A Quiet June

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I have decided to do a media fast during the month of June. Basically, this means that I will not be on Facebook, browsing the Internet, watching Internet television or blogging. I am allowing myself communications such as Facebook Messenger (app) and texting and cell phone usage, because the goal is to experiment with my dependence on the Internet rather than to cut off communications with my friends and family.

I will not be responding to comments during the month. Just know that I appreciate your visit and I apologize for that. When I return in July, I will respond to any that need an answer.

For those of you in my Conscious Living Book Club, I have decided to make it a quarterly thing – which means that we will be studying The Untethered Soul in August instead of June as originally discussed. I will also be moving the group to Facebook (rather than GoodReads) so stay tuned for future communications on that when I am back to blogging in July.

I will be back to both of my blogs in July. Have a wonderful month, everyone!

Quotology

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I Ching #27: Nourishment

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Nourishment

This post is #27 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.

This hexagram challenges us to look at what we nourish ourselves with. As with all things I Ching, this question is asked on many different levels. You could answer this literally, by looking at the foods that you are choosing for your sustenance. Are you choosing healthy foods? Unhealthy foods? Do the foods you choose match up with what you say is important to you?

You could look at this on another level and ask yourself, “What do I nourish myself with by how I spend my time?” Again, is there congruence between what you say is important and what you are spending your time on?

These are simple questions. The answers are simple, too. The key is not to beat yourself up about what is not congruent, but to notice these differences and make changes in your life to reflect that.

 

What about you? When I read this, I could think of all kinds of way that I am being incongruent. I am working on it, but I still have a ways to go. What came to mind for you as you read this post?

The Conscious Parent {Book Study}: Week 4

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We are in the fourth and last week of our Conscious Parent book study. This week, we are talking about discipline. Dr. Tsabary purposely left this topic for the end of the book because she wanted parents to focus primarily on becoming conscious before worrying about the behavior of their children.

One thing that stood out to me in this section of the book was about making mistakes. I have talked a lot about making mistakes on my blog. The Tao Te Ching has a lot to say about mistakes. Why should our children’s mistakes be treated any differently than our own? When I first read this chapter a month or so ago, I was a bit taken aback when I read about treating our children’s mistakes as we would want someone to treat ours. While it makes perfect sense, it is not at all what I have been doing. As a parent, I always felt like I was supposed to help create learning moments for my daughter. When she made a mistake, it was my job to point it out and recommend other ways of doing whatever it was that she was doing wrong. After reading the chapters on discipline, I struggled when I envisioned how I would feel if I made mistakes and my friends or family treated me like I treated my daughter when she made a mistake. It was difficult to accept, but she was right. I could see it.

I am not perfect, but my goal is to practice treating my daughter’s mistakes as I would want mine to be treated. It may not be perfect, but it’s a start.

 

What’s Next?

For those of you who are participating in our Conscious Living Book Study, I want to let you know that I have decided to wait until August to study our next book – The Untethered Soul. I have decided that one month per quarter is a good pace for studying books together. I have also decided that Facebook is a better medium for building community and participation so I will be creating a new group there for studying books together. I will let you know when it is ready to go – but it will probably be some time in July.

The Friday 56: #228 – May 22, 2015

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This photo was part of a blog meme I did with Naomi Wittlin at www.poeticaperture.com.

My friend Deborah Weber has a way of introducing me to things that lead me to things, that lead me to other things. In my latest Alice-in-Wonderland romp through the Internet Looking Glass, I found this meme called The Friday 56. It’s apparently been going for some time as it is at #228 and it’s a weekly meme.

Anyways, you can learn more about it here but essentially the instructions are to pick up a book, any book, turn to page 56 and post a quote from somewhere on that page. I cheated a bit and went through a couple of books before I found a good one for you:

Nevertheless, his suspicion that plant tissues could pick up human thought and emotion slowly became more concrete in the light of Backster’s achievements. Lawrence was reminded that years previously Sir James Jeans, the British astronomer had written that ‘the stream of human knowledge is impartially leading toward a non-mechanical reality: the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of this realm.’ (Page 56, The Secret Life of Plants, 1989.)

