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Fire

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She was there right before I was born, beautiful streams of light in the sky, celebrating our country’s birth, a perfect preface to my birth, being born into the year of the fire dragon.

When I was 2, she came into my room in the middle of the night by way of a candle flame, left to burn too long, until the wax was gone, and all that was left for her to consume was the tablecloth beneath, then the table, then the wall…for she always wants it all.
I remember gazing into the flames, mesmerized but with no fear, until suddenly my mother was near, swooping me up to take me away from her hunger.

When I was 8, I used to play with her, laughing at how she lit up the night with my name as I twirled her on a stick high in the air. Feeling exhilarated with excitement of fear… as my brother chased me with her in the lead. So close I could feel her heat on my back…just a few inches from the possibility of actually getting burned, or an eye turned black.

When I was 12 I was assigned to be her keeper while my mom held sweat lodge ceremonies. I felt important and powerful in this position, but it was she who had the power, the warmth I needed, and on those cold nights we sat together and told each other secrets. It was then I thought she had become my friend till the end.

When I was 18 I left her alone to guard my altar, and this is where my trust in her began to falter, for quickly she left her post, and my wall was toast. This led to a call being made to the fire department…streams of firemen in and out…questions…sleepy neighbors in pj’s…more questions…Her hunger and quest for freedom and fame my embarrassment for thinking she was tame.

When I was 28 we came home to sirens and yellow tape, and I knew then from her betrayal I could not escape….for this time she took life with her need to consume, and my neighbor and friend lost her beloved pets and home. We were displaced for a month due to asbestos release, all because of her need for a feast.

When I was 34, I never could have imagined what was in store, for I was still somewhat naive to her power. I woke up smelling smoke in the air, and was filled with despair, as I heard the helicopters flying in. She started in the canyon down below, but the winds were blowing that day, and before anyone could know, she was raging and running, consuming anything in her path in order to grow. My dad had to leave the home he built with the clothes on his back, but in her rage she would cut him no slack. She consumed acres and acres until the wind ceased to blow, until finally it ended and then we would know, the extent of her wrath, the destruction of her path…168 homes lost, both the home I was born in and the home I grew up in my personal cost.

A few years ago I returned to the land and let my tears flow. I cried for what was, is and never will be. For all that is now only a memory. A house that was there for over 30 years….gone….but as I looked through my tears…I began to see, all the new growth and life surrounding me. Green grasses and wildflowers, birds in the trees. I was reminded that sometimes things happen to make way for new things. I forgave her that day, for causing such chaos, and for creating for so many so much loss.

Yesterday I drove by and there is a new house being built. I was flooded with all the emotions I’ve felt. Good and the bad, old and the new, but through it all I remembered what is true…that the cycle goes on and life is renewed.

Now as I gaze into her flames I know…she is neither friend nor foe. She is simply life, death, a part of creation. Nature’s partner in power, a humbling force of realization. Reminder of impermanence. Bringer of change. Giver of warmth, light into the dark of night. Inspiration for new birth, as the cycle continues on this amazing thing called Earth.

Notes on Healing: part 1

“Divine witnessing is the most powerful form of of non-violence because it heals the very source of violence. It turns your enemies to friends, even when you thought they were deplorable and wrong.”

The above quote is from a video a friend of mine shared earlier. It is an inspirational clip by The Wayseers encouraging you to look for the good in others, for that allows more good to come forth in them and yourself. There is much truth in this, and now, more than ever, when there is so much turmoil and upset in the world we need to remember this. It is not always easy to do in the face of fear, hate and anger, but it can be done with practice. I think that the best way to practice is through your own experiences of hurt so that you may begin to heal inside and in turn spread that healing outward. When you are not always in a place in the moment to find the light, you can come back to it later, when you are in a place you may be able to look at things differently.

I want to share a small story about my own personal healing. I know that we all have stories, and pain we have lived through, but sometimes by sharing we are able to connect more and understand each other more. I have some deep pain from my past I think I need to heal so that I can move forward in more positive and open relationship with future friends/lovers/partners. It is my hope, that by sharing some of my own experiences and paths to healing that it may help others with their own. We are all on a lifelong journey of growth and change, whether we acknowledge it or not, so why not grow together in support:)

So I was hanging out with a friend the other day, and we were just talking about being parents and our relationship with our kids. Now, I have done a lot of work on healing around the pain of my past, but every now and then I may be in a mood, or something is said that triggers some pain. Apparently, for whatever reason, this was one of those times and I ended up blurting out one of my pains, something like this:
“When I was in the hospital, after giving birth to my son, I didn’t even have a ride home because my husband wouldn’t pick up the phone…he was in a crack-coma from going on a binge the previous day.”
Boom. An immediate bomb of silence, sadness, heaviness was dropped. I had immediately with that one statement turned myself into a victim, brought up anger, resentment, pain that enveloped the whole room. So I felt it for a moment…it was horrible. I felt so yucky. I was able to let it go and move on to other subjects/change the mood…but that moment sort of lingered in my mind.

