On unconditional love

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How to Give Unconditional Love When You Didn’t Get It Yourself

“The key is unconditional kindness to all life, including one’s own, which we refer to as compassion.” – David R. Hawkins

All parents know that children need unconditional love to thrive. But how can we give our children something many of us haven’t really experienced?

The answer is that each of us CAN experience unconditional love — by giving it to ourselves. We do this by actively, thoughtfully, accepting our selves — imperfections and all. When we miss the mark of our own standards — as we all do, all the time — we give ourselves a compassionate hug, and resolve to give ourselves better support so we can keep moving in the right direction.

Compassion — whether it comes from inside or outside — gradually moves humans from a state of being “self-centered” to a state of being “centered in self.” Researchers say this deep self-love is the opposite of selfishness.

We become so secure in our ok-ness that we’re more emotionally generous. Anger and defensiveness begin to melt away. That lens of love softens our judgment of ourselves, which in turn makes us more loving. We’re happier people — and more peaceful parents.

Here’s how:

1. Commit to radical self-compassion. Think of this as parenting yourself in a loving way through all the trials and tribulations of life. As Anne Lamott says, “Take yourself through the day as you would your most beloved mental-patient relative, with great humor and lots of small treats.”

Why radical self-compassion? That’s the unconditional in “unconditional” love, which means loving yourself deeply regardless of your flaws. It’s easy to approve of perfection, but humans are never perfect, so you’re bound to make mistakes. Love yourself anyway! That’s the only way you’ll be able to love your child unconditionally. Just snap at your kid? Take a deep breath and soothe yourself; then you’ll be better able to repair things with your child.

2. Make repair and connection a way of life. We need seven positive interactions to every negative interaction to keep a relationship in good shape. When your child hurts her sister’s feelings, you help her find a way to make up, to repair the rift she’s created in the relationship. So when you create a rift with your child, you do a variation of this: Offer your child a heartfelt apology, find a way to reconnect and repair, and create seven positive interactions. This not only repairs your relationship with your child; it repairs your own self-love. By creating positive interactions with your child now, you’re healing whatever you wish you hadn’t done or said in the past – so you automatically stop beating yourself up about your past mistakes.

3. Experiment with a mantra to retrain your mind. When you change your thoughts, your feelings become more forgiving, and more loving. Use your mantra as often as possible, so it’s more likely to pop into your mind when you’re under stress. Some of my favorites:

I am more than enough.
She’s acting like a child because she is a child.
This is not an emergency.
I’m the role model for my kids.
Whatever happens, I can handle it.
My kids will be ok. They need me, not a perfect mother.
He’s acting like this because he needs my love.
If you remember this in a year, you’ll be laughing about it.
He’s a little person who’s feeling desperate.
I’m the grownup here.
Kids need love. Especially when they least deserve it.
I breathe in love. I breathe out love.

4. Meditate. The Buddha said that one of the main benefits of meditation is that it creates unconditional friendliness toward the self — in other words, unconditional love for yourself. Research shows that even ten minutes of meditation every day makes a huge difference in your ability to stay calm. That’s because it actually changes your brain — for the better, and permanently! Why not try it? (I know, because you’re a parent and you don’t have ten minutes. Maybe try letting the kids listen to an audio book (which is good for them!) while you listen to a meditation audio?

5. When you lose it, find a way to use it. Instead of berating yourself when you make a mistake, resolve to learn from it. Ok, so you lost it and screamed at your child. Stop beating yourself up. Calm yourself down. Apologize (and resist the urge to make it your child’s fault.) Now, how can you make this a less-frequent occurrence? Start bedtime earlier? Give yourself five minutes with a cup of herb tea before you start the bedtime routine? Post a schedule to make evenings run more smoothly? Have a rambunctious play session every day before dinner, so the rest of the evening feels calmer and more connected? Commit to spending “special time” with each child every day, so they aren’t running on empty? Commit to exercising or meditating, even for twenty minutes a day? Just do it.

Hard? Yes. You’re creating love out of nothing. Transforming dross into gold. Learning to love yourself is the hardest work there is.

