Family Circle ~ January 2014

Family Circle ~ January 21, 2014

The New Year has started off with a quick stride, leaving little time for our peripheral intentions to make the final cut on the to-do list. However, today, we were gifted a quiet day at home due to the snowy Winter weather.

While six to eight inches of snow sat awaiting redistribution in our driveway, we convened in our living room to connect and remind ourselves of the importance of holding space for one another to share this family experience. I didn’t want to let the month get away without recognizing January as a threshold for, not only a new year, but, the opportunity for new intentions; new visions; new energy.

We started with a few deep breaths… bringing our minds to the present moment. Then, as is customary at the onset of a new year, we discussed goals, or rather, our visions for the subsequent months ahead. With this visionary spirit, we opened the circle.

“May our minds work together to find mutual understanding. May I see you true and be seen in kind. May our words reveal more that they obscure. Most of all, may our minds, eyes, and tongues be guided by our hearts, and the language far older than words…”

These words gave us pause to reflect on those things from the past that we want to put to rest, and where we want to direct our energy as we renew our intentions for this year. During our discussion, we reminded the kids, and ourselves, through our words, and the insights of others, that our lives, are indeed, our own creation, and that the ultimate responsibility for our happiness lies in our own hands.

Next we watched a short YouTube video recently posted on the SpiritScience channel about “Source Energy.” This offered a few moments to discuss the interconnectedness of all things, and despite our individual responsibility to create our own experience, we, ultimately, all play a role in creation.

Lastly, we spent a few minutes, each writing our intentions for the year in our family journal, and reading an excerpt from a book, titled “Do One Thing Different,” by Bill O’Hanlon. The concept of small actions creating big changes is the premise, and the book contains some inspiring tidbits to jumpstart the process. We talked about the “stories” we tell ourselves about who we are, and how they often, have nothing to do with who we REALLY are, but are just residual energy from past experiences that we haven’t taken the time to filter properly, integrate if useful and discard, if not.

The table, now littered with flax cracker crumbs, sweetly-scented peels of clementines and colorful ballpoint pens, and aglow from the candles in our centerpiece, was itself, folding legs and all, the centerpiece of our family connection today. Its eclectic dishevelment and bits of inspiration and creativity were clearly outlined and encompassed by our five separate energies, thankful for connection, but eager to disperse our individual focuses once again.

Thus, with that, we closed the circle, reminding ourselves to be visionaries in our own lives and go forth into the New Year with consciousness, clarity and intention. With the Winter chill exuberantly dancing around our house, we will look to the Sun for inspiration.

Lion’s Call
Fierce Spirit of the Sun.
I call you into my life.
May I stand fearless in the protection of my community.
May I lead in balance knowing when to roar and when to walk nobly away from unneeded conflict.
May I learn the value of silence.

