Look Up

The other morning on the walk to work, I realized that it really helps me when I look up when I walk.  It helps me get out of the thoughts I’m stuck in, and helps me see the bigger perspective within and around me.  I remembered that this morning and the walk turned into a very profound experience!  I wrote some words that came to me while I was walking and finished it at my desk:)

Look Up              

When I am stuck in the mind while I am walking to work, I look up.

When I look up, the world shows me how much bigger I am than thoughts.

When I look up, the thoughts diminish, and the true beauty and power of the Earth astounds me, stops the thoughts in their tracks, and I breathe.

When I look up, the trees and their tops guide me and lead me with their strength, stability, silence and stillness.

When I look up, I remember who I really am.

When I look up, there is movement in the clouds and light pouring down, and I remember that I am more than I ever could understand or know.

When I look up, I remember that the Earth is my Mother, the Sun is my Father, the Wind is my Brother, and the Water is my Sister.

When I look up, I remember that no matter how disconnected people are from the truth of their being, the planet remembers, and she remembers for us and does what she can to remind us with her beauty, grace and resilience, in the way that children do.  I am reminded that no matter how much we seek to destroy ourselves, others and our planet, Mother Earth is with us, leading the way, showing us the truth, that we and she are indestructible, that on the inside, we are glowing with light, love and power, just as she is in her core, and that we can learn to tap into our core, our light too. 

When I feel myself slipping, I look up, breathe and remember and am grateful for our planet and the beautiful way she reminds me so gently, so peacefully, so gracefully, that I am majestic, just as she is.

Thank you Mother.
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The Journey of Tunuri and the Blue Deer by James Endredy helped me remind me of my Earth family.
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Overcoming patterns and barriers

I’ve always had this inner awareness that would guide me, but I wouldn’t always know what to do about it.

I remember as a young girl, seeing my brother and my dad horsing around on the couch, and I had this feeling that I was outside of it, outside of them, outside of being able to include myself and play and have a good time.  I felt it and knew it at the time, despite only being 5 or 6, and that feeling stayed with me.  Now I’m a mom and my daughter is 3 and when her and my husband play around, I have felt excluded, just like I did with my dad and brother.  I was aware of it, but only the tiniest bit, that the same feelings were with me and were playing out in my current life.  I would feel that way when they would play and I felt it, was aware of it, but I really didn’t know what to do about it.  My mind would say things like, “well you just don’t know how to play,” and other unhelpful things like that.  So yesterday, we were all sitting together and my husband and daughter started tickling each other and I felt it so strongly, “you don’t belong, you don’t know how to play,” and for the first time, I held that feeling, I let it be there, I let it take me over so I was just sitting on the couch, watching them and really feeling like I didn’t belong.  But it was a really cool experience because I was so aware of the feeling, so aware that it wasn’t me, that it couldn’t control me any more, but I just felt like it really needed to be there.   I didn’t push it down as just something from the past, but I let it be there with me.  Within a few minutes, they came over and started tickling me and I started being able to move again, to find the inner me who always wanted to play, to be a part but was so paralyzed for whatever reason. I was able to initiate tickling and playing and it almost felt normal!  It was so exciting!  And today, we were walking around the block and we started chasing each other and for the first time ever, it felt right, it felt normal, it felt like I was a part of the play and not just on the outside like I had felt even a bit yesterday.  I was running, screaming, chasing, and playing and it felt natural and real.

Wow.  What a huge gift.  I have made such huge shifts from the victim mode that my life has always been in, to being able to initiate things, to know that I am okay and that I can be an active participant in my own life instead of just collecting the circumstances of my life and being buried under them, without any control or choice.  Today just happens to be the start of 2013 and today, I am proud of myself.  Not because it is a new year, but because I am choosing me, I am choosing my life, I am choosing to go beyond all this crap, stuff, garbage, energy, whatever you want to call it that was never me in the first place, but that was running my life and dictating whether I was happy or down in the dumps.

