Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wedding Bells

Last weekend, my sister-in-law got married.  She had asked my husband (her brother) and I to do the homily.  We were both a little overwhelmed by the prospect of it, neither of us ever having given a homily.   As we delved into it, I think we both found inspiration.  The homily, for those of you unfamiliar with Catholic weddings, is "the talk" that usually the priest gives after the Bible readings.  It's typically a reflection of the Gospel reading and how it relates to marriage.  The priest performing the marriage told the bride and groom that in Native American tradition, a lay person gives the homily.  We were honored and humbled to be chosen.  The homily has great significance, and we wanted to be sure the words were right for these two we love dearly. 
As we began looking into the particular Gospel reading and it's meaning, we found it all boiled down to faith.  I came across a quote from St. Augustine that spoke to me, something along the lines of "faith is to believe in things you can not see and the reward of faith is to see what you believe."   We could all use a little faith, could we not?  People basically live up or down to our expectations of them and when you believe in people, their goodness, their potential, more often than not, you are pleasantly surprised.  We both put a lot of thought in to the homily into what we would say.  Looking at the sacrament of marriage and it's meaning, made me hopeful.  We don't always live up to our commitments in marriage, but we continue to hold that ideal out there in hopes that one day we will.  Sure, we live up to parts of it, but am I always gracious in my relationship with my husband?  No...definitely not.  Am I always kind, patient, generous?  Again, the answer is no.  I do believe that I can be though, and so I keep working at it, drawing upon a source greater than myself, when I can't muster up the grace myself to do or say the right thing.
So, the wedding.  Everything about it was perfect.  It was truly a community effort.  There were 20 or so people around the house at all times, working to make the event come off without a hitch.  Everyone had such a positive attitude, happy to part of the exciting day, willing to help in whatever way was useful.  I felt like I was part of the tribe again.  I think the bride and groom were able to relax and enjoy the days leading up to and the day of the wedding, resting softly in the knowing that everything would be taken care of.  I envy them a little in this way.  I've always lived with the mentality that if you want something done, you better do it yourself.  In fact, it drives my husband crazy because I will ask him to do something for me and than do it myself, too impatient to wait or because I think I just better do it myself.  Who knows why I do that?? But, I could see that it was easy for them to let go, to trust that someone else would take care of any details they hadn't already.  They had done the hard work preparing, getting ready and now it was their time to enjoy themselves and their company.  (They might have a different take on this, but they both seemed very calm and at ease.)
The wedding was beautiful, special.  My sister-in-law's 2 young daughters, ages 7 and 4, were very much a part of the ceremony.  You could feel the 4 of them become 1 family.  I left that church, listening to the wedding bells of this little old Catholic Church ringing out fiercely over the country side.  I felt filled with great hope for the future of this new little family.  They are wrapped in love,  held by many, many people, committed to their new life, to supporting them as they make their way on this journey.    The celebration that followed was a reflection of just that...lots of lively conversation, laughter, dancing, good food and happiness.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011


We have officially made it through the first week of summer vacation.  I know, I should be mourning it's passing, the summer always passes by too quickly.  Ours is full of fun weekend adventures, a family wedding, a family vacation and time with friends.  I'm only teaching 3 or 4 yoga classes a week, not doing my other contract work over the summer months, and truly I feel like I have more freedom than I've had in awhile.  Well, sort of.  My kids are "transitioning" into summer.  I don't think they have quite figured out what this new normal looks like. 
In some ways, they are there.  Ruby has read 4 chapter books in as many days.  She has been reading all school year, but something just clicked and she is devouring books like I devour chocolate.  She can't get enough of them.  We just got our VW van back in the driveway, it's been parked at a friends for almost 2 years, I think.  Over the last couple of days, Ruby has spent hours in the back of the van curled up with a book.  It's great, I love that she is so into reading.  I love to read.  But, she is staying up way past bedtime with her night light on, reading long after I think she's asleep.  Once again tonight, she tiptoed upstairs and scared me half to death when she said my name and was standing about 6 ft away.  She might have a future as a spy, she's stealth.  Willis is sleeping in every morning, I think he has figured out that part of summer break, you don't have to get up so early.  They are loving being outside, we are taking evening family bike rides, playing together as a family and all that stuff is good.
The not so good is....the togetherness of being with one another all day every day.  Elsie has had enough of the mayhem by about 10 a.m. and wants to be in her crib by herself, without anyone touching her or talking to her and then takes a nap (partly because I sort of forget about her for awhile and then go check on her and she's laying in her crib surrounded by books snuggled up, asleep with her blankie).    She has been more needy for my attention, wants to be held more, "picks on" her siblings more (this entails hitting one of them, usually with a book or the remote control, or pulling hair or biting, lovely, no?)  Ruby and Willis have had about 10 or 12 fights/arguments/debates by lunchtime.  I'm trying really hard to not play referee this summer and make the two of them work it out or take a time out.  99% of the time they choose to work it out, but they are still telling on each other, often. 
Who knows how long the transition will last.  I'm sure once we find our groove, we'll go on vacation, or something will shift and we'll have to find a new one anyways.  Life is really a series of transitions, some bigger, some smaller.  Some time ago I learned that the word balance comes from the root word balare (which is Latin, I think) and that it means to dance.  It's so true.  Finding balance is a continual dance and when our pendulum swings too far one way, it sometimes has to go the other to find the happy place in between. 
So, I'm dancing in the mean time....might as well get your groove on if you're not yet in the groove, right?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy Campers

