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“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” —Henry David Thoreau

It was the final day of an eight day stretch that I had spent alone—largely in solitude—with my 4 and 2 year old sons, Jonah and Adrian. As we sat together on our living room floor that last morning, memories of popsicle painted faces and sand covered floor boards—of transferring slumbering toddlers to cozy beds at the end of long and salty days—left us all content in only the way that happy summer exhaustion can. My strategy had been to treat our time together like a treasured vacation. We had explored tide pools aplenty and ridden rickety carousels and filled the tub at the end of the day with sand and suds. My boys were well worn-out and when I asked Jonah if he would like to go to the beach or have a “home day” that morning, he seemed almost wistful in his reply that he would like to stay at home—this coming from a boy who would eagerly make an impromptu plane trip at bedtime in a snowstorm. This is how the three of us found ourselves late that morning—still in our pajamas—sprawled out on the living room floor putting together a wooden necklace. Jonah and Adrian doled out the pieces. Adrian would have circles. For Jonah, squares.  And for Mommy, stars and ovals. Jonah decided on the pattern. First, Adrian would put on his pieces. I watched as Adrian slid the shoelace style string through the holes in his multi-color circles, Jonah encouraging him and commenting on his, “nimble fingers.” Next it was Jonah’s turn. He was more independent and quick in his contribution. I took my turn next—slowly—noticing the energy of our work together. Noticing the peace. There was a synergy to our interactions that had come alive in the long hours we had spent together in that week unencumbered by plans or appointments or obligations to keep. We worked this way for a while. We chatted about whose turn it was and such. Then Adrian stood up—a little abruptly—and began backing away from Jonah and I slightly. I didn’t have time to wonder what he was up to when he suddenly turned to Jonah and I both and closing his eyes—just a little bit—and with a tiny, little bow he said to us, “Namaste.” In our living room surrounded by wooden blocks and of his own volition, Adrian presented himself to us—as if on a stage—and shared this powerful word in what could only be described as a reverent and loving voice. My heart was marked in that moment, my breath taken away. Jonah and I quickly joined in responding back to him with the same word and with our own little bows. Jonah and I then looked at each other in amazement and giggling a little and with wide eyes we celebrated what Adrian knew that we did not know that he knew. As I write this, I can hardly believe that this scene actually unfolded, but it did and I know that in that moment Adrian was sharing with us that he felt the presence of love between us all. He was letting us know that he felt seen and that he could see us too. There are so many moments that I treasure and hope to always remember from these precious years with my boys. This moment will surely stand among the most dear.

 

“All good things are wild and free.” —Henry David Thoreau

This morning as I stepped into the shower I asked myself how I might spend my few hours alone in a way that would truly serve my soul, fuel my spirit. This was precious time and I wanted to spend it well. The answer came swiftly, poured over me like the warm water wetting my face now. Go and write in the woods. What about all of the gathering that needed to be done for a ten day journey with my children? What about the banking? Go and write in the woods. The message was strong and so here I am nestled in a little forest overlooking the Casco Bay. It is chillier than I expected even with a forecast of 80 degrees today. I am grateful that I wore heavier clothing than I originally planned— still I have goosebumps. It’s a crisp feeling though, almost like a taste of fall—my favorite season with its aroma of new beginnings. The sun begins warming me from a distance as I witness it’s glow through a grouping of trees separating me from the shoreline. An early morning hiker strolls by and says hello. I envy her sunrise routine.

I’ve been thinking about how I might better allow my boys to experience their true essence. I’ve been thinking about ways to preserve space around each of them so that their souls may always be at the forefront guiding them along. I’ve noticed how much correcting I do—especially in the summer months with so much more unstructured time together. I’m noticing how much stopping of activities and saying of “no” is coming through me. Often I am inserting myself just at the moment when wrestling becomes warring and someone is about to fall off of the couch. I am my children’s protector. Often I am interrupting conflicts when voices begin reaching decibels that could shatter glass. How else would they learn skills for peacefully resolving disagreements? I am their referee. I am their teacher. I am noticing that there is other correcting that could be withheld. I see the spaces in which I could loosen the reins and be more allowing. I notice it in the keeping of manners and the keeping of kind speaking. I could instead keep sacred more space for breathing and being.

