Kiss the Ground

I am remembering how important it is for us therapists, counselors, coaches, and helpers of all kinds to stay actively present in our OWN inner workings. How consistently do we use the same love, attending, and practices with ourselves that we give to our clients? Awakening from a dream into the unexpected gift of weeping (as happened to me this morning), happening upon the delight of early morning sunbeams or scents in the garden, journaling, moving into grief, working through conflict consciously with a wife or husband, doing a sand tray, playing a game, immersing into an emergent prayer or imaginal visualization, going outside and paying attention: these are all ways to tune in with our greater beingness, just as we do with our clients. I know this is obvious. I just am humbled by how fleeting these moments can be amidst busy life. I hear of you miraculous people who meditate every day and also somehow manage to cook amazing food, raise awesome kids, and hang out with friends. But my life sometimes seems to slip through its own worn cracks, leaving me dazed, albeit often satisfied and happy, amidst the wondering, “What is happening? Why do I feel disoriented? How is it that life is this good and challenging all at once?” Dismantling old layers of habit that don’t serve us anymore is arduous and rewarding. For instance, I’m working on the one where I learn to surrender and soften in the moments I most want to fight. (Not that fighting is bad. I’m all in favor of a good noble battle—though not of modern warfare—rather, of that flint spark...

Can You Wait?

I’ve been reading Bringing Up Bebé, a hilarious meditation on differences in French and American parenting, wherein author Pamela Druckerman sets out to answer the question of why French children sleep through the night from early on, sit through multi-course gourmet meals, and by and large seem happy, well-behaved, curious, bright, and patient. I’ve heard about this book for a couple years but resisted reading it because I was worried it would give me yet more ammunition for self-judgment and guilt around parenting. But what it is actually doing for me is pointing out that this very temptation to agonize over “Am I doing this right? Or at least well enough? Would my toddler not be having meltdowns if I were doing something differently?” is a particularly American parenting tendency, perhaps borne of having so many different parenting strategies and “shoulds” to choose from. One factor that Druckerman teases out as a vital piece of French parenting that leads to children who can happily entertain themselves and hear “no” without having a meltdown is: THEY LEARN TO WAIT. Their parents kindly and firmly teach them that they are capable of delaying gratification and finding alternative ways to interest and entertain themselves until the thing they want finally happens. Ergo: moms can sit and have full conversations over coffee; a parent can speak at length on the telephone without their child banging drums, whining, or hanging up the phone (um, yes, all of these have happened in my house); children can participate in baking a cake and then not dig in while it’s still warm after coming out of the oven...

Once Upon A Time…

It begins when, snuggled in bed, my 3-year-old son whispers, “Will you tell me a story?” Over the past couple months, this has become our rhythm of lulling to sleep. At first I noticed a twinge of anxiety, “Can I tell a story?” Especially one that invents itself in every breath? But I plunged in, and soon discovered the delight and magic of not knowing what was going to tell itself through my speaking. They become like dreams—divinations of my unconscious musings, bubbling into the dusky night. In the morning, I scarcely remember what I said in the fantastical tale the night before. But my son asks me to carry the stories through to repeat tellings: “Mama, will you tell me the one with the ducks who find the wedding ring? The prince in the boat with all the animals? The very old cars by the stream who tell the dad and little boy their stories from when they were young and shiny?” If I don’t remember, I just forgive myself and dive in again, letting whatever prompt he gives me lead into yet another tale. A family of five shaggy sheep snuggle together in a snowy nest, their breath and wooly curls steaming into the Icelandic night. As they breathe, they dream…and the littlest one, the little boy sheep, finds himself in a new and different land, looking at a tree he has never seen before. This tree: she has grey branches, and furry green leaves that look sort of like people hands. The little boy lamb brushes a twig and it snaps off, oozing a milky sap. The...