Fast forward to today. After watching that video, I was immediately brought back to that moment of pain….but instead of my pain, I chose to look at my ex-husbands. I realized how awful he must have felt that day he couldn’t even get out of bed to pick me up. I started to look at the good things about him…he has a beautiful soul and means well. He started selling crack because he wanted to make a better life for me and our son. He didn’t see any way to make that happen by working a $10/hr job that he could barely keep because of his lack of confidence/skills and the prevailing white privilege around him that he noticed so deeply that seemed to keep him down. He never wanted to do the drugs he sold…but sometimes a client won’t buy unless you try it with them, to show it’s good. After the cops busted him and took everything away from him…including the ability to even get a $10/hr job due to the felony now on his record, it is understandable that he might turn to the momentary solace and feeling of not really being present in this crazy world that the drugs gave him. He wanted to provide for his family, but couldn’t….the system broke him…and he is still very much broken, though he tries to stand up sometimes…he calls his kids here and there, he tells them he loves them. This is all he can do right now with who and where he’s at, and I get that.

After looking at the story like this, I felt a deep love for my son’s father. I felt forgiveness, and a wave of peace washed over me. The hate, the blame, the victim mentality…all dissipated in the face of just feeling pure sympathy, empathy, and love for this human being that is struggling just like the rest of us. I may not always feel this sense of forgiveness or peace…therein lies the practice part…but I know the more I can train myself to look at things in this way, the better I will be looking at what’s to come, and can send out more love and healing through my actions and intent, and hopefully this will lead me to seeing the good in all others, for it is there:) My hope is that by sharing my own healing, it may lead others to do the same. We are in this together, and together we can change for the better.

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My daughter said to me a few days ago “mom, you really do act like a kid a lot.”
I laughed and said “do I?” with a wink.
See, I have found, in the forty years of my life so far, that to maintain happiness is to maintain that child-like presence. Most kids are grounded in the moment…open to what is happening right then and there. They have a fresh outlook on life that makes them so much less judgmental than adults. They have not been conditioned by this world yet, so maintain a sense of wonder and freedom. And they create joy…they are playful and light…they want to do what feels good to them…as do we all…but they know how to find it:) Kids are honest and straightforward about life, have less worry, and live in a way that makes it more simple and fun.

How often as adults do we take the time to re-connect to our inner child? So many of us are completely lost in the drama and stress of this world we have created…we are creating. Just this morning I got sucked back into the adult thing. I looked at the news. I read about the protests in San Diego over another unarmed black man being killed by police…this is number ? So many in the past year it’s hard to keep count. I read about the police using excessive force/closing in on the peaceful DAPL protesters/water protectors and using tear gas, etc. to then make arrests. I scroll past the countless articles about the ridiculous and insane presidential race we have going on (Seriously, WTF  USA)…and the fear and mudslinging and separation it is creating. I began to feel a tightening in my chest, as my mind started to spin with worry for this world, frustration on wanting change but feeling rather helpless, fear creeping into my heart. I stopped reading the news and turned to my own day…the kitchen is a mess! I need to mop…have to do something with all these apples I got yesterday or they will go bad! Thoughts about relationship and financial pressure spinning into the mix as well. Ugh! This is not why I came here!

Then it was time to wake up my daughters and get my youngest ready for her homeschool-enrichment school day. I walk into their room and gaze at their beautiful, peaceful faces, half-smiling in their sleep. I gently rub Ana’s foot and sing “wake up sleepy-head, it’s time for school.”
She smiles before groggily opening her eyes “Ok mama.”
I help her get dressed, handing her a shirt.
She puts it back, instead choosing one that is more colorful and has a fabric flower with sparkles.
I smile.
As she comes into the kitchen she says “did you remember my little milk?” (her name for the little portable organic vanilla milks she likes so much.)
“Yes” I say, thinking about how she saved it just for her school day, that is only once per week, so is a long time for a 6 year old to wait. She wanted to have something she really loved in her lunchbox:)
As we walk into her school, I notice her shoes are on backwards. I start to say something, but then stop, realizing/remembering she doesn’t care. She is focused on going to do fun things…art and science projects and other fun learning activities. She is excited to see her new little playmate/classmate, who has exchanged letters of friendship confirmation with her, including showers of paper hearts. She is grounded in finding joy and the things that she loves.
I smile.

