by Laura Passard Yurko
I've started a new daily reflection practice. I'm using the book A Year of Living Consciously by Gay Hendricks. I read a portion of his book Conscious Loving a few years ago and it completely changed my marriage. So, needless to say, I have high hopes for this daily practice.
So far, the book does not disappoint as the reflection for this past Sunday has really stuck with me and I thought it would be a good one to share with you - particularly as we begin this New Year, making our resolutions and such. It's a good time to consider just how we are spending our time and energy. This reflection got me thinking about the things I complain about (i.e.
certain chores, not having enough time to [insert healthy activity here], issues in relationships, lack of sleep) and whether I was unconsciously making the choice to keep those things a part of my life, thus holding me back from what really mattered or even identifying what really mattered. No solid answers just yet, I'm still reflecting, discerning, trying and changing, but I did make a point to write this post which is something that I've struggled to do in the past because of every excuse in the book. So, that's progress, right?
Hope this is something that can inspire you, too, to make choices for what you really want to commit to.
Happy New Year!
Excerpt from A Year of Living Consciously: 365 Daily Inspirations for Creating a Life of Passion and Purpose by Gay Hendricks.
"Grow up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
HOW TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE COMMITTED TO
It is simple to find out what you're committed to -- just look at the results you're creating. A friend was complaining to me that he'd spent a great deal of time and energy hassling with the IRS during the past year. I asked, "Why do you suppose you're so committed to spending your time that way?" "But I'm not committed to that," he began to argue. Then a sheepish smile came over his face as he got the point. Later he phoned with this insight: "If I use my energy fighting the IRS, I don't have to do the tough work of creating some new income streams." Many of you are gripped by the loony idea that your intentions are different from the results you create. It simplifies life enormously the moment you accept that the results you create are your unconscious intentions made visibly manifest.
A CONSCIOUS LIVING PRACTICE FOR TODAY
Select a particular issue that's troubling you. For example, you might select "squabbling with my spouse all the time." Claim the unconscious intention to create that result: "I squabble with my spouse because I'm committed to squabbling with my spouse all the time." Notice your mind and body wanting to argue with this powerful assertion. But also notice the feeling of exhilaration when you finally own your unconscious intention. You're in the driver's seat.
by Laura Passard Yurko
Inspired by the line in the gospel last Sunday "So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) we had a lively discussion on what it means to be "perfect" in our society. We all agreed that the standard of perfection, or flawlessness, that we put on ourselves as women and mothers is an incredible burden. We talked about the seemingly perfect lives of our Facebook friends - traveling around the world, preparing and eating fantastic meals, or having children who are able to pose perfectly for a photo.
But, is it even possible for anyone to be perfect? We are human after all and we make mistakes and in those mistakes we learn and grow. I've never had a problem with that concept, but continue to feel bad when I compare my life to others (a no-no, I know!) or to a very high internal standard. Fortunately, we used the Bringing Home the Word guide from our SFG and found a different definition of the word "perfect" which seems much more attainable: "whole and complete". Working towards feeling whole and complete seems a heck of a lot more manageable than being flawless. Why, I dare say, I've actually felt whole and complete several times in my life. And, quite frankly, if I strip away all the noise, the images, the (sometimes imaginary) pressure from outside and I focus on the love of my family, the strength that I feel inside, or all of the many, many ways I am supported I feel whole and complete most of the time. Even if my dinners aren't spectacular, my child doesn't get themed bento box lunches, my house is a mess and most of the time so am I, it doesn't make me or my life any less perfect.
Here are a few inspiring and/or funny links to consider the next time you look at your life and think it's not "perfect":
"The Power of Cropping" from Clean: LuSa Organics blog
"Cropping out the Sad" from Portlandia
Reasons my Son is Crying
(take comfort in knowing yours isn't the only child losing it for no reason)
"A happier family life in 8 steps" Real Simple Magazine
(I prefer to call this one: 8 ways to cut yourself some slack)
And a book recommended by one of our Moms:
No More Perfect Moms: Learn to Love Your Real Life by Jill Savage
by Amy Connelly
Over the years, you may have received the email or Facebook post titled “I am Thankful For…”, a powerful poem stating the ways to be thankful for the often overlooked or even burdensome blessings in our lives… “I am thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.”
During this season of gratitude and giving, I decided to write my own version of the poem “I am Thankful For…” This has been a powerfully moving experience for me, and I would like to encourage all of you to write your own “I am Thankful For...” poem to put your blessings in a whole new perspective.
I am Thankful For…
…The large pile of dishes in our sink because it means we were able to feed our family and enjoy a meal together.
…. The beds that need to be made each morning because it means that we have a safe, warm place to lay our heads each night.
….The banging noise of my son playing drums on the pots and pans because it means that I have the ability to hear.
…. The showers and bathroom visits I take along with at least one of my children because it means that I am never lonely.