Eckhart Tolle has said, “The future is a thought form. No one has ever encountered it, except as a thought.” (Along similar lines.)

So, really, most of what we spend our mental energy with – past and future – are just thoughts. We create our entire reality around what is either behind us or in front of us and most of us spend very little time in what is here in this moment.

Part of the beauty of plants is that they live forever in the present moment. A flower does not worry about its life being so short. It just is. How would our lives be different if we did that? What does it mean to live in the present moment? Plant tissues pick up human thoughts and emotion simply because those are the energetic stamps at that moment in time. Each moment, we display an emotional field. What is that field like? Some might say, “he carries around a dark cloud”. This is what the plants are sensing. This is what everyone is sensing. The energy is palatable. Even though the thought forms that this person is thinking about are in the past or the future, what is in the right now moment is this dark energy, this “cloud”.

This cloud comes along with the thought forms, but is not reality. Reality is that everything is just fine right in this moment. Even in the very worst of situations, if you chop it up into tiny bite-sized bits of reality, you are fine. You are going bankrupt? Fine. What is happening right now, at this very second? Nothing. The not-fine part is from thoughts of the future but has nothing to do with the right now.

Our job is to bring it back to this moment. We will undoubtedly stray. We may get very caught up in many emotional or psychological games with ourselves, but we are free at any moment to just BE. The more you practice this, the better you will get at it. The more you practice it, the more it will become just the way you live your life. That is Tao.

I hope you will join us for this Friday 56 next time or perhaps you would also like to join me for our weekly #whatareyouworkingon series where we share what we’ve been working on… either way, it’s fun to connect with other bloggers! Thanks for stopping by!

The Conscious Parent: [Video] with Marie Forleo & Dr. Tsabary

Since we are studying The Conscious Parent through this blog, I wanted to share this video that Michele Bergh sent me today…enjoy!

If you want to read more on this, check out the COMMENTS that were generated when Marie Forleo posted this video discussion on her blog!

You can also check out my other posts on this topic for more about this book.

 

The Conscious Parent {Book Study}: Week 3

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We are in the third week of our Conscious Parent book study. This week, we are talking about creating a conscious environment in our homes for our children.

Throughout this book, the focus has been on us parents working on ourselves rather than trying to do or say anything that “fixes” our children. In this area of the book, more than any other, it was obvious that children very naturally have staying in the present (AKA: being conscious) figured out already and it is our culture and our parenting that messes it up.

Case in point: The Family Calendar. I think that our family is unusual in how little we actually have scheduled. Most families have a plethora of sports for each child, parents have meetings of whatever sort or sports of their own and of course there are the social gatherings. I was talking with a friend of mine about our calendars and I mentioned that I try and only schedule ONE thing per weekend. She was surprised by this. “How can you fit it all in?” Well, the truth is that I like my life to be quiet and calm. I don’t want to spend every weekend running around everywhere here and there (it often is filled with that ANYWAYS!) Because of this system, I chose my social engagements very carefully. I have many dear people in my life and I try to focus most exclusively on that small few. I may only see many of my friends once every few months, but this is OK. Our time together is precious and meaningful.

I cannot even imagine it being busier. My daughter is not in any sports or any after-school activities. I would actually like for her to be in something since she is an only child and this is one way for her to work on her social skills, but her preference is to just be at home like ours is.

All that being said, I have a lot of work to do when it comes to being present for my daughter. Just as I was putting together the topic for this post, she walked into the living room and I shooed her out. I want to write, undisturbed. I rarely ask for this sort of space to do my own thing so I felt justified – I normally write in the early hours of morning before anyone is up so that I can spend time when I am with my family being WITH my family, but this is definitely not how it always goes. This weekend was very busy with taking her out to a movie with her friends and hosting a sleepover so I guess I am not doing TOO bad, but still – I felt kinda bad for shooing her out to write about parenting her consciously! LOL.