I came home and decided to write this, because writing feels good to me. I could be doing a million other things that in my adult world “should” be done…but today I am not focused on that world. After I write this, I will go out and sit in the sun with my plants and watch the bees. I will connect with the changing energy of fall. I will give love to my old dog and other animals. I will play some guitar and sing a little. I will work on creative learning projects with my middle daughter. I will make something yummy out of the apples I lovingly harvested and look forward to the deliciousness. I will be playful and light. I will do all these things because they feel good…and that is what I want to experience while I’m here. I may even put on some Grateful Dead and mop the floor, if it feels right;)

I am grateful for my own children because they allow me to see how to re-connect to my own inner child, and maintaining that sense of openness and wonder is what brings me happiness and peace. Take a minute and find the little things that bring you joy. Re-connect to that beautiful child inside and say hi! Have a playdate together. I guarantee it will feel good and will bring you a smile, and we need more of that in this world 🙂

*Update: 5 minutes after I finished writing this, Ana’s teacher called saying she was throwing up. Probably a combination of no breakfast, anticipation of pizza day, and nervousness about a math game (numbers are not her strong point), combined with drinking vanilla milk, sent her over. When I picked her up she was in tears, disappointed about missing the fun day. An opportunity for me to use my own knowledge as an adult and help her navigate and deal with her feelings…good skills to have as she navigates her own adult world later. There is balance to everything:)

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Re-Connecting To What Is

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This morning is my daughter’s first day of “school.” We un-school 4 days out of the week, but on Fridays, my 9 year old is enrolled in a home-school enrichment program through our school district, that allows students to attend classes throughout the day in various subjects that may be hard for parents to help teach or facilitate, and provides opportunities for the kids to be involved in various activities and projects with drama, art, music, etc. Last year we did the same thing, and Friday’s were a bit hard, as my daughter didn’t like some of her classes, etc., but we agreed there were some good things about it so decided to try it again this year.

We picked her classes together, trying to choose what would be most fun for her. Her schedule is Creative Drama first, then Science (just fun hands-on experiments,) Art, Lunch, P.E., then finally Music Explorers, where they just explore all types of music, instruments, singing, and dancing. Sounded like a fun schedule to me! My daughter, however, still had some trepidation. She has a hard time in the structured school setting, and does not like feeling forced to do things, or forced to try and be social at lunch, etc. I understand and honor these feelings, so we talked about it, and agreed that they are valid feelings, but there are some things to do to work through them, etc., and she finally agreed that she will try one day of school to see how she likes it.

Flash forward to this morning, I get up, ready to get my daughter excited for her day, wake her gently, rubbing her back, exclaiming what a great day it will be! She doesn’t move. I give her some time to open her eyes, then try again…
“let’s do this! we can go get some good lunch for you, and I know you are going to have so much fun!”
…nothing but a groan. I try and try, but no matter what she does not want to get up.
“I hate school! I’m not going!”
“You haven’t even started yet! Let’s keep an open mind! It will be fun!”
“No!”
Sigh…
My mind starts spinning…This is such a cool program!…If I were her age I would have loved it!…do I force her to go? I hate that, it doesn’t make anyone feel good, but sometimes people need to be pushed to face their fears…but ugh, that is not what I’m trying to do here with my kids…goes against the un-schooling philosophy…am I doing this because I need a break? It is nice to have a day with just my 4 y/o and she needs a break from her sister….why won’t she get excited about this?….she agreed to try just one day!…ugh being a parent is hard…what should I do?…should I try and enroll her in a different program?…and on, and on…thought spiral ensuing…

I decide to just let it go, and take my cup of coffee outside, where I sit down in the sun. I begin to just listen. I hear the chirping crickets and other insects greeting the day. I hear the traffic noise of people, busy on their way to wherever they feel they need to be going. I begin to just look around. I notice the morning dew on the grass, glistening in the sun. I notice the sharp prickles on the strong, proud thistles, popping up throughout the yard, no matter how hard my effort to contain them. I spot a roly-poly bug crawling under my leg on the concrete of my patio…I watch how his body moves along in a rolling motion, following his legs. A fly lands on my leg, and I watch it shaking its wings, sensing the air around him. His wings are shiny, glistening in the sun. He has beautiful red eyes and I notice the amazing pattern of black and white stripes along his body. He is beautiful, and I am glad I took the time to notice him.

