On knowingness

the-thinkerI spend at least a little time on social media every day. Mostly I keep track of my friends and family and what people are thinking and talking about around the globe. On occasion I take some silly quiz telling me which Game of Thrones characters I would be (Daenerys Targaryen) or what my animal totem is (wolf). It’s fun and just accurate enough for me to remain curious about the next one.

Not long ago I took a semi-legitimate test that had been posted by a Facebook friend. It measured how much I used both the left and right hemispheres of my brain—the right being the creative, open, intuitive side and the left offering logic and analytical thought. Jill Bolte Taylor’s brilliant book My Stroke of Insight and wildly popular TED Talk provide the most memorable explanation and illustration of their unique talents.

According to the test, I currently use exactly 50% of each hemisphere. When I saw this I was genuinely surprised. My whole life I have struggled with the continuous nattering my mind, usually ruled by my left brain, offers. Over the years, though admittedly less in recent ones, it has provided a steady diet of almost purely analytical solutions based on carefully considered pro and con lists; insecurities and doubts masked as thoughtful, reasonable caution; and big decisions made only if my brain could offer some rationale to back up what my gut was telling me. I was pleased with the results of my now more balanced approach, but still I questioned them a bit, until a few days ago.

This week I made a decision based solely on my intuition. I’ve been doing that more often (see Unsafe Choices). But this one truly had no logical or practical reinforcement. A job moonlighting as a hostess at a local restaurant fell in my lap one day. The young woman who held this position, but had to quit for a volunteer gig she loved, was cutting my hair as she told me all about it. On paper, the job made a lot of sense. It was at a well-respected farm-to-table restaurant in a great location, weeknights only, nice people, low maintenance. Mostly, it got me out into the community I’d chosen as my new home. I even worked one night of training and found it lived up to my expectations. Two days later I quit.

There’s nothing much to explain. There is no clear reason and I don’t know exactly why. All I know is that my intuition—a gut feeling—took me there. Before I made the call to my new boss, I did just enough cleaning and looking to make sure any lingering insecurities about doing a job I haven’t done in 25 years weren’t disguising their voices, masquerading as my intuition and higher self. My mind can be crafty that way sometimes. Turns out it was just a glimmer, a shadow of a red flag I couldn’t entirely see yet but couldn’t shake, so therefore I was supposed to pay attention to it. With hesitation, I did.

I called, I apologized, he understood, and I know I did the right thing. I don’t know for certain how I know, but I do. And perhaps I’m not supposed to. Perhaps the reasons will never present themselves merely to show me they don’t have to. Through this process I was reminded it’s okay to just know what I know, and trust that enough to act on it. This time I didn’t try to layer the decision after the fact with a thoughtful rationale or retrospective wisdom. I didn’t sit in meditation until I could see everything clearly because I simply had to know why. I just let it sit there quietly. So far it’s remained quiet, but it’s only been a few days.

We need our left brains for survival, to calculate a proper tip and to figure out how to fit the luggage and the bike with training wheels into the back of the car. But we don’t need them as much as most of us believe we do. Not everything needs to make sense or match up. Logic and intuition often agree somewhere, but when they don’t the higher wisdom is still there for the taking.

It’s waiting with open eyes and open arms. It just wants to be seen, felt and heard. It doesn’t need to be understood.

Clear seeing

I-can-see-clearly-with-great-visionI was at the DMV a few weeks ago. We’d just moved back to California and I needed to get my new driver’s license. In this particular state, they give you lots of tests before allowing inferior out-of-state drivers to have licenses. It’s important to immediately recall what school buses must do at railroad tracks and how many days you have to report that you finally restored the jalopy in your driveway. They also want to make sure your eyes work as you barrel down the highway at 70 miles an hour. So, off to testing I went.

The staffer asked me to cover my right eye and read the bottom line. I rattled it off quickly and correctly. He asked me to cover my left eye and read the same line on the next chart. I pulled away and looked at my husband who was standing off the side, my mouth hanging open in shock. All I could see were fuzzy lines and shapes on all but the gigantic top line. I was surprised to discover that while my left eye still worked like a champ, my right had decided to get lazy on me. I took a stab at the row the staffer mentioned, but when I started saying numbers where clearly letters sat, he put me out of my misery. He took me to a different machine and tested both eyes together there, and I saw just well enough to get a license.

The kind optometrist I visited last week fitted me with magic glasses. One eye at a time he presented lenses that showed me just how much I hadn’t been seeing. For me, it was a slow fuzzing of the edges, an imperceptible fading of clarity. As for the kind optometrist, he was surprised the DMV had passed me at all. He was only seeing the end of the journey, where change and overuse had made one eye much less clear than the other and its user hadn’t noticed.