Then there’s dinnertime. Ideally, I would ask Tatia to help me in the kitchen to cook something. This serves a multitude of purposes: 1) it helps me to spend some time helping her with her cooking skills and, God knows, this generation could use it! 2) it gives us time together. Even if we are measuring out flour and chopping veggies, we are being together. 3) it shows that what is IMPORTANT to our family is spending time to prepare and eat together.

What actually happens most days? I don’t think about dinner until oh, about 4:30 or 5 PM. Nothing is prepared, I have no idea what’s in the fridge and so we go out to eat. For us, going out to eat means a 20 minute drive to the nearby restaurant. Once there, we do have a rule that cell phones are not to come out at the table which is followed the majority of the time but on the way to the restaurant, Tatia’s nose is often in her phone browsing websites like Cracked and who knows what else. We don’t talk much with her on the way there.

In The Conscious Parent, Dr. Tsabary talks about how all this scheduling is based on the idea that the parents just are not able to sit still. I think that this is true for me. Even though I do not have a ton of things scheduled, I have a very difficult time quieting my mind and, if you’ve ever visited my #whatareyouworkingon posts you know how much I am working on! My mind is constantly either in the past worrying about how I did on something or in the future, wondering how I will accomplish all these things I want to do in my short little life.

“Worrying is a mask for fear of being present.”  ~Dr. Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent

Dr. Tsabary also talks about how anxiety (in the form of “busy-ness”) is due to our fear of death, ultimately. I think that she has a really good point there. She says that if we are able to face our death, we realize that we should stop wasting time. How many times have you heard stories of people who were faced with a near-death experience and they totally changed after that? If you were faced with death, what would suddenly fall off your “to do” list? What people would you stop hanging with? What activities would seem irrelevant?

Living our lives consciously is a HUGE undertaking, but to me it is one of the most valuable things I could do as a parent. I am in no way perfect, but I feel good about trying. Every day, I make little steps forward on being more conscious. They are little steps, but if I keep doing them every day I will be at least moving in the right direction.

What about you? What do you think of this? In what ways are you trying to be more conscious in your life? Tell us about it in the comments or join the discussion over on GoodReads.com!

I Ching #26: Great Restraint

 

 

 

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This post is #26 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.

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When you are accomplished, there is no need to prove yourself. You should move forward, i.e.: “cross the Great River” as it says in this hexagram of the I Ching. This hexagram is represented by Heaven under a mountain. Although mountains are strong, Heaven is all-encompassing.  If Heaven is contained within the boundaries of a mountain, there takes huge restraint to hold it in.

This restraint can have many faces. Perhaps someone you love is behaving recklessly and you are challenged by their behavior. A person of great restraint holds their tongue and lets the other person work through their own challenges. Another possibility is that someone is rude to you. Although it may be tempting to be rude back to them, a person of great restraint will not fall prey to the easy response of returning like with like.

In many of the variations of this hexagram, there is the suggestion to “cross the great river”. In the days when these hexagrams were first written, and even now in certain corners of the world, crossing a great river is a dangerous undertaking. River depth can be unpredictable, even when the river area is known. To “cross the great river” in modern terms is to undertake something difficult and unpredictable. The advice suggested by this hexagram is that you should go forward with the crossing if you have prepared yourself with great restraint.

People of virtue practice the qualities of virtue every day. Another suggestion made by this hexagram is to “not eat at home”. In Chinese culture, it is a good omen to share your meals with others when you have been fortunate. Eating at home signifies keeping your good fortune to yourself and this is not a good thing.

We all have been put here to accomplish great things – to cross great rivers – in our lives. If we are fortunate, our job is to share the good things we’ve learned and to bite our tongue when we know more than others in some areas. Everyone’s rivers are different, but you can be sure that we all have them. What is your great river? What is it that you are here to do? Be bold today. Take this sagely advice and move forward.

The Conscious Parent {Book Study}: Week 2

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For the second week of our Conscious Parent book study group, we are looking at the different stages of parenthood. As I read the book, I could not help feeling a bit disappointed that I did not find this book earlier in Tatia’s life. But it is what it is. It’s fine. Now, I am able to look back and see how the different stages were impacting Tatia’s life, whether I realized it or not.