Suddenly, I am filled with a sense of relief and peace. This is what is. Right here, right now. Nature has it right…it just is…doing what it does everyday, being its beautiful self, without the thought about if it should do something different, or more, or anything other than just being. Sitting there, just being with it, I realize I am it…it is a part of me. I don’t have to get lost in the spiral of thoughts my mind creates. That is not real. What is important is here, it is the connection, the flow of life itself.

My daughter finally comes down stairs, once she realizes I am not forcing her to go to school, dressed in an overall-type dress over a t-shirt, exclaiming, “I am a farmer’s daughter!”

I smile as it hits me…here she is doing her creative drama. She will probably move on to pouring some water in various buckets with various substances added for her dolls beauty salon…science. She is constantly creating clothing and other things for her dolls out of cardboard and fabric…art. Our trampoline is used by both girls at least once during every day…P.E. We constantly play music, sing, dance, I am learning the guitar and she listens, we play with rhythm instruments…music. All of these things she would be doing in school, she is doing here and so much more…reading, writing, math, social studies…it is all there, just in a different form than I am used to, coming from a long history of being taught these subjects in “school.” As for the social aspect? We are part of several local un-schooling and homeschooling groups that get together regularly for various activities, and we are constantly out doing things where we meet new people. We have made more friends we feel close or connected to this year than any of the years my kids have been in school.

This is why we have chosen this un-schooling path. Allowing my kids to be who they really are and encouraging them to choose their own journeys of learning is empowering to both me and to them. The world is changing so fast, we have to be able to be open enough to change with it, and realize there are different ways of doing things, different ways of being, different ways of learning. When I just be, and go with the flow, encouraging joy and passion, I re-connect with nature, with life, with now, flowing how it should, or will. This is really what un-schooling is…I am un-schooling myself, re-directing, or de-programming my pre-conceived notions about how things should be, and just connecting with what is. In doing this I suddenly realize that everything will be as it will be, and it is all-right 🙂

A Winner’s Attitude

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I won this beautiful Maruca purse last week! It was a random drawing, and all I had to do to enter was answer a quick survey about fabric design. You could say I was just lucky, or that maybe not many people entered the drawing, so my odds were higher, and those things are probably true, but I am beginning to realize that there is a little more to winning, and it is something most of us have heard before. It’s all in the attitude. It is a simple statement that is easy to just laugh off as true, but when thought about a bit more, it can unlock some keys to winning, and attracting abundance in general. I have really started to notice this lately in my own life, so thought I would just share some of my thoughts on how this works.

When I was in my 20’s, I worked at a very large call center that sold and managed cable television service and accounts. We were constantly having drawings for little prizes that were promotional items for the networks and premium stations. Though I didn’t really care about the prizes or the drawings, I would win them a lot, and so many co-workers and friends would tell me I must be lucky, and I would chuckle and say “yeah, I guess so.”  I left it at that, but somewhere inside I had begun to think of myself as lucky.

Several years ago, I began listening and reading about such things as the Law of Attraction, manifestation, creating your desires through sending out a mental mock-up, etc. Almost all of these theories and ideas are similar in that they tell you to be in a place of knowing you will get what you want or need, of feeling that it is already had, or definitely will be, asking for it, and then letting it go out to Universe, or God, or whatever name you wish to call where you are sending your intent. Seems relatively easy in theory, but not so easy truly FEELING like you will get what you desire, or already have it, without some sort of worry, doubt, fear, or longing coming in. It took me a while to understand how this works, but I am beginning to see the light of it all.

There is one specific incident that occurred when I truly got that you do and can manifest what you ask for, and it is all in the attitude, and it has to do with a simple thing, lightbulbs. I have told this story to my family and friends as this “epiphany” I had, and they sort of laugh at its simplicity, but for me it had a lot of significance. It all started one day when the light in the bathroom went out. I did not have another bulb to replace it, and was feeling bummed because the light in the hall and the closet had also gone out a few days before, and I did not have enough money to buy a bunch of  light bulbs at that time. I began going down a negative thinking path, worrying about money and how I would get the light bulbs, and then I just stopped myself. I realized that light bulbs were a silly thing to be worrying about. I started thinking  about creative ways I could get the light bulbs I needed. I thought about the Re-Store, and how they may have some for cheap. I even pictured myself finding them there. I began to come to a place in myself of knowing that I would get the lightbulbs I needed. I felt good about it. Then I simply forgot about it. A few days later, I came home to find a package on my doorstep. I opened it up, and found it was filled with light bulbs. It also contained some energy-efficient faucet fixtures. Apparently, it was from Xcel Energy, and I had gotten it because I had signed up a while back when I was at a fair for a free energy efficiency program. At that moment, I just smiled at the universe. I had asked, and I had received. It really does work.

