my daughter is an eager to please type person like myself. Knowing how that affected me when I was her age. I wanted to fill up her bucket as much as possible, to strive for her not having the crippling self-doubt and lack of confidence I had.

Like the first book she started reading it right away. As she read things she liked or made sense to her she would talk to me about it. Normally reading hour is a bunch of me reminding her she is supposed to be reading and a lot of her rolling her eyes. This is why it’s an hour instead of the twenty minutes required. Once she had this book in her hands though it was all she could focus on. Even the next morning I found her walking around looking at it. I mean seriously how do you get upset she is not getting ready when she is reading? I really struggle with that. In the car she continued to read it and all these little squabbles that had come up, some when she was in Kindergarten, that she had never told me about. She had ideas of how to handle it if it happened again. The book encourages to set a personal motto, so that was what she was thinking about as she got out to go to school.

I remember being told to respect my elders. It didn’t matter if that elder was bullying me or being overly bossy. I was a kid. I had no say and if I said anything it was disrespectful. I have tried to encourage her to speak up for herself. To stand up for herself when she needed to. I have tried to teach her that if she sees it happening she should say something. I want her to feel heard but also have respect for those in charge. How in the world do you teach this as a parent who is eager to please and overly anxious to a child who is the same? Being the researcher I am, I looked up the book. Then to my wonderful surprise, I found there was all kinds of curriculum material available all centered around this book and another American Girl book.  Not once anywhere did I see it mention they should behave this way because God wanted it. I was so relieved. This was actually usable stuff to me! She is already eager to please and I want her to stand up for herself for HER. Not for anyone else, not even God.

My eyes have been opened and now this is probably something I am going to research more.  She already wanted to share this book with her friends so I have volunteered to do a Sunday School class on this subject. Perhaps this is something I will try to do more often. Perhaps I need to make this a goal for myself.

It starts with us, the parents and will trickle down from there. My hope is if we all do this, one day the world will be a kinder place.

Compassionate acceptance of love (#1000speak post)

Standard
Compassionate acceptance of love (#1000speak post)

Growing up I was told boys loving boys was wrong. Girls loving girls was wrong. Thinking you were a boy when you had girl parts was wrong and vis versa. I was told you don’t question God.God didn’t make mistakes. I never really gave it much thought until a friend came out as a lesbian. Now what do I do? I like her as a person. She is a great friend. According to the religion I was part of at the time, I was not to associate with her anymore. She was openly admitting to a “sin” and not trying to change. When I turned to the church for guidance , I came away feeling like I had done something wrong. I had such immense guilt for wanting to keep the friendship I had. To turn someone away for being who they were was just not part of me.

It took me a long time to work out how I felt about love being love. I had to work past these stumbling blocks I didn’t even know I had. It was not to be talked about so I found myself stumbling. I was lucky to have a friend who was willing and open to let me stutter it out and really dissect how I ,personally felt. I felt a openess and acceptance that I had not felt when I turned to the church. There was a lot of back and forth. Was she born this way? Was it a choice? I saw her dating guys was she faking it? How did she see me? Was she attracted to me? What was her type? Did she have a type? Is this something she was trying out? Didn’t she want babies? She not only explained most of it calmly and openly but she also questioned me back.   Are you sure it’s what you believe or is that just what you have been led to believe? It wasn’t easy and there was definitely squirming in our seats on both sides. We were both works in progress, still are.

It made our friendship stronger. I like to think it made us stronger as individuals as well. However, that was not the end of it. Later I found out that she was holding things back. She told me, Saying that I don’t approve of your choices but it’s your life isn’t acceptance. It is not compassionate. In fact it made her feel guilty, like she couldn’t share everything with me. She wanted to have girl talk and relationship discussions but  when she did she felt very judged. Here I thought I was being so helpful. I was making it worse, which was the opposite of what I wanted to do.  The opposite of what I thought I was doing. I had put conditions on my acceptance and thus our relationship.It wasn’t all one-sided. We had an open and honest enough relationship that she told me about some choices I had made that she didn’t agree with.  It was shocking to me that she actually didn’t approve of some of my decisions. I had not felt any disapproval from her.I never felt judged. She always seemed genuinely happy with whatever decision I made. That was when I realized she was mixing compassion with her acceptance. I am glad she was openly honest with me about her sexual preference. I am glad she was unapologetic about it. It really made me think.  It was easy to say no it is a sin and not acceptable when it wasn’t personal. I didn’t have to think much about it. I realize now how unusual that was for someone to be able to openly and unapologetically say this is who I am take it or leave it. It wasn’t easy for her but she had gone through her own storms to come to the point she was at. We are no longer such close friends. It had nothing to do with her sexual preference. Sometimes you just drift apart. I am forever thankful for the friendship we did have. The learning and growing I went through. Perhaps those lessons were the whole reason she was in my life to begin with.