I am thinking back to a precious moment from a recent family vacation.We were in a sparkling pool, overlooking the ocean. Caribbean music was beating rhythmically, languidly in the background. It was toward the end of our trip and there had been a fluidity in the way we had moved about our time away that has connected us all back a little more to who we truly are. My bigger, nearly four and a half year old boy, Jonah was standing on the steps of the pool snug in his swimming floaty. I looked over at him, taking in his sparkly blue eyes, the lightness in him. He looked back at me and then noticing a new song beginning to play, he started to dance. Like an old man, he brought his hands up under his armpits and leaned back a little bit shaking his chest from side to side. His lips were pursed together and turned up in a little grin. He knew how silly he looked and held back a little laugh while giving this performance. And while it was a bit of a show, I could see that his spirit was soaring. I could see that he felt free and was in alignment with his being, in alignment with his sense of fun. I was holding Adrian and he wanted to join in. I began bouncing him up and down in the water, in rhythm with the music, and he revealed himself also as a boy of great facial expressions. For him it was a little grin that came across his face and then with the music, he began moving his tongue in and out of his mouth with a little curl. His head jutted forward slightly with each tongue curl. He was teasing me with this little dance and laughing as he curled his tongue in and out. I hold dear that look on his face, that moment. He too, like Jonah, was fully alive and fully enjoying this world and his body and himself and me—his mother. Cultivating these sorts of moments is my greatest work. Yes, I am the protector of these two little bears always rolling about. Yes, I am their referee—at times—when they become more like little wolves than cubs. Yes, I am their teacher. There is so much to learn about living in society when you first arrive here. And most importantly, I am their guide. I am their guide to help them always remember the essence of their beings. I am their guide to help them remember that from which they came. And as their guide, it is my greatest privilege to step aside, get out of their way and allow them to be and to feel free in exactly who they are.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller

I was recently contacted by the website, 27goodthings.com, with a request that I share three things that I feel are good to read, good to watch and good to use. I found the exercise to be interesting and thought it might be worth sharing. These are my three good things. What are yours?

Three Good Things to Read:

There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne Dyer
As a mother, I am met with countless challenges throughout my day. To someone without children, these hurtles may seem minor and kept in perspective, they really are. Things like, negotiating with a little one who doesn’t want to go be strapped into his carseat. Removing a toy being used as armament from clutched fingers—in a gentle way. Comforting hurt feelings and smoothing out misunderstandings between two boys who have only been walking around on this planet for less than five years combined. Maintaining patience and mindfulness for marathon lengths of time. Alongside these experiences, I am a human being with a journey of my own, sometimes struggling to overcome the various ways in which life can feel like an uphill climb. All of Wayne Dyer’s teachings speak about the wisdom we may find within and from our highest source, if only we take the time to look. It doesn’t matter if we are taming toddlers or negotiating world peace. This book in particular sits in plain view in my home always reminding me that I have a choice to choose a spiritual solution in any situation no matter how big or small a problem may be.

Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
This is a book that was required reading for my husband if we were to continue dating more than eight years ago. To this day, we remain spiritual partners even when we have days when it doesn’t seem that way. Especially when we have days when it doesn’t seem that way. This book holds a special place for me because it opened my mind more fully to the idea that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience and that each person we encounter may be—if we allow them to be—a spiritual partner. Along with Zukav, I believe that even when our agreements aren’t conscious, we are all teachers to one another, constantly changing roles and living out various story lines as needed for our souls to grow and become more fully whole.