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It was easy to manifest light bulbs, because it is easy to feel like they will come. I began to realize that this is how I have won prizes in drawings. I felt good about them (though I didn’t care that  much about winning, I still thought it would be fun), I knew there was a possibility I could win, and once I was entered there was nothing more to do, so I let it go, with no worries or further thought. Since the little prizes I won through work, I have also won many other things such as gift certificates, electronic accessories, books, and cds. I have gotten to go to many concerts and events, including a C.U. basketball game, Buddy Guy, The Fray, B.B. King, and I got to be a special guest at a Triple A music conference where I got to listen to and rate new music, while being wined and dined. Last summer I even won tickets to the Pagosa Folk ‘n Bluegrass Festival. In all cases, these principles were applied:
1.  A desire was formed (winning a contest)
2. A feeling/knowing that it was possible was sent out
3. It was let go so that it could happen (no more thinking about it really, other than maybe a small thought of encouragement here or there.)

It seems pretty simple, and it is. There is one more piece to it though, and it is important. Every time I have won something I was feeling good. Not only about the possibility of winning, but about life in general. I noticed that I was feeling gratitude for other things that were happening, and I was just overall in a good place. When I had signed up for the energy efficiency program that sent me the box of lightbulbs, I was at a musical concert/fair and I was feeling good, having fun. Once the desire for something has been sent out, it must be allowed to be received, and feeling good, relaxed, as if everything is ok is the best place to be in to allow your desires to flow in. If there is resistance, worry, or doubt around anything, it will put up a block to the openness of allowing. I tell those that say “I never win anything” that they probably never will, as you must feel open to winning before it will happen. Abraham-Hicks, who talk about the Law of Attraction also describe creating in these simple steps: 1. Ask 2. The answer is given 3. Allow yourself to receive it.

I have not won any large monetary prizes or the lottery yet because I think that it is harder to feel the ease of having around money  It creates a lot of different energy, thoughts and feelings than other little drawings and contests, and is a bit harder to really believe one will win, or to really feel good and relaxed around. I did win a $50 scratch ticket once though, and the same principles as above were applied. So it is certainly possible, and something I am working on allowing in…just you wait:)

These principles can be applied not just towards winning things, but also in everyday and the whole creation process which is life. Try it for yourself; explore, play around with it, but mostly have fun with it. Have a winner’s attitude. Go out there and feel excitement, joy, appreciation, and gratitude for whatever or wherever you may be and I can almost guarantee that you will start bringing in more abundance 🙂

Playing The Money Game

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I did some calculations today. For us, a family of four, to be able to survive with just the very basics…shelter, food, utilities, gas, without any assistance from other sources other than a job, I would need to make $14/hour. I am also a single mom with no support from fathers of my kids in any shape or form. So I would need to get before/afterschool care for at least 1 of my school aged children and preschool for my 4-year-old if I were to be working full-time, which adds about another $800-1000/month, which brings my hourly needed rate up to about $19. Add on to that my student loans, as I do have a college education, which if paid on the monthly schedule, would bring my hourly pay needs to $21. Again, this is just for basics. It does not include any extra for entertainment, or even things such as internet.

It is unlikely that I could get a job making that much right now, with the economy, my skill set, and the fact that I have been out of the workforce for a while, going to school and raising kids, etc. So even if I were to get a full-time job, I would still need some form of extra assistance. I would then be working all the time, trying to make about the same I do now, while my kids are away from me all the time, my daughter is put in school where she was miserable and fading away, and I wouldn’t be getting ahead, as the more your income goes up, even by a bit, the less assistance you qualify for. This is just the very tip of an iceberg that runs very deep under the water, as the whole system we have for assisting those in need, and the whole monetary system in general, is a trap, and a game that can never really be won by those that happen to be on the bottom rung of the financial/economic ladder. Trying to climb over an iceberg on a tiny ladder that has not been stabilized can be a very slippery and difficult journey.