… The dirty floors, the smudged windows, the carpet that needs vacuuming, and the weeds that need pulling because it means that we have a home.
… The TV shows Duck Dynasty, BBC’s Top Gear, and College Game Day because they mean that my husband is not exposing himself or us to anything that is inappropriate or degrading to our children or me.
…The huge pile of clean laundry that needs to be folded and put away because it means that I have a washer and dryer, and I did not have to wash or dry our clothes by hand.
…The crayons, legos, cars, and dinosaurs scattered throughout our house at the end of the day because it means that our children have a fun place to play and have enjoyed their day in our home.
…The toilet that runs after we flush it and having to jiggle the handle to make it stop because it means that we have fresh running water and don’t have to walk miles to a well to get a bucket of water for our family to survive on.
…The cold crisp air that fills my lungs on these late Fall mornings because it means that I have the breath of life!
Thought for the day...
The smile on my face doesn't mean that life has always been easy, perfect, or exactly as expected. I just choose to be grateful and happy no matter how it turns out.
by Laura Passard Yurko
While participating in our 30-day gratitude challenge, Grateful Living, I have found myself being able to list more and more things to appreciate each day. Quite honestly, the first day I struggled to come up with 5 things to list but just about every day since I seem to add one more than the day before. And, you know what has come up at least once a day? Me.
That's right, I'm thankful for me.
Do I feel a little weird admitting that? You betcha!
But, it feels good when I'm writing it all down. Though I am uncomfortable admitting it publicly, it feels quite natural to appreciate things I've done or the attitude I have. I find that as I'm appreciating the opportunity for something to have happened I also give myself a little shout out for taking advantage of the opportunity. Recently my list read:
5. having a comfortable place to sit and reflect
6. my ability to reflect
7. I'm learning how to be more patient with myself
My list can be very superficial at times (no joke, I listed donuts one day), sentimental at others (especially when referring to my husband or child) but the real depth comes when I can develop a thought through to where I am grateful for my very existence. It is then that I see how God sees me. And, I feel loved.
By Monica Peterson
Often I find myself praying for peace or dreaming for some alone time in my bed with a book and a nice glass of wine. I should say a HUGE glass of wine. Usually these dreams come at about 4:00pmwhen the fatigue of the day is setting in and the dinner rush is about to begin. But then I have to pause … look … and listen. My son is strumming an off cord tune on his guitar (very off tune I have to say), my daughter is running up and down the hall screaming at him (yes bone chilling screams), the dryer pounding methodically because I had to wash the baby’s muddy shoes (I don’t know why I bother). But once I pause … look … and listen I realize that these are the sounds of my home, the hums and the clatter that remind me that I am alive. It’s a home that we all have created together. It’s a living mess but oh its a glorious mess. My children are with me and they are safe. So with that short pause when I take the time to look and listen … I am grateful. Grateful for my home, the roof over my head, a stove where I don’t have to light a fire, and then it comes. Some days it takes longer but it comes and I actually feel Peace.
This month we're focusing on gratitude. Join us, won't you? Check outwww.grateful-living.weebly.com for more information.
by Laura Passard Yurko
I recently read an article about how we as a society have a tendency towards being "busy". Some people like to appear busy to seem important while others fill their time to avoid dealing with issues. As Moms we are busy managing the sometimes competing needs of our selves, our children, and our spouses. We are trying to accomplish an entire world of options in a finite amount of time. We want to take advantage of every opportunity for growth and development and fun. Our Calendars and To Do Lists are filled with spending time with friends, taking trips, participating in classes or teams, volunteering, cleaning, hosting parties, not to mention all of the details - the meals, the costumes or craft projects, the photo albums, the cards and gifts we buy, and everything we do to create meaningful experiences for our children and families, to enrich their lives. The opportunity to be able to choose such wonderful ways to spend time is truly a gift but I'm completely guilty of lamenting what I have to do and am frequently overwhelmed by everything I have to do.
Then, in our discussion this past Thursday one of our Mom's shared a story of Have To Do vs. Get To Do - how she and another mother viewed the same activity in those two different ways. "Ka Pow!" (that's the sound of my mind being blown). Just think about the difference in those two statements: "Have To Do" connotes obligation, unwillingness, drudgery or resentment. "Get To Do" connotes excitement, enthusiasm, joy, and even gratitude. Changing just one word can completely change your attitude and approach to the task at hand.
This month we're focusing on gratitude. Join us, won't you? Check out www.grateful-living.weebly.com for more information.
by Laura Passard Yurko
I'm not sure if it's my age, my stage in life, the weekly reflection time I get at Moms Group or a combination of those things but I'm finally living in a place of awareness and fulfillment with the here and now. I've spent a lifetime dreaming and wishing and praying for certain things to happen. And, for the most part, they have. But the majority of the time I've been so focused on the end result that I haven't take the time to truly appreciate what is happening right now - to see who and what are right in front of me.
