Tag Archives: encouragement

Zen This!?!!

A few days ago, when we had  the umpteenth April snowstorm, to say that that I was cranky about yet one more long commute on less than safe roads with the thousands and thousands of other commuters, is an understatement.  My darling husband tried to pull me from my funk.  He made me my breakfast juice and tried his hardest to make me smile about the snow.  It didn’t work.  And so, as I pulled on my coat and my gloves, his last hurrah was to tell me to “try to find the zen in the drive.  Look for the beauty in the surroundings.  And enjoy your drive!”

Ahem.  I would like it noted that I did not throw anything at him.

He clearly had not heard how tired of the snow I was.  He clearly did not know the darkness in my heart and the sheer wrath and frustration with the weather.  He CLEARLY did not know the whole story!!!!  And if I’d had the time, I surely would have cleared all of this up for him.  But I didn’t, so I chewed on his advice, and I was chewing with my mouth open.  An angry “zen this!” was all that repeated in my head……

About an hour into my commute (which is usually 25 to 35 minutes), I found the zen.  It was pretty, all that white snow covering all the tired winter’s muck. The DJ’s on the radio were trying extra hard to be entertaining.  And traffic was moving so slowly that I did not see one accident.

At the two hour mark, I’d lost the zen.

I could have kept my less than stellar mindset from you and let you believe that I’m pretty good at listening and following higher calls, but that’s not always the case.  I’m pretty good at listening and recognizing a higher call, but sometimes my response stays in the lower arena.

There were two things that came to mind as I processed my experience:  1.) Most of the time, we do recognize when we’re stuck in our story.  We know we’re not behaving in the manner we’d be proud of, but we’re so stuck that we just can’t get out of our own way.  And, 2.)  those who call us to step up higher are annoying.

Is there anything more annoying then when you’re having a tough day or dealing with a tough situation and someone says to “Smile! It’s not that bad.”  Really, because the last time I checked, you were not in my head.  Sometimes you do need time to process stuff on your own time.  Sometimes you do need to stomp, pout and get angry — just to get it out of your system.  And sometimes you need someone to invite you to step up to a higher perspective.

I recognize that John wasn’t telling me to find the zen just to annoy me.  But it did.  We were able to laugh about it later that day when I told him about my “zen this” thoughts.  We have that relationship where we feel safe enough to encourage and challenge each other.  But it doesn’t make hearing those call outs any easier.

I will tell you that the rest of the week, I’ve been very aware of any “suffering” I’ve been doing.  I’ve been looking for those zen moments.  And when I seek, I find.

I’m sitting here in my house with the doors open and sun streaming in.  The cat is in the window soaking up the sunbeam and the dog wants to be outside investigating.  It’s peaceful in my heart.

It may have taken a few days …. but the zen is here.

From One Parent to Another…..

We have one son, who is now 24, on his own, living the Army way.  It wasn’t in my plan for him to be an only child, but that’s what happened.  I’ve often said that God knew that it was going to take all my strength just to raise this one. I have to admit that while this is a sorrow of mine, when I look back, there are years that I don’t know that I could have successfully raised another one because the one I have was so all consuming.

I wanted this child, oh how I wanted him!  And there were days I could have walked away….. oh, I say this half-heartedly.  I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have EVER walked away from him.  But I did entertain the dream!

I was one of those young women who scoffed and scorned parents whose children were out of control in the store or restaurant.  “My child was NEVER going to do that!”  And, for the most part, my son was great in stores and restaurants. (There was that one incident in the middle of the drug store that gave me all new insight on what you can control and what you can’t.)  But my child made me pay in other ways, in ways that no one in my family understood, in ways that no one around me understood and in ways that I clearly didn’t understand.

Simple punishments did not work on him.  We had locks on our TV’s so he wouldn’t spend his life in front of one.  We couldn’t ground him long enough to get his attention (and we tried).  The more we punished him, the more isolated he became.  It was having the opposite effect.

His room was never clean.  I learned to help him sweep through it a couple times a year to get the trash out of there and then I’d close the door.