So what are my options for climbing the ladder? My college education isn’t enough to get me a very well-paying job, so I could perhaps go back to school, however the cost of more student loans, on top of the extreme amount I owe, and the degree I could get, would not guarantee me a job that would pay enough. I am a few credits away from an elementary teaching degree, however teacher’s salaries here are not much, without a master’s degree or beyond, and I would be working in a system that I feel is bringing up kids to be slaves to the economy, trying to get up the ladder, and not gaining skills needed to create new ladders and other ways of climbing (I will put more on my educational system views in another post, I suppose:) I would also have to put my daughter back in school, a place where she was not learning well at all, and be away from my kids for most of the time, so that I could try to have a “career” that pays the bills and may slowly get me to work up the ladder. Or I could just go get a job, making probably about $12/hour at the most, and continue getting some assistance, but never getting ahead on the ladder, and working my days away while my kids are somewhere else.

So here I am, trying to get over the iceberg. At this point, I have chosen to try to go a different route, only because the ladder has been too slippery for me and I keep falling. I am tired. I am still going to get past the iceberg, possibly, but I am hoping I will find a way around, or at least have some good ice climbing boots so I won’t need the ladder;) I am also not going to worry about getting to the top, and just slow down and enjoy my time on the journey.  I do depend on assistance from the state, such as food stamps and housing, and I feel very blessed that I am able to receive this support from my community. I get the rest of my needs met through generous family and friends who do what they can, as well as trade, barter, sell old clothing etc., and I have a very small felting business, that is my passion and love and creative outlet. This also allows me to be home with my girls, truly being with them, and getting to watch them learn and grow (also please see my last post Defining Wealth.) I hope to be able to expand this more in the future, and I know I will expand into more things, as everything is changing all the time, but right now, this is what they need, and I think I need right now as well. I am not lazy. I am not trying to get government assistance so that I do not have to work. Most people on assistance are the same way. It is just a struggle that has become a vicious cycle, and many of us are realizing that there is no way to get ahead, so we might as well try to play the game, in whatever way we can, and hopefully have some enjoyment, as it is a game:)

Most people understand where I’m coming from, and those that don’t, may not ever, unless they walk in my shoes I suppose, but I just wanted to share this as a perspective from someone who is considered on the bottom rung of the ladder. There is a lot of media, opinions, and comments going around about government assistance, and cuts to food stamps, etc. This certainly affects me, but also makes me see even more the need to create something different. Possibly a new economic model, or completely different way of living. There are so many ideas out there. I am a big fan of the gift economy, as it is a way of allowing needs to be met while also validating a persons self, as they give from their own heart, not because they are told to do so, or there is some sort of required exchange. In many ways I already live in a gift economy sort of way. I feel that if people were allowed to give freely, and be free to practice their talents and produce things they love, that something entirely beautiful would be created, and I think it would flow much more naturally than this crazy game of icebergs and ladders we’ve got going on now. There are so many different ways of doing things, now is the time to create something new:)

Below are some great links about our system of money and the idea of a gift economy:

“Money and Life” is fascinating documentary about our money system

http://www.trueactivist.com/10-signs-we-live-in-a-false-economy/

http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/to-build-community-an-economy-of-gifts

“Sacred Economics”

 

Defining Wealth

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He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.
-Socrates

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal poverty level for a family of 4 living in the United States in 2013 is $23,550. If I define my family’s wealth by these “guidelines,” as a single mom of 3 without a full-time “paying” job, we fall into the extreme poverty level. If I choose to let the label and definition of monetary wealth define my own definition of wealth, then we are poor. However, I choose to think differently about wealth, and therefore, do not see myself as poor at all.  Our lack of monetary wealth has blessed us with a richness in so many other areas of life. Sure, there are times when I wish we could win the lottery and fly to the beach for a week, etc., but I know that that would only give me a temporary sense of happiness and relaxation, and does not give a true lasting sense of fulfillment and richness to life. There are many areas of my life that have become more wealthy through not having a lot of money, and they really all tie in together, but here are the 5 that stand out the most to me:

1. Creativity/Resourcefulness

I have always been creative, but raising 4 kids on a limited budget has forced me to delve into creativity and resourcefulness even more.  I do not have much money to spend on entertainment activities, so I look for lots of fun, free activities that we can do in the area. This has led us on some fun adventures such as a candy factory tour, free concerts, fairs, ceremonies, etc. I think that we have actually gotten out and done more fun things when we didn’t have money than the few times we did have some cash (just seemed to get spent instantly on who-knows what…toys, food, etc.) I think that also we have created more memories this way, and have learned a lot more…Museum free-days are great! One cool website I have found for free things to do in the area is Colorado-For-Free.com.

