“I choose my choice!”
~ Charlotte York
Yes, I had to throw in an erratic Sex and the City quote because, hey, SATC will always be life but also because screaming “I choose my choice!” is not only the topic of this piece, but also the manner in which Charlotte defends herself is both empowering and cringe-worthy. I’ve never been known to turn away from a good clashing dichotomy.
At the beginning of the 2018 school year my daughter started working in grade schools toward a very meaningful initiative. Upon being asked to participate in the Roots of Empathy program I was unclear about what it would look like, however, my interest peaked, and we scheduled a meet and greet with our potential instructor. It went very well and on our first day I got my daughter ready in her little ‘teacher’ uniform (cue the proud tears of delight!) and we set out for our first session working with grade 7 students. She was 4 months old and I could see that she was a little overwhelmed with entering a new, busy environment. I held her tight as she clung to the neck of my shirt with a white-knuckle grip and intensely wide eyes. Our instructor guided us through an educational session about her capabilities, milestones and her general demeanor. I was delighted to see that the students were both curious and very respectful of her need for comfort and quiet ‘indoor voices’. Upon getting home and reflecting I was excited to continue our Roots of Empathy journey and all that we would subsequently experience as a community of shared learning.
I’m always reflecting on life. It’s really become an integral part of who I am. I believe it is important to derive meaning from our lives and spend the time to reflect on lessons learned and find ways to incorporate them into our lives. Is it even possible to not incorporate what we’ve learned into our lives moving forward? I sincerely like the idea of getting older (now would be
the time to call me crazy), I feel like great maturity comes with age and in line with that idea, I feel like I now know what I like (and dislike) more than ever. My thirties, or what I have experience with them so far, have been truly enjoyable. I am also confident that as I move forward through my third decade that I will continue to experience more positivity and self-confidence. In the spirit of my birthday, I was inspired to share a few of my personal reflections.
“I may have a strange relationship with my suffering but it’s only because it’s loved me enough to show me the gaping holes in my foundation. And I can’t say anything or anyone has cared about my personal growth as deeply.” – Jade Black
My single greatest spiritual teacher has been my own suffering. It has shown me where I am attached, what I am afraid of, and what blocks me from fully loving myself. Nothing has taught me more about the human condition and nothing has guided my personal growth like my suffering has. In a very specific way, I have become very fond of my suffering because it brings
me gifts that I can’t find anywhere else. Because I am focused on loving myself, I first have to clear away any impurities that restrict or taint my ability to love. I do not have awareness of any ‘impurities’ that exist within myself until they are highlighted by my suffering.
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
If you live long enough, at one point or another, you will experience the death of a loved one. Whether it be another human whom a strong bond was built with or a beloved pet; death touches each of us. Despite this, the topic of death and dying is commonly avoided in our culture. Truthfully though, this topic has brought about some interesting and transforming conversations in my life. As a life skills coach and an occasional host on the Grief Dreams Podcast, I continuously hear from the bereaved about their grief journey after the loss of their loved one. When I hear their stories I wonder how humanity became
so brave and so strong. They have mustered the strength to move forward in life despite some very cruel encounters with death and dying. It is so inspirational to hear what the bereaved have learned (what grief revealed) about themselves and how they have grown through their suffering. I have heard the bereaved talk about growth in many different areas. The bereaved may start valuing those around them more, start to develop new skills, gain a greater realization on how strong they truly are, develop a deeper faith, make changes in what really matters most to them, and it goes on and on.
Okay, so I was under the impression that women just kind of have babies and boom, right back to (new) normal life. I must say, although I knew things would be altered in a major way, I did not fully understand the dramatic change associated with the very personal journey of pregnancy, birth, and subsequently, life after baby arrived. Movies certainly give us a false sense of the amount of healing time required after experiencing such a monumental (and utterly beautiful) life event. Damn you Hollywood!
We often overlook the wisdom of nature. Its’ ability to move forward and thrive without rules, specific instruction or supervision. Just how does an acorn instinctively know how to become a massive oak tree and a bluebird articulately build a nest. Nature is riddle with intelligence and yet, in our daily lives, the frequency of our inquisition about the wisdom of nature is quite limited. If we took the time to reflect upon the inherit wisdom of the seasons alone we might be obliged to feel more relaxed, calm, and ‘zenful’ even.