Here is another example of how I’m starting to see that I can overcome these patterns in my life and these barriers that were preventing me from living my true life and enjoying myself!  I heard my daughter Zara say, “Wow, if we go to that breakfast party tomorrow, I’ll probably be exhausted.”  I looked at her and I asked her why she was planning on being tired when she hadn’t even gone yet.  She just continued to say that she would likely be exhausted.  I pondered on it, wondered where that was coming from, why someone so young, with so much energy and love of life, could be planning to feel tired.  I was talking to Robbin (my husband) about it and he said, “well I’ve heard you say that you’ll probably be tired after we do something.”  I was astounded!  Was that what I was really doing!  I asked him, “so like, I plan to be tired?” and he agreed and said, “if you put it that way, yes, that is what you do.”  WOW!!  Holy moly!  Can you imagine how limiting that has been for me and for my family!  I had NO idea that I was doing that, that I was planning on being tired.  You know what happens when you plan on being tired?  You’re tired!!!  You can read about that in any self-help, spirituality/awareness book, what you wish for or dread, comes true!  Holy moly!  I started remembering all the times in my life when I let that belief take over, when I let it limit me, keep me home, keep me small and keep me safe!  Wow!  It was so eye opening and so exciting, here was the perfect chance for me to change my inner voice and my outer words, I could choose to be awake, choose my life, choose to have a great time, choose to know that my life is different than how it used to be when I used to feel tired from interacting with people because I was so scared and so nervous and absorbing all kinds of thoughts, energies and whatever else!

So, today I woke up and I explained it to Zara, how I used that as an excuse my whole life and that I was done.  No more planning to be tired.  And now, we’re home from the New Year’s get together and we all have energy.  I haven’t forced us to have quiet time or to lay low like I used to. I am done.  I am free and I am freeing up my husband and daughter to be themselves, and for Zara to trust her inner guidance too, to let her tell us when she is tired, instead of me always going, “umm, okay, umm, let’s have some quiet now.”  NO!  No more.  Just like that.  If we can get the awareness of the show we’re running, we can start to be free.  Today, I am free from two big ones and it feels so great, so light, so free.  I am so proud, so at peace, so quiet inside.  Hooray for life.  What else are we living for really, than to be free, free from our minds, free from limiting patterns and beliefs.  Hooray for the small steps towards the truth!!  Thank you to my heart and awareness for sticking with me, thank you to our family’s beautiful guide Jean, for helping me to connect to my truth, and thank you to Robbin and Zara who inspire me to live from the truth and from my heart every day.

Here we are, so much more free now than when I took this picture a few weeks ago!
Here we are, so much more free now than when I took this picture a few weeks ago!

Mindfulness in shopping

Mindfulness!!

I remember my parents telling me to focus when I was younger and I remember knowing they were trying to help me, but they didn’t really help me because I didn’t know how to focus!!

Now I’m learning that bringing your attention to what you are doing is mindful, it is focused, it is being grounded, with your feet on the ground, all those expressions!  It is being engaged in your life, in the present moment, it is caring about yourself enough to notice what is going on, even if that means that you notice you are 20 minutes ahead of where you are in your day!  Mindfulness is noticing where your attention is or isn’t, it’s noticing that you are thinking about ice cream instead of having your attention on your two year old who is climbing up on the stool to reach the ice creams cones that you hid on the top shelf.

I first read about mindfulness in a beautiful parenting book that literally turned my parenting style around with great benefits called, “Everyday Blessings: The inner work of mindful parenting.”  I’ve come across mindfulness more and more as I continue to grow and heal and look inside to find out what is preventing me from living my true life.  There are many brilliant ways to learn about mindfulness and to live mindfully.  This post won’t be about all those brilliant ways, but rather about what I recently brought my attention to while shopping.

We tend to buy organic food when it is available and affordable.  For the most part, we don’t eat as many packaged foods with the exception of crackers and chips and pastas!  We all still love those! I’ve brought my attention to food labels whenever we buy something that is in a package and it’s a way of being aware of what I’m choosing to put into my body and to feed to my family.  We know our bodies can digest and process anything (please see the My Healings section of this blog and My Food Healing for more information!), but we’re choosing to eat healthy foods so our bodies don’t have to work as hard.  I have realized as I’ve shopped over this past year, that just because something is gluten free, or organic or sold as a natural product in a health food store, that it doesn’t mean that it is nutritious or wholesome.  I’ve been surprised that some of the supposedly healthy foods sold in packages are sometimes just as “junky” as their name brand counterparts.  I have found it both rewarding and refreshing to pick up those products, read the ingredients and then put them back.  It makes me feel like my awareness and the attention I put into food is worthwhile.  So here is the exception!