As I wiped the numbing drops from my eyes, I silently acknowledged we’re all witnesses to each other’s journeys, even if just in snippets or toward the end of a particular path. Even if the bigger picture isn’t immediately understood by the observer, there is so much that can be seen and learned. Clarity comes and goes. Confusion caused by stress, emotions, physical imbalance and external energy can make it difficult to notice the effect these things may be having – how energy, growth and intuition may be challenged. Those witnessing my journey along with me, even for a moment, can bring to light things I have been ignoring or can’t find neutrality enough to see myself. If I can set aside my own ego and baggage long enough to hear the wisdom they have to offer, no matter how or when it is offered, than I have an overflowing cup of truth, lessons and teachers around me all the time.

I will always trust my own intuition and inner wisdom first, but more than a few times I’ve received insight from friends and strangers alike that I knew instantly was valuable and wise.

Oh, of course, I think every time. I hadn’t seen it that way. I’m so glad I was listening.

As I genuinely thanked my optometrist for restoring my clear sight, he smiled with a hint of judgment and said, “On behalf of all your fellow drivers, I’m glad you finally came to see me.”

I laughed. It’s funny because it’s true.

There’s no ego in parenting: a much-needed reminder to me

The Ego DichotomyEgo judges.

Ego thinks there is such a thing as success and failure, and that they are important.

It cares what other parents think.

It makes you question your intuition and what you know in your heart.

It thinks it knows when something is “right” or “wrong.” It still believes they exist. If it’s right, you deserve recognition. If it’s wrong, you deserve rebuke.

It wants you to believe you can reason emotions or inconvenient but genuine reactions away, or if you only explain it differently maybe you can get them to understand.

Ego drives you toward some ideal it has created and continuously points out the things that don’t function within that perfection. It thinks there’s something to fix.

It makes you strive for control even when control doesn’t serve anything else but its own survival.

It makes you angry when your child doesn’t do things in the time you require.

It makes you livid when he does things you specifically asked him not to do.

It makes you fly into a rage when he does these things and then smiles because he knows he just made you fly into a rage.

Ego tells you that to be a parent you need to do anything other than love your child unconditionally.

Ego lets you forget how much you have left to learn and that your children are your greatest teachers.

There is no place for ego in parenting. Only love and openness. Open heart. Open ears. Gratitude, even amongst chaos and tough lessons. Presence, even when your pride makes you want to remain in the past. Forgiveness, even when you realize you let your ego parent your child for a little while.

And love. Always love.

Thank you for the reminder.

Laughing at every kind of sky

Red Tailed Hawk by Adele Earnshaw
Red Tailed Hawk by Adele Earnshaw (www.adeleearnshaw.com)

My five-year-old son has a peculiar but wonderful sense of color. When he draws, skies are orange and squirrels are purple. Clouds are triangular and pink. Trees have legs that stretch off the page in neon green. Who am I to correct his perception of the world? Works for him, so it works for me.

What I love most is that no matter what color he sees in the sky that day, he smiles at it. When we leave in the morning we could be looking at cobalt blue dotted with hawks hunting for their breakfast, wispy fog, or gray and overcast. He could be seeing the orange of his drawings or the blue and white I usually see. Whatever it is, no matter what the day offers, he always takes a moment to look, and therefore so do I.

It’s the blessed breath before the day. He may not be happy about where we’re going. I may still be annoyed about how long it took for him to get his shoes on. No matter what color we see or want to see, when we stop in those few moments to notice the beauty of what rises above us, we are grateful to be beneath it together.

Unsafe choices

LeapOfFaithMy son lives in a world that wants to make all his choices for him. Others want to tell him how often to brush his teeth, when to cross the street, whether to wash his hands after he goes potty, when to start kindergarten, whether to wear a jacket, how long to play at the playground. As most young children testing their boundaries and figuring out how they fit in the world, he resists this, but that doesn’t stop the adults around him from trying to protect him.

When he’s climbing on a precarious chair or I see the mischievous twinkle in his eye as he considers darting into a crowd, I often say, “That’s not a safe choice.” This awareness may or may not deter him from the activity, but most of the time it does.

As we get older, that external voice moves inside our own heads and egos. Is this smart? Are you prepared? Is this really a safe choice for you right now? For years I let that voice deter me from countless experiences and opportunities. I still do too often.

My family and I recently made what some would consider a string of not-so-safe choices. In fact, my friend Beattie might say we’re on a “risk bender.” A year ago my husband quit his well-paid, stable job to start his own business. We then went on a month-long road trip in a rented RV down and back up the West Coast. Then a month ago we moved from Seattle to Central Coast California without salaried jobs or any other external catalyst to propel us there (except the 30-day notice from our landlord telling us they want to move back in to their home; thank you for the kick in the pants, universe). We simply wanted to live somewhere else, somewhere we loved, and since both my husband and I work out of home offices we had no reason not to go. Others might disagree with this assessment, and have, but most are too busy admiring the relative size of our balls to voice it. I get where their trepidations came from. With few major employers in the area, we were finally and fully committing to our freelance lifestyle and entrepreneurial spirit, all in a down economy. We locked into place our dependence on our talents, business sense and good intentions to earn enough to keep a roof over our heads.

