Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wealthy with Gratitude

***This is the post where I cheese it up and write all the "typical" things poor people go on about. You know, all the stuff about how we're so rich in other ways. yup, that's what this is.***

But first, zoom out, go to big picture. On a global scale, we are not even close to poor. Not even close.

We own our home! Not a shmancy home. A town home, big enough for us to each have our own bedrooms. Big enough to house my art studio. Not huge, not fancy; but enough.
How many people do NOT have that? It's incredibly sad to be aware of; and we, here in Canada are considered poor. I have relatively new flooring, and freshly painted walls. We have indoor plumbing; a roof that doesn't leak, and heat. But we are so hard done by?

We have healthy, organic food everyday. Three meals worth, and quite a few snacks too. I consider us so blessed. The poorest we've been was a few years ago, when we were down to a can of sardines, and a pack of crackers. Not even kidding. We gave thanks for it; and unbelievably, even the kids ate it. The next morning, not one, but two family members brought us food. No one knew we had run out; and yet now we had food. More than a little faith strengthening.

We have clothes. Not always new, not always the best; but a few times a year we do all get something new. And we're all pretty happy with that. Friends and family are kind and generous enough to hand-me-down to us, and we're thankful. Their giving helps make our life better. (I wonder what the appearance conscious teen I used to be would think of that?!)

I'm thankful to have spirituality in my life;
to guide me, provide hope and cushion fears -
helps us try to keep our priorities in order.
I'm thankful to be able to spend the majority of my time with my family everyday.

I get to be the one to witness my littles growing up.

I get to hear their questions, and search for answers with them. I get to see the moment it all comes together and makes sense. I get to play with them, and pray with them. I get to tuck them good-night.

Our family is blessed enough to have all our needs met; both spiritually and materially. So while some would definitely consider us poor, I feel rich with gratitude!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"I Could Never Do That..."

"I Could Never Do That..."

"I could never homeschool or unschool"

"I could never eat gluten-free"

"I could never have a homebirth, co-sleep, or nurse well into toddlerhood"

"I couldn't stand it if my husband were home all the time on a disability, while I worked part-time"

"I Could Never"
I've heard this phrase many times, have you? Sometimes I hear it in my own head. In fact, most of the above I have heard in my own head, at some time; and yet these are some of the things I have done that I am the most proud of, and the most thankful to have done.

This has me thinking, maybe "I could never do that" serves a purpose. Maybe it's us challenging ourselves. Maybe it's us saying to ourselves "Would I want to do that? Would I value that in my life? Would I have the circumstances to do that?" Maybe it's us, taking an idea and making a judgement on it for ourselves personally. And maybe some personal growth comes from that. Maybe whatever it is doesn't fit into what we would envision for our life; or maybe it could; or maybe it already does. Maybe "I could never do that" isn't as final as it sounds, if a persons mind is up to questioning it's truth.

When I hear my internal voice say "I could never do that" I tend to answer myself with a bunch of questions. "Is that really true? Could I honestly not do that? What would happen if I did?" And eventually sometimes the answer is "Well, sure of course I could do that." or "Maybe I just don't want to".

This is what I feel is the sad part; I think that sometimes when someone's internal voice says "I could never do that", and we believe it, and we are selling ourselves short.


We are each made so incredibly beautiful, capable of so many things. Why limit ourselves with "I could never"?


We've also been given this beautiful gift of freedom to write our own stories; sometimes "I could never" is stealing our freedom.


So these are the kinds of conversations I have with myself. (As if you needed that peak into Crazy-town!)
But here's the thing, sometimes, I hear "I could never do that" from others. It's as if they are hearing what I'm doing, and their internal dialogue of "I could never do that" spills out. Not to be offensive, but sometimes hearing that can feel a little, um, discouraging... yeah, let's go with that.

I bring this up because most recently I've been hearing "I could never do that" in relation to adoption. That's right. I said it: adoption. Go ahead a take a moment to digest that. Admittedly, it's HUGE. It's a gigantic, life-altering chapter that we are choosing to write into the story of our life.

Adoption is an active process of jumping through hoops, (and more hoops) to qualify. It means we are opening ourselves up spiritually, emotionally, and physically to welcoming a new member of our family.

When we began this process, I was feeling pretty private about it; not telling very many people because I anticipated all the variations of "I could never do that" that I could be hearing. I wanted to block out any discouragement coming my way. I didn't want to hear the not-so-great experiences people hear or have had. (Why are we so quick to share the sad stories? Is it a warning? Is it meant to say "Listen, you are investing and risking a lot, and you could fail"... as though we are not acutely aware of that already?) I wanted to protect my heart from those who would be unsupportive. But here's the thing, this process has involved my heart, mind and emotions. It's in my conversations and even my dreams.
This is me, taking the scary leap of openness. We are expecting! This is exciting news! So for goodness sakes, Please be happy for us! I feel so grateful to have many friends have been super-supportive.

