Pictures recently came up in Facebook memories of my children at the annual Memorial Day ceremony performed in front of the elementary school behind my house. The patriotism displayed by the outfits, songs sung and flags held in the youth was inspiring to me. The pictures were so meaningful, I vowed to go to the school today to capture pictures of our current youth.
As I worked from home, I suddenly heard the Taps trumpet call blaring. I immediately grabbed my camera and ran to the school. I was heart-broken to find there was only a small group of children in attendance.
Apparently, today is also “standardized testing” day. The small group represented the kindergarteners not required to perform such tests. All other students were inside the school performing testing, which I imagine they will never remember taking. I am sure both of my kids have memories of the day in their youth when they gathered around the flagpole with classmates of all ages in camaraderie to honor those who served our Country to establish our precious freedoms.
While it was a disappointing moment, my sprint to the school was not a wasted trip. A beloved friend, Stephen Fowles, was there as part of the ceremonial event. I hugged him immediately. My neighbor, Quincy Police officer Bill Mitchell was also a warm, friendly face in attendance. I asked him to kindly snap a photo of myself and Steve.
I adore this man. People like him show up because it matters for us to recognize and appreciate all of the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans for our Freedom. It is unfortunate to me there was not better planning to allow all the children to experience what Patriotism feels like. The weekend has only just begun, so hopefully there will be other opportunities for them to do so.
If children are to be educated to understand the true principle of patriotism, their mother must be a patriot.
Roe vs. Wade. The ultimate decision that gave women the Choice to navigate the difficult waters of facing child birth. How long must we row before the light dawns and we wade out into new waters for our women and our children? Is the problem the Choice? Or is it about the conditions that lead a woman to Choose?
I was there once. A young 19 something with an aspiring career before me… and pregnant. It was clear to me that if I wanted the child, I would have to do it alone. The father wanted no part of the child or raising it. He already had 3 children and wasn’t doing much financially, emotionally or physically to provide for any of them. I KNEW it was going to be solely on me as the bearer of the child.
I saw no way for me to provide for the child. I mean, I could have given up my job, the only source of income I had to give the child an adequate future. Then what? Struggle to survive and provide some semblance of a poverty-stricken future for the child? It seemed irresponsible for me to choose to bring the child into such an existence. I chose to abort. I regretted it Deeply.
The problem was not that I didn’t want the child. I truly did. The problem was societal systems were not designed with a mom or a child’s need in mind. That needs to change. I watched my daughter raise her baby girl the first many months of my granddaughter’s life without any physical, financial, or emotional support from the father for reasons that are not important to go into here. I witnessed her reach a Choice point.
She was pregnant with a second child. I watched her tears of fears of how will she possibly do it with TWO children?!?! Despite those tears, I heard her say I cannot possibly give up this child’s life! Why? Because of LOVE. She so loved her own brother and appreciated all of their memories together as small children. She could not possibly selfishly steal the experience of a sibling from her daughter. She did not make the same mistake as me and I am proud of her Choice! I would not have this beautiful baby grandson had she not made the Choice for his life.
Here is the Right Choice. We can CHOOSE to do better for our women and our children. We can CHOOSE to make it affordable to raise children. We can CHOOSE to develop systems that are supportive financially and emotionally to the raising of a precious child’s life.
It is NOT an easy choice to stay at home and raise your children, struggle financially and often times have no other children to interact with unless you have another. Nor is it an easy choice to send your child off to day care to spend the majority of their day with another woman, or man, while you spend the majority of your time working to financially support the child with BASIC needs with the astronomical cost of daycare. Never mind all the extras we want to give our children so they can be well-educated, well-rounded children with a strong sense of WELL-BEING.
I once witnessed Marianne Williamson give an informal poll to the listeners at one of her campaign talks. She asked the question… “How many people in this audience are not having children because they cannot afford to?” The hands that went up were overwhelming to me. My heart broke for the women in the audience and men who also raised their hands alongside their partner whose other hand they held endearingly. We come here to experience the beauty of Life and to expand that experience for others. Yet the current environment is so difficult we have people whose only heart’s desire in life cannot even be realized… to have a child. I FELT the weight of their longing.
