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3.16.2015

Stuff like this interests me.

"And the deeper we dive, the stronger the amphibious reflexes become."


Interesting article on skindiving (or freediving)....which is really a synopsis of this book:


"There is a point about 30 feet below the surface that freedivers know as “neutral buoyancy.” 
Beneath it, the ocean stops trying to spit you out and begins sucking you in. 
That is how “Deep” itself unfolds. 
(from the nytimes review)

The rest of the NYTimes review:here .

Bird York - In The Deep (from the film Crash)

3.15.2015

The Conscious Parent: Applied


Last night, K ended up at a friend's unsupervised house 3 miles away, when she was supposed to be at another friend's house half a mile away. (not that anything bad happened, but that is beside the point)
Right after I sent her this message, I started to pray.
I prayed for guidance and wisdom in responding to my rather spirited 16 year old.
I also prayed for her safety since after that text exchange, we also spoke on the phone when,
I yelled, make this your PR....start running to make her 11 PM curfew...which I knew was impossible.
I figured the time lapse for me and the vigorous physical activity for her would be good for us.
(plus TBH, I was too angry to drive)
While waiting for her to get home,  I decided to read  The Conscious Parent, while unconsciously eating this. (This was an entire pie just 6 hours prior.)

She arrived home 26 minutes past her 11 PM curfew, clearly not her PR, but I digress...
By that time, I had digested a major portion of the pecan pie and some very powerful advice from my book.
This book is so good that I have taken the time to copy the paragraphs that really helped me.
The bold text is what I particularly applied and tried to focus on last night.

From the book, The Conscious Parent by Shafali Tsabary, Phd

(From Page 209)
Before we can help our children uncover what led to the mistake, they need to be allowed to put a little distance between themselves and their mistakes.  The conscious approach is to wait until all emotional reactivity has died down and everyone is in their right mind, then sit with our children compassionately, process their mistake with them entirely free of judgement, and then show them how they can extract a lesson for the future.
To help our children understand the why is the most effective way we can teach forgiveness, because knowing the why empowers us to make changes.  Unfortunately, when addressing our children's negative behavior, we often don't take the time or exercise the patience required to get at the why, but instead deal with the what.  Yet only through an understanding of the why can we help our children create the pathway to change.  Once our children understand the why, everything else is gravy. Perhaps the cause of the mistake was shortsightedness or pressure they experienced from their peers.  Maybe it was a simple lack of information or just poor judgement.  We don't have to belabor the point, but simply note it and move on.
When we don't take our children's mistakes personally, we communicate the vital lesson that there is really nothing to forgive because mistakes are a natural part of learning how to be our authentic self.  To not take mistakes personally is to recognize that behind every mistake is a good intention, though sometimes this intention doesn't readily present itself.  As parents, we need to search beneath the superficial mistake and uncover the original good intention of our children.  This encourages them to have faith in their innate goodness.  When we focus on a bad outcome instead of a good intention, our children lose their enthusiasm for trying.

(From page 211)
The premise behind conscious parenting is that our children are inherently well-meaning and want to do the right thing.  However in the course of a day, it's inevitable a child will make a few mistakes either through omission or commission.  If they are afraid of punishment, as already noted, they may then try to cover up their mistakes by lying.  The approach I am suggesting not only teaches a child not to fear mistakes, but also highlights that there are simply too many precious lessons to learn about ourselves from our mistakes to cover them up-lessons that enrich our life in ways we couldn't have imagined had we not made such mistakes.
By encouraging your children to let their mistakes go, you help them separate the wheat from the chaff, then throw the chaff to the winds.  The true test of whether you have let go comes the next time you are asked to trust them with the keys to the same car they crashed last week.  If you crashed your friend's car, would you want them to never hand you their car keys again?
When your children show you their most vulnerable aspects, and you show up ready to meet who they are, you indicate to them that they are worthy of being respected and received.  If you betray them with your own self absorption with the way you imagine they "ought" to be,  you convey to them that they are unworthy and that the world is an unforgiving place.  They then become fearful of stepping out in life.
By exercising the courage to own their errors, children learn to respect their fallibility and limitations, while demonstrating faith in their ability to move on. This strengthens their belief in their competence.
With the reassurance they are still loved, they accept that each of us is a work in progress.

(From page 217)
To allow our children to behave as if they were wild, without regard for how this affects those around them, is to raise little monsters.  Teaching our children how to appropriately contain their authenticity and manage their emotions is essential.  For this reason, to be unyielding when required, goes hand-in-hand with yielding when appropriate.  Setting boundaries, saying "no," and being firm are as much a part of good parenting as are accepting and embracing our children.

