Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great Love, Great Compassion

There is a part of the Morning Bell Chant that chokes me up every time I chant it.  Dae Ja Dea Bi A dung Do Sa.  It translates as Great Love, Great Compassion - Our Original Teacher.  It has also been translated as Great Love, Great Sadness, Great Compassion - Our Original Teacher.  This translation was first given to me as I was leaving practice about to face my biggest fear.  The person who told me this also said that I had this in me, that all I had to do was find it and hold on to it and that IT would get me through.  I was thinking of this today as I sat on my cushion. 

The last 6 years of my life have really sucked not been easy.  Actually my whole life has been somewhat of a struggle.  I have lived in an dysfunctional home, I have lived as a child without much love, I have buried my own child - the list could go on and on.  But I can honestly sit here today and tell you all the wonderful things that have come from each one of these.  I won't, that could take forever, but there are things from each one.  I have learned so many things about life through these hardships.  But when you are in the thick of it...

Right now I am in another difficult season of life.  My youngest is sick which complicates just about everything.  The worry, the heartache, the fear that comes along with it is all to familiar.  It has been devastating, depressing, lonely and hard all at the same time.  I can't tell you one thing that is going to come of this that is going to be wonderful. 

But, in the meantime, I have been blessed with a relationship that I thought I might not ever have. Its been one of friendship, love, compassion, respect and understanding.  This person has taken me under her wing, taught me, loved me, cried with and for me, been happy with and for me.  I have often wondered why this person loves me so much, why she has been a mentor to me, a companion, a friend, a shoulder to cry on,  a (dare I say it) a "mother".  Then it came to me - the love, the compassion that she has for me has come from the great sadness she has endured in her life.  She has experienced the same hardships, the same lovelesness, the same pain, fear and heartache.  She allowed those things to be her teacher.  She learned, probably without even knowing it at the time, how to take those experiences and turn them into compassion for someone with the same pain.  She has been able to give me the love, the support, the friendship, the hugs and sweet words that she wished (I think) that she would have had.  This relationship has been a true blessing and every day I am grateful for it. 

So maybe, just maybe, in 6 years I will be sitting here typing about all the wonderful things that have come from my baby being sick.  Maybe I will have learned from them and allowed them to turn into compassion.  Maybe I will be able to take what I learned and give it to as comfort to someone else like this person has done so lovingly to me.  Maybe, just maybe, this hardship will be my teacher.  Dae Ja Dae Bi A Dung Do Sa! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Indian Summer!

I am in such a good mood today! 
Who wouldn't be in a good mood after seeing this?


I am not ashamed to admit that I suffer from Seasonal Mood Disorder.  So, when the weather gets nice like this there is only one thing for me to do - That's right, I send myself and the hoodlums OUTSIDE!  Now this puts, not just me, but EVERYONE in the house in a very happy mood!  

Liam 
After 2 minutes outside already had dirt on his face and mud on his shoes.  That = 2 year old bliss.  He stayed outside until the wind was "going to blow me's away to the naybows house".


 Kayleigh
Even during an Indian Summer will still wear her beloved snow boots! 



Tyler
A little asthma won't keep him indoors.  I am, however, the meanest mom in the world for not letting him take a bike ride on our sherwood hills.  And, he is the ONLY kid who has asthma today!



Even The Buddha is happy today!



And if Tyler and Kayleigh and Liam and The Buddha are happy THEN MOMMA IS SUPER HAPPY! 

So, if you are in Kansas then you must get out and enjoy this Indian Summer Day.  If you aren't in KS then I'm so sorry, I'll enjoy it more for you! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

The empty spot on the table

In our kitchen we have at table, it has 4 chairs.  This table has been there since we moved it and its been through a lot since then.  Countless meals, markers, snacks and even vomit!  Its also where the kids always eat their breakfast together before Tyler goes off to school.  Last night I decided to surprise the kids with  a Valentines Day surprise placed in front of their usual breakfast spot.  Sitting on the table was 3 little boxes in front of 3 chairs.  But one spot stood out more than the rest - the one chair without chocolate box. 

Moments like this happen to me all the time -seeing 3 Christmas stocking hanging from the fireplace, seeing 3 Easter Baskets on the counter, 3 Halloween buckets, 3 pictures hanging on the wall...you get the picture.   The feelings that come with these moments have evolved over time.  At first they made me mad.  I would think "there should be 4 stockings hanging, there should be 4 Easter baskets".  Then I would cry and stay angry for the day (or two or three).  Then the moments would come and I would just put it out of my mind, trying hard not to think about what "should have been."  I would still get angry and sad but I wouldn't let myself feel it or (god forbid) express it. 

But now, 6 years later, the moments come and I think "what would it be like if there were 4 Valentines on the table?"  The "should have beens" have turned into "could have beens".  Even so, they still they make me sad. Sometimes they make me laugh and YES, sometimes they still make me angry.  But I know that these moments are just that -moments.  As quickly as they come they will (hopefully) pass.  And the feeling of not being able to express the feelings that come?  Well, that has passed as well.