I'm a writing machine these days, no?  I am truly a creature of habit.  I looked back and last year I had 12 posts in June.  I'm telling you, there is something to the seasons and their effect on me.
I have just been filling out paperwork for my oldest to go to a mini-camp this summer.  Mini-camp does not mean day camp, it means overnight camp.  I find it hard to believe and I keep crying as I am muddling my way through the many forms we are required to fill out.  I don't question whether or not Ruby is ready for the experience.  She asked me several weeks ago if she could go to camp this summer.  I am guessing she would eagerly go to camp for a whole week if we let her, although she might get homesick after the novelty wore off.  She is an independent child, self confident, social, happy go lucky, easy to get along with.  She enters new situations without fear, eager to see what they might bring.  She is all things good and I want to give her every experience in life that I can.  Reading through the packet it talks about preparing them in the weeks before camp, so they know what to expect, don't feel stressed out about the unknown, etc.  I think my Ruby, unlike me, welcomes change and what is new and different.  She doesn't shy away from new experience, she jumps at the chance more often than not.  I think I am probably the one who needs preparing, not her.
I am going to have to wrap my head around her being away, on her own (not really, but it feels that way a little) before I start talking to her about what it will be like.  I certainly don't want to break down crying as I describe camp life to her.  She is going with one of her friends and there are several other kids that will be there that she knows.  It just feels like a big developmental step!  I'm not a worrier, I don't think I hold on too tight with my kids, but this one feels hard and particularly emotional for whatever reason.
I still remember going to camp as a kid.  I remember the excitement when you got mail, I remember throwing up on my camp counselor's bunk (she was below me) after eating something that did not agree with me, I remember my sister coming in to comfort me.  I remember my parents picking me up, I remember doing the arts and crafts.  I am excited for her and I can't wait to hear Ruby's stories, to listen to her excitement when she shares her experiences and all she did at mini-camp. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paying Attention

One might ask the question...why do I always start blogging 15 minutes before I need to wake up my napping cherubs (they are the sweetest when they are sleeping, aren't they?) to dash out to pick up Ruby from school.  Maybe that is the only way I ever get a blog entry done, to have a deadline.  14 minutes and counting.
I read this quote yesterday in my yoga class, "What you pay attention to becomes your experience."  I am not sure who wrote it or where the quote came from, but it struck a mighty chord with me.  I have been trapped a bit in a negative pattern of speaking without intention.  Many moons ago, I read a book on Toltec Wisdom, you've probably heard of it, The Four Agreements.  They are simple truths about how to live your life.  I can usually only ever pull out 3 of the 4 at any given time and we'll see what I can come out with today... Always do your best.  Never make assumptions.  Be impeccable with your words....Looks like today I can only pull out 3.  Sorry folks.  Anyways, the one about being impeccable with your words has always stuck with me.  It made me pause and think about what we put out into the world with our words.  Somewhere, this was described about using words as a force for light and healing in the world, or like a poison, fueling darkness.  I would like, of course, to be the force for light and healing in the world, not some poison spewer.  But, I am human, no?  I find myself at times making assumptions about what motivates another person's actions, taking it personally, at times, when in actuality it may have nothing to do with me and may have everything to do with their own "stuff" (that is the 4th one, Don't take things personally.)
So, back to paying husband and I had a conversation about this particular idea this morning.  He came to my yoga class yesterday, and perhaps that planted the seed when I read the quote.  I'm not sure, but he brought up an interaction he had, that made him notice another's focus on what isn't positive and good, how the person seemed to pay attention to what was negative or wrong in a situation as opposed to what was good.  It made me pause.  I've been thinking about this about myself.  How when you hear a story about someone that is juicy, let's say, or have an experience of someone that is not favorable, instead of choosing to let that story stop at you and quit feeding the rumor mill, or poison in the world of words, I often retell it.  Not in a way that intends to make trouble, or stir up drama, I'm actually not sure why I retell it.   My husband and I talked about how much better you feel about yourself when you steer clear of those conversations, when you hold back remarks that are less than life giving.  I sometimes feel like I need a reminder, to walk around with a mirror so I can see just what it is that I am reflecting in the world.
So, I am making a commitment today to pay attention to the good stuff, the stuff that brings out the best in people, the stuff that makes people feel happy, loved and good inside.  I am making a commitment to use my words more impeccably and I have a feeling that my experience will begin to reflect something lighter (not that it was dark to start out with, but I am guessing you know what I mean.)
And.... my time is up.  Off to practice my new commitments!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sprung in Spring

