Here is a newsletter article I recently wrote for school...I thought I would share it with anyone who wanted to read it:
I have been an early childhood educator for twelve years and
a mother for over thirteen. When I
considered what topic to write about for this article, I had so many competing
ideas. Most of them derived from my
graduate work this year and the many things I am learning and practicing in the
studio environment. I started several
articles but there remained one topic, more than any other, that demanded my
attention and that was the principle of enough
Several years ago, I became aware of the slippery slope of too
much doing. As a single mom, I realized how
easily I could overlook the quiet and unobtrusive invitations by life to show
up fully present. Each day we are
invited to fully embrace the gifts of the moment and savor opportunities to be wholly
available with those we love. As a busy
mom I knew that the two people most likely to suffer from a busy lifestyle were
my children. And so, in 2010, I coined the
term enough love. Together, my boys and I decided to use the
phrase enough love (which was quickly
shortened to enough by my youngest)
whenever they needed me, really needed me, to be present. Now when they ask for enough love I stop and give it to them. What this looks like varies from day to day,
but often one or the other of them will be having a challenging day and just
need arms to wrap them in warmth. They will
say, “Mom I need enough” and I stop what I am doing and hold them for as long
as they need. Sometimes I listen and
sometimes it’s just a hug. In these
moments I am not thinking of the dishes in the sink, or the bills on the
counter. I am simply holding them and loving them for as long as they need
me. It seldom lasts longer then a few
minutes before they push gently away and say “Thanks mom. I have enough.” And off they go, into their
own busy lives. In three years they
have never asked for enough love
except when they needed it.
This simple practice has had a ripple effect in my
life. It has changed how I parent and it
has even effected how I teach. I strive
to be fully present with the children and adults who enter the studio. I try to listen deeply to their words and
questions and to continue to provide the support necessary for each of them to
climb their own mountains, no matter how high.
As a mother, enough love looks like a loving embrace. As a teacher it looks like a genuine
curiosity and interest in who each
child is and what interests them and motivates them. It looks different depending on the roles we
play but it is always enough.
Recently I underwent heart surgery, and in the weeks leading
up to it I found myself more frenzied, emotional and less patient then I am
ordinarily. One night my oldest son came
in to my room and said, “Mom you need enough love” and he hugged me. Soon my
youngest son tackled me with a tight hold and there they sat hugging me until I
smiled and said, “Thank you, that’s enough”.
It was a great lesson. As a
parent and a teacher, I practice being present and available for the children
whom I am blessed to know and learn alongside.
But as an adult it is easy to forget that each of us, no matter our age,
needs enough. At times we need to show
up for ourselves with open arms, fully present and available for whatever is
arising. We need to occasionally set
aside our own busy schedules and to do lists long enough to offer ourselves
enough. And in so doing we will always have enough love to share.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and send you out in the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
“You have to remember one life, one death–this one! To enter fully the day, the hour, the moment whether it appears as life or death, whether we catch it on the inbreath or outbreath, requires only a moment, this moment. And along with it all the mindfulness we can muster... (24)” ― Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last
I made an interesting discovery this week: love flows IN as well as out. Perhaps this is common knowledge for many of you but until very recently I didn't know love truly flowed in. I have always experienced love flowing THROUGH my heart, like an open faucet but not necessarily into it from others. I never doubted that others loved too. I just believed that all of us could only experience love on the outflow. Life is such a wonderful playground and how appropriate that my heart should evolve its capacity to feel love and let love in at the same time as doctors prepare for a surgery to repair its faulty wiring. Apropos indeed.
Who we are and who we pretend to be is a source of great confusion for most of us. What if who we think we are and who we pretend to be are just gossamer non-sense in the broader field of who we really are. What if we all stop efforting and resisting and posturing and simply relax long enough to experience what remains when all effort subsides. Who are you really?
Fall colors, a cacophony of visual splendor, skirt the front range in breathtaking beauty. Seasons shift as nature discards her leafy summer bounty in favor of simpler adornments. I find myself wanting to nuzzle deep into her arms, beside a surplus of collected grain (gluten-free of course) and slumber through the pending chill and icy days ahead. Until then, I spend my days astonished in the presence of so much beauty. Every breath is gratitude if we but lift our eyes to meet the day.
Filled with possibility.
I gravitate toward these.
I am as interested in the blank page as I am in the words written on it. Perhaps more. There is so much possibility before the first mark is made. I feel this way with my own life. Hesitant to commit to a single choice, lest I mar the open range of potential inherent in the spaciousness before choice is made. Who am I? I ask this question again and again and wonder who I am before the first thought of Angelina begins to arise. Where am I then, before the horizon of self is hemmed in on all sides by a story of being?
Nature. There is no place more authentically home than a wide sky overhead and firm earth underfoot.
One step up my mountain and the busyness of the world begins to subside. One step at a time, I am filled with the simple wonder of life living life. And the sweet embrace that accompanies the rememberance that I am not separate from the life to which I inextricably belong.
Out here I can breath easily, in and out, totally unconcerned with how I'm perceived or received, unconcerned with enlightenment or seeking or success. Simply sustained by the proximity of life and the gentle assurance that I am, already, exactly what I am looking for.
I am back in school...grad school...and the mind has begun to whir its cogs and wheels with pompous enthusiasm. It is interesting to observe the habit of thought. The self aggrandizement of the brain's search for meaning and recognition. I smile amidst the thinking and wonder softly to myself...is there another way of learning. Is it possible that the way we were brought up to think and learn and educate is not the only way. Is it possible that learning doesn't have to be a cramming in of information and a vomiting out of thought. Is it possible to open naturally like a blossom and feel the light of knowledge dawn without fear drenched effort and forgetful remembrance.
If there is one thing I am certain of it is this, "I don't really know much of anything".
Where once I sought knowledge like a half-crazed miner panning for gold, chasing anything shiny with undaunted determination, now I find myself sitting idly on the rivers' bank wondering what all my hub-bub is about.
Each time I fill my pockets with glimmering concepts or golden hued thoughts I find myself feeling merely heavier, rather than lighter and wiser as promised. And the more empty my pockets become the lighter I tend to feel. In fact, I wonder what it might be like to simply drop all the concepts and judgements hitherto accepted as writ and simply be in this moment, alive. I think it would be very much like love...like life...like being awake. Oh yes, but that is another nugget in my pocket to be tossed back into the river until such time as the tide of life finds me empty and flows freely through carrying "me" in it's wake.
A rainy day spent at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, where Bodhi purchased a wand, a bow and arrows and a flying broom. Of course I told him that he would need a lot of imagination in order to make the broom fly and the wand work magic but he has been diligently trying to fly the wooden stick bound with straw since he got home and swishes his wand with abandon. Ah, childhood.