The reality is that no matter what happens, no matter what the holiday or memory or feeling there is nothing I can do about it.  There will always be an empty spot on the table.  So, I am going to look at that spot today and be a little sad.  I will wonder what could have been on his candy box and what his Valentines party at kindergarten could have been like.  But, I will wake up tomorrow knowing that everything is exactly as it should be - even if that means there will always be a little sadness. 

Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The day of insults...Ghesh!

Today started out like everyday.  I was sweetly awakened by this beautiful princess.


Isn't she cute?  When she was born we named her Kayleigh Rose.  She quickly became Kayleigh the Rose (thanks to an adorable little nephew) but then she became LUCY!  Yes, thats right, we called her Lucy.  I'll let you guess what Lucy is short for. 

Well, after this sweet girl woke me up, ate the breakfast that I lovingly made for her she decided that today would be the day of insults.   Im not sure she intended it to be that, probobly not, but it definitly turned out that way.  Now, I am all for teaching my kids to be honest but this is just so over the top it makes me laugh!  Here we go, are you ready?...

First this princess says "Mom, I forgot how to skip, could you show me again?  "Why yes I will, here is how"  And I skipped across the room saying "step, hop, step, hop".  She looked at me pointing and then laughed as she said "Mom, your tummy really bounces up and down a lot when you skip".  Ghesh. 

Second this princess says "Mom, I hate you".  I did what every mother does and pretended to cry.  She said that she was joking, "Kinda, mom"  "You see I named the snow you and I really hate the snow but today you made me clean the living room so I really do hate you for that".  Ghesh

Lastly this princess says "Mom, you were a cheerleader in school.  Show me one of your cheers you did for Daddy's football".  I walked right into this one, I know, but I couldn't turn down her cute little request.  So I did a cheer complete with a cheerleader jump and clamped hands.  She curled up her nose and said "Mom, you are NOT a good cheerleader.  Please don't do that again."  Ghesh

And to top it all off, this little darling



Isn't he sweet?  He says right after I told him to eat his dinner..."I have ate all I want.  I don't really like it".  I walked right into to this one too, I know.  But I said "Its lentil and noodle soup.  Its healthy and delicious, just eat it"  Well, he followed with "Mom, your idea of delicious and my idea of delicious is obviously very different".  Ghesh.

So, after a day of insults and a very long conversation with a very witty 5 year about being nice I am going to call it a day.  A day of insults.  Im not going to try anymore.  No more helping, no more teaching and no more cooking.  I'll try again tomorrow.  And if tomorrow ends up like today Im going to need some of you to come over here and tell me some things that Im good at.  If not then I might just end up going into kid induced depression.  Ghesh!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Kwan Seum Bosaling my way through Wal-Mart

Those of you who don't practice Zen might think this is a bit crazy.  And I know some of you will think that I should have got my strength from God but I'm going to say it anyway - Chanting Kwan Seum Bosal while shopping at Wal-Mart while its super busy and I have 2 tired and grouchy kids...well, lets just say, it was EASY!  Easy?  Yes, that's right EASY! 

A couple of weeks ago I was in despair.  Then I read an article in my Zen Centers newsletter that struck me.  It sent me right into email conversations with the teacher who wrote it.  In my despair he suggested that I chant Kwan Seum Bosal over and over again, all the time!  There is a 5 minute chant that we do at practice and at home if someone is in need but he wanted me to try chanting it ALL THE TIME!  At first I thought that was impossible.  I tried but kept getting distracted from it.  Then I'd get worked up and in my stress I would remember - chant!  So I would and it would help but it was still really hard to keep up.  More and more everyday over the past two weeks I started chanting Kwan Seum Bosal, Kwan Seum Bosal, Kwan Seum Bosal when I got stressed or sad or mad.  Today was different though.  I wasn't chanting in my head as I was driving there or while I was loading up the kids or pushing the cart through the slush.  I just started shopping.  Then the kids started whining and the crowds got bigger and my stress started building - THEN - without even thinking about it I started chanting.  Before I knew it I was half way through the store, chanting away.  I finished up my shopping, paid and came home.  It was that easy!!! 

I do not know why this works.  Honestly, I don't understand all the buddhist teachings that have been given to me or why and how they work.  But I do know that if you get advice from a person with wisdom (like a Dharma teacher in training) I should try it out and see what happens.  I'm glad I took his advice.  If shopping at Wal-Mart with 2 kids can be a positive experience just think what could be off all of these hardships I find myself experiencing.  I think that this was exactly what my teacher was trying to get me to do for myself.  Usually I hate when men are right but this time I'll give it to him.  He was right - it really works.

May our practice benefit all beings!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowmade Icecream

What do you do when you look outside and all you see is this?


And school is called off for the 2nd day in a row because of this?


And the hubs is busy doing this?



SNOWMADE ICE CREAM, That's what!!!

All you need is this...


It's sure to bring a smile to any cooped up, cabin fevered child! 





Here is the recipe (thanks to Nicole and Lara on FB for posting about theirs!)

5 cups snow
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs vanilla

Mix and Enjoy!