Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let There be Peace on Earth,
and Let it Begin with Me.

The level of public dialogue in the US is degrading. It's effecting people, too, I think. Folks on my old reliable email lists are starting to show the stress- people are getting defensive, disrespectful, even rude. Today people did not want to let their kids watch an address at school where President Obama told them to set goals and take personal responsibility (link). To me the level and tone of opposition to his intention to make the speech reveals the fear, racism, and absurdity of the right wing folks in the USA.

What Obama had to say was good advice we all can take. Change begins in yourself. What do you want to do to help yourself, and help the world ?

A friend says she thinks the tone of the right is like the overtired child who gives one last, loud tantrum before giving it all up and going to sleep. That they are mad it is no longer going their way. I hope she is right, and this is the last protest before a peaceful night. Still, I think our work is just beginning.

I just hope the love and inspiration that rallied people to elect Obama will triumph over the noise of all this fear. Just pass the health care reform, America. People are really dying, losing loved ones over this. Losing their homes over it. This MoveOn video made me cry.

If you did not have to worry so much about your health, or that of your family, or spend your money on the insurance (if you can get it), you could apply your creative thinking and resources to the rest of the problems that need our attention.

In Sweden, you can buy fair trade generic organic instant coffee. Fair Trade is that developed of a concept. Lund has declared itself a "Fair Trade City". There is talk and concern about human rights here, and the impact our choices make in the lives of others. There are more important things to talk about than the topics Americans like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are broaching.

This low level of public dialogue is making Americans to look like foolish brats. You are not the center of the universe. There is a whole world out there. There are more important things to think about.

Check out "The Story of Stuff"

And the USA has ignored the Geneva Convention and been torturing people(link).

But it's hard to think of all that with out vacation time, health insurance, or adequate higher education now isn't it? So you might as well shop, right? Your needing and searching might shield you from the pain. For a moment you can get lost in banality.
However, you are the 'DREAM OPERATOR" and you can choose a new dream to dream.

Because really, what else are we to do? Just as I believe the body is a projection of our inner world, I think the entire outer world is a projection of our inner world. So as part of my being 35, I am looking at ways to do simple nourishing things to have a strong body, clear mind, and good connection to my inner guidance that tells me how to proceed. It's just Maslow's hierarchy of needs- I know the USA can't get anywhere until they have some of these basic issues tackled, but then again, neither can I.

"Often people are motivated by feelings of pain, fear, and guilt into wanting to "do something to make it better". This is the ego, coming from a position of helplessness and fear, struggling vainly to eradicate these feelings. Unfortunately, this approach only perpetuates the problems it is trying to solve. The underlying cause of the world's problems is the pain, fear, and ignorance we experience from being disconnected from the power of the universe. If we continue to project the problems outside ourselves and fail to recognize the power we actually have, I believe we support the very evils we are fighting. On the other hand, if we are willing to take responsibility for our fears and deal with them, we will clear the way for being able to hear the voice of the universe with in us. If it tells us to take action, we can be sure the action will be powerful and truly effective." - Shakti Gawain in Living in the Light

In the infinity of life where I am

all is perfect whole and complete

I now choose calmly and objectively to see old patterns,

and am willing to make changes.

I am teachable. I can learn. I am willing to change.

I choose to have fun doing this.

I choose to react as though I have a found a treasure

when I discover something else to release.

I see and feel myself changing moment by moment.

Thoughts no longer have any power over me.

I am the power in the world. I choose to be free.

All is well in my world.

-Louise Hay

Since MoveOn put me in an old REM mood....

I can change.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thanks Tracy for sending this to me, it was worth putting up on the blog.
All My Babies Are Gone Now
By Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow, but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of the m, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education - all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations - what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the "Remember-When-Mom-Did" Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language -mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?" (She insisted I include that here.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night.