Another way I have to get creative is how to afford clothes and other items necessary for 3 constantly growing and changing children. I sell all their old clothes and toys that are in good condition at local area consignment sales or stores, then take the money I make to buy more. I am glad that my children aren’t into “name brands,” though there are also a lot of great name brand items to be found at gently used sales and shops. I have been given almost all my furniture, or have bought it at thrift stores or found discarded (I suppose some would call this dumpster diving:) This also gives us a greater connection to consumerism, and how much “stuff” there is in the world, as well as how much goes into the landfill.

One of the things I used to love to do as a child was make my own beauty products. I was constantly doing facials on myself, trying out different herb combinations, etc. Not having much money for cosmetics and body products has allowed me to go back to that creative passion and try to make my own products. I have now experimented with making my own shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent, counter-top cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and personal care products for my monthly flow. This has been not only fun for me to do, but it is cheaper, and it has opened my eyes to what really goes into the products we use. I feel so much better about using all natural products I have made myself than some of the toxic chemicals that are used in most body products. This has also led to more awareness of the environment, which leads to my next category.

2. Environmental Awareness/Connection to Nature

When you have a lot of money, it is easy to fall into a habit of purchasing items without really thinking about where they came from or what impact they will have on the environment, as our society promotes convenience over connection. I have fallen into this habit, and for many years was a thoughtless consumer, even getting to the point of “stress shopping” when things weren’t going well for me, buying little things that I didn’t need. Not having the extra money to buy anything extra these days has forced me to look to other ways of de-stressing. I realized that I had really lost my (once strong) connection to nature. I would choose the immediate thrill of buying a new accessory or outfit to wear to work over the quiet contemplation of just sitting by a stream. I think losing this connection also led me towards losing a connection to myself. Now when we get stressed or bored we try to get out to the beautiful mountains or to one of our favorite spots by a river or stream and just play and be. I have found that almost always, we will head up there with one of us grumpy or irritated, but come back all feeling refreshed and happy. Connection to nature is a reconnection to self. We are part of nature and the whole cycle of life, yet as busy humans with busy minds we sometimes get lost and really forget this fact. I really hope that my children continue this connection to nature through their adult years.

Because I now have to think more about what I do purchase with the limited funds I have, it has also forced me to think about the items more, such as where they came from, how they are made, and what they are made from. Doing this has given me such a deeper connection and understanding of the massive amounts of waste and other environmentally devastating effects of our consumerism. As I said above, I am so much more aware of the amount of toxic chemicals in things and how they affect our bodies and the earth. I am very happy that I now use almost all natural and recycled products in my home. I am also empowered, having knowledge of what things are made of and how to make them myself , or acquire them in more environmentally friendly and less expensive way.

3. Community

This section, and the following, were harder for me. As a single mom without a lot of money, I have felt quite alone, and without community. It is one of the things I find myself wishing I had more of. Yet when I step back and think about it, being in the position I am has forced me to seek out and rely on community support for myself and children, as well as re-define what I thought of as community in the first place. I do not have a lot of close friends or neighbors that I think of as community, however I have found that we are part of a much larger community. We rely on community support for our housing and food costs. I have had to seek out community programs for assistance, and have found community there. I have realized that in order for us to move beyond all the issues at hand in our country and world today, we are going to have to all come together as a community. Though I have tried, I can’t raise and support my kids completely on my own. I need help, and have realized that there is so much love and help out there. We just need to accept it and think of each other as a community support system.

I also have an amazing family that is my community. They have really stepped up as a supportive community for me and my children and really help provide for the things that we may need, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Through my lack of money, I have gained closeness to my family.

The internet is also an awesome community. As I can’t afford to get out a lot on my own and do things to meet people, I have connected with people all over the world with similar interests and beliefs, and have formed my own community of friends in this way. I think that this technology we have in our hands is changing the world in such a rapid way, and is bringing together so much more community throughout every country. We are slowly realizing more and more that we really are one.