I was going to a local store here in Ottawa because they sell organic ice cream.  The store, Rainbow Foods, is the only one I’ve found that sells it.  So when I saw that it was on sale, I said to my daughter, “oh they have strawberry, do you want to try that too?”  She agreed, so I grabbed it without even looking.  I saw a picture of a strawberry on the packaging, it’s from a company that I buy from regularly and that I’ve always been impressed with, so I bought it! We brought it home and we opened it up right away to try.  For some reason, at that point, I read the ingredients and it said, “natural flavor” and there were no actual strawberries in it.  I felt so misled and disappointed.  How could that be?  How could there be no actual berries in it?  I felt like I was in a science fiction book where you get to choose from wafer 1-15, each with a different flavor because fruits and vegetables and “real food” couldn’t be grown any more because people had taken up all the space.  It was a real moment of “wow” for me, like, wow, how could they do that?  How could there be the word “strawberry” on the outside of the package, without the front of the container having to say, “strawberry flavoured ice cream”.  I used to work at Health Canada before my daughter was born and there are so many food regulations, and I was really surprised that there wasn’t a regulation that stipulated that if there is no actual ingredient, then the packaging must obviously state, “flavoured”.

It really reminded me to continue to bring my attention to the foods I purchase with our money and that we eat to nourish our bodies.  I am planning on writing to the company to express my disappointment and I may even look into if there are any regulatory requirements for that as it is very misleading otherwise.  I found a container of organic strawberry yogurt today that didn’t have any strawberries, only flavour and red cabbage to make the color.  Wow again.  Strawberry yogurt with cabbage in it instead of strawberries.

All that to say, it is important to be mindful while shopping, especially as we buy food to nourish our bodies. I’m not mindful of clothing and other goods yet and knowing which companies best support their workers or which countries have regulations to protect their workers from poor working conditions and low wages, but one step at a time!  Please share any examples that you have come across as you have explored living more mindfully and what has really caught your attention as you open up your heart and your eyes to your life and what is really going on as you live it!!

How I took attachment parenting too far

Before you are a parent, it’s easy to judge, to watch parents, and think that you could do such a better job.  We have all done it.  When you are a parent, you reel, you think, wow, how could this be so hard, how could I be so unprepared for this?  Why didn’t anyone tell me that this little being would open me up so much, that I would be so filled with love for him/her and with pain from my own childhood, all at the same time?  Even if they had told me, you wonder, would you have listened, would it have sunk in?

I was so ready to love a child, that much I knew, but that was the extent of it.  After Zara was born in early 2009, I felt so much love for her, I was soooo happy, I wanted to love her, honor her, squeeze her and kiss her and I wanted to have a chance to do it right.  I thought to myself, maybe I can do this better than my parents, better than other people, maybe I can really do this.  Ha, I used to be so judgmental, even in loving my own child, I had to compare it to others.  I am so happy to continue to pull out of that consciousness that encircles our planet, the judgement, the need to be better, the need to compare, it’s getting easier just to be me, thank goodness.

After Zara was born, there were times when she wouldn’t sleep.  I watched others with babies that slept, so I thought I must have been doing it wrong.  I tried and tried and tried, unaware that trying was what might have been making it harder; trying to be perfect, trying to help her so she never cried, so she would never feel alone like I so remembered feeling.  After a lot of trying and crying, I started reading more and more parenting books.  I read about Attachment Parenting, principles of which include:

-co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breast-feeding and extended breast-feeding, not controlling your child, but rather giving them permission to be themselves, not forcing your child, but guiding them, baby-led weaning, gentle discipline, unconditional parenting, mindful parenting, etc.

I read so many books and I joined an awesome local Attachment Parenting group where I met like-minded people!!  Whenever Zara would nap, she needed to be in my arms, so through reading those books, I was able to accept that she needed to be in my arms to nap (or else she would wake up), so I accepted that for 2-ish hours a day, I would be sitting on the bed, reading.  I took advantage of that time and I read.  I filled myself up with all of these ways to honor my daughter in ways that I never knew possible.  I armed myself with those principles and they became my bible….