But you’re worth it.

And so is your child.

(A repost by Anne.  Not entirely sure where it comes from originally, but respect and recognition to the person who was insightful enough to write it.)

 

From Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs

How angry am I? You don’t want to know. Nobody wants to know
about that.
I’m a good girl, I’m a nice girl, I’m a straight-A, strait- laced, good
daughter, good career girl, and I never stole anybody’s boyfriend and
I never ran out on a girlfriend, and I put up with my parents’ shit
and my brother’s shit, and I’m not a girl anyhow, I’m over forty fucking
years old, and I’m good at my job and I’m great with kids and I
held my mother’s hand when she died, after four years of holding her
hand while she was dying, and I speak to my father every day on the
telephone—every day, mind you, and what kind of weather do you
have on your side of the river, because here it’s pretty gray and a bit
muggy too? It was supposed to say “Great Artist” on my tombstone,
but if I died right now it would say “such a good teacher/daughter/
friend” instead; and what I really want to shout, and want in big letters
on that grave, too, is FUCK YOU ALL.
How angry am I? You don’t want to know. Nobody wants to know
about that.
I’m a good girl, I’m a nice girl, I’m a straight-A, strait- laced, good
daughter, good career girl, and I never stole anybody’s boyfriend and
I never ran out on a girlfriend, and I put up with my parents’ shit
and my brother’s shit, and I’m not a girl anyhow, I’m over forty fucking
years old, and I’m good at my job and I’m great with kids and I
held my mother’s hand when she died, after four years of holding her
hand while she was dying, and I speak to my father every day on the
telephone—every day, mind you, and what kind of weather do you
have on your side of the river, because here it’s pretty gray and a bit
muggy too? It was supposed to say “Great Artist” on my tombstone,
but if I died right now it would say “such a good teacher/daughter/
friend” instead; and what I really want to shout, and want in big letters
on that grave, too, is FUCK YOU ALL.
Don’t all women feel the same? The only difference is how much
we know we feel it, how in touch we are with our fury. We’re all furies,
except the ones who are too damned foolish, and my worry now is
that we’re brainwashing them from the cradle, and in the end even the
ones who are smart will be too damned foolish.

Music and cookies

This song came to mind during our discussion Saturday night. There isn’t an official video, so the link is to a still photo of trees while the song plays(!):

We’ve probably all heard the sentiment before, but I don’t mind hearing it again in this song. Looking for it has reminded me how much I love Poi Dog Pondering; their first two albums especially are so full of life and wonder and beauty and accordions and fiddles! If you don’t check them out immediately, I may have to make you all mix tapes for Mother’s Day!

And here is the recipe for the banana/oat cookies. They really are stupidly simple to make but (I think) pretty darn tasty.

2 overripe bananas (if you don’t have 2 going at the same time, you can freeze them for later use)
1 cup oats (I put mine through the food processor for a smaller “grain”)

Mix the ingredients together, then bake on a well-greased or lined baking tray for 12-15 minutes at about 175C. They don’t spread out, so I sort of rounded them off. In my experience, they stick really badly, even with baking parchment, so greasing might be better.

I added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and some milk/dark chocolate chunks. I haven’t tried yet, but have read that you can also add: cinnamon, raisins, dried fruit, walnuts, brown sugar, sea salt, coconut flakes or pecans. You can also make them with pureed pumpkin or peaches instead of banana, or add a dollop of Nutella or peanut butter.

I hope you find the song and the cookies nourishing!

Laura x

Our Tarot cards this evening

Josephine’s:

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Laura’s & Eleanor’s:

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Amy’s:

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Anne’s:

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Britt’s:

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Posted by Britt. <3

Our Tree Chalices

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Posted by Britt. <3

The Wild Rose by Wendell Berry

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart.

Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

Posted by Britt. <3

The birth of the Milky Way by Tintoretto

The birth of the Milky Way by Tintoretto

I saw this in the National Gallery when A. was just six months old. I had never been a lover of naked divinities or mother/son duos in paintings but for some reason this one really hit me. I kept going back to it again and again.
(Eleanor)

A new mother being created along with her child…

This body was made to mother you, but I didn’t always know this.  Deep in a night when the moon was dark, this body joined with another and together they created a spark within my womb and that spark was you.  I felt that spark, knew it, a woman’s knowing of life arriving within.

 
This womb nurtured and nourished you, cradled and protected you. This belly swelled and grew and told the world that here was a new soul, precious and life changing. That here was a new mother being created along with her child. This belly rippled and danced as together we flowed from moon to moon.  
 
Early morning and this body announced you were heading earth-side.  Energy rippled through me, through this womb as you made your birthing journey.  These hips rocked to an ancient rhythm and when the moment came this body roared you out, like every other mother there has ever been, generation after generation. Instinctive and primal, this body opened up and birthed you into waiting, loving hands.
 
In that moment I knew this body was made to mother you.  These arms were made to hold you, your body a perfect fit against mine, skin to skin, heart to heart.  These hands to touch you, to trace every feature and commit it to memory. These eyes to look into yours and say we belong to each other.  Every sense breathing you in, this body will know yours always and forever.
 
These breasts were made to nourish you, to comfort you, to pillow your downy head in sleep.  You instinctively seek them out, clinging on to my clothes, my hair.  You suckle furiously and wait for the rush, your eyes closing, you snuffle and mutter your milky dreams against my skin.
 
I remember a younger version of me, the version that didn’t know it would want you one day.  The version that didn’t like this body very much.  That girl didn’t know then that she would be proud of what her body could do.  That she would be proud of the silvery marks on her skin that tell the story of motherhood.
 
As you grow and change, this heart finds joy in every smile and yet mourns the passing of the days.  We talk of everything and nothing, I mutter comforting nonsense into your ears.  I sing to you of starlight and moonshine and dreams.  As we lay together in the half light of early morning, as my body nourishes you at the breast, I know that every part of me, was made to mother you.
 
 A beautiful and true post by Awen Clement, who blogs at Wild Magpie.
 
Posted with technological ineptitude by Anne who can’t figure out how to link to the original blog.  With love.

A glimmer…

… of light.

Hope you are all feeling some sunshine in your hearts in this stormy season. Ages ago I promised to post some of the resources we used for our session on light. So, here is the chalice-lighting verse:

Come we now out of the darkness of our unknowing
and the dusk of our dreaming;
Come we now from far places.
Come we now into the twilight of our awakening
and the reflection of our gathering.
Come we now all together.
We bring, unilluminated, our dark caves of doubting;
We seek, unbedazzled, the clear light of understanding.
May the sparks of our joining kindle our resolve,
brighten our spirits, reflect our love,
and unshadow our days.
Come we now; enter the dawning.

Makes my fingers tingle, that one.

And here is the enchanting music of Liam Ó Maonlaí. By way of introduction, I should say I’ve been listening to this beautiful song since age 14 and it has always sounded fresh, yet ancient and evocative to my ears. Someone in the group (sorry I can’t remember who) suggested there were religious overtones to the title ‘Saved’. I suppose knowing Liam and his music, I know that any religion would be of the earth embracing, spirit moving sort, rather than anything that required submission to someone else’s theology. ‘Saved’ has never sounded that way to me. It sounds more like an affirmation of rightness, what you are doing is right, how you are doing is right, continue on. The ultimate reassurance.

Posted with love by Anne (in case you didn’t guess).

On Parenting by Rob Delaney

“Perhaps you’ve heard that having kids makes your heart grow in size. This is true, but the growth isn’t neat. Think of it this way: if your heart were a house, having kids doesn’t put an addition on your heart; it explodes your heart with dynamite stolen from a local construction site and then tasks you with rebuilding it five times larger out of the remains you find where your house once was, plus any miscellaneous garbage that might be laying about, some road kill and a few truck loads of silt from the nearest river.”

This is from a piece about having sons, and about examining your reaction upon learning the sex of your child and the gender preconceptions we all hold…which is excellent .
Full blog post here.

<3 (posted by Britt)

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