I think a “formal” poll needs to be administered posing the same question Marianne asked, along with other questions, such as what are the barriers to your ability to provide for and raise a healthy child. Let’s focus on the solutions to those poll questions. Let’s stop focusing on band-aid laws put into place to avoid lives being lost through illegal and legal abortions. Face it! They were happening illegally because women were facing a choice that seemed an irresponsible and impossible choice to make. Well, the SAME conditions exist today. Let’s BE responsible and make it Possible for families to flourish!
God brought me on a meditation many years ago. He does that sometimes. I closed my eyes and I saw myself. I watched myself from above. I was not myself as I am today. I was a little girl, innocent and pure. I was walking in a secluded field surrounded by tall pine trees filled with the beauty of nature. Even though the sun was shining intensely, the sky was still a bright blue. The colors of everything around me were so vibrant. The harshness of the bright sun washed away nothing. I was so happy.
I met up with other children in the field. We all seemed about the same age. They approached me from different directions. A honey haired girl came from the left. Then a blond haired boy approached from the right. Two other children came walking together from the center of the field, a honey haired boy and a dark haired girl. Like the field, none of us were tainted by the harshness of suffering in this world, not yet anyway. We were open, free and uninhibited. We were all so happy.
We joined hands in the middle of the field and began skipping around in circles like we were playing “Ring Around the Rosie”, but nobody was falling down, falling in, or falling out of the circle. We were solidly joined and content to be playing, laughing and smiling up at the sky and at each other. We all glowed with joy, just like the sun in the sky.
I saw birds of different colors flying overhead above us, like rainbows flying across the sky. I saw animals in the field all around us, going about their business, happy and content just like us. Even the blades of grass and the trees surrounding us were swaying in the breeze, seemingly dancing and filled with joy. It was like heaven on earth for every living being in the field.
Then I and the other children stopped skipping in circles. All at once, we ran to the center of the circle and lifted our arms to the sky. A flock of white doves flew up and out of the center of our raised hands like magic. They flew all around us and weaved their flight in and out of the spaces between us, like angels in flight. Heaven had joined us.
Then we broke from the circle. No words were expressed, but each of us started walking in different directions, filled with a sense of joy and curiosity. Each of us was on a search for something in the field. I instinctively knew when I found what I was supposed to be looking for. It was a pure, white feather. None of its hairs were stuck together. It was perfection. I was so happy I had found it, and yet it felt like I had been drawn to it like a magnet, sitting in plain sight at the border of the field, waiting just for me. I walked back to the center of the field to see what the others had found.
The blond boy who had been on my right was already standing in the center of the field. He looked so proud to have been there first. He had something cupped in his hands but I could not see what it was. He was waiting for the others to return to the circle. I looked into his eyes and they shined with glee and excitement for what he’d found and held protectively in his hands.
The honey haired girl then joined us. She had a leaf in her hand, but it was no ordinary leaf. It was a magnificent maroon colored leaf, laced with bright orange and flecked with gems that shined light like stars, even in the broad daylight. She was overjoyed with her magical leaf that seemed to reflect what was inside of her waiting to shine to the world. I felt a sting of jealousy that her object was so magical compared to my plain white feather, but I quickly pushed the feeling aside and expressed a genuine congratulatory loving smile her way.
Then the honey haired boy came slowly sauntering to the circle. He was holding a simple, gray rock. I pondered to myself why he would have such a boring object, but he seemed quite content with his rock. Then a realization came upon me that the rock seemed a lot like him, solid and steady, unmoved just like a rock. Still, I felt a stirring of pain as if he should have something more significant. Nonetheless, I was happy for him that he was content with who he was.
I then looked at the blond haired boy. He seemed like he could not contain his object anymore, but the dark haired girl had not yet come back to the circle. I looked up across the field and couldn’t see her anywhere. When the two honey haired children weren’t looking, the boy let me peek into his hand. My breath escaped me by what I saw. It was a beautiful baby bird, stark royal blue with white angelic feathers. I looked at him with great joy for what I saw inside his hands. He looked so proud and happy and I was so happy for him. I wasn’t sure if he let me see it because he wanted to let me in on his secret, or if it was an attempt to give the bird a moment of space to see out, as if trying to keep it comfortable and content for a little bit longer.