It wasn’t until I started trying to think compassionately about others decisions that I realized how wrong I had been. Acceptance needs compassion to take the sting out of differences of opinion. Without it acceptance doesn’t mean nearly as much.  As much as we say we do not care what others think, we do. On some level we do. We may not even be conscience of it. The point is, I realized that in order to be accepting of others, compassion is integral. Compassion for myself as I explored what I really truly believed. Compassion for what she was going through and her feelings. True acceptance of someone for who they are is wrapped and entwined with compassion.  As you go through the journey you realize sometimes acceptance is leading and sometimes compassion is leading. At some point you realize they are no longer entwined, they have become one. In the end though there is just love. Love for a friend. Love for another human being. In order to accept that love is love no matter what circumstance requires acceptance at every turn and a blanket of compassion.

 

Join us as we spread warm fuzzy feelings across the interwebs every twentieth to drowned out the sad and horror and bad stuff that bombards us every day. Write and link up, read, comment, share, it all matters. We are not looking to make big huge ripples. Little ripples are much more effective and they can amaze us with their power.

What Exactly is this Compassion you speak of?

Standard

compassionmaggie.jpg

Sometimes I think as adults we forget the basics. The things kids just know and don’t even second guess. Somewhere in the pursuit of being an adult we forget the most important things. We allow the world to jade us and become cynical. Kids just naturally see the good in people. Until you give them a reason, you are good. Sometimes people call this growing a thick skin. Let’s not forget though that thick skin can still be soft, bendable, pliable, giving.

Compassionpostderek.jpg

 I put out a call on my personal Facebook page, on Chronically sick Facebook page, on twitter. on Google + and even Instagram.  It was really difficult to get people to take part in this.  I was not interested in judging anyone for what their child said. I expected a lot of,

“I don’t know.” ‘s

A lot of shrugging

My daughter even asked me to define my question more.  What do you mean Mommy?  Compassion about what? I think that in and of itself was very telling. She didn’t spit out a definition. She automatically knew it was about an action. It just furthered my belief that children just instinctively know what compassion is. They may not know what the real word for it is, but they know it.

A two-year old may not be able to even say the word compassion. However,burst into tears around a two-year old and most of them will either join you or give you soft touches and ask what is wrong. Isn’t that like compassion personified?

Compassionandee.jpg

The very next comment I got was from a two-year old. They really just boil it down to the basics, don’t they.

Since getting involved in 1000 speak for compassion , I have been naturally thinking of compassion more and more. I have seen some areas in my life where it is lacking. I have really been paying attention to more and more that is going on around me.

I would describe myself as a compassionate person to begin with. I found it strange to even be thinking of ways I can be more compassionate. Even at the same time as I am thinking, we can always be more compassionate.

We want our kids to be compassionate but are we really showing them what compassion is. That compassion doesn’t limit anything. Every thing, living or nonliving, deserves compassion.Does that seem weird? Non living needs compassion? How in the world can non-living things need compassion. Really just sit there for a minute with that.

compassioncabinmonkeyboy.jpg

If compassion is caring and loving something and wanting it to be whole and complete. Then it can be seen as treating your things with compassion. Some call that respect, but I see compassion being applied here too. Have you watched how a child plays with a treasured toy? Lovingly and not wanting to hurt them. While we know toys are not alive, we don’t stop them. Eventually they learn their toy is not alive, they still treasure it.  Books may not be able to feel when there pages rip but does that mean it feels any less hurtful?  There are those that would argue that since paper is made from trees, it is in fact a living thing. I can completely see that as well.