I have met so many beautiful parents who are attachment parenting (AP), doing what they feel is best for their child.  It is truly exciting to see so many parents who just aren’t willing to let their kids cry themselves to sleep, or to be let alone in their rooms to cry until they can “calm down.”  There are many more of us who are aware of what we experienced as children and who are trying to do better for their children.  I think the irony is that in the trying, we end up doing the exact opposite of our parents, and then there we are, right at the other extreme, and really, is that any better?  Maybe if I share my story a bit it will help to explain what I went through and what I see other people doing.

I decided that I was going to use every single principle from those books I read: we would limit praise, we would get creative to help Zara transition, we would co-sleep, I would breastfeed until she was ready to wean, she would never be left to cry it out by herself (I had tried that a couple of times in my most desperate moments and I felt like I was a tiny baby again, crying by myself, feeling like I was dying inside, so thankfully it didn’t last more than 3-4 times), we would follow her lead, we would give her lots of leeway, I would carry her in a baby carrier or baby backpack, I would limit how much I would leave her because it was always hard on both of us when I left, etc.   Again, I used all of those principles as my bible, if something happened, I would scan my mental list of attachment parenting tools and I would use the gentle approaches to help us.  Is that wrong, is it a bad thing?  No not necessarily.  It really helped us, but it was extreme and I will elaborate.

It got to the point where it was like Zara was controlling us.  I was so desperate for her to feel loved and appreciated, that I gave myself up. I used all of those tools from the attachment parenting books and I used them to my detriment, even to Zara’s detriment.  I never gave myself permission to say no to her, I did everything I could all the time to say yes.  I thought it was horrible if she cried, so I did dances so she wouldn’t cry.  I tried to keep her happy at all costs.  I sacrificed my well-being, the well-being of our family and my relationship with my husband even, just to employ those principles.  It was like I had read those books through the eyes of a 2 year old hurt me, and I vowed to follow them no matter what, even when I was suffering inside from using those AP principles.  I remember so many incidents where I was using some tools, thinking I was “doing so well”, because I was doing what I had read, but somewhere inside I knew I had gone too far. I even judged other parents for not AP parenting, and I remember judging other AP parents for not being AP enough.

It wasn’t until I got really sick and couldn’t eat anything any more, that I started to see it.  The naturopath I saw told me, “you are reactive parenting,” and I remember being shocked, horrified. What, I thought, how could I be reactive parenting, I’m an AP parent!!  But she was right.  I was viewing my daughter’s life through the eyes of all those hurt inner children who I was still carrying inside and I was reacting to the past hurts I had experienced, from a place of “there is no f&*^king way I’m doing that to Zara.”  And there it was.  I was reactive parenting.  Wow. What a good call!!  Hahaha, it was hard to hear, but it was exactly what I needed to hear, and that comment started me on my path to my soul, to my awakening from the depths of unconsciousness, to the awareness and the place I am in now, more connected to myself, more aware, more balanced than I ever thought possible.

So now, I ask myself, am I still off balance, are there more ways I can come more to the middle, to be living and parenting from my heart and not from the hurts?  I have come so far, I am so proud of myself, so proud of my daughter for how far she has come as I have opened up my heart and let go of the hurt that kept me so deeply locked in protection mode and so proud of my husband for doing the same work, so we can each be free and be a more cohesive and happy and balanced family unit. I am so happy that I am working to get to this balanced place, so I’m not carrying around as much anger towards my parents, instead I can love them and honor them and really and truly know that I am just like them, doing the best I can, through different paths, not one path being better or any more worthy than another. It is truly a different life for me and for my family and I am feeling so blessed and loved.

I can always come closer to the middle, to a more balanced place and I am exceptionally committed to that, to living my true life, instead of one that is chosen for me by emotions, judgement and fear.  No longer.

I ask you, are you at one of the extremes with your parenting?  Can you be honest with yourself and take baby steps to come back to the middle?  I send you love and support as you love yourself and your family and take a look.

With love,

Bradlee

Quote from Yogi tea bag:)

“the universe is a stage on which your mind dances with your body, guided by your heart.”

I am not sure that life can get any better than when your tea bag confirms your new life path!  Yogi tea is a brand that was founded after Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini yoga to North America and each tea bag has an inspirational phrase on it!  Drink tea and be reminded of simple truths, sounds good to me!

