happiness and transpersonal human caring

Part one

For most of my life I have held back on being happy when people around me are in pain. And I so want to be happy! When I am in this way of thinking and someone tells me about a problem they are having, I jump in to fix it or demand that they either fix it or suck it up and get over it already!

Part two

Then I learned that my happiness should not be dependent on others, that this makes them responsible for my happiness. So I dutifully added a new behaviour to my repertoire – keep the unhappy person at arms’ length, nod, smile, but don’t really engage: Don’t let them spoil that precious vibe. I even labelled some people as ‘downers’

Part three

I became familiar with nonviolent communication and now with caring science and learned about the joy of empathy. It is possible to just sit and listen to someone who is suffering and be with them and both of you appreciate and enjoy the connection. Sometimes an opportunity to help arises in the moment and sometimes something clears for the other person and whatever it is just becomes a little more bearable.

Part four

The thing is that the quality of my happiness has become so much deeper and more nuanced in these moments. I now know a calm happiness, a deeply deeply sad happiness, a happiness as soft and gentle as a baby’s breath, even a happiness infused with anger and purpose. It has been a long journey of learning and unlearning, and what is behind me lies ahead of me, but I will keep returning my wayward feet to this path. ❤

 

 

living with adult children

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*Springtime in the garden by foam

 

I have two daughters living with me, both close to becoming adults. Unlike their older sister who left home every year from age 16 to 20, these two seem willing to stay forever. And it often bothers me that the conversations around adult children living at home are so negative. So, I am trying to think of different conversations and of ways to make it work. Continue reading “living with adult children”

living nonviolently in an old house that could use a few renovations that we can’t afford just yet.

20160131_070123 (1)Our house is pretty old, for Queensland. It is 120 years old, but it’s heart is 150 years old. That’s what special about our house. The original 1 room house was wrapped in a newer house at some stage. When you go underneath you can see the mismatch of timbers and joints between the two, and in the oldest part, we find hand-made nails. On the inside, part of the now-hall was once the verandah, and there is a cute proper outdoor window looking out from the oldest room to the hall, and the door from that room to the hall is an outside door, a simple hand-made front door with a key lock (the key long-lost).

My favourite parts of the house are that window and door, but also my perch on the back step. It’s kind of a humble place to sit, beside the loo pipe and the worst of the cracked paint, and all. But from this spot I can watch the chooks fuss about and I can wave at the neighbours as they pass. It’s a humble view: the view of the back yards-a-jumble of old cars (being worked on – or neglected) wild gardens, kids skating, clotheslines, veggies and chooks, bric-a-brac storage. It’s messy life and I like that.

Another part of the house I enjoy is the front verandah. The verandah is the coolest spot to be after about 11am. It is on the easternmost side, so is shaded by then and there is nearly always a good cooling breeze from the river. The verandah is wide enough for a full table and chairs and we all sit out here in the evening and eat our dinner. At first I felt a bit embarrassed about being in full view of the street, but if the neighbours thought it weird, they are now used to it and just smile and wave as they go past. My insomniac daughter also does yoga on the verandah in the middle of the night, in the dark. When I think of the verandah I realise how happy we are as a family here. It works.

Some parts of the house do suck though. The bathroom is too tiny to stand in with your arms spread wide, which is unpleasant. Also, the shower is made of asbestos and even though our builder said it was stable I hate looking at it, it gives me the creeps, so I don’t like to spend time in that room.  And the kitchen is not suitable for tall people. We have all banged our heads on the cupboards when we wash up, and the stooping over the sink hurts our backs for ages afterwards. Just 1 little sink to wash up in, it’s pretty basic.

Sometimes I tell myself We really must do something about this! and get stressed out, especially about the asbestos. If I let myself, I will lie awake at night worrying about how much it will cost and imagining running out of money in the middle of renovations and having no toilet and the bank throwing us into the street and oh my god how are we all going to sleep in the car!!  Getting myself into a state about it all. And this is where I use nonviolence to get me through. These are the things I can do…

I can breathe and be aware that I am breathing. Breathe in and out. Breathe in and calm my body, breathe out and smile (thank you Thich Nhat Hanh).

I can rephrase: We really could do something about the bathroom. And remind myself that it’s just a choice (thank you Landmark Education).

I can reach out and touch my house and be aware of the strength and character and love that lives here right now (thank you Marie Kondo).