Waiting patiently for opportunity to show itself before taking action.
Invisible hunter, teach me to trust my instincts and my creative strength.
Lend me your clear vision that I might bring forth the gold hidden within my Self.

~~~
The light does not go out. It is transferred to each of us; to share and to hold, and to bring with us when we next return.

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Holiday Happenings 2013

Christmas Day 2013

Despite our household being besieged with coughing, stuffy noses, sinus headaches, and just general seasonal health hurdles, we have really enjoyed the season, thus far. December always finds us busy, sometimes overwhelmed by scheduling challenges, but always grateful for the abundance in our lives, including great community and family togetherness.

Joe's Birthday "Cake" 2013
Joe's Birthday 2013
Joe's Birthday Pizza

Joe’s birthday was on the 11th of the month, having him turn ELEVEN! Grandma gave him an nice new classical guitar, which we kept a surprise for weeks. He was quite excited. He also got some cash from Mom and Dad, a treat at Pure & Simple Cafe in Greencastle, time out on the town without his sisters to spend some of his cash at the toy store, and finally, his requested “fruit cake” and vegan, gluten-free birthday pizza! It was a great way to usher in his eleventh year!

Yule

We usually recognize Yule, or the Winter Solstice, with a family circle, special meal or treats and a gift. However, Darren and Joe were both sick on the 21st, and Flo was fighting a cold, so we just lit a candle and reflected on the seasonal shift, which was highlighted by the unseasonably warm first day of Winter.

We then opened a family gift, which was a nice pair of Bose speakers for our main computer in our living room, which is connected to our TV. We hooked them up and marveled at the improved sound quality. It was a brief celebration, but memorable. Then Darren, Joe and Flo went back to bed, Zofia went to Grandma’s house, and I got to work tidying up for a potluck we were hosting the next day.

To continue to foster the spirit of conscious community, health and plant-based living in the area, we hosted a vegan potluck with our MeetUp group again this year. We had a great turnout, and there was lots of delicious food and holiday cheer.

Yuletide Yum Potluck 2013
Yuletide Yum Potluck 2013

After our gathering, we spent the next couple days in our regular routine of music lessons, and daily activities. We did a couple last minute shopping trips for stocking stuffers and a gift for Bruno, the dog. Joe would have liked to take home another pet, but with the wisdom of my forty years, I knew this was not a gift in which I could indulge him. So, he pacified himself by checking out all the pet store critters and picking out a nice gift for his canine companion.

Pretty Bird

On Christmas Eve, even though Darren was still under the weather, the kids and I went to the Unitarian Universalist church for a little holiday community and caroling. It was bitter cold, but we took a ride afterwards to see all the holiday lights in people’s yards around town.

Christmas Eve 2013
Holiday Lights

Then, on Christmas morning, we all slept in until around 10am, before Joe woke us up, eager to open gifts. We leisurely woke up Flo and Zofia, and made our way downstairs.
The kids were happy with the thoughtful items we found for them this year, and we enjoyed watching them open the gifts.

Joe got a couple new Lego projects and a remote control Formula 1 car. Zofia was content with her bag of stocking stuffer goodies, and rainbow themed gifts of a sock monkey, teddy bear and new umbrella. We found things throughout the year for Flo, including a new pair of purple Doc Martens, a longboard skateboard and an electric ukulele. We also got some musical “family gifts” to share, as well, including several new djembe drums. Fun!

Stock Stuffers

After we opened presents, I made the kids gluten-free pumpkin pancakes, Darren and I nibbled on some of the “raw” goodies from our stockings, and we just sat around relaxing. In fact, the rest of the day was spent in this manner, with the exception of a short walk I took, with Flo, out into the frigid day, and, then, another stint out into the cold night, to tear down all the extra holiday cardboard for the recycling pick-up the next morning.

Now, with less than a week left in 2013, it’s time for rest and reflection. It’s time for renewal of commitments and dreams. And, it’s almost time to start the Wheel of the Year turning once again, for an opportunity to celebrate life by creating new experiences and memories! What will 2014 hold?

Happy Holidays and a Hope-filled, Inspiring New Year to all!

Family Circle ~ Thanksgiving 2013

Family Circle ~ Thanksgiving 2013

We had a nice day just staying home. We relaxed, connected with a family circle, drew funny pictures of turkeys, ate some yummy foods, visited with Grandma when she and Tom stopped by, watched some I Love Lucy episodes, made some grateful noise with drums and rounded out the day with Flo and I going to see the movie “The Book Thief” at 10pm at the theater down the street. Grateful.

For our Family Circle today, we took the opportunity to talk about gratitude, share memories and enjoy the slower pace of the day. I made some gluten-free muffins for the kids and some nut-free kale chips, so we had some goodies to share while we talked. I always appreciate the momentary simplicity of our family circles; the ability for us all to communicate in one spot, without the interference of technology; without the distractions of routine. It is a purposeful delineation of time and space, set aside for the five of us. I am grateful for the memories made today.

Harvest your wishes, harvest your dreams
Gather in stardust, reap the Moon’s beams;
All things are possible ~ but love the Earth first,
She feeds your hunger and quenches your thirst;
Life never ending of Autumn I sing,
Yes, winter cometh, but comes then the Spring
I sing of the season’s, Earth Mother’s great wheel,
Attune to the rhythm to harvest and heal. ~ Carnelian Prayer