I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I h ad treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simpl y grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to School

Swedegirl is back at her Waldorf School (link). She has moved up from her dagis/ preschool group of 1-3 year olds to the 4-6 year old group! This means she gets to be in the hilltop school that is housed in a lovely Steiner Architecture building (link). The building feels so good to be in, the class room so sweet, and the view from the hilltop playground over Skåne amazing.One of her classmates families lives on the property behind the school, and they keep their horses in a field next to the playground. This nifty hobby horse stands looking out over the hills and into the fields where the real horses roam. On her first day we arrived to find one teacher was singing to herself while she assembled a new lamp with the help of a few children, and the other was stringing Rönn berries on garlands and helping the children cut and slice apples for drying.Her school feels very special. This article "The Waldorf Kindergarten: The World of the Young Child" is a good discussion of how and why Waldorf-Steiner schools approach education for young children (link). Simply put, Waldorf schools recognize the magic of early childhood and seek to protect and nourish the spark in the child that makes them so alive and wondrous when they are little. Children are considered to be wide open to the world and highly sensitive to the input from the world around them. Everything is done with great intention at the school. The colors, the play things, the environment, and feeling in the room are all cultivated to convey a sense of warmth and beauty. The intention is to set a stage for them to be connected to the natural world, themselves, and develop their imaginations and relationships in safety and love.
It reminds me of how during births in the birth center and at homebirth, we took such care to protect the experience of the newborn baby, so they would experience the world as a friendly place. We handled them gently and intentionally, spoke softly and kindly, and made sure they were welcomed into the world slowly and sweetly. I think Waldorf education offers the same gentle touch for children. It allows them to wake to themselves and the world slowly, and lets the star light in their little eyes shine.
I like that the pedagogy openly considers the development of her heart and soul(link). I went to school in a highly competitive/covertly competitive school. It was all about the brain and only the brain. I was in the best school available to me at the time, but I always had the sense that the teaching lacked artistry. I struggled with math, and felt like if someone could give me a Nautilus shell and help me relate to the mystery of the spiral in it, I could have grasped math more easily. I was rather artistic, but did not get art classes after 9th grade because of schedule conflicts. We made fun of sports, there were no teams, we did not even have a gym or gym class on our campus. The school had a well known orchestra program, but it seemed like another venue for competition. In the higher grades, Waldorf schools do not use text books, instead students record their own observations in a notebook with drawings. They study the world directly. Story, song, drama, and poetry are used to teach the lessons, and the subjects are integrated. This approach appeals to me, and I think it is a great fit for Swedegirl. The Waldorf schools in the USA are expensive and always seem to be chronically struggling with resource shortages. I am feeling really lucky to have a chance for SwedeGirl to get this type of education. Sweden's public schools are mandated by the government to provide everything a child needs for school, in the spirit of insuring an equal opportunity for all children (So no back to school supply lists for us!).
Under the rules of our commune/ county, she can go to preschool for 25 hours. So she goes Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8 or 9 ish -3 or4 ish. Because I am like that about time. When I picked her up on her first day, she was playing 'bunnies' with another little girl in this fort. When it was time for us to go, the little playmate very purposfully hopped away from the 'burrow' across the yard with her 'paws' in front of her. It was darling. Swedegirl then offered to share a bowl of 'salad-soup' she had made, which she was delighted to proclaim I could "REALLY, REALLY EAT!"- it was leaf lettuces and parsley from the kitchen garden, in a stainless steel bowl with hose water. It was delicious :)
We are looking forward to a wonderful few years in her little classroom, until the time comes to graduate to the primary school.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hello, I am a Grown Up.
And Yes, I CAN TAKE IT!!!
That I am a grown up may be obvious,
but this time it's for REAL people.
For my birthday, SwedeDaddy took me on a surprise trip to Röstånga Camping, where a week after all the pools closed we were able to sneak in one last warm outdoor swim. The park has a heated outdoor pool and waterslide, and it's close to Söderåsen National Park, with this vista that has earned it the name 'The Grand Canyon of Sweden'.
I've never given much thought to how old I am. My dad reports he had to rearrange his mental furniture when he turned thirty, and was suddenly just a guy and not an up and coming someone. Well, I think 35 is the new 30 then.