I can think about the needs met and unmet by the house and in the space that opens up be free to consider alternate strategies to expensive renovations (thank you nonviolent communication).

So the really best part of the house is that there really is no need for me to suffer about this old house. I am free to enjoy her strength and character and quirkiness and her crumbling rambling shambles as well.

 

 

What to do with my Christmas ambivalence

Yes, I would love to appear all sweetness and light but I am Christmas-ambivalent. I like shiny sparkly things, but when I see tinsel and lights I wonder what this display is costing the environment? Gifts can be great when given from the heart: they can be an expression of love of recognition of who you are and an acknowledgement of what is alive in you. But so often it seems to be a ‘check off the list’ activity. And something that is demanded of me. Worst of all I love my family but am not looking forward to seeing them all at once… shouting over the top of each other, asking mean questions like “so where are you travelling to this year?” when they know I can’t afford to travel. And they compete over the behaviour and characteristics of their children. And talk about politics! Continue reading “What to do with my Christmas ambivalence”

Nonviolence – With horses!

I just arrived home from a few days horse riding and camping at *Nash Horsetrekking it was a lot of fun and also a wonderful opportunity to see nonviolence in action – with horses. Continue reading “Nonviolence – With horses!”

the ocean inside of me

There is an ocean inside of me
Breathe in

and out
Hear the gentle waves wash over sand and shells and smooth-ed stone let the waves break long and slow from one end of the vast horizon to the other
Breathe in

and out
This ocean has existed for a million thousand billion years and reaches to eternity
Breathe

Listen to the ocean

I am standing in the train with someone’s briefcase pressing into my back waiting in a phone queue to discuss a payment that bounced sitting waiting for a job interview

And I listen to the ocean inside of me
The only thing that’s real.

 

life moving on

My old Granny is fading. She has been in and out of hospital for the past few months with a number of infections, including one in her chest that seems intractable. At one point it seemed she was actively dying, but it does look like we will have her for a little longer, that she can go home again at least for a bit, and enjoy all the attention she is getting from her children, grandkids and great grandkids. (And she is enjoying it too 🙂 )

Gran has started to reminisce. We all love listening to her old stories, but it is a bittersweet thing for her, to remember and to be the only one left. She has outlived all her friends from the old days, her parents, all her siblings, all those connections to Ukraine, to her childhood, her teens, her young adulthood, all gone.

Personally, I am also feeling some emotional impact, apart from the grief about Gran. That is, I keep getting washed over with nostalgia. I look at my young adult daughters and I wonder where my babies, my little ones went. Where is the girl who wrote in grade one I will be a carpenter and build my mum a house and we will all live in it and we will love each other? Where is the four year old who confidently pronounced that we could fix the shower leak with zelly zorclan (Selly’s all seal)? Where did my little miss who perched on the loo with her nose buried in her skirt disappear?

When I was a girl in primary school one of my teachers said to me you won’t believe this but your life will go by in a flash. Make the most of it! He was right. I didn’t believe him and also, here I am, 46 years and two days old, marvelling at it all. How wonderful it has been, how glorious, how hard too, and how blessed I am 🙂

what i get up to when i’m not on facebook

I totally quit my facebook habit in December, and in February reopened it but only check in about once a month. Yes, its inconvenient and I am missing my friend John’s wildlife photos and at least one invitation to something fun, but my everyday life has become so much better… In the morning, I chat to my kids (if they are up), I walk to the train a couple of times a week, and I feel so great not being so exposed to all the sadnessed and badnesses of the world. I get up in the morning happy.

I am also well on the way to fulfilling my dream of sewing my own wardrobe with sustainable/ethically produced fabrics (I only exploit myself and my sister who ‘leant’ me her machine – thanks Cat 🙂 )

Here is my latest dress (and my first selfie). The dresses I will continue with, but maybe not the selfies – I think I sprained a finger… 🙂

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Anticipation – going roller skating tonight

It’s a week night but I am going out after dark! To the skate rink for adults-only skating – Woot!

In a minute I will pop on a pair of stripy socks, grab my skates and dash out the door. At the rink, I will see my friend Emily who encouraged me to give roller derby a try a few years ago. That was fun (and totally worth the final exit price of one busted-but-mostly-recovered-knee). But tonight Emily and I will skate round and practice our backwards crossovers out of the view of the teenaged hockey boys and fall on our bums for sure and have a good laugh. Then we will get up and do it again 🙂

Ah – I can’t wait!

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