~~~
If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough.
– Meister Eckhart

~~~
First, the Republican:
When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion.
— Abraham Lincoln

And then, the Democrat:
It’s remarkable how much you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.
— Harry S. Truman

This just highlights the commonality amongst all people, regardless of the lens through which they see the world.

Media Reduction Challenge

Techno Nannies

Photo of Joe and Zofia a few months ago at the
consignment shop, while Flo and I were shopping.

For the month of November, our family is embarking on a “media reduction” challenge. We already do not have cable TV or video game consoles, so mainly we are sending the kids’ tablets to Grandma’s house, and allowing fairly free access to the computers in the public areas of the house during the day, as long as things that need to get done, get done first. Darren and I don’t feel our computer usage is a major hindrance to family togetherness or productivity. However, we will monitor our usage, being mindful of our example.

Cell phones are a challenge. Of course, Zofia is too young, and Joe does have a cell phone, but rarely uses it. So, poor Flo is likely to feel the most despondent with the sudden shift in phone availability. Sprint Mobile Controls has a handy [paid] feature that helps parents monitor their kid’s phone usage, lock the phone during certain times, and get updates if new apps are installed, contacts are added, and when calls or texts are received. Rather than chasing my kids around to make them relinquish their phones, yet allowing them to use them when needed, it is easier to just set the status of their phone with the click of a button on mine. Ah, the power! No, I’m not a techno-tyrant. I’m perfectly happy to let my kids use their phones to connect with friends, as long as they are meeting their obligations and contributing to family life. It’s when handheld devices become divisive that they are not healthy; radiation and cancer risk aside. :-p

As parents know, children’s electronic devices often provide a sort of respite from the chaos, while everyone retreats to their respective corners to entertain themselves. This may not be ideal for fostering family unity and resourcefulness, but it is the situation for many.

I’m sure there will be some subtle withdrawal from the relatively liberal usage of daily screen time they’ve enjoyed. And, I’m sure the onset of boredom will come quickly, but will be overcome with equal haste. I’m armed and ready to shield myself from the initial blast of resentment, and fully equipped to engage the displaced energy, even if it’s at the expense of my own momentary desires.

We are not intending a full blown media black-out, simply reducing the opportunities for distraction, and increasing those for productiveness and creativity. As homeschoolers, time management is especially important, as we are often home all day, and it is easy for the kids to simply get sidetracked texting their friends, reading silly quotes on Facebook and watching less-than-educational YouTube videos.

Our goal is not to shun the use of technology or discount the benefits of social media. It is simply to moderate their usage to allow for a balance of other pursuits. And by challenging ourselves for a month, our intent is to bring awareness to our media usage and provide the kids some contrast to draw upon in the future.

I love a challenge. This should be interesting! I’ll be sure to keep some notes of our experience for a future update!

Family Circle ~ October 30, 2013

Family Circle ~ October 30, 2013

Once again, everyone was busy and it was hard to get us all in one spot long enough to relax and focus. But, we did succeed.

We started with a Three Realms Meditation called The Tree of Life.

Then, we asked for a little divinatory guidance, using Tarot, reflecting on our thoughts in our family journal.

Ancestors Altar

We created a little ancestors altar, with pictures of family members that have passed and a few seasonal mementos.

“Hail Dark Lady of the Crossroads,
of wisdom hard-won,
grant me Thy blessing, purify my heart,
and teach me the truth of my soul;
show me that death is but the gateway to life.
Blessed Be.”

Finally, we talked about our plans to minimize our media consumption for the month of November.

We closed the circle and all returned to our respective tasks.

Fall Reflections

Fall Reflections

Mabon, or the Fall Equinox, always inspires me to reflect on the ways in which my life is out of balance, and how to restore that balance; always understanding that balance is a process, not a perpetual state of being. The darkness and light are only equal (balanced) for a short time each year, yet it is part of the full cycle of life. And, to know balance, and live fully, one must experience imbalance, as well. Contrast is the catalyst for desire and understanding. I’m feeling blessed tonight and looking forward to rest, reflection, and restoration of my light during this cycle of darkness.

Family Circle – September 2013

Family Circle - September 2013

Since September signifies the beginning of the new “school” year, our theme for this month is Wisdom: The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.

We open our circle today with the intention and desire to continue our journey of lifelong learning. We ask for the guidance of wise spirits to help keep our focus strong, our minds open to new ideas, and our hearts prepared to grow and expand. We are grateful for the achievements and knowledge shared with us, and ask for blessings as we craft our own experience and contribute to the ever-unfolding circle of wisdom that embraces us.

We talked about the upcoming “school” year, and our homeschooling and personal goals.