Let me just gush for a moment about what Monkey boy says compassion is. School.  It seems silly at first but , really passion is school. Compassion does teach us so much. If we let it.  Those last four words, they matter the most. Compassion can teach us things, but we have to let it in. It also has to be a lesson we are ready to receive. Sometimes when this happens to me, I have had a particular lesson several times, I wonder what took me so long to ‘Get’ it. Here it was for me to see all this time. Sometimes then it is also a lesson we didn’t even know we needed.

 So what exactly is this compassion? It seems we can sum it up by what the kids have said. We don’t necessarily know the word for it but we know it when we see it;It is whole and accepting love, it is learning and most of all it is an action. Whether we are giving or receiving, it is an action.

It doesn’t have to be you

Standard

I just want to make this clear. I am not the gardener. I look at plants and they die. I have tried and tried and tried. When I killed a cactus, I figured I should give up.

When I had my daughter we tried again. We cleared an area. We picked the most Florida friendly and hearty plants. It took off fairly well. It lasted a few weeks. Then as usual with me. It died. Luckily my daughter was three at the time and she was thrilled we got some green beans. She ate those green beans raw off the vine.

Fast forward to when she was five we joined a great church that nurtured the kids in all areas. Gardening was just but one aspect. They planted a garden and unlike ours it flourished. My daughter had until this garden refused to eat both sunflower seeds and tomatoes, two of my favorites. As they checked on the plants each Sunday the excitement grew. They had some gardeners come in and talk about sustainability and natural bug protection and so much more.

When finally those plants were ready for harvest the joy could not be contained. There was not one child who did not at least try the cherry red tomatoes. There was much delight in cracking the sunflower seeds. We casually mentioned to the kids that this is how people eat in other places. They do not have grocery stores that have everything and anything.

The garden was transformed into a butterfly garden this year. It has taught the kids more lessons. They learned about invasive species and native species. They took turns watering it to get it established. They were amazed that now that its established the rain takes care of it.

My daughter is now nine. She eats tomatoes and often reminds me of when they grew their own tomatoes. In school they watched corn germinate and sprout. It did fine at school. It died at home. Since I am corn intolerant I can’t really say I was sad to see this.

The experiences she has had through the Unitarian Universalist Church we joined has given her a heart of compassion. We ourselves do not have much but we still give away. She takes such delight in choosing things that she no longer needs or plays with. We make a big deal about it and discuss why we are doing it. We don’t have much but there are others who have less. We discuss how she has enough outfits she could wear a different one for at least a month if not longer. That there are children who wear one outfit until it falls apart. That often these children make their own clothing out of whatever material they can find.

All of this has helped me nourish her heart for compassion towards others. This coming December I am excited for her to help with our church’s care and share give away. The entire congregation and even some of the surrounding schools help. The give away last one day but the prep is usual two to three days of sorting. I am excited that my daughter has a chance this year to have a more active volunteer position with this. It is one thing to hear about it. It will be another thing for her to see how thankful the homeless families and people are.

I hope we can continue to nourish this heart of compassion she has for others. That it can expand farther than our home area. We try so hard to be the perfect parent but sometimes we forget that it is not all up to me. They pick up valuable lessons from those they are around.

Save your pennies!

Standard

In September I spoke about Guest at your table, a charity, and how we are going to take a more active role.

Please take a second and go read it! Here

This may seem like a hard subject to talk about. I think the fact that it is based on pocket change makes it a bit easier to explain to kids.  I also feel it is something that we need to be teaching our kids. As a parent, I am always questioning myself. More than just her physical needs. Am I feeding her emotional needs? Am I feeding her spiritual needs? Am I making sure she is not overly spoiled but yet feels loved?

By starting with just collecting pennies it has also lead to other, more complex, questions. How does ten cents feed a family? Why is their food so much cheaper than ours? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this?  I am not going to lie, it is hard to talk about. It is hard to talk about as an adult. However, I firmly believe that it is never too early to teach gratitude for what you do have.  I also think it is never too late to start.

I don’t know about you but, the constant asking for stuff wears me out. It is just stuff. It is not anything she needs. We have been trying to instill in her, while it is nice to get presents, the true value is in having someone’s presence. Spending time with family and friends you love is more important than stuff.  In a child’s mind this can be a hard thing to swallow. However we are starting to see our teaching paying off. She is looking for the good part of every situation more and more.