Here is a brief summary of the stages of childhood. For each phase of parenting, we connect with our children differently based on where they are at physically, psychologically and emotionally.

Infancy. When your child is just a baby, they are very reliant on you for everything. If you are a first-time parent, this period can be very shocking as you are adjusting to your new life as a parent. Suddenly, your life is no longer your own and it can be both scary and exciting as you have this sweet little baby to hang out with every day! I can imagine that later children are less of an adjustment, but this phase still carries with it many sacrifices to your personal boundaries. During this first phase of your child’s life, the spiritual significance of this phase is that we are able to discover our capacity for giving. However impossible it seems to keep that baby fed, cleaned and happy, we do it. Willingly.

When your baby is an infant, he or she is observing everything that you do and forming their self-image based on how you respond to everything. For some parents, this is not a comforting thought. Some women go through traumatic births or they suffer from postpartum depression and thinking about such things may only exacerbate these feelings. It is very important to realize that the MOST important thing that you can do for your child(ren) is to practice self-forgiveness. No matter what happens, please forgive yourself.

Toddler. When your child is a toddler, they are finding their boundaries. They are both comforted and frustrated by the limits you set for them. Their JOB is to test those limits in order to feel safe. While it feels like “NO” is coming out of both your mouths way too frequently, this is an important time for your child to learn who they are. It is their first time to discover their own passions and feelings. As their parent, it is your job to practice setting clear boundaries while giving them enough space to explore the parts that are truly their own. Small choices is key in the phase. “Do you want peas OR carrots?” “Would you like to wear this shirt or THIS shirt?” SMALL choices make them feel safe and in control.

School age. During their school years, our children are seeking out friendships to help them define themselves. They still want us nearby, but they don’t want to hold our hands in public anymore. Our role as parents is to keep the boat steady as they sail the stormy seas of childhood. We are the anchors, but we need to give them a really long rope.

Teenage years. If you’ve been keeping a pretty tight rein on your children throughout their childhood, the teenage years can be a bit difficult as they are starting to leave the nest. They will need to learn how to fly and it is our job to make them practice – if not more for our own sake than for theirs! They still need us, but our role must be as a guide rather than a disciplinarian at this point. They need privacy and space and they need you to accept them AS IS. It is challenging when they sometimes seem like an alien has inhabited their body, but it is required.

Adult children. Although this book focuses primarily on children still at home, I believe that parenting continues for the rest of your life. My parents have continued to be a great help to me in my adult years, sometimes even more so than it seemed they were when I was growing up – mostly because I have now been an adult for much longer than I was a child. It is never too late to be a good parent.

In every stage, there is a unique opportunity for us as parents to reconnect with our role as parents. Parenting is one of the most intense spiritual quests that we can do in our lifetimes. It is certainly one of the most enduring challenges! If you would still like to join our group, it is not too late. It will be happening during this entire month over at GoodReads.com.  (The current month is May 2015, so if you are reading this post months later, you can still join us but we are probably on a different book!)

#Whatareyouworkingon has MOVED…

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Over the last few months, really since the Tao Tuesdays project ended in January of this year, I have been taking a bit of a different direction with my writing. I am still writing about Taoist philosophy, but I am also starting to write about things that are unrelated to the topic of this blog. So what is a girl to do? I did not want to close down this blog as the projects I do here are an important part of my own spiritual development, but I also wanted to give the other parts of me a chance to grow and develop without diluting this blog topic too much. So a few weeks ago, I created a new blog called My Artful Abundant Life. The website is www.myartfulabundantlife.com.

Now that my new blog is live, I am moving some of my projects over to the new blog. One of those projects is #whatareyouworkingon. I will also be sharing about simple living, food stuff, craft projects and recipes over there. I am keeping a few projects going here as well… I will continue to write my regular posts about the I Ching and I am keeping my posts about our Conscious Living Book Study here as well.

So from now on, please check in at www.myartfulabundantlife.com for future posts related to #whatareyouworkingon! Thanks!

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