Then I glanced up across the field. The dark haired girl was coming towards us cradling something in her arms. It was a fluffy white-haired bunny with black splotches. It looked so content in her arms and she seemed so happy to be lovingly caressing that bunny. I sensed the girl and her beloved bunny had quite a lot in common in their journey of life, so soft and vulnerable, a nervous twitching, and an instinctive nature to hop from here to there in self-preservation. Yet here, in this moment, the two of them displayed perfect peace and ease being together, filled with love for each other. Again, I felt a pang of jealousy inside of me. Both the blond boy and the dark haired girl had found living objects and mine was just a left behind fragment of something living. Yet I was sincerely happy for her as well.
Now that we were all joined again, we turned our attention to the blond haired boy. He was struggling trying to contain the item in his hand. I looked into his eyes expecting to see the excitement I’d seen earlier but it was replaced with fear. He did not want to open his hands. I knew in an instant what he was feeling. It had dawned on him that the moment he opened his hands, the baby bird would fly away and he would be left with nothing in his hands. I sensed it was so important to him to have that little bird, to have a precious object of his own. It pained me to watch his internal struggle.
The others began to get anxious. They started to encroach and crowd in around him, excitedly trying to coach him to open his hands. It made him more nervous and sweat began to break out on his brow. I saw anger come across his eyes. My breath became trapped as I watched him tighten his grip on the little baby bird. I could tell he felt a momentary instinct to kill that baby bird rather than let the others smother it by their seemingly demanding demeanors in his state of fright. I glanced in his eyes that were now welling up in tears. I saw deep pain calling out to me wondering what he should do. Everything in him did not want to hurt that baby bird, it was so priceless to him. I gave him a reassuring look of love and understanding, and I prayed to the universe for him to do the right thing.
In a sudden moment, he opened his hands and the beautiful little bird flew from his hands circling all around his head and then landed on his chest. The boy was so happy and relieved that tears of joy fell down his face. It wasn’t just tears that were falling from him. All his fears fell away as he watched the bird flying freely and safe from the others, even from himself. The fear that he would be left empty handed was no longer. The bird had become his friend, content to be with him.
Then we all sat down on the ground and put our objects in front of us in the circle. Everyone looked so happy with their items and to admire the others. Genuine joy was felt by all for each other, except for me. I still felt a pang in my heart for the honey haired boy with his simple rock. I sensed the others were hiding within them a feeling that their objects were better than his.
Then the boy picked up his rock and calmly and playfully tossed it back and forth between his hands as if it was a ball. He glanced at each of us as if waiting for attention reservedly, yet not wanting to be the center of attention. When he knew we were all looking, he opened the rock and showed us all the intricacies inside. There were crystal gems glistening bright light. Then he closed the rock into his hands and it became just a rock again. Then he opened it again and this time there were layers upon layers of colors like sediments in the soil. Once again, he cupped the rock in his hands hiding it from view and when he opened it the last time, there were puzzles upon puzzles hidden within the rock and only he had the answers on how to put it back together. The boy knew all along what was hidden in that rock. Yet he sat there humbly holding it content to have a simple rock. He was no fool.
Then I looked at my plain white feather again and I felt left out. The honey haired girl and boys had their magical items. The dark haired girl and blond boy had their living animals and I just had a plain, white lifeless feather. It looked so insignificant now and it had seemed so special when I found it. Deep within me I felt a searing ache of pain, but I kept it well hidden. Something inside me said not to show it, to just be happy for the others and I truly was.
Then God spoke to me from the sky and from within myself. No one seemed to hear him but me. He said to me “My child, the feather IS your object and couldn’t be more you. It’s the feather of a white dove and doves represent peace in my world. That is what you bring, this is Who You Are, and this is who you have always wanted to BE. Each little hair of that feather is precious and fragile just as you are to me. So take good care of that feather and treasure it as I treasure you.”
I wept because God knew me so well, yet I did not. I did not recognize the value of my object, nor the value of me, but God had revealed it all. It now meant the world to me that he chose that white feather for me and I wept even harder in gratitude for a God that is so knowing and good.