To top it all off, I recently completed and soon will publish a memoir, titled Laugh at the Sky, Kid like this blog (more on that soon), that basically outs me as a practicing clairvoyant and energy healer. This is something I’ve never before written or talked about publicly for fear of the inevitable skepticism and criticism from those who only know me outside of that world.

I’m done making only safe choices. Safe doesn’t bring about change or growth. Safe words don’t reach or move people. Safe actions rarely affect anything below the surface. The old ways, the safe or “proven” ways, don’t move things forward. Inside a cocoon of security, it’s rare to find true happiness or your true purpose. Nothing shifts and there is no reason to search for or even be interested in anything beyond the end of your nose. That is no longer acceptable to me and to so many of you. Thank ever-loving-goodness for that.

As a society we are quickly learning that within the presence of infinite possibilities we all enjoy, there are no wrong choices. There are only ones we are comfortable with in this moment and those we are not.

When the inevitable fear arises as I start down a riskier path, I let this truth wash over me like healing waters. And when I can turn off the narrator in my mind asking me to consider whether this new path is safe or not, I find freedom. I find a place where I can fully be.

Love the cracks

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.  – Anthem, Leonard Cohen

The cracks are showing a lot these days, often revealing themselves at inconvenient times. Many wise people in my life lightheartedly (but accurately) call such phases “growth periods,” so I have adopted the habit, as well. Symptoms of a significant growth period include disorientation, emotional vulnerability, sometimes unexplained frustration or impatience, fruitless grasping at control over things decidedly out of your control, loss of focus during business meetings, and bawling at the end of movies containing dogs and/or dolphins and/or kindly aliens. Luckily, they also include great clarity, love, compassion, strength and growth, even moments of extraordinary peace and knowingness – what I would call nirvana. A rollercoaster of evolution indeed.

Basically, like the entire human race, I am experiencing some growing pains. And some times more than others, my cracks show. My son is very aware of this. In fact, he is quick to point them out.

The moment my voice changes and I start to get impatient with him for not putting on his shoes on my swift timeline so we can leave and not be late darn it, he squeezes his eyes shut, shakes his head and goes limp in my arms. If I decide to use my time in the car bringing him home from school to make a phone call and finish the work I was rushing to complete before I left, he decides he needs a drink, a snack and to ask what absolutely everything out his window is during the drive. When I am frustrated with someone, that person becomes his favorite person in the world for the day. When I’m frustrated with myself, he surprises me with a simple act of kindness.

They are such effective teachers, our children. As mine, Henry could be more patient at times, a little less infuriating, but he is only three.

Exactly when I need it, Henry shoves me back into the present. He forces me to let go of control. He shows me how to allow everyone their own cracks and appreciate them all the more for them. He pushes me to look at my own and be grateful for the ability to love myself as much as he loves me, despite them…because of them.

He knows just how far to stick his little fingers in to make that crack big enough to let the light come rushing in.

An offering

In my first post a couple of weeks ago I began to tell a story about our Buddha statue, one of the catalysts for starting this blog. I’m loath to leave a storyline open-ended or keep the six or seven followers I’ve gained since then (shout out!) dangling, so I guess that’s a good place to go this week…

From all windows in the back of our home we can see our new Buddha statue. It sits humbly amongst the herbs and lavender in a small bed in the back yard near where Henry plays toddler basketball, practices jumping and sets up his race car track on sunny days. We purchased the statue from a free trade store in our Seattle neighborhood of Queen Anne a month and a half ago. Larry and I looked at hundreds of sculptures of all kinds over the last few years, searching for the one that spoke to us, that had the right energy and simplicity. We knew in a moment this – calm, beautiful and still in its shipping crate from the owner’s recent trip to Bali – was the one.

For the first week I found myself seeking him out whenever I was in prime viewing rooms: the kitchen, the office/guest room and Henry’s room. We all did. At bedtime before I closed his blinds, Henry would cock his head sideways, look out at Buddha, wave and say goodnight, which these days sounds mostly like “beebee.” In the morning when we hatched our way down to the kitchen with Henry in our arms, he made sure to say a special good morning to our guardian friend. That week was chilly and wet, so we didn’t much venture out to Buddha, but his presence was felt.