A visit from Green Tara

My daughter and I went to a Buddhist meditation centre in Ottawa two weekends ago for a kids class called Dharma for Kids (http://www.meditateinottawa.org/).  Our family is on this path of opening and healing and living our true lives and I thought it might be interesting and possibly useful for us (thanks to my friend Tonya for mentioning it to me).

The class was comfortable and not overpacked with material, it was nice.  We learned that there are many different buddhas and that they each have a different purpose.  We were taught about Green Tara, and how she is the buddha who is ready to come to protect and comfort those who call for her assistance.  Our teacher, Ananda Kelly, was explaining that as long as you believe in her, she will come to you.  (This image is from: http://www.fpmt-osel.org/gallery/tara.htm).  You can see in the picture that Green Tara’s right foot is uncrossed, it is because she is always ready to come and assist.  You can also distinguish Green Tara because there is always an element about her that is green.

I was super intrigued.  Ananda taught us a chant we can use to call for Green Tara and she taught us how to chant it. The words are, “Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Soha.”  It is so beautiful and so powerful.  Zara and I really enjoyed chanting it during the class and we have done it since that time.  I have found versions on the internet from searches but none are the same as the way I now have it in my heart from Ananda’s teachings.  If this is of interest to you, you can certainly search around and you will know when you have found the version that is right for you.  I feel like I’ve just learned something new and I’m super at the beginning of understanding it.  I feel called to learn more about her and possibly others, so I will share as I discover:)

The other day, Zara and I were at the beach and she was quite upset after leaving the water, her skin was irritated from the sand and she really just needed some comfort because she was off in some way.  I asked her if we could chant to Green Tara, if that would be comforting, since I know she really enjoys the chant and so do I.  So we tried it and she calmed instantly and it felt really good for me as well, very peaceful, very smooth.  I helped Zara to get all the sand off and then we went to put her dress on and she said, “Mommy stop, look at that.”  I stopped and looked down and there was a green beetle on Zara’s towel.  I said, “Wow, is that Green Tara, wow Zara that is awesome!”  She picked it up and Zara agreed that it was Green Tara and she held her and looked at her for a minute.  I felt blessed, supported and so awestruck all at once.  I realized that I was never really alone, if things were hard, I have other resources other than connecting to my heart to feel the love and to feel strong again, there is outside support that is ready for me.  I now feel that the combination of the two is even stronger for me, and it’s really exciting.  It’s pretty exciting that now I can chant, which calms me and then have the support of a being who I really don’t understand yet, but who is willing to come because I put it out there from my heart and I believed in the possibility of her.

I know….

Before I start, I just want to say a few things!

The inspiration for this post comes from many places:

  1. My friend Julie Keon’s essay: http://www.whatiwouldtellyou.com/, it went viral quickly.  She is bold and beautiful and has much to share with the world.
  2. From the people whom I have met in this past year of opening and healing, all of whom have showed me what I have left behind, the pain, the sadness, the fear, the little kid-ness inside (that place of hiding behind your mom’s leg).  I’m not saying that I don’t have any of these emotions inside any more, but there are less, and their pull on me is far less, but as a result, I can see it so much more in people’s eyes, all that is not them, but that they believe to be them.  For them, I write this post, from my heart, from what I have behind, so that they may know that they are not alone, that all that they feel, all that is within is not them, that they can connect to their heart to feel their love, their glory and their beauty, if they so choose of course, because that it not everyone’s journey as I am quickly learning.