Days later in real life I would find myself walking through the field at the Snug Harbor school behind my home. Sitting on the edge of the field in plain sight was a white feather… just like the meditation… waiting for Me.
HARMONY. That’s the ONE word that expresses the world I wish to live in. Yes… I want to LIVE. I’m tired of existing in a rat-race, broken system where people want to get off the wheel, feel trapped in cages, or powerless to do anything of their own might to fix the system. It’s time to break people free of the cages, and not just the literal ones holding kids on the US / Mexico border. Yes, that’s still happening.
I SEE a world where people are happy and thriving because they are giving and caring and working toward a collective common goal: Our Re-Creation.
I SEE a world where we can LIVE in Harmony with our inner selves, nature, and humanity at large.
We’ve had the Renaissance
We’ve had the Reformation
We’ve had the Revivals
We’ve had the Reconstruction
We’ve had the Revolutions
How about we try something new? I believe it is time for our Re-Creation and our Recreation… “Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings. ~Led Zeppelin”. Yes, words matter. So do feelings.
Creation: The act of bringing the world into ordered existence.
The world exists but is so disordered. It is time to get organized. Collaboration is KEY in the 21st Century.
Recreation: (rec-re-a-tion) An act of leisure.
The need to do something for recreation is an essentialelement of human biology and psychology. FUN!!!
When I hear the word recreation, I think of a place I spent summers as a child. “Recreation” was offered for children in the town of West Bridgewater, Massachusetts to spend the day in a safe, enjoyable environment while parents went off to work or took a break from child care.
As an introvert, I do not do well in groups, but I LOVED recreation. There was something for everyone to have FUN! There was sports for the natural athletes, crafts for the natural creatives, and field trips galore to lots of fun and educating places! At the end of each day, you got to take one piece of candy from a big pail and that ONE piece was enough. I loved the root beer barrels.
I still FEEL warm and fuzzies inside when I think of those summer days in my youth playing outdoors at “Recreation”. I knew what FUN was then. It was simple things like a piece of chalk, a jump rope, or even just my hands and another willing person to play “Oh Lady Mack”. As an adult, I now find FUN challenging. We have lost focus on the things that made us FUN people. We have phased out things like music, art and sports in school budgets where the process of creating FUN and collaborative exploration of our human potential all begins.
Warm and fuzzies is what I want it to FEEL like as we re-create us. We don’t need to tear down and start from scratch. We just need to remember and reconnect with the goodness that we already ARE. We don’t need to race to win. We need to relax and re-focus our Vision.
Here are three examples of what I imagine is possible in a Harmonious World. What do you imagine is possible?
Harmony in the Schools
It looks like “Recreation” did. Learning through ALL modalities inside and outdoors, exploring through field trips and hands on experience, but better than “Recreation” because it is not about childcare, it’s about child investment. It’s about exposing children to everything we have to offer of Value so they can find their way. It’s about allowing children to discover their place of Value in our World by fostering their natural inner strengths and gifts to come forth. Every one of us has a gift. No longer will it be a misfortune that some of us never get to shine and show it.
It truly breaks my heart to think of the children who are happy, joyous and free in elementary school who later on in middle and high school, realize they do not have what it takes academically. I have watched what has happened to some of my children’s friends. It is not pretty. I believe we lose many children to their own loss of self-worth and inner sense of Value because we focus too much on academic skills. It’s an unnecessary tragedy and an expense on society in more ways than one.
In a re-created World, the joker on the playground is of the same Value as the introverted thinker. The joker does not want to get deep and serious. They want the analytical folks to handle that role. The introvert has no desire to be in the spotlight making people laugh and they SO need the jokers to help bring them out from their depths to laugh.
I see a world where the jokers are working collaboratively to create the greatest scripts to make the World laugh! I see people leaving theatres after a comedy with bellies that hurt from laughing so hard. Do you remember the last time that happened? Does it happen once a decade for you? Not even? Wouldn’t it be great if you got the Value you paid for your ticket and it happened EVERY time? Such things are possible with collective collaboration and holding dear the Value of making people laugh. Everyone knows Laughter is good for the soul!