From page 218:
The heart of conscious parenting is the ability to be present in any situation that arises. Are you able to respond from a place of awareness rather than attachment
Do you discipline from a place of authenticity or from your ego?
To parent consciously means  you respond to your children's needs, not cater to them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In response to my unconscious pie consumption last night, I worked out this morning.
Not my PR either but clearly I am not posting last night's parenting saga nor this morning's work out, from my ego.

3.14.2015

Pecan Pie For Pi Day

Peace Pilgrim Quotes and Some Questions Asked Of Me, Answered.

"Many common problems are caused by wrong attitudes.  People see themselves as the center of the universe and judge everything as it relates to them. Naturally you won't be happy that way. You can only be happy when you see things in proper perspective: all human beings are of equal importance in God's sight, and have a job to do in the divine plan."
~Peace Pilgrim


Q. You often refer to your old self as opposed to your new self--what is different about you today from who you were ten years ago?

Ten years ago I looked happy on the outside but was miserable on the inside.
I was unhappy. I suffered depression on and off.
I took a lot of things personally.
I tried to control everything and please everyone.
I was lonely and lost...but no one really knew it. Not even me.
I disguised my unhappiness by being very sociable, traveling, connecting with everyone and anyone.
It was exhausting.
Ten years ago, I did not believe in God.
Now I believe in God. 

Q. Are you a hermit.

A. No, but I want to be one. Or a monk. Or a nun.
I find silence very peaceful. However, one can not be a hermit, monk or nun when one is a wife and a mother. So I try my best to be sociable not only to my family but to people who care to wade through my moat. 

Q. Why do we suffer? Why do I always suffer? How do I stop suffering?

A. Off the cuff, the root of all suffering is our ego and the great effort we take to protect it and build it.  The ego is super competitive.
It wants to feel good, and better than others--the ego wants to win.
Interestingly enough, I notice that I suffer whenever I feel superior or inferior.
I suffer whether I feel "right" or "wronged."
My suffering exponentially grows when I dwell on either scenario.
My theory is that this is because anything that is driven by the ego is not good for your soul.
When you crack the code on banishing the ego, you will experience everlasting joy and peace.
So to put this into practice, if you are able to make any and all experiences, whether good or bad just pass through--without clinging to it--without needlessly turning it over and over to examine it from every angle--you will eliminate suffering.
I think this can be done when we learn to surrender the outcome and establish the habit of gratitude.

Q. "The habit of gratitude" sounds very fadish and cliche. 
When life is awful, how is it even possible to be grateful? 

A. Take it or leave it. I have discovered that there is always something to be thankful for. And, get this, when you start focusing on that one thing that you can be grateful for, it starts to multiply. Joy begets joy.  Gratitude attracts more blessings and love to flow towards you. If all else fails and you feel you have nothing to be thankful, start by being thankful that you have eyes to browse the internet, and the ability to breathe.
The converse of this, is also true--complaining makes one more miserable.
When you open the door to hatred, you also let in other negative emotions such as jealousy, depression, selfishness and anger.
So, anytime you feel a negative emotion coming on--blast it away right away with a prayer or a grateful thought.

"Prayer is a concentration of positive thoughts."
~Peace Pilgrim

Q: What do you do when you suddenly get gripped with that anxiety loop. 
You know the kind, the one that replays in your head over and over that makes you kick yourself, blame yourself for not taking care of something sooner, for wishing you said something, or wishing you had not said what you said... The loop that keeps you up at night, or the loop that makes you want to sleep all day. The loop that makes you feel as if your heart is heavy or makes you feel insignificant. What do you do?

A: The very first thing I do once I realize what is happening in my mind is, I stop.
I almost imagine the sound of brakes screeching in my head. I stop. I put the sound of silence in my head. Try it. STOP. Experiment with making it quiet. It helps me to close my eyes and see black nothingness. I almost do an internal hum (no sound though)
Then I think the words: "God please help me."
Then once I am able to experiment with a few seconds of peace, I count breaths.
Sometimes 10 breaths. Sometimes more. It is not an exact science.
Then I imagine that my  mind is not IN my self but rather outside of me, watching myself.
I observe myself experiencing whatever it is I am experiencing...and with each breath, I imagine myself getting separated further and further away from the situation I am watching. More often than not, I become successful in letting go of whatever is bothering me.

