By The FIRM Master Instructor Marguerite O’Brien
While I try to be mindful of the blessings in my life and give thanks on a daily basis, there are times when I am humbled by life’s circumstances and my gratefulness is magnified. I’ve had several experiences recently that I wanted to share with you, in hopes that they will inspire you to take a moment to be present to what is going on around you and give silent thanks for every blessing.
“This food comes from the earth and the sky. It is a gift of the entire universe and the fruit of much hard work; I vow to live a life which is worthy to receive it.” — Grace of the Bodhisattva Buddhists
At the beginning of every yoga class, while we’re sitting in sukhasana, my yoga teacher always says to “give silent gratitude for all the blessings in our lives.” And, even though I am mentally not quite “there” yet — I’m still trying to find my “sit bones” and thinking about my grocery list and how I forgot my daughter’s gym shoes and did I shut the garage door? — usually, I do it. Images of my kids’ faces and my cozy brick house flash through my mind, and if I take time to really think about it (and not about the location of my cute new flats that I hope the dog isn’t eating right now), I realize I have so much to be grateful for: my close, loving family, my friends, my health, my readers, my Dutch oven, fire-roasted Hatch green chilies, pasture butter and the fact that I am rarely hungry.
It usually takes me seven minutes to get to my daughter’s preschool. Today, it took 27.
That’s because, for the first time in 18 months, I strapped my 11-month-old son into the double stroller and walked there.
I like to walk. Our family of four has one car, and in the two years that we’ve owned it, we’ve only put 14,000 miles on the odometer.
I’m not alone. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors, nearly 80 percent of respondents look for homes in pedestrian-friendly areas and 59 percent would choose a smaller home if it meant less driving.
Still, I find that once I’ve gotten into the habit of driving someplace — my daughter’s preschool, the Trader Joe’s on the other side of the highway, the garden store — I tend to keep on driving there, deeming it too far to reach on foot. The funny thing is, once I decide to test walking to a destination once, I realize not only how doable it is but also how satisfying running that errand becomes.
So now I’m on a quest of sorts: to debunk the myth that certain places in my everyday life are too far to reach on foot.
The first title I imagined for the parenting book I would someday write was Please Don’t Let the Light in Your Child’s Eyes Grow Dim. I had run into a 12-year-old girl whom I’d known at the age of four, when she was one of the brightest, most vibrant kids I had ever met. When I saw her at 12, I hardly recognized her. She was slumped into herself, subdued, and her light was … dim.
As I began writing, I was determined to articulate what I had come to understand about how to help children manifest their gifts and head into adulthood with joy and passion.
A friend recently reported to me that she was taken to task by a green-leaning colleague for selecting a juice box to drink at a networking function. Juice boxes, the eco-narc proclaimed, were NOT recyclable in their municipality. My friend sheepishly sucked on her tiny plastic straw, convinced that all her attempts to live green — riding her bicycle to work, growing her own organic produce — were wiped out by this one transgression.
It’s often said that we’re living with our best teacher, and nowhere is that more true than with our children. No one has the ability to push our buttons the way our kids do. And no one offers us the opportunity to practice the things we preach — about love, forgiveness and staying centered — like our kids do.
Every parent wants to stay cool, calm and collected. We don’t want to threaten to send them to bed without their supper when they’ve sassed back, or tell them they’re grounded for a month when — yet again — they refuse to honor their curfew. But taking a deep breath or counting to ten can seem almost impossible in the presence of kids who seem to know exactly how to push our biggest buttons.
Dear Arielle and Brian,
I’ve made some important changes in my life, especially when it comes to manifesting a soulmate, and I’ve begun to have a positive and proactive attitude. I am noticing how many people in my life, particularly my mother, are having a real issue with my change. Perhaps she is jealous because she has been single for 16 years. Lately, she is very condescending towards me and seems very passive aggressive. Here’s my question: Is it normal when one changes for others have a real issue with it? Is it because they feel threatened? It seems like I never fully realized before the limited thinking, undeserving attitude and pessimism that surrounds me.
You can make the holidays a time of dramatic change and healing by using your innate intuitive abilities in a conscious and directed way.
Holidays are supposed to be a time when families unite, when you are reminded of your childhood or revisit the memories of yourself over the years. You may be spending this time alone or far from home. But no matter where you are or who you are with, the holidays provide you with a unique opportunity to heal the inner patterns and relationships that have been obstructing your life and hindering your dreams.
I recently had the honor of attending a family wedding in France. The groom was French and brought up in the Catholic tradition. The bride was born in California and raised in the Jewish tradition.
The family and friends from both sides assembled in a small town in the south of France and the celebration began. There was lots of food, wine, and joyous gatherings. The groom’s family exhibited the most amazing hospitality. Here is the interesting thing: It seemed perfectly natural that the French and the Americans were in the same place honoring the love of this beautiful young couple. Some spoke only English. Some spoke only French. Others had varying degrees of language learnings. It didn’t seem to matter. Somehow, we all found a way to connect and get to know each other.
Was “go green” one of your New Year’s resolutions? Even if your composter is still empty and there are chemical cleaners still lurking in your cabinets, don’t fret — Only 12 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them for a year. Which, frankly, is 12 percent more than I would have guessed. But if you’re like me and the other 88 percent, what can help us keep resolutions is the support of others.
With that in mind, this Earth Day I’m enlisting my family in the greening goals I set for 2011. And by “greening” (aren’t we all just getting sick to death of that word?), I mean treading more lightly on my wallet, my Daytimer, my blood pressure and Mother Earth. Surely THAT’s a resolution worth fighting for!