Friday, March 25, 2011

E is for Essence

Essence is a peculiar word. You really do not hear it used often. I am tainted by my first experience with the word essence in the movie The Dark Crystal. I cannot think of the word essence without thinking of gelfling's and the vital essence that is drained from them. I was going to post a link but that scene in the movie still gives me the creeps.

My second encounter with the word via my teacher and mentor, Jennie Marlow, has been much more enlightening. The essence of any activity or thing is the feeling experience you would like to have. It is important to distinguish essence from form. A form may hold a desired essence and it may not.

In the book Personal Magic, Spotted Eagle says, "The focus on essence is one of the most transforming shifts that you can make in your thinking. When you focus on form, what you are really doing is trying to control the outcome. You close the doors on the Creator's spontaneity, and you do not leave room for Spirit to co-create with you. When you focus on the essence of what you want to create, you open up limitless possibilities by allowing Spirit to bring you that essence in forms you may never have imagined. If you want to change what you are creating in your life, then you must cleave to the truth that life is a feeling experience, and the essence of what you want should be foremost in your thoughts."

I keep a list of the essence words that are most important to me on my computer. It amazes me how this subtle reminder that I look at daily changes my perceptions and choices. Mostly, I see this in my interactions with my children. It is easy to get caught up in my own chores, thoughts, and my own ideas about what should happen next or how we should resolve a conflict. When I take a deep breath and remind myself that the essence of connection is much more important to me than any outcome, I can relax into a conversation with the girls about my needs and theirs and how to meet them all. Sometimes, I realize my "need" was not a need at all but an attachment to an idea or outcome I wanted.

Another important essence for our family is joy. My husband said recently that, "Joy is our religion." and indeed we are constantly looking at our choices from the perspective of whether or not what we are choosing is making our lives more joyful.

I have found that when you boil decisions down to essence, things become very clear. there is no longer a nagging idea that I need to force my kids to do things or make a situation what I want it to be. Spotted Eagle says it this way, "Essence clarifies for you what it is you want in your heart. "The mind speaks in urges, appetites, and attachments. The soul speaks in desires of the heart. "

Thursday, March 24, 2011

D is for Do Nothing Days

I woke up reaaaalllly early today, well early for me. The girls are generally up pretty late and therefore I am up with them. This usually allows me to get up at a reasonable time and have a couple hours to myself. I think I was out of bed around maybe 6. But I could defiantly feel that I wanted to be back in bed and that my physical equilibrium was just a little off.

Being up early gave me an unusual chance to talk to John before he went to work. Any lost sleep was well worth the treat of his company without kids. I headed back to bed after he left.

When I finally did wake up I was sure today was a "Do nothing day" I like to use the term "do nothing" but it is so misleading. It is kind of like "Learn Nothing Day" which is on July 24th every year. I cannot conceive of a single day not doing or learning anything. A "Do Nothing Day" is more of a day where I let go of my ideas about what I need to do or get done. Honestly, I want to do that every day but on "Do Nothing Day's" I usually achieve it.

Mina's first order of business was to look at the voo doo doll.

Isn't she lovely? John brought her home from work last night. She was a gift from a co-worker. The girls and I took turns looking at her last night and laughing at the advertisement on her attached card that suggested your voo doo would be more powerful if you bought special pins from a certain company.

The voo doo doll somehow reminded Mina of the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas so we started to watch it, but never finished. At one point Mina told me she was still tired and would I come lay down with her. We went to lay down and accidentally woke- up Ari. It seems this is exactly what the little one had in mind, she missed her sister and wanted to play with her.

I took a shower and put on my favorite socks- yes I have favorite socks. You want to see them? sure you d0.

Here they arrrrrrrr.
And sweats and my fluffy pink bathrobe and the day proceeded in lovely "Do nothing" flow.

The girls have vacillated back and forth between computer games, make believe, GameCube, and role playing with their stuffed Sonic, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Amy Rose figures.
This is Shadow the Hedgehog with Mina for those who are not in to Sonic.

I read bits of Scientific American the magazine, bits of Flow, parts of at least two TED talks, only bits and parts of everything, why I have no idea.

I would call today a highly successful "Do Nothing Day".

Monday, March 21, 2011

C is for Coolest Cat in the Country

No this was not a one time thing. Yes, Little Whisker lets the girls push him around in the stroller. He also allows Ari to take him on walks and sleeps belly up in her arms.