Mushroom in Söderåsen National Park
At 30, I was still feeling like an up and comer, and felt accomplished for being so young. I was running my own business and delivering babies! But still, in a corner of my heart I felt like a kid. I was pregnant with the SwedeGirl at my 30th birthday, so I had the changes of parenthood on the horizon, and that whispered 'you are a real adult' in just the right, but still unreal, sort of way.
A forest hideout in Söderåsen National Park
Well last year I was the Thanksgiving Turkey maker. Twice. And I prepared a Christmas Feast. There was no other matriarch around to do it, and I was married to the forty year old man and patriarch who was carving the roast beast. Folks, it is the real deal now, I am a grown up.
The woman's wheel of life has been conceptualized as a triple goddess in the aspects of maiden-mother-crone with Celtic goddesses like Bridgid (link), and associated with the moon phases of waxing moon/ full moon/ waning moon. At thirty I was not quite a mother, and still felt I had a toe in maidenhood somehow. Still waxing. And 31, 32 - that is still virtually 28! But 35 feels closer to 45. Full moon, full on adulthood. Changing your place on the wheel makes you aware the turn will happen again, and someday, if you are lucky, you will be a crone. And then you die. Like the dark moon?
So in honor of my 35 th birthday, and my full status as 'mother' on this wheel of life, I nearly cracked a rib on a jumpy thing while at the waterslide park.
I was in such pain the next day I considered getting x-rayed. It was a manifestation of my thought 'my body is getting old', and 'I could get 'too old' to do things'. I think our bodies communicate what is going on in our inner life. So I gave up that thought. With a change of mind and two days of anti- inflammatories (as I need to stop being so inflammatory!) my back starting feeling better. Thankfully all is well now. My body is healthy and changeable. I can feel more alive, more healthy, more joyful, and more free anytime I want. I am a rightful and proud 35 year old woman. A mom of two lovely girls,
with the best husband ever....
(here is Super Swededaddy putting up a cabinet and getting the baby to sleep at the same time, all while on vacation :)
...living on a new continent creating a new life, with two living, healthy parents, and a ton of special family and friends who called me or messaged me somehow on my birthday. And a great career behind me and wonderful opportunities before me. My heart is full of love and gratitude for all that has gone so wonderfully, wonderfully right to get to where I am now.
SwedeSister Inlaw and Brother Outlaw invited us over for a Kraftskiva/ Swedish Crayfish Party(link)- my first full Swedish summer here would have been incomplete with out it!
In my twenties I discovered that life brings you to the edge of the most joy you can possibly know, and then asks, 'Can you take it? Can you possibly accept MORE JOY?' And if you can, it comes. And so often we back down from it as we get pushed past out of our usual comfort zone. Our mind throws up blocks- you are too....fill in the blank....busy, old, needing to clean up, needing to get somewhere, needing to take care of something, not in the mood, or whatever. The mind can make up a million excuses.
We also scored some great books and dress-up gear at the barnloppis/ kid sale in Genarp on my B-day!
But at the bottom of it, is the question I used to giggle out loud with one of my best friends as we watched various and assorted miracles unfold before out eyes-- "CAN YOU TAKE IT????"-- we would laugh, and scream.
Swedegirl and her cousin at the crayfish party.
Yes, they can TAKE it!!!
The question reminds me of an image of god expressed by a yoga teacher I had who was a devote of Mother Meera. She said some thing along these lines "god is like this mother, with her arms full of all this fruit, all these gifts, and she is looking at us, all her children and wishing we would unburden her arms and just receive all the gifts she has to offer."

We stopped to nurse the baby while driving, and Swedegirl picked me some flowers from the roadside- so lovely with the reaped fields and setting sun

Thirteenth Century Sufi poet Rumi wrote about the mother-god theme as well:

Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.
A nursing mother, all she does is wait to hear her child.
Just a little beginning-whimper, and she’s there.
God created the child, that is your wanting,
so that it might cry out, so that milk might come.
Cry out!
Don’t be stolid and silent with your pain.
Lament! And let the milk of loving flow into you.

SwedeGirl and her daddy made me waffles for breakfast. Even better, there is PINK laptop in one of those gift boxes, and all the foreign films that I have not been able to watch since we moved here since LoveFilm (Swedish Netflix) does not have English language subtitles (only Swedish, Suomi, Danish, and Norwegian subtitles) on German or French movies. Very thoughtful gift!
For my 'birthday cake', we went to a Swedish Conditori/ bakery in Röstånga.

All these baked treats were gluten free, so Swededaddy and I both could have our cake and eat it too!

As pictured here: DIVINE.

So let me just say, let me register this with the Universe:


I love my life, and can't wait to see what is next.