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I know what you are feeling.  I know that look in your eyes. I know you want to run and hide from me right now.  I know you’d wish that you didn’t have to be in this room with all of these people.  I know what it feels like for you when you are alone. I know what it feels like, having to protect yourself all the time, having to protect those around you, but not really wanting that responsibility because it is so heavy, it is almost like carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, and it truly is too, that heaviness, that weight.  Why should you be responsible, right, especially when all you want to do is run and hide and protect you, but wait, then there’s the guilt, the guilt of not being able to care for them, not being able to take care of them, love them and shelter them and give them all you didn’t have.  It doesn’t matter who “them” is, for you, you know who they are, you know what it is inside that is grabbing you, that is reminding you that it is there, that it is heavy, that it won’t let you go, that it’s slowly killing you, the real you inside, the glory and the light, if only you knew about it, right inside you, so you could cling to that divine beauty who you truly are, instead of all the fear and guilt that is only pulling you further and further away from you, from the real you.  I can see past it now, I can see you, I can see your possibilities and they are endless.  I know you know about them.  I know you have felt your glory on occasion.  And it’s brilliant, it’s amazing, it astounds you, but then it goes and it leaves you feeling even more confused and alone. I know.  I remember that.  I remember the disappointment, the feeling betrayed by my own life, by God, by everyone around me, why do they hate me, you ask?  Why do they leave me when I need them, why do I push them away?  I know all of those questions, all of those feelings, I know.  I wish I could hold you and tell you it’s all going to be okay, because it is possible, you are the Creator of your own life, you can do it, did you know?  I now know it, but I didn’t before.  I would like to share that with you.  Did you know that you have a choice, that you are divine inside, that God is within you, God is within all of us, and he is in everything, God wants to experience life through us, to get to know Him/Herself better, just as we are here, living this life, we can choose, do we want to live it all, the good and the bad, because from there, we can rise, we can move beyond, and we can live from our heart, and from that place, all of this, all of this we call life, will just happen, without any attachment to outcomes, you can just be, you can breathe, you can drink water and feel nourished, you can hear your own heart song, the pounding of your heart within, guiding you, you will hear it louder and stronger and you will live from that place, you can choose in what lifetime you want to do it, you can let it take many lifetimes to get there and that’s okay, it’s your choice.  But you’ve already lived from that place of fear and despair and guilt, do you like it?  Do you really think there is anything else you can learn from that place?  If there is, fine, go for it, and then be ready, be ready to jump into the huge pool of love that is warm and safe and is surrounded by millions of people with outstretched arms, waiting to hold you, because you’ll actually allow for it, you’ll allow them to get close and you’ll see that there is nothing really real about fear, that you can walk through it to discover the love, the beauty of the world and the beauty of you.  Can you imagine it?  Allowing others to help you?  Allowing yourself to experience pain and then rise above it because you don’t have to beat yourself up any more, you don’t have to live in a place of guilt, because you’re starting to see how it and judgement pull you away from your heart, from your possibilities.  So when you are ready, we’ll be around that pool of love and I know, you’ll say, really, is this real, and I’ll laugh with you and I’ll remember how it first felt for me when I jumped in and was okay, and that I’m still okay, in fact I’m better than I ever could have dreamed because I have opened my arms, and yes, I still feel the fear sometimes, I acknowledge it, and I breathe through it, sometimes I cry, sometimes I feel small, but I know that it doesn’t have to be that way any more, I can release that energy that wants to come up from within and soar as more of my divine self comes right back in to fill in the holes that were previously filled with fear and guilt and judgement.  You can choose.  I know, it seems crazy, but we can.  You can.  When you are ready, I am here for you, I love you and I always will because we are all one, we all are the same inside, and we all have that beautiful place of love inside and we can all support each other in getting in touch with it each day, we can help each other instead of judge and push away.  It is possible.  I know it because I am living it.  I know it because truth is unmistakable.  God and love are unmistakable.  I didn’t have to read a book to discover God and my divine love, I have experienced it in my heart as I let it all go, and I know God is there with me now, it is truth because we are God and God is within us.  When you are ready, you can do it.  I know…. I know.  You can choose love, you can choose you, you can choose.  Take a breath, put your hands on your heart, feel it beating, breathe and breathe, feel it slow down as you touch your chest, feel it slow down and take you there, to the love, to your essence.  Keep holding it. Think of love, whatever that means for you, care, gratitude, appreciation, whatever it is.  Think of how you felt when you felt like there was still something to hope for.  Feel that hope.  It is your heart, knowing what is possible.  Breathe and connect with it, and let it guide you.  Be ready to hear it’s guidance.  I know.  It sounds crazy, but did you see how calm you just got?  It’s possible.  I know.

With everlasting love and many blessings.

Namaste,

Bradlee

When you are ready, you will find love is always there, within you. I have no idea how this happened, but I made an unintentional heart shaped pancake. This morning I lay on the pillow with wet hair to let out some fear and cry and I got up and there was a wet heart-shaped spot. It is everywhere, when you ready, let it in, let it out, feel it and be it.