Our niece, Samantha, is visiting from Ontario, so she also joined us in our circle today, too. We took a moment to send some healing energy to Poppy, Darren’s dad, who is in the hospital dealing with some serious health challenges.

In our family journal, we jotted down a couple things we’d like to accomplish by next Summer. These included lots of writing, creativity and relaxation.

We closed the circle today with a prayer for guidance: “Make me strong in spirit, Courageous in action, Gentle of heart. Let me act in wisdom, Conquer my fear and doubt, Discover my own hidden gifts, Meet others with compassion, Be a source of healing energies, And face each day with hope and joy.”

Joe's Circle in a Box

Afterwards, we had a little “art party.” Zofia’s been bugging me to get out the paints for awhile. So, since Samantha is visiting, and likes to draw and paint, too, it was a good time. Joe was grumpy and resistant to join in, but just a few dips of the brush in the creamy colored paints, and he was under the art spell. His masterpiece is the picture above; Circle in a Box.

Family Circle ~ August 14, 2013

Family Circle ~ August 14, 2013

We finally had time to hold space and have a family circle meeting. I can’t believe the Summer has almost passed us by! We wanted to have a circle before we leave on vacation next week, because when we get back the schedule picks up. So… today’s energy was good. In fact, the focus of our discussion was life cycles and the movement of energy.

We watched the newest Spirit Science YouTube video; Cycles N’ Sine Waves.
I was surprised how much this video spoke to my own feelings of being “stuck” with my energy and how to clear the obstructions and get in the flow of things. The video offered some good food for discussion.

We also discussed the “Characteristics of Thriving Children” from “The Celestine Prophecy: An experiential Guide” by James Redfield and Carol Adrienne. We plan to focus on these characteristics in future family circle meetings, as they are worth revisiting.

  1. “I am capable.”
  2. “I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed.”
  3. “I can influence what happens to me.”
  4. “My feelings are important, and I trust myself to learn from my mistakes. I have self-control and self-discipline.”
  5. “I can make friends. I know how to speak out, listen, cooperate, share, and negotiate for what I want.”
  6. “I can be counted on, and I tell the truth. Things don’t always go my way, but I can adapt when I need to.”
  7. “I try to solve my own problems, but I know that if I need help, I’ll ask for it.

“With such self-perceptions, the child is tremendously advantaged – because he knows that no matter what happens, he has the resources within himself to be a creative problem-solver. These beliefs represent some of the goals of evolved parenting that are touched upon in the Manuscript. By instilling the seven beliefs above in our children we give them the greatest gift possible. When they believe that they can make choices, learn what they need to know and change their lives, they will naturally be able to connect with the flow of energy. As they see how energy responds to their intention, they will attract more coincidences for themselves and make decisions based on being in the flow. Filled with energy and a higher degree of trust in themselves and in the universe, they will be more likely to find and fulfill their purpose.”

Our “food for thought” quote today was from the Ringing of the Cedars, Book 7: The Energy of Life by Vladimir Megre

“We have only but to turn away from the obtrusive, monotonous flood of information that does not allow Man to think about what is really going on, and we begin to doubt (to put it mildly) the ‘normality’ of the majority of the population of these so-called ‘civilised societies.’ We begin to look up on these societies’ chosen lifestyles as indicative of a schizophrenia disorder. Judge for yourselves.”

After our discussion, we wrote some of the cycles or themes we notice in our lives in our family journal. Through most of the meeting, Zofia kept asking, “Can we hold hands yet?” We hold hands at the end of our circle meeting to “close the circle” and say a prayer or something to sum up our intentions. Either Zofia really likes that ritual, or really just wanted to be done! I think maybe a little bit of both. 🙂

Power Outage and Energy Drain

Power Outage

I was still up at 2am, trying to get stuff done, when I heard a sort of explosion close to the house. And then it went dark. I was kind of freaked out, so I woke Darren up. After a few minutes, we deduced that, indeed, nobody was trying to break into the house, but the whole street was blacked out. So, Darren reported the outage on his cell phone. We finally got to sleep around 4am, and luckily, the power company was out by 8am or so, working on things. Luckily, we didn’t lose any food in the fridge, and Darren was to get online and work today. Phew! That was a long day! Now I have no energy, but the only fix for that is to go to bed!

Motherhood in the Trenches

Airport Drama

I thought I would record this little snippet of our experience today, because, I know, in twenty years, it will be funny. Today, it was simply a test of my mental fortitude and physical stamina.

The day started off with Zofia and I heading down to Dulles airport, around 11am, to pick up Flo, who was coming in on a 2pm flight from visiting her friend, Megan, in Montana. Joe opted to stay home, and skip the airport adventure, but Zofia had to come along. I was sure, unlike Flo’s departure, where we spent twelve hours in the airport after a missed flight, that her return would be less time-consuming, and Zofia would enjoy the drive. This was true. We stopped to get blueberries on the way at a farm stand, and talked about all sorts of interesting things on the way down. But, her previous fascination with the airport was promptly tempered by waiting in lines and a newfound fear of alternative modes of ground transportation.

