Saturday, 24 August 2013

Try again tomorrow

"You are not expected to be perfect in the sense that you never feel overwhelmed, frustrated or irritated, but... living a conscious life means dedicating yourself to growing in wisdom, peace, harmony and love... to raise the level of well-being for you and your family."  (Deepak Chopra, 'Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives'.)

She had set herself the impossible task of wanting to be the perfect, or at least, a very good mother.  Unsurprisingly, she was doomed to failure.  Each day she would make many mistakes and fail to live up to her own very high standards.  Each day she would end that day berating herself for they way she lost her patience with her children today (many times), for the way she lost her sense of humour when the children were being silly and having fun, for the way she failed to feel gratitude for the great blessings she had.  She was her own worst critic.  She needed comfort, solace and understanding.  She needed some words of inspiration and encouragement so that she could try again tomorrow, and keep trying again and again, to be the gentle, loving, mother figure that she truly felt herself to be in her heart.  She would have to dig deep, be still and look to herself to find those words of encouragement and understanding.  As she was quiet, the words came to her, "just try again tomorrow."

She would try again tomorrow to love her three small, divine creatures.  To treat them with respect, gentleness and compassion.  To listen to them intently.  To speak to them softly.  To go about her business with their best interests in mind.  They deserved nothing less.  She would try again tomorrow, wake up, kiss them, make them breakfast, settle their disputes, answer their questions, tell them 'gently' what they had to do next.  She would try again tomorrow and she would forgive herself for today's shortcomings.  She would try again tomorrow with the best of intentions, with all of that love brimming over in her heart, to be the person she really was - and she was getting closer every day because she kept trying and learning and reflecting.  If she tried again tomorrow, that's all she could ask of herself, don't give up, even though you're tired, keep on trying, it is such important work that you do.  She will try again tomorrow, she will learn from the mistakes she makes and she will also acknowledge the things she gets right; the patience she had, the time she gave, the love she showed.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Oh, the irony...

Oh, the irony.  It was after lunch, the house was empty except for me and my littlest one.  "Great, time for Isla to have a nap," I thought, "and I can do some writing for a little while."  My daughter had other ideas, why go to sleep when there is so much to explore and so much fun to be had?  She refused to go to sleep and I felt very frustrated.  I just wanted a little bit of time to write, a little respite from domesticity. I wanted to come here to this spot and write about the things I like to write about; being present with my children, practicing mindfulness and patience, looking for the truth and beauty in the everyday.  Why wouldn't she just go to sleep so I could write about all those things?!  Ha ha ha, I had to laugh at myself.

I've said it before, I don't need to travel to India (though I would very much like to), these little ones of mine are my gurus.  If I'm open to it they have so much to teach me.  "Why do you need to go and write Mummy?  Can't you just be with me here, now, in this moment?  I'm not ready to go to sleep, I just want to be with you."  So here she sits now, emptying the drawers in  my bedroom while I write and chuckle to myself.  I love to write, I feel compelled to write.  I also love my children more.  Time to sign off and go play....I'm still chuckling at the irony though.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Be present

"Being present builds a child's confidence because it lets the child know that she is worth thinking about."   Stephen Grosz, 'The Examined Life'.

In my pursuit of trying to provide a nurturing childhood for my three girls this is the big one.  Being present with them.  I have so many other ideas of practical ways in which we can provide such a childhood for our children but ultimately it comes down to this.  I want my children to know and feel deeply that I have time for them, I want to be present with them and I'm practicing all the time even though it might not seem like it when I lose my patience with them and speak more harshly to them than I should.  I keep trying, keep practicing, slowly I'm getting better at it.  I listen to what they say, repeat what they said to acknowledge that I hear them, I might even say "I'm listening" and gain their eye contact. My goodness it can be so hard though.  Often one of my daughters wants to speak to me while I'm on the phone or have a task I want to finish before the baby wakes up.  They have to practice patience too.

Sometimes the best time for me to be present with my girls is at night.  They're ready for bed, I've finished with my tasks for the day, the channels of communication are open.  I make myself available to them as I sit in their room while they finish clearing up, choosing stories for bedtime.  During the day there might not have been much presence on my behalf but there is still time before they go to sleep for some quiet time together.  In this time I may just stroke their hair and have a cuddle, they may have an issue from their day at school they wish to discuss with me, we may make plans for tomorrow.  

Be present, look in to their eyes, listen, hold their hand, be patient, take a breath; this is the essence of trying to provide a nurturing childhood and if I didn't do it very well today I will certainly try again tomorrow. 

Friday, 9 August 2013

'Minimalism' - An obsession

I can't quite remember how it came about.  Searching around the web I came across some very inspirational blogs dedicated to the idea of minimalism and simple living.  When I read this stuff it just made so much sense to me.  "Of course I would love minimalism!"  I said to myself.  "It's just so me!"  Decluttering and simplifying my life? Yes please!  Reducing the physical and mental excess so I can focus on what I truly value in life?  I'm sold.

I have now made at least 10 trips to the local charity shops, have sold items on Ebay, and am wondering what else can go?  I have really tried to be quite ruthless with myself, here's what I've let go of so far;
- lots and lots of books that I have been carrying around with me for years and I'm still working on it
- clothes that I don't really like and don't fit me very well, it is so liberating to have a minimalist wardrobe.  I am definitely a person who benefits from having fewer options to choose from.
- don't tell the kids but I've removed many of their toys, some for good and some I've just hidden away to see if they notice they're missing, they haven't so far.
- kitchen utensils that rarely get used - I'm tired of rifling through a drawer to find the vegetable peeler, which I use every day, because it is surrounded by items I rarely use.
- a vase, framed pictures, candle holders, various trinkets that I don't really like and just sit there gathering dust.

As promised by many of the blogs I've been reading, decluttering and simplifying one's physical surroundings is about so much more than just stuff.  As I get rid of this stuff I don't really need the obvious question arises, what do I need?  What do I want in  my life? This is what I've learned;

- more time to spend just hanging out with my girls, now that I've decluttered so much there's also more space to hang out and play, what a gift.
- whittling down my book collection has reacquainted me with some books I really love and I've let go of the books that weren't that important to me - I never will be a very good dressmaker or baker, those books have gone.
- when you get rid of physical clutter it is like a reflection of what is going on in your mind.  In a clearer, less cluttered space, my mind feels clearer and less cluttered.
- Now I know all the things I don't want in my life and how I don't want to spend my time I am clearer about what I do want, I want to write.

I am in danger of preaching this message to everyone I come across, my husband is quite tired of hearing about it I'm sure.  I can't help it, minimalism for me is such a profound and spiritual concept, I just want to spread the word.

One last thing to share.  With less things to think about, to clean, maintain, repair, organise, I found myself lying on the grass in the garden with my youngest daughter one sunny afternoon this week.  Dinner was prepared (and it hadn't taken me long now that I've removed so much stuff from the kitchen), the house was relatively tidy and as a result of this I felt relaxed.  I lay there with my daughter crawling around, exploring the garden, and acknowledged to myself how relaxed and 'in the moment' I felt.  I can tell you this was a direct result of my project to minimalise our possessions and simplify our life.  My mind wasn't caught up thinking about all the stuff I had to organise, I felt liberated.  I could be there with my daughter, enjoying such a beautiful afternoon with her, encouraging her to take her first steps, giving her my presence.  This minimalism stuff is a powerful thing.