The added bonus is of course when you are constantly trying to make sure they see the good side of things, you also see it more.

 

Spiritual Journey

Standard

If I am truthful with myself my spiritual journey started to change when we went through infertility,the constant reference to Bible quotes and that I wasn’t praying enough or that I had some kind of sin I had not confessed. It lead to immense amounts of guilt.Still I tried, we went to church, I kept searching. Then shortly after finally having a successful pregnancy and albeit rough but successful birth ,I got sick. I started not going to church,to often I ended up leaving with feelings of guilt instead of comfort that I used to get. I started reading more on theology,the more I did the more I realized deep down this wasn’t really what I believed, it was what I had been told. What I had been told to believe. I had been trying to believe something I could not completely accept.

Its not that I don’t believe in a higher power….I do. When I got sick a lot of things that worked because I didn’t pay too close attention to them, fell apart. I  started searching for what I did believe.

It was not until I finally went to a Unitarian Universalist church…their principles…this…the warm genuine welcome….this is what I had been searching for.

slowly I have grown and less and less find myself judging others on what they believe and more and more I was accepting people for who they were not what they believed or didn’t believe. I didn’t feel bad for continually searching for what is true. In fact it is encouraged with genuine enthusiasm.

It has been hard to loose people because I don’t believe exactly as they do. It has been hard to say to each their own. I am comfortable with my path. That is all that matters. That is what I focus on.

 

A liquid Thanksgiving surrounded by a festival of lights

Standard

Okay so that probably won’t happen.

1455054_750397014974286_46091201_n

Probably.

It is the first time in like a really really really long time that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have overlapped. Like a really long time. Like it hasn’t happened since the 1800’s.

images

We are going to the Jewish Community Center for our Unitarian Universalist church’s Thanksgiving dinner. My in laws, who are mormon, are coming with us.

I am just thankful today that I don’t have to do all the cooking and all the cleaning before and after.

So from our family to yours.

happy_thanksgivukkah_card_thanksgiving_hanukkah-r8a290528d5a7478eb05ba4a73a0b0862_xvuak_8byvr_512

No matter what you believe here is to hoping that you hug your family a little tighter than necessary and remember that no matter how crazy or insane to be Thankful for what you do have. Even if it requires a Xanax and a glass of wine to endure.

How open is your mind?

Standard

I struggled with what to write about today. So I am going out on a ledge here and just writing what tumbled through my head as we took a walk today.

I recently attended a workshop that is aimed at helping our church select a new minister.

   So my thoughts today have been about how open is my mind really? I really thought I had a pretty open mind. But really leaving what you were raised with and embracing a totally different thought process is hard work. I doubt I will ever really be done working on that.  I am constantly having to stop and think and explore is this really how I feel.

           Some things I don’t struggle with. Somethings I fully embrace and leave behind the restrictions of the past. I fully embrace gay/lesbians getting married , having kids, being “gasp” normal people. I fully embrace people of all color and race and try to keep family members thoughts separate from my own. To look at each person as their own person not based on skin color. That while I would not consider myself atheist I would also not classify myself as a christian. The way we have been raised makes a difference. The whispers that run through our mind.  That’s what I struggle with the most. When will those whispers fully go away?

            The trick has been to know  when the whispers are your thoughts and when it is spoon-fed rhetoric that you were brought up on.Taking time to stop and examine each part of our lives, not just religious part, and accept and own how we feel.It took me years to really know how I felt about gays and lesbians. It was a hard subject to talk about because it was not talked about in any kind of positive light growing up. Neither was mental illness or poor people or black people or middle eastern people or other  religions.

              So openly talking about my own mental illnesses and looking at it and talking about it in a positive light. That has really stretched my boundaries and really opened my mind. Living with and adjusting to living with multiple invisible illnesses and being open to talking to others about that. The boundaries were again pushed.When our boundaries are pushed we are often uncomfortable. I know when I am uncomfortable I either get very grumpy or retreat into myself or both.

             Now when something makes me uncomfortable I tend to stop, think about why its making me uncomfortable. In the past my response was always to run. Run as fast and as far as I could from it. Deny it was happening. Deny that I felt that way. Now when something makes me uncomfortable ,that instinct to run is still there but also a curiosity. Do I know everything I need to know about that subject? Can I expand my knowledge of it? I have often found that finding unbiased information about whatever is making me uncomfortable is a great way to analyze how I really feel.How I feel….not how my parents feel….not how my closest friends feel…..how I feel.