Upon arriving at the airport about a half hour before Flo’s flight was due to land, we took our time meandering on in, and got to the baggage claim just as her flight landed. Great timing, I thought! And, wow, Flo’s bag was the first one off the plane, so I grabbed it, and we waited for her chaperon (a service which we paid extra for) to escort her out.

Not long after grabbing her bag, Flo called me on my cell, and told me I needed to come pick her up. Apparently, it was necessary for me to go through security to the gate to meet her and sign her out. So, I had to go upstairs to the United ticket counter to request a gate pass. We had to wait in line behind a military family, moving to Germany, that was checking in their family dog, and a large family, confused about their passports and needing to check an abundance of luggage. This took awhile, and Zofia was very interested in the several pets that were accompanying travelers. She repetitively prompted me to ask if she could pet the dogs while we were waiting in line.

Finally, gate pass in hand, we headed for security. The line wasn’t quite as long as it had been when we dropped Flo off, so that was a relief. We took a spot in line and began our wait. This is when I uttered the words that were the catalyst for the events to come. The people behind us were talking about the “train” that goes to the terminal. I then made the mistake of telling Zofia we were waiting in the line to go on the train (tram/bus thing) to the gate to meet Sissy. I thought she’d be excited. Wrong! She instantly protested and ran away from me!

Sympathetic onlookers in the line offered to hold my place while I went to retrieve Zofia. This was a test of my agility, as I made my way towards her, through the partitioned walkways, set up to keep travelers in line. I finally got a hold of her, only after two security agents cornered her on each side. Such drama!

Now, tugging Zofia along by her wrist, with her yelling and resisting, I returned to my place in line. We spent the next ten minutes waiting to get our pass checked, all the while with Zofia screaming and me trying everything to divert her attention. I felt sorry for the people around us having to endure it, but they probably felt the same about me.

When we finally arrived at the front of the line, and gave the employee our pass, Zofia was now in the middle of a full-blown meltdown. The lady was obviously irritated with us, and asked why Zofia’s name wasn’t on the pass. I told her because she’s five and she’s not travelling. I was just there to pick up my older daughter. She spent some time assessing me skeptically, as if I may be abducting this screaming child. And, who could blame her. Zofia was yelling, “No. I don’t want to go with you. I want to go home!” But, eventually, after consulting a few other employees, I was ushered through to security.

At this point, we got in another line, waiting to be cleared through security. Zofia was livid and inconsolable. While trying to hold her hand to keep her from darting away from me again, through the obstacle course of people and carry-on baggage, she was kicking and screaming and pinched and scratched my hand so hard she drew blood. But, I dutifully maintained my composure, and held fast to her arm.

We arrived at the security check, and had to remove our shoes to put through the x-ray machine. To say the least, now bruised and bleeding, and testing my physical endurance wrestling with a five year old for over a half an hour, removing her shoes was almost my breaking point. But, I persevered, and we made it through the metal detector without sounding any alarms. Well, other than the alarming cry of Zofia, still yelling, “I don’t want to go!”

Now through security, carrying Zofia, I continued on to the tram. This was the funny part. Well, it is in retrospect. The “train,” unlike the actual subway-like train we had taken (while Zofia was sleeping in her stroller) when we dropped Flo off at the airport, this was simply a bus that shuttled passengers to their gates.

As soon as she stepped on the the bus, Zofia looked around, and instantly relaxed her grip on my shirt, which she had practically succeeded in tearing off. She looked around, as if thinking, “Oh, this is just a bus!” We sat down, and she finally gave up resisting, and resumed her normal, generally pleasant, demeanor. I thoroughly enjoyed the four minute reprieve of our bus ride, while nursing my wound, and taking a few deep breaths, bracing myself for any aftershocks.

But, thankfully, the journey from here on out, aside from a little whining and complaining about having to walk too much, was uneventful. We successfully verified, that I was, indeed, authorized to pick up Flo, and we happily retrieved her and slowly headed home, through rush hour traffic.

Now, almost into tomorrow, relaxing before bedtime, I can reflect upon the day with humor and love for the little person that caused such a big commotion. Even in the midst of the crazy episode, I understood Zofia’s fear and her need, but unfortunately, could not accommodate her completely by going home without retrieving my other, equally loved, daughter. So, I had to do my best to accomplish the task at hand, without being detained by security, or falling to the floor and crying myself!

As they say, all is well that ends well. And, we now have a funny story to tell Zofia someday, maybe when she’s a young mom, engaging in the unscripted drama of parenthood herself. Incidentally, today would have been my father, Zofia’s grandfather’s, 69th birthday, and I swear, as I exited the airport, I felt him grin and congratulate Zofia for her successful execution of an endurance test!