The following weekend the spring sunshine favored us and the yard became the preferred play area. We always said hello to Buddha when entering his realm of the garden, but Larry and I had no regular ritual nor had ever demonstrated one in front of Henry. Then, one afternoon, in the middle of testing which car sped the fastest around the hairpin curve, Henry stopped, picked up his favorite yellow utility truck and placed it gently in Buddha’s open hand. Then he took his brand new drag racer with blue flames on its hood and offered that too. Then he turned around and continued playing.

Over that weekend he offered pebbles, rocks, flowers and more cars. He tried to balance his water bottle in the crook of the statue’s arm, but couldn’t figure it out. He pulled up his Henry-sized monkey folding chair in front of Buddha and sat for several seconds looking at him before getting up and sitting between Mama and Daddy who were watching him in wonder from the garden steps.

Even the strangest concepts seem obvious when you see them unfold so naturally before your eyes. Especially in the last several years, I’ve experienced countless things many may consider extraordinary, even impossible – all part of the package when you start to explore seeing your world more clearly — and as so many of you fellow parents can understand, parenthood has only increased the regularity and normalcy of the “bizarre.” It is so easy to take for granted what many call everyday miracles when you’re negotiating the sippy vs. big person cup conundrum or walking your child to go poopy in the potty. However, this one got our attention.

Here’s what I believe Henry was reminding us that weekend. Children We all have an innate sense, a gut instinct, a strong intuition, a clairvoyance, a memory, a higher self, a wisdom, a voice, whatever you want to call it, that allows us to just know…whatever we need to know. And most of what we know to our core is love.

Henry loves and shows respect for Buddha without even thinking about how he knows to do it. Thoughts, expectations, obligations, beliefs, right and wrong. They don’t have anything to do with it. It is unconditional and without logic. It is simply love and connection. He wants to make an offering in that moment, so he does.

That’s what he came out of the womb understanding…being. We all did. We all are born at peace, connected to both the center of the universe and the center of the earth. It’s allowing ourselves to remain there that’s the tricky part. And, as Buddha teaches, sitting in that is where we learn whatever it is we are here to learn.

I believe it’s that simple. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy, but our children often make it look that way. Okay, they know it is. Henry will help me remember that.

When you realize how perfect everything is…

Okay, I’m ready to write about this. The germinations in my head are at last so insistent they be expressed that I’ve created a place – a cute little spot? a sacred space? a garden? a safe haven? – for them to live. For years well-meaning people have said I should write about this. Until a few days ago, I brushed off the interest and encouragement, believing that maybe someday, if the winds were coming in perfectly from the East and the planets were aligned accordingly, maybe I would. Today, I’m ready. Why?

On May 3, 2010 in Tainan, Taiwan, I became a mother to a 10½-month-old perfect little person. Last week, without any direction or videos or photos or prompting, this little person started placing offerings in the open hands of the Buddha sculpture in our back yard.

That’s perhaps the main catalyst, but it’s one of many.

On August 25, 1971 in Dayton, Ohio, I began this lifetime. On February 14, 1995 in Cincinnati, Ohio, I recognized for the first time that my body is not immortal but my soul is. On September 25, 1999 in the same city in which I was born, I became a wife to a beautiful spirit and the perfect partner for this stop in my soul’s journey. On April 6, 2008 in Santa Monica, California, I finally acknowledged admitted that we all are far more powerful than we realize and have access to all the energy in the universe, simply by believing we do.

Sometime in July of 2010, while playing with my son in an inflatable outdoor pool in the heat of a Los Angeles summer, I knew – not just the intellectual knowing that happens after reading it and hearing it a thousand times over from every other parent you’ve ever encountered, ever, but a true knowingness – that parenting will be the most significant challenge I will face in this lifetime. That not only will it strip me down to the core on most days, but that I will find more joy and learn more than I could possibly have learned had Larry and I never ventured to that introductory meeting at the adoption agency almost three years before. And at that moment – after my heart palpitations stopped – I knew everything was perfect, and I laughed. As Buddha said… When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.

You’re joining me a little bit into the journey, but in this space I will chronicle what I learn, how I learn it, what I’m embarrassed to still need to learn, what about this craziness makes me laugh, cry or rage against the universe, and most importantly how I let it all inform how I raise my child. Like many, I’m trying to discover how best to pass on my conscious intentions, my way of living, working and being on this planet, to my son. Wait, no, that’s not it. I’m trying to figure out how to be a parent who consistently and lovingly allows this eccentric, beautiful boy to remain his true self. To believe what he already knows. To believe he already knows intuitively how to be a conscious being. To trust himself above even me. To know he is a perfect piece of universal light right here on earth. And to know he is loved unconditionally.

He already is who he is meant to be. He already laughs at the sky on a regular basis. And as he grows he’s merely trying to show me how not to get in the way of his journey. I am a student and he is my teacher. Thank goodness we can laugh together. Here we go.