Q. When that does not work, what else do you do to help you stop being bothered by something?

A: Like I mentioned in the previous question, I pray. Then I take the time to look deeper at what is actually bothering me. I have learned through various books and meditations, that often times when something is bothering me in real time, that what appears to be bothering me is not really what is seems.
Present day triggers merely remind us of unresolved or unhealed hurts.
So (I am not super successful yet) I take the time to try to remember why the hurt seems familiar.
Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don't. Either way, I don't repress the hurt.
I feel it with my entire body and then I let it take off without me. I let it go. Visualization helps.
I imagine setting my pain on a train and letting the train leave the station without me.
Try it right now with something that is bothering you.

Q. What is the secret to an enduring marriage?

A. In 2011 I stumbled across the biblical framework for an enduring marriage.
It is the Ephesians 5:33 Marriage Tool.  
The one that states that "each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband."
Ever since I started doing my best to follow this approach to marriage, our marriage experienced a significant makeover from the inside out.  The change in my marriage came at just the right time too, as in 2011, our first-born was becoming a teenager.  Truly, God was watching over us, as there is no way to withstand the teenage years with parents that do not love and respect each other.
While our marriage is far from perfect, it has gotten very much better.

Q.  How has the ego gotten mixed up with parenting?

A. Every single time we operate out of a desire for our kids to do "better than others" as opposed to
"becoming their best selves" you can be sure that the ego is involved.
When this happens, know that you are not parenting effectively out of love but rather you are parenting with the goal of winning.
You will suffer when you allow your ego to help you parent.
It all boils down to motives.
Good intentions, produces good results--(or at the very least, results that are meant to be.)
Evil intentions rarely produce the results that become good for the soul.

Q. Please explain further what this means: "it all boils down to motives."

A. Perhaps an example may help me explain this better:
It is not good for a parent to insist that their child takes piano lessons just so the parent can show off the child's talents.  The result of  the pride-clinging over talented child will eventually cause suffering to both parent and child.
If a parent's motives for insisting their child take piano lessons are so that their child develops their brain, learns to be disciplined and so they express themselves creatively--the parent will experience simple joy whenever they listen to their child play the piano--and more importantly, the child will experience this joy too.


"There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you.  The criterion is: have they brought you inner peace? If they have not then there is something wrong with them--so keep seeking! If what you do has brought you inner peace, stay with what you believe is right."
~Peace Pilgrim

Q. How do you deal with difficult people?

A. I have been asked this and I feel almost sheepish answering this because of the fact that most of the time I stay home. I don't leave my house unless I have to. But the rare occasion that I am exposed to difficult people or situations, I find myself automatically switching to prayer mode.
I also immediately remember The Four Agreements: I don't take things personally, I don't assume anything, I try to be impeccable with my words and I do my best.
While we can't always help how and whom we spend each moment of our lives with, we can certainly choose to make every encounter with other humans as best as can be by being kind.
For the toxic people though, I interact with them only as much as my own mental health can handle. If someone is difficult, self-referential or hijacks each encounter with their heavy demeanor, I give them wide berth.  I work on erecting healthy boundaries because in the long run, toxic people do not change if we keep actively participating in their drama.
Life is too short.

"Judging others will avail you nothing and injure you spiritually.  Only if you can inspire others to judge themselves will anything worthwhile have been accomplished."
~Peace Pilgrim

3.13.2015

Pad Thai


My Niece Erica is staying with us for a few weeks because she is doing a medical rotation with Steve.
She arrived last Sunday.
Erica has reported that she and my dog Pax have been bonding.
And, she and the girls have bonded over "crafts" as well.
Yesterday, Erica and G went on a run.
Halfway through the run they decided to stop and have waffles topped with whipped cream and strawberries.
I find that to be funny.
Speaking of food--
Erica's fiance` Brett,  and their friend, Ben stopped in for lunch today.
I made Pad Thai and Japanese fried rice for the four of us.
In honor of St. Paddy's day, we also had Green Plant juice infused with vodka after our meal.
Note to self: must not have an alcoholic beverage before working out.
Alc does not make exercise easier.
I know this.
Luckily my workout partner JB was understanding and patient as I whined my way through the whole routine.
It is Friday and Steve is up at the camp for the weekend working on stuff out there.
We couldn't go with him because this evening I shall go to church to attend G's Living Stations.
(That's the re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross done by the eighth graders of her school)
Plus tomorrow G plays her trumpet at some Meet the Maestro event downtown.
I don't really feel like stepping out this evening because I would much rather read a book.
But whatevs.
Tomorrow is Pi day. (3.14)
I think I shall defrost a pie.

Updated: Let me just say for the record that watching the eighth graders re-enact the Living Stations very solemnly and self-directed makes me so impressed with Sacred Heart Elementary School.

3.12.2015

In My Quest To Be Healthy, Every Step Counts. The Speed Is Irrelevant.


"Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future."
-1 Timothy 4:7