I have found that where I thought I was open minded I am not so much. Where I thought I was narrow minded I am more open. Some of it surprises me. Some of it not so much.

So my end thought in all of this is that I plan on stretching my boundaries a bit more regularly than I have been. That as a parent I feel this is my responsibility to my daughter. Just as important as feeding and clothing her, so is enriching my mind and really embracing what I believe in with knowledge. That maybe if she sees me doing this and being open about how it makes me feel, it will help her to do the same. That she won’t think that when you are an adult you stop growing, stop learning.  So that maybe she won’t have those whispers to distinguish between her thoughts and other thoughts. So that maybe her first instinct is not to judge.

A word about littering…..from my daughter

Standard

This morning we walked to school. It was a gorgeous morning for it. Perfect temperature and even a light breeze.

About halfway there she says:
” Do you know why I am hanging my head down?”

To be truthful I had not really noticed that she was doing it on purpose. Somehow I did not think her thoughts were on all the acorn tops and how I will never look at them the same after seeing the movie Epic.

“No, Why?” I said, asked.

” Because I see all this litter and I am the Nature Queen and my power comes from the Earth and the Earth is hurt by all this litter and it hurts my power.

People just think. Oh I have this trash and there is not a trash can so I will just throw it on the ground it doesn’t matter. But it does matter. It matters to me. To the Earth too. If it matters to the Earth then it matters to me to. They are just rude people who are not thinking of anyone but themselves.

I am the Nature Queen so I care about these things. Anything that hurts the Earth hurts me.”

A.D.D. not such a curse actually

Standard

Today at church we heard from a Buddhist monk. I was avidly listening and was surprised at how much what he described ,described how I viewed the world.

I have been diagnosed with A.D.D since I was five. Sure it made learning harder. It made homework take hours longer than necessary. I however  have never seen it as a curses. I know others do. Oh sure I can see what they are saying. The way you want things and the way you actually get it accomplished tend to be two different things. Things take longer because you keep getting distracted by little things. Thinking about doing things and completely forgetting by the time you can actually do them. It goes on and on and on.

I have just always thought, well I am rarely bored. Probably should clarify that, I am not bored for long. A bit more now that I can’t quite keep up with my mind physically anymore. It is also something that mom’s deal with a lot. The distractions. In the middle of doing dishes the kid comes up can you get this for me? Normal people can go get the object and come back to dishes. My A.D.D. mind says “um what were we doing? Oh look the floor needs swept.” A lot of tasks are started and finished often days later. If they are even finished by me.

But being in the moment. Enjoying each moment. Knowing myself in each moment. That I excel at. It was nice to hear that I am on the right path for my spirituality.

IMG_20131020_105324

I never really thought that Buddhist principles and beliefs could help me find peace and solace with my A.D.D. To say hey that’s something that I do and am really good at. To also find some of my thoughts about meditation were unrealistic not only because of A.D.D but they also did not hold water with the Buddhist idea of meditation. I notice details I notice the small changes. I get that part. I feel renewed in my desire to meditate more often.  I followed his discussion with our minister probably better than most sermons or presentations. Not only because I was interested but that I could really relate to what he was saying. I was also noticing how cool it was my daughter was getting unbiased information about  Buddhism as a religion. Learning about what it is where it comes from. I also found myself  fascinated that he was not wearing shoes but socks with grips. Then off thinking about how great it feels to not wear shoes. Then cuing back into what they were discussing. Then back to looking over the people listening and the little chuckles and noises they made. The way the wind blew the water from the water fountain out the window. I cue back in to hear that in this moment you are different from when you walked in the door sixty minutes ago.  Things do not stay the same moment to moment. How true, and as someone who has A.D.D I can relate to this because I notice it all the time.

A.D.D is not just a curse. It’s also a blessing and allows for one to enjoy every moment of every day. To notice that things are changing and to be cued into that by the small little changes that happen daily. To still marvel at how fast things change. A.D.D often has my eyes wide open. Maybe the frustrations are worth it if in return this is what I get. I think it is.