B is for Bodega

The little one (Mina who is 4) and I both have a love for odd words. There was a month or so where Mina would say the word Ming over and over. Ming is kind of an odd word but it is also the name of her cousins cat. Bodega is not a word you hear in Utah very often. My first real experience with common use of the word bodega was when I went to visit my sister in law in New York. There, of course, a bodega is a small market. It was of course no surprise to me that the word bodega was originally Spanish.

Upon my return from New York, Mina and I would use the word bodega randomly and excessively, much to the annoyance of our housemates. The usage faded over time until I took another trip to California.

On my way to San Francisco, I drove a road in the middle of nowhere that led to the middle of nowhere. Only the second middle of nowhere happened to be on the coastline of California. While traveling down the coast I happened upon a town called Bodega Bay. Wow, the combination of Bodega and Bay was even more lovely to say. I noticed in the shops in Bodega Bay that there were a lot of t-shirts and other items with the movie The Birds on them. It turns out Bodega Bay was the filming location of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

Funny enough, I spent a good share of my tween years in an old run down theater in a town not far from the one I grew up in watching black and white Hitchcock movies. There was Rear Window and Vertigo, along with The Man Who Knew Too Much and To Catch a Thief. I had not thought about watching these movies or the old theater in years. It was a wonderful bit of nostalgia for me.

When I told my husband about this memory he said, "God, no wonder you were such an anxious kid." To which I then pointed out that movies are not real and I was an anxious kid because my childhood home was real and almost as scary as things Hitchcock could imagine. Then we both laughed cause we are kind of deranged like that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A is for Awesomesauce

(A could have been for Ari. She is my first born and I love her. I love her so much that I know her need for privacy would not allow an entire blogpost devoted to her and I respect that fully. )

I think I am embracing the idea of doing a Niedermeyer Family alphabet, so where better to start than with awesomesauce? Awesomesauce is a word my hubby uses a lot. I have no idea where he got it, probably from a movie as we tend to watch a lot of movies.

Awesomesauce is how it feels to pull nasty, smelly carpet out of a room that had water damage, even though it means the floor is now concrete.

My husband and I have very different personalities. At first he was not convinced that the room smelled terribly. I wanted to have his olfactory checked. It was BAD. Then he realized it was smelly and on Saturday while the girls and I were at a birthday party he tried steam cleaning the carpet. Then he was absolutely convinced that the smell was gone. I on the other hand was absolutely sure that his sense of smell had completely left him. Instead of pointing that out, however, I waited to see what would happen.

Yesterday, Mina asked her daddy to come to the smelly room to watch her walk on the treadmill. She loves to walk on it but we like to be near, just in case. So John and Mina went downstairs and when I went down to throw in some laundry I stopped to say hello. As soon as I walked in to the room, John said, "This room stinks." In my head I did backflips and little fireworks went off, oh thank god. So we spent the rest of the morning pulling out the carpet and pad and scraping off glue from the concrete. Now the room does not smell and that my friends is awesomesauce.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mina is Always Up to Something

Chicken feet
Fingers can be friends.
Old t-shirt mummification
"Look mom, I am an old lady."
The yoga mat that handily doubles as a skirt.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"But how do I feel this good sober?" P!nk

Note to self: Always view blog post before publishing :)

"The power of faith in the now moment is what allows us to embrace the uncertainty of the now, and to embrace it with non-resistance that allows for pain to coexist with joy. We can do this because we recognize that discomfort is always an opportunity to evolve something." Spotted Eagle

This last week or so with all the things I was experiencing, life did not stop. There was still so much joy intertwined with the sobering truths I was facing. The word sober is interesting. In our culture it is generally related to being free from drugs and alcohol. I have thought about this word a lot in the past week.

not intoxicated or drunk.
habitually temperate, especially in the use of liquor.
quiet or sedate in demeanor, as persons.
marked by seriousness, gravity, solemnity, etc., as of demeanor, speech, etc.: a sober occasion.
subdued in tone, as color; not gay or showy, as clothes.
free from excess, extravagance, or exaggeration: sober facts.
showing self-control: sober restraint.
sane or rational: a sober solution to the problem.

Definition 2 refers to temperate.