Harmony in the Work Force
It is not about trying to get “ahead” of the other guy. It is about showing up where YOUR Value is and serving it Completely. It is about feeling connected to a collective, co-created goal like parts of a clock needing to work in synchronicity for the clock to strike the next hour. No ONE piece is any more important than another. They are ALL necessary components for the clock to work.
When we invest in our world’s infrastructure, the engineers and the laborers should hold the same Value. No engineer wants to do the hard physical work of a laborer and no laborer wants to understand the complexity of engineering a bridge, but in order for humanity to get from Point A to Point B, both roles are essential and should be compensated accordingly.
Harmony in Capitalism
We need to re-create what it means to be a Valued corporation, Valued employee, and Valued customer. “Earnings” calls need to become about more than “earnings”. They need to become “Value” calls. For those who may not be aware, “Earnings” calls happen regularly to update investors about the financial state of a business. We need to re-shape these calls into a more well-rounded assessment of a business where Five Factors of Value are deemed equally important, including:
Financial Health: This remains important but is no longer the primary indicator of Value. It is unrealistic to expect companies to continually be on an upward growth path. There is something to be said for consistency, and even setbacks that taught us something. We need to understand there are perhaps caps in what a company can contribute to our capitalist system and plan and adapt for it. How many business have reached their cap and then started to cut quality and increase demands on their workforce only to suffer as a result and go out of business, including companies and services we once valued?
Quality, Quality, Quality: There can be no more reducing quality in order to force numbers in an upward climb for investors. We offer products and services we Value and we Value it because Highest Quality is the expectation and NO less.
I cannot tell you how many products I’ve bought with defective packaging from top name companies whose products I value. I’ve also experienced numerous phony internet scams where I’ve been duped into purchasing products I truly would have valued that never came or were nothing like what I ordered. I’ve experienced internet services riddled with bad business practices and fraud. These things cannot continue.
Independent companies should perform audits to measure this Factor but not just to tell a company what’s wrong. They also should provide recommendations and coaching on how to improve. The audits are in no way fear-based and are entirely to help the company be all it can be. A company should have sufficient time to review and respond to the audit and their corrective action plan can weigh into the overall measurement of this Factor.
The Worker: We truly care about showing up to our roles because we stand behind our company and it’s products or services. We are motivated, productive and enthusiastic because we’re doing what makes us happiest to contribute to society. We are Valued by our employers and they compensate us accordingly.
There are ratio caps in the capitalistic pay scale for CEO to Entry Level employee. If a CEO wants to give themselves a $5 million raise next year, fabulous! The standard ratio needs to remain in effect with a raise of proportional size distributed to the entire workforce accordingly. This provides CEOs with the Best and Highest Valued workforce making their company excel and motivating employees to contribute in that shared goal.
Stock options are not a thing. Stock grants are standard annually to all employees based on the financial health of the company the prior year. Everybody wants to do more, be more and thrive more collectively.
Finally, ethics policies are something that go both ways. A company will be ethically responsible for abiding by fair compensation ratios and providing you with the best health insurance available regardless of health conditions. We are proud to work for companies and they treat us right, even when life’s challenges come our way, because we contribute our Valued time and share our Valued skillsets. We are never asked to withhold or keep secret the unethical business practices of a company for protection purposes. The “See something. Say something.” rule is followed up with action towards changing what is unethical, not sweeping it under the rug or hiding it. Transparency and Truth need to matter… even the ugly Truth. Awareness and admittance is simply adult accountability and the first steps required toward change.
We review our employers anonymously through an independent third party contractor to measure the Value companies are providing for their workers, and to allow workers to safely express if they are still doing what they Value. Growth and transitions are carefully planned for and encouraged, including transitioning to another company if you’ve outgrown what the company or position offers. There is NO holding anyone back from fulfilling their Highest dreams because achieving those dreams helps the collective.
The Customer: The customer Values us and our products. They want to keep coming back for more because we offer the Highest Quality. They experience happy, enthusiastic people who are doing what they LOVE and being compensated appropriately for it.
We Value those customers by offering them annual stock grants or purchase incentives based on a ratio of their purchases history the prior year. This motivates customers to capitalize on their own investments in the growth of the wonderful company they Value. They’ll want to keep purchasing!