In the Gospel this week Luke shares a story of Jesus curing 10 lepers but only one returns to thank him. Though we are always encouraging our children to say "thank you", do we always remember to do so? Do we say it enough? To the people in our lives? For the people in our lives? For what we have already - the things we take for granted?
God does not only exists in church or in Heaven. We don't have to wait until the end of our lives to meet Him - He is all around us, working through the people we encounter and the nature that surrounds us all.
by Laura Passard Yurko
"The Community of Motherhood" is something I felt as soon as I was pregnant. My instinct for care and concern of others magnified and I felt like I became a mother to the world. I was increasingly concerned with babies needing hats in the cold, caring for sick friends, and making a lot of food. When I finally met my daughter I felt like I had joined the biggest and best club in the world. We don't really talk about it out loud, but as Moms we just know. We know the struggles and the triumphs and how it feels to have your heart be capable of more love than you ever imagined. We feel it not only for our own children but for all children. But, sometimes that love doesn't extend to ourselves (we berate ourselves for not being good enough parents) nor to each other (those competitive comments we make to or receive from other mothers; the notion of "mommy wars").
This week I came across 4 intensely inspiring pieces on this concept and I wanted to share them with you. These pieces all encourage us to consider ourselves as a community of moms and to treat ourselves and each other with kindness, respect and love.
You are a good mama
"You're a stay at home mom? What do you do all day?"
Moms: Let's make this pledge
Forever a Mother
by Laura Passard Yurko
Being a parent of a two-year-old is like a doctoral program in patience. I ask her to pick up a toy and put it away or to "come here, please" and instead of just doing it, there's a very curvy line that follows until she finally reaches her destination. Something catches her eye and she needs to stop and inspect or she wants to do a jump or a turn along the way. She insists on doing everything herself and since she is still learning how to coordinate her movements in the right order simple tasks take exponentially more time. If I were to do them they would take less than a minute. But, I need to let her do these things on her own: changing her clothes, putting on shoes, moving the chairs, putting away books and toys. My job is to give her those opportunities, no matter how long they take. And so I wait. (...deep breath...) And wait. (...deep breath...) Calmly. Patiently. The most patient I have ever been in my life.
The irony of course is that as much as my daughter insists upon my patience, she herself is not very patient at all. So, we practice patience. It starts small - I delay giving her something she's asked for. Just by a minute or so. I intentionally do not give her what she wants right away and sometimes she'll need to remind me or ask repeatedly in order to get it. Sometimes she knows up front that she'll need to wait for a while which is probably the most challenging. In this situation the best way to get her to persevere is by engaging in another activity. Sometimes she gets frustrated, which is understandable and tolerated but I don't give in to a tantrum or whine. I'm trying to give her the skills she needs to wait calmly and to trust that after that period of waiting she will get what she wants.
That is the message of the Gospel this week. Patience. "Waiting and Faith are connected. We can wait patiently when we have faith that the outcome will be worth the wait, when we understand the reason behind the waiting. Often our impatience with waiting has more to do with doubt and uncertainty than with the time itself." (BHTW) I am often anxious about what lies ahead for me and want to plan my way through that fear and anxiety. I have a dream or vision in my heart and I want so desperately to know what the steps are to see it come true. But, I can't know everything all at once. So many factors are at play, so many lessons need to be learned - that's Life. And, so, that's what I occupy myself with while I wait. I breathe deeply, quiet the worry, and pay attention to what is happening everyday, trusting that when the time comes for a big decision to be made I'll be ready for it.
by Laura Passard Yurko
To me, the theme of this week's Gospel is Awareness. Lazarus is suffering and in need and the wealthy man ignores him - literally steps over him to get into his house.
Whether it's a stranger on the street or a friend or family member who struggles with an addiction, a serious illness or who recently experienced a loss, pain and suffering is uncomfortable - for person experiencing it and for those of us standing by on the outside. We may ask ourselves "What can I really do to help?" We all have reasons for ignoring people or issues in our lives. But, God is asking us to be aware of the humanity that exists in some of the darkest and scariest places and to do what we can, which is, at the very least, to acknowledge that humanity. In the second half of our meeting we heard from local Marriage and Family Therapist Kelly McCann who spoke about Communication. In her introduction she said that some of our most basic human needs are "to be seen, to be heard and to be understood." A smile and a wave or a simple hello is all it takes to connect with a stranger and saying "I'm here and I'm listening" to a friend or simply asking someone what he or she needs are all ways we can connect to the humanity in each other.
I leave you this week with the following prayer entitled "I Need to Be Aware" and hope that you might be more aware as you journey through your life.
Expand my awareness, O God,
Reflections inspired by our weekly faith sharing and fellowship.