1350–1400; Middle English temperat < Latin temperātus, past participle of temperāre to exercise restraint, control

I had pondered the words above for a couple days when I received an unexpected phone call. The person calling I have not spoken to for some time. She called to let me know that some one important to me that has had lifelong issues with drugs and alcohol had now been sober for 52 days. She then went on to tell me about her own struggles with addictive behavior. It was a refreshing, eye opening, totally authentic exchange. I left that phone call with so much new knowledge about what it means to be human and what it takes to walk away from the things that hold us back from lives of joy and authenticity.

I believe that almost everyone has some sort of addiction to something. I know for me the only way to walk away from the things that rob me of essence is to be sober and temperate. Not the sober and temperate involving alcohol, but sober and temperate in using my unique make-up to make the decisions that are best for me, no matter what the consequences. A moment to moment connection with what is intangible and forever and therefore most real.

At the same time, sober and temperate do not mean devoid of laughing and happiness as so many in our culture believe. They mean finding happiness that is real. It means finding humor wherever you find it, for some of us that is almost everywhere. Sober and temperate mean knowing where the middle road is and constantly returning to your connection to spirit, especially when circumstances are pulling you from that connection.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Life has pain in it

One time while speaking to my mentor she stated rather neutrally, "Life has pain in it." Part of me thought, "no duh". But some other part of me realized that I had a belief that if I was "doing it right" life would be pain free. The idea that life should be pain free is really debilitating. If a person holds this belief, then when things get painful, as they always will when you have to face a truth that is unpleasant, there is a tendency to resist. Resisting truth, however painful it may be, leads to increased bondage. The only way to free oneself from bondage is to face whatever is there, even if it is ugly, or unpleasant.

This weekend, I was given the opportunity to see a huge pattern in my own perceptions, behaviors, and choices. This seeing had many threads that wove around and in to every relationship I have ever had and every relationship I currently have. The seeing was incredibly painful. In fact, the confrontation was so powerful, I had symptoms of asthma, nightmares, and an acute pain in my chest. A pain that I at one point briefly questioned as a heart attack.

Even while I was in pain, even while I could feel this incredible pull to curse my body, to blame it for just not acting properly, I did not. I managed oddly enough to remain present with my family, to conduct myself in ways I do not now have to regret. And even though it hurt, I knew I was being shown something important, something that if I could just be honest about it, would allow me to really see what I was up to.

When the pattern became obvious, when I could see where all the pain came from, when I could feel all the grief, the disappointment, the anger, the confusion; suddenly I felt peaceful. I knew what came next. I knew that a pattern had been shown to me, one that held the keys to my bondage or liberation. I know that if I am present and open, if I trust my intuition, and if I really immerse myself in living from my heart, I can make headway on that old pattern. I know that it will not be a one time fairy dust, emancipation experience. I know that I have to do the work and that doing the work can be both joyful and rewarding.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I have been thinking about addiction since yesterday. I am reading a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In it he talks about the amount of sensory input a person can process at one time and then through simple multiplication arrives at how much sensory input a person can process in their entire lifetime. The number is approximately 185 billion events in an entire lifetime. This sounds like a lot, but really when you are talking about an entire lifetime it is not that much. Csikszentmihalyi says, "Therefore, the information we allow into consciousness becomes extremely important; it is, in fact, what determines the content and quality of life."

This got me thinking. Although, I can do a little about past content that may or may not already exist in my consciousness, I have almost complete control of what new input I expose myself to. This is not a new idea either but for some reason it became very relevant as I was reading last night.

This is where I began to ponder addiction. What behaviors, choices, and patterns do I have that add nothing to the quality of my life? Addiction is defined as:

state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

But the root of the word is
this word: (Latin) addictiōn, and it has a different definition: a giving over, surrender.

So then I framed a question for myself: What I am surrendering my 185 billion possible lifetime events to that adds no quality to my life? For me the answer to this question lies in patterns of behavior that many people would probably not call addiction but patterns I feel clearly are. Here are some of mine: worry, caring to much what people think of me, spending too much time engaging with electronic media in a non quality fashion, and many more.

But then this question followed:

What events do I need to surrender more to to add to the quality of my life? Some of the answers are playing with our kids and pets, creating more in whatever form I choose, laughing more, loving more, dancing more, using my intuition more, and having more gratitude for the wonderful life I already have. All of these things will require me to surrender the things that do not add to my life. All these things will take moment to moment discipline in cultivating. But , when I look back down the road of life 5 or 8 years I realize I have already surrendered many things to have a life of quality. I see that I have the discipline to walk away from old patterns of behavior. It does not happen over night but it happens in a flowing fashion of opening myself up to the grace of each unfolding moment.