In order to get their incentives, customers simply need to provide a review. The reviews are used as a measurement of satisfaction and Value being offered to customers. It should not matter if the review is negative or positive. All feedback helps a company deliver higher quality and better service. There are plenty of great review systems already available to us. Those need to become more than informational and be deemed true Value ratings.
Philanthropic Contribution: Every company is expected to contribute in their community or to the World at large. There is so much that needs repair in our World. It is up to US to get to work. ALL of us. Every worker should have a paid volunteer opportunity to contribute their heart’s calling to the healing of our World. Even the retired can choose an opportunity to serve and receive tax breaks. I sure do miss the old lady whose only job at Walmart was to stand at the entrance and happily say “Welcome to Walmart!”
Volunteer work is where we connect to our goodness. It is where we re-connect with compassion and love by showing up where help is dearly needed and appreciated. Maybe some folks really connect to nature and can help clean up the earth. Maybe some don’t have an 8 year psychology degree but people love to tell them their problems. Their listening, compassionate, gentle-mannered demeanors might make them great people to assist with the ever growing mental health crises in our country.
Reviews should be submitted by both the volunteer and organization served to assess the Value the company provided in the volunteer opportunity. Heart Happiness should be the scale of measurement. All of us want to be helped in some way and all of us have gifts to share. When we take the time to reconnect with our selfless selves through service, we reconnect with a meaningful part of ourselves where we feel like we Matter. That makes us Feel better and Be better people and workers. It’s a simple domino effect.
Where do we start? Well for starters, I suggest we abolish our own tax loopholes. How many of you get statements from “Delaware” corporations? None of them pay taxes. That’s right. The news seems to focus on illegal offshore tax shelters, but what about the fact our first state is a tax shelter for businesses who don’t do business in the tiny state of Delaware if they incorporate there. Frankly, I’m not sure there’s even enough real estate there for them to do so. Think your BIG name companies paying ZERO taxes. All companies should be contributing at the same base tax rate with incentives for breaks solely based on how the company is performing with the Five Factors of Value. Those with the highest scores on all Five Factors of Value should receive the most tax breaks for exemplifying and making possible the Harmony we all desire.
The financial crisis dramatically exposed the dangers of what I call the lie of scarcity: the mindset that tells us we can never have enough and drives us to drive above all and against all for more and more. ~Lynn Twist, The Soul of Money
Perhaps the idea of scarcity exists because we were hell bent on super-sizing everything. I think we have confirmed “It is the Little things that Matter”. Now it’s Time to Act upon what we learned and Re-Create our disordered World into one where Harmony reigns because we desire it, deserve it, and deliberately choose to make it happen no matter how challenging the transition.
I, for one, do NOT believe in the lie of scarcity or limitations. I believe when we all contribute our Fair Value and work together, there is NO limitation in the World we can Re-Create. I see a symphony of souls moving towards a shared goal of Value in all that is Good IN us and FOR us because we are being led by our moral compass and not the Almighty Dollar. We FEEL we are Enough, and there IS enough for Everyone because we are focused on having just Enough… like ONE piece of candy. Everything is flowing like a synchronistic stream of energizing music propelling us towards a World where we LIVE for the Highest and Best for ALL.
Every one of us wants the same things deep down, and I believe that is to LIVE, not exist, in Harmony with other living beings and our planet. Matter is what we ARE. Matter we do. I desire to re-create our World in such a way that we actually FEEL like we Matter. ~Debra
Our household was like a war zone last night. My kids were treating each other absolutely atrociously. They were screaming at each other at the top of their lungs and calling each other vile names. It was so upsetting. In an attempt to regain order and peace in the house, I stepped in. Much to my regret, I added only more anger to an already chaotic situation.
When all was said and done, I grounded them and told them if they could not communicate with each other properly, they could not communicate with others. I removed all cell phones, laptops, xbox live, ipods, etc. they use to text and talk with the outside world. Of course, this was not received well at all. All kinds of remarks were hurled at me… making me feel like as a parent… I have completely lost control (as if we ever really have any right?).
As I went to bed, I pondered the whole situation realizing that some of those remarks hurled at me were in fact true. How could I expect my children to treat each other with love when they’ve witnessed very little of that between their own parents lately? How could I expect them not to lose their temper and display anger towards each other when I was capable of doing the very same thing in my attempt to regain order?