4. Time

Of course not having much money hasn’t given me more time, though some argue that time isn’t real and is all relative anyway (a discussion for another post maybe?) however it has changed the way I spend my time. When I was working full-time I would get up very early to take my son to daycare, work all day, go pick up my son, come home and tiredly make dinner, then try to be cheerful and spend just a few minutes with him before I put him to bed and did it all over again the next day. I felt like the people at the daycare were raising him and I was just there for the night-time duty. I felt like I was missing out on so many important learning and growing times with my children. My daughter went to daycare when she was a few months old, and now I barely remember her first year at all. Now I don’t have the stability of knowing I have a paycheck coming in, or how and when I will pay the bills, but I have the satisfaction of getting to truly be with my kids and spend time getting to know who and what they are. Not being wrapped up and stuck to a career or job has given me the opportunity to embark on a whole new educational journey with my daughters, and in turn has opened up and expanded my own self in so many ways. I get to be a part of their journey, which is a part of my own, and truly immerse myself in the joy of their being. I have time to play with them, read with them, or just sit with them. I get to see every milestone and learning moment and it is truly amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish I had more time to myself, or time to do other things that are not kid related, etc. but the time I have been given with my children is priceless, and I do actually find that I have more time to pursue creative activities and things I enjoy that can be done at home or with the kids. No money in the world can give you quality time with your children.

5. Appreciation

The 5th, but certainly not final, thing that I feel I have grown more wealthy in through poverty of money is gratitude and appreciation. Through re-evaluating wealth,  I am so much more connected now to life, myself and my true values, and in turn have so much thankfulness for all the little things that make this world amazing. I appreciate when we do have money to afford things we may be wanting. I appreciate all the good food that we eat. I appreciate all of the little things that people do for us. I appreciate things beyond the material that many take for granted. I appreciate small acts of kindness. I appreciate smiles. I appreciate a warm ray of sunshine coming through my window. I am truly grateful for all that life has given me and the opportunity I have been given through my choices and circumstance, good and bad, that have led me to this place of learning and appreciation for my creativity, my connection to earth, my beautiful community, time with my children, and love of life. I am so rich. ❤

What defines your wealth?

Embracing Change

This morning, I was going deep into my emotional self, exploring some inner feelings and truths, so I thought, why not keep going, and decided to head to Lyons with my family to walk around for the first time since the floods, and feel whatever came to us. Some pictures of our favorite parks from before and after are below. I dedicate this poem I wrote to not only Lyons, and the people of Lyons, but to myself, and to all of us, for we are always changing.

She is in change.
What she was, or will be, just out of range.
Caught in a place shadowed by memories of the past.
Filled with amazement at the present that does not last.
Pulled into dreams by the lullabies of what could come.
Underneath it all, you can hear a quiet hum.
It is the song of life she sings under her breath.
A reminder that there really is no death.
Just a shifting of energies, a necessary to change,
And change is what’s constant, and though it seems strange,
It is what keeps us expanding, bringing new dreams into range.
Embracing it all with love is the key.
What brings it together to set her heart free.

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Stretched Thin

 

Today I feel thin. Not the “woo-hoo I lost 10 pounds and now I fit into my jeans from high-school!” thin, but thin like paper. Paper that has been crumpled, thrown away, rescued, and layed out flat again. Paper that has been worn thin and stretched.

Stretched by choices made, games that I’ve played. Little hands pulling and bending. Making me into a princess, then a dragon, then a horse to ride on and carry their weight.

Big hands folding and molding. Pushing me towards something else. Something they feel I should be, something other than me. Stretched by the pressure and weight of expectations, needs and wants. The idea that I am all that there is, or could be, and I must be more.

Made thin by my own constant desire to expand beyond my limits, to reach out, grasping at air. For really, there is nothing there. An illusion made from projections of separateness.

If you look at me closely, you can almost see through me. Faint lines of definition blending into the shapes and shadows of my own imagination. I am invisible, a shape shifter. Master of disguise…until you look into my eyes, and see my soul. At least I think that is still whole. Tucked into a corner of comfort, watching my unfolding.

With my unfolding  a new awareness begins. A feeling of lightness begins to come in. I am lifted, floating, free. I am thin, but I am light. I am love. I am still me.

I am carried on the gentle breeze of soft kisses blown by my children. Taken on the wind of my families strength. Twisting and turning, dancing to the song of joy and pain that is played by my heart. I realize it is ok to take part. To let go and be light. Release the weight of it all that presses down, holding me still to the ground.

My thinness allows me to drift along like a soft melody sung by a cloud. I do not know where I will land, but this is the beauty of being stretched thin I have found. ❤

Image

-peace-

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