I'm finding this process very similar to pregnancy. We are bonding with the idea of our new child, as any family would be. Granted, it's a different process; we are opening our hearts to many outcomes: a boy or girl, of many races, and under the age of 5. A child who may have had something of a life before us. A child who needs a loving family. Evidently, this sounds crazy to some.
I'm going to be brutally honest, mostly the unsupportive responses consist of a mix of *silence* and concerns about money.... sometimes with a sad story about ministry involvement thrown in for good measure.... and of course no conversation about anything out-of-the-box would be complete without "I could never do that." *Please, don't think of me as being hostile about this. I just want to put it out there, that none of these are helpful responses.*

Our family has purposely built a very happy out-of-the-box life by doing what others swear they could never. And that's cool, cause we all get to participate in the writing of our own story. I'm sure I would have a really hard time living another persons story.... (one of school and curriculum, and full time work...) but I could, if I had to, or if those things were things I chose.

I do have one "I could never".

I could never close off my heart to a child who needs a family, if it was in my power and ability to give them one. I have never stopped imagining our third child coming to us through adoption. We have always, as long as we've been a couple, held that in our hearts and minds as being of so much value. It has always been in the works for us. So as much as you could never... I guess I have one too. And now it's in the open.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Through the eyes of a child...

Since becoming a parent, I have developed this pesky habit of seeing the world through my children's eyes. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it can sometimes inspire a passionate post such as this one, advocating for children.....

I have re-written this post I recently saw on facebook. When I saw this I felt deeply disturbed by it. Here is my re-write:
I have made a promise to myself that I will not be a spanking parent;
I will be a respectful parent.
I will try to see the world through your eyes and have empathy for your experience of life.
I will view my role as your parent as a sacred honor to be lived up to.
As the adult, with more experience I will choose to control my impulses to hit, yell, or humiliate.
I will be creative and learn to communicate my feelings and hopes.
I will try to understand and be respectful of your limits and my own.
I will try to create an environment of Love and Respect so that Love and Respect are what you know.
I will try to lead by example.
I will not blindly accept the parenting script passed down to me, I will question it,
and write my own.
I am sure you will make plenty of mistakes, we all do. 
You will have lessons to learn, we all do.
 I hope that you will trust me enough, to share your life with me.
That when you make mistakes, you will trust me to treat you with kindness,
so you will not be sneaky.
I hope that you will be open to receiving my guidance.
 I know that you will not always like what I have to say, and I will do my best to be okay with that.
I will be open to learning from you, because I have learned that you have a lot to teach me.
I purpose to live a mutually respectful life with you, because
my connection with you is so incredibly important to me.
My hope that you will choose for me to be a part of your adult life, because I am your parent (noun). And I love and respect you.

My mother told me that we were firstly God's children; that we were on lend to her AND that she would have to be accountable for how she treated His children. *That's wisdom*

I think part of the reason I feel bothered by the trend of posts humiliating children and condoning disrespectful treatment, is that I can't figure what the motivation is for this kind of thinking. The basic message seems to be "this is how I was raised, and I'm fine". Combined with an underlining feeling of frustration with one's children. This seems to be a call for parents to pat each other on the back, and give each other approval.

***I would feel ashamed if my adult children use the word "survived" in relation to the way I treated them; I would prefer for them to feel that they "thrived".***

Not so long ago, when Olivia was maybe 5 or so, a few of the unschooling mothers called me out on sending her for "time-outs." They didn't call it abuse, or anything like that. I had reasoned, at least I wasn't spanking! These Strong mothers did ask me some questions; I'm thankful that they were brave enough to speak up on behalf of my daughter.

*What was going in her life that she was struggling?
*What exactly did I think she was thinking about while crying in her room?
*Did I really believe she was thinking about the "wrong" she had done?
*Or was she wondering why the person she loved and trusted the most was sending her away, withholding love and attention from her?
*Did she have the ability to do what I was expecting of her?
*Did she feel loved and valued by the way I was treating her?

I felt terrible. I had been awakened to seeing discipline through her eyes; awakened to seeing myself through her eyes.


I can't help but I wonder how this kind of parenting will look through the eyes of our children as they become more aware?

I wonder if they will wonder why so few people spoke up on their behalf?