Then other questions came to my mind…
How could I expect them to improve their communication by taking away all their means of communication?
Am I asking too much of an 11 and 12 year old to have a healthier relationship when they are siblings and probably need to be able to vent their anger somewhere?
How healthy is it really to ask your kids not to display such anger for each other if that is truly what they are feeling?
How unhealthy is it for them to repress these emotions for fear of losing their stuff or to fake happiness with each other in order to earn it back?
Don’t we already have enough problems in this household with people being unable to express their feelings and those feelings not being heard?
How effective am I really being here by diminishing such opportunities because the feelings are simply ugly?
And finally… God, how do I make this better… what can I do differently?
After my meditation this morning, an idea came to me which I’m hoping was a gift from God… an answer to prayer. I decided that in order for my kids to earn their stuff back, I was going to have them do an exercise. I wanted it to be a journaling exercise that would allow them to get in touch with their feelings and to really feel them and express them… to discover what was behind their anger…. to challenge them to look at themselves… and to put an intention in black in white about how they could do things differently.
So I asked them to each get a notebook and a pen. While they were doing that, I asked God to PLEASE direct me on the questions I should ask them. I then asked them these questions one by one…
What are all the things that bother you about the other person?
Why do these things bother you?
How does it make you feel that the other person does this?
How does it make you feel when you express your anger towards them in return?
What good things do you see in the other person? (they both said nothing and refused to write)
So I asked… what would you miss if the other one was gone?
What can you do differently to express your anger in a healthier way?
How are you going to treat each other better in the future?
When we were done, I asked them to exchange notebooks and read what the other one wrote. Neither could decipher each other’s writing so I volunteered to read their answers to each other one question at a time (another blessing by God I think).
Well let me tell you… it was an experience for all three of us!!! While both children had done the writing with total attitudes, a hesitation to be open to the other in any way, and a conviction they were still in a place of justified anger for the other… it all began to melt as I read their answers and added my own insight to what I was reading on the paper… to what I saw they were really both saying… since they are much too young to understand that behind their anger is pain and hurt.
It was just so sad to read it and I tried to keep myself composed emotionally as I read and conveyed what I saw. Rebecca was angry with Frankie because he stares at her and he is loud playing his video games and will never let her play with him. Frankie was angry with Rebecca because she makes fun of him when he looks at her and she threatens to humiliate him and tell people about his Tourette’s if she doesn’t get her way.
So I explained first to Frankie that what I see is that Rebecca cares about you and just wants to spend time with you and alligator tears began to form in his eyes. Then I explained to Rebecca that Frankie cares about you and wants to look at you and Frankie’s began to cry harder. Then I said… what I see is they both have a desire for connection with each other and love each other and Rebecca began to cry. All of this was too much for me and broke my heart as I realized that I am living in a household full of people who just want love and connection to others and cannot seem to have it with each other and it broke my heart and I began crying too.
After I was done explaining the rest of their answers, I told them they had one final exercise to complete in order to get their stuff back…. that they had to do the 30-second hug therapy which we had all seen posted on Facebook. It was a video of two young kids whose father had made them hug for 30 seconds as therapy, which seemed like an eternity to me watching it, and was so touching.
I had asked my kids to do this the last time they had a brawl and they flatly refused but this time, it was a condition of getting their stuff back so they were willing. I told them I would only do 10 seconds (my thought was eventually to work up to 30 seconds if we needed to do this again). As the seconds clicked away, I couldn’t get enough of seeing them hugging. Since they couldn’t see the timer and are too young to be really aware of time, I let the timer go… and go… and they got their 30 second hug therapy without even knowing it.
So long and short, my kids have their stuff back. I have no idea if any of what I did will change their behavior. But for me… the miracles that happened were that both my kids were crying… in touch with their feelings… expressing them not repressing them… and the feelings were sadness not anger… a longing for love and connection… not hatred… and they each got the opportunity to be heard, even if it was through the voice of their mother…. and finally… watching them have a piece of that loving connection in that 30 second hug.
May God please guide, bless and direct my family every day… as he did today.