I am always seeking to better know myself, to understand what motivates me, what triggers old unproductive thought patters, what moves me, etc.  I found myself journaling the other day under the heading (one I wrote) "What I know about myself".  I started laughing part ways through as I reflected upon what I was doing and seeing half way down my list "I know I wonder what people who really know me think of me."  I have spent many an hour pouring over my own writings, intensely reading old journals, wondering who is this person I am reading about.  I do think I know myself pretty well, I'm pretty rooted in who I am.  I don't always like what comes out of my mouth, but I am self aware and typically know exactly what is going on with me when I say things I wish I would say differently.  By and large, my actions are an accurate reflection of me, I hold fast to some basic truths about how we should interact with others, how we should be in the world, and granted sometimes I get carried away, but mostly I operate from a place of goodness and light, and I'd like to think that what I say and do reflects that.
For some reason in the Spring, at least for the last 3 years (which is as far back as I can remember what spring felt like) I get restless, almost agitated, but not quite.  I get this itchy feeling in my soul, like I want to take a spiritual road trip.  I'm not sure what it is about the spring that does it.  I tend to seek more, want to feel connected more.  I find myself making more phone calls to friends, sending more emails, on facebook more, etc.  I am trying to understand where this comes from and got curious about Ayurveda doshas and how that might come into play.  (For those who are not familiar with Ayurveda and doshas...Ayurveda is a system of traditional medicine or healing from India, one that is seen in the west as a bit alternative.  There are 3 dominant doshas, which are described as "life energies behind our bodily functions."  For example, do you have high, moderate or low activity level.  Do you tend to be overweight, underweight, or moderate?  You get the picture.) The 3 doshas are each made up of 2 of the 5 element: air, fire, water, space, earth. The 3 doshas are vata (air and space), pitta (fire and air), and kapha (earth and water).    I didn't know what my dosha was and so I took a few tests to determine my dosha.  I always assumed that I was vata, I'm not sure why, I guess due to a lack of knowledge about the whole thing.  When you know your dosha, you can better understand what some of your tendencies might be and hopefully have an easier time keeping yourself in balance.  For example, if you are vata, you might be like the wind...unpredictable, cool, quick to change and to balance that out, you might need more structure, stability in your life, more grounding.  Now, let me say, I am no expert on this, and there is a whole lot of information about this, if you want it.  I'm just trying to give a framework for where I am going which I've kind of forgotten.
Oh yes, so I am kapha, earth and water.  Not what I suspected, but after reading about the qualities inherent to this dosha, they fit...stable, loyal, dependable, to name a few.  I was actually calling myself (to myself) Debbie Dependable the other day.  So, what is my point?  Spring is certainly a season that is characterized by more movement of the air, everything lightens up in the world.  Nature re-emerges in all its glory, it's lighter outside, days are longer, it's warmer.  I think my earthy nature feels out of sorts, ungrounded in this season.  It makes me a little nervous and I'd like to be able to instead see it as an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to match my nature with nature, to re-emerge a little, to find a new beginning in some way shape or form.  I am hoping that now I know, I can move through this season with a little bit more awareness and just maybe, I will find myself in a more balanced, less restless place.  Happy Spring!

P.S.  If you want to discover your dosha, click on this link.  This is just one test to take, there are many out there.  At the bottom of the test there are articles about Ayurveda and doshas if you want to learn more.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Little Man

My sweet little boy turns 4 in a couple of days.  I feel like time continues to pass quickly, the weeks fly by, the days are short, the hour between 4 p.m. and bedtime is long...just joking, sort of.  I remember the surprise when he was born, I expected another girl.  What would I do with a little boy?  Having 3 nieces and a daughter, I wasn't sure I would know.  Fast forward to today and I can't imagine life without WB.  He is such a source of laughter and joy in our home, he balances us out in some way.  I think I relate to him in more ways than I would of expected, he is the middle child, smack dab between his two sisters.  He is playful, silly, serious, feisty, soft, hilarious, tough, sensitive, emotional, moody, smart, sneaky, athletic, sweet and spicy.  I feel like he is a mixture of so many opposites.  He is a Gemini and not that I hold a lot of stock in horoscopes, but he definitely seems to embody the spirit of twins, the two sided coin, wrapped in one brilliant and amazing little package. 
He has been more needy for me in the last several weeks, for lack of a better way to put it.  He talks of wanting to marry me, which his older sister always informs him will never happen since I am married to Daddy.  He wants more kisses.  He says I love you first when I put him to bed.  He wants me to hold him and snuggle him tight, hold his hand.  I don't know if he senses, as I do, that he is growing up.  I know, he's only 4, he's not even off to kindergarten next year or anything, but I can see him maturing, changing, becoming more independent.  He's finding ways to control his emotional outbursts, restrain himself when that fiery temper of his flares up.  He recognizes his role as a big brother to little E and takes it on with gusto. 
I sometimes wish there was a pause button on the remote control of life and I could just freeze him right where he is for a little while.  I know I can't, so I am doing my best to soak every little bit of him give in to the pleas for more snuggles, for dragging out bedtime with one more story, this time is precious.  We blink and our children are school age and then I imagine we blink again and they are headed off to high school and beyond. 
Last night, after I snuggled WB and his daddy laid down next to him, he said, "Dad, did you notice how much Mom loves me?"  My heart melted.  If I give him nothing else of mine, I've given him what is most important.  Happy Birthday, my little man.