I thought I’d be the fun mom of the neighborhood.  I’m crafty and creative. I’d enjoyed fun gatherings when I was in high school.  I thought my house would be the hangout house with the cool mom.  Hah!

My son’s friends thought I was the toughest mother they’d ever been around. (This is in stark contrast to the adults who counselled me to quit being so easy on him)  One of his friends actually told me that for years he didn’t understand it but then one day, he clearly got why I was so tough.  My house occasionally had a kid or two in it but never the gang. This house just wasn’t the fun house.

Why do I share this with you?  Because sometimes your plans don’t go the way you think they should and there isn’t an option of turning around.

I tell you this because if we can raise a kid who this day is responsible and plugged in and happy, you can, too.

So, in those moments when you are wondering what you were thinking wanting to have a sweet little munchkin  take a deep breath.  And then take another one.  And take one more.  Your job is not to raise a straight A student (although it is a plus) or the star gymnast.  Your job is to raise a productive, responsible grown up.  I encourage you to look up and look around and look to the future person your child is becoming.  It’s really easy to get caught up in the small things that can ruin the enjoyment your own child.

And if you see a young woman giving you the stink eye because your child is misbehaving, smile at her and know that one day she’ll have clarity.

And if you see a young mother trying to deal with a child who is having an unholy meltdown, smile at her and give her an encouraging word.

And if you see me laughing at my son when he calls to tell me how rotten his (not yet conceived) children are — you’ll know that God smiled on me that day!!!

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional

wpid-wp-1365963486013I believe Buddha is usually attributed to this quote.  It doesn’t really matter but we’ll give the Buddhists the applause for having such clarity around suffering.

When you were a child and you touched the stove that you’d been warned not to touch, the resulting pain marked a moment that you may have forgotten about but created a lesson you will not forget. In that split second, you learned something to keep you safe — that stoves are hot and to pay attention when you are around them. (And, maybe, to listen to those voices around you when they call out warnings?  Ah, but that’s another post.)

And yet, while we all know that things cooked on a stove or in an oven are scorching hot, who among us has not reached for the piping hot pan at least once?  Even though you learned the lesson at an early age?  Hmm…….

What’s the difference then in the experience?  Is the pain any different now than from the first time you burned your finger?

Probably not. But I imagine, if you were like me, you suffered that first burn.  You cried. You sought help.  You cried some more. You got some cream and a band aid (and maybe a kiss). You showed the blister to your friends. You told them your horrible tale.  You popped the blister, picked the scab and retold the story. You may have found some sympathetic listeners or others who had similar experiences but in the quiet of the night, when that burn ached, you remembered how you did something you were not supposed to do and now you’re paying for it.

Now move forward in time to the last time you burned yourself……  other than an “Ouch!” did you suffer it? Our son trained to be a chef. He once burned his hand so badly that I was really concerned about him. He however, was unconcerned. It was just another burn he treated and his life moved on.

Interesting, isn’t it?  Perspective, life experience and coping tools change the very same pain from one that we suffer to one that is a minor blip in our life.

So, is there a pain in your life that you are suffering? Is it the first time you’ve felt this pain or is this one you’ve been dragging around for a while? Have you sought help and tools to aid its healing? Or are you telling your tale and taking the punishment over and over and over again?

You have it within you to release the suffering. Stop telling your story. Take steps to heal the pain and move away from those who encourage you to pick the scab. Seek supportive but not co-dependent people to call you out when you are standing in your suffering. Seek the higher call in the situation. Is there something you are supposed to be understanding or is it just an experience from which to draw future wisdom?  You don’t have to understand it right now.  You just need to not get stuck in it.

Living hurts sometimes. It sucks and sometimes it’s all you can do to take the next step.  But take it. And take another and another.  Choose to acknowledge that it hurts but the hurt is not going to take over your world forever.  Because burns heal.  They leave a mark, but it doesn’t hurt like it did when it first happened.  You don’t have to carry the story anymore.