Quotes and Writings by Emerson & Thoreau
My favorite memories, my favorite days with my children take place almost exclusively in nature. Watching my two boys spin around and around looking up at the sky, then falling down at the beach last week with bare feet exposed but still snuggled in winter coats was pure heaven to me. Leaning back against a stone wall, heated by the sun, I thought about how time at the beach has long been a place of solace for me—the rhythm of the ocean grounding me and settling any rough waters I may be experiencing within. As I’ve grown more devoted to mindfulness, my love, my attunement to nature has expanded as well. With this I have discovered Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and all of the Transcendentalists in a new way. Choose a quote of theirs, any of them and just sit with it. Sit with it in nature and discover a whole new way of looking at the world.

Three Good Things to Watch

Water Dripping
Last week I was traveling to an appointment when I suddenly realized that I was supposed to drop my car off for an inspection. I had to change directions, the loaner car that I was given was almost out of gas and when I arrived at my appointment one minute before I was supposed to, I felt anxious and ungrounded. In the waiting room there was a water cooler with a hot-water nozzle to make tea but there was no water bottle present and so to make tea I needed to allow a very slow drizzle of  the left-over water in the machine to make its way out onto my tea bag. I crouched down comfortably and allowed that moment to begin calming me. I watched as the water came out so very slowly. I noticed the way the tea bag appeared when the water dripped onto it. I breathed. I settled into myself and I made tea. These moments in life in which we must wait, the stop lights, the long lines at the market, can be incredibly grounding, incredibly soothing if we allow ourselves to slow down, sink into our bodies and just take them in.

Your Breath
In my mind breathing is incredibly underrated. It is that which ultimately allows us to continue living in this wild and magnificent and monotonous and exciting and lonely and loving and thrilling place that we call life. Sitting and closing my eyes, first deepening my breath and then beginning to watch and notice the circular nature of my breath—beginning to watch and notice all of the places my breath touches—I settle more deeply into myself. If all we do is begin to notice our breath, we begin to live more deeply, more meaningfully and with greater joy for all of the little miracles of being alive.

A Child’s Face
There is no more lovely place than a child’s cheek. With your eyes, trace their lashes, notice the precious nature of their lips, the curve of their hair. Observe a child’s face when they laugh, observe them when they cry or protest or are surprised. Watch them especially when they are watching you. Watch them as they take it all in and learn from you how to live. There in a child’s face are his joys, his concerns and all that we need to know to help him along.

Three Good Things to Use

Intuition
We have five senses that are commonly counted on to take in the world around us—sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Peppered in between the messages we receive from these senses are other signals found sometimes in our “gut” and sometimes posted on a billboard as we drive along a highway. Conserve time and energy in your life by tapping into and using these messages as guideposts along your journey. If you pay attention and tap into this powerful Sixth Sense, you will know clearly which job to take, whether or not you need to move and who to call at the exact moment needed. Among others, author and teacher, Sonia Choquette, was one of the first messengers who awakened in me a powerful appreciation for my intuitive gift, a gift we all have if only we may listen.

Forgiveness
It can be very difficult to let go of painful experiences and forgive those who have hurt us — it is a practice that has not always come easily to me. However, when we do choose and use forgiveness as a regular practice in our lives, we can move on more quickly to the real purpose of our being here. Carrying around pain, whether recent or very old, can be like carrying along an extra weight in everything we do. Knowing that we are choosing forgiveness as a way of being will set us up for easier encounters when situations arise that are potentially hurtful to us. This is not to say that we should allow people to continually injure us without some consideration for their role in our life but more of a plan to travel lightly. Unload the pains of your past, plan to keep your luggage light and move forward in being all that you were called here to be.

Gratitude
Oh-how-differently I feel when I choose gratitude. Like most people, when I examine my life closely and not-even-so-closely, I see that I have much, much more to be grateful for than to complain about and when I choose to focus on these things, I inevitably feel happier and more focused, more loving and connected to the meaning of my life. If only you may count three reasons to feel grateful at the start of your day, you will notice a tone of gratefulness rippling across your life and creating tremendously positive waters.

 

What are your Three Good Things?