Category Archives: Peace

Surviving the Week

Six days. I’ve survived six days straight, alone with four kids in the home, and I didn’t lose my mind. Not once. It’s a complete miracle. I’ve never stayed home this long while Daniel was away, and it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined.

Maybe I’m speaking too soon, considering I still have about 18 hours remaining before Daniel gets home. He’s been on an inspiring, week-long  spiritual retreat, and it’s helped immensely that he called me at least three times a day to share all the peace and joy. It also helped a great deal to see a friend’s pictures of him on the pilgrimages and outings. (Thank you, Mei!) Since I’ve been there many times, I was able to re-experience it all with him in my mind and heart. He’s really glowing, which warms my heart. The main feeling I have today is a deep joy and gratitude for the fact that he was even able to go; that he could miss work, and that I could hold down the fort for him without ending up in a straight jacket.

The kids have done reasonably well, too. They’ve all spoken to Dad at least once a day, and I kept updating them on what he was doing each day. We’ve all felt very connected to Daniel. Amelie started saying “Coo-Roo” for guru this week (super sweet). Behavior-wise, I had a few challenges with Sky (very up & down), but nothing new and no surprises. The key seemed to be keeping him very busy with peers, outings, and a basic schedule. Liam had outings 5 hours/day M-F, which was a Godsend. I haven’t lost my mind, and if anything I am doing better than ever. God gave me every ounce of strength and endurance I needed, and then some! Now, I can’t stop counting down the minutes until I get to see Daniel’s face.

This picture really made me smile. So much happiness at a dinner gathering! Left to Right: Joey Moore, Amy Davis, Daniel, Annie Jablonski, and Mei Ling Moore

Blessings from Br. Achalananda, Vice President of Self-Realization Fellowship

Daniel on the grounds of our guru's home (Mother Center at Mount Washington)

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Filed under Family Happenings, Kids, Marriage, Parenting, Peace, Vacations

RAD Parenting: Just One Day of Truly Unconditional Love

Mother = Unconditional Love, correct? That’s what I’ve been taught, but it isn’t always that easy, nor is it realistic when we’re all flawed, imperfect, and unenlightened human beings. In my nineteen years of motherhood I’ve been close, and I only mean close to giving unconditional love. The only true unconditional love in this world comes from God, saints, or truly enlightened beings, but mothers are very, very close. That said, I’ve had my challenges with a child who is determined to push me away, never tell the truth, deceive the whole family, and cause us to feel completely unsafe in our own home. I experience hourly knots in my stomach, have become hyper-vigilant, and was diagnosed with PTSD. The whole experience is a massively painful boulder God/the Universe/my guru has thrown at my head.. ouch! Instead of throwing it back at him or running away from it, I’m embracing the boulder because it’s from Him; chiseling away for the hidden diamonds inside. I’m determined to master the art of unconditional love in this lifetime, so what better stage to be on than with a RAD (Reactive Attachment Disordered) child.
Unlike most days, this day was filled with harmony. I should say, rather, that I myself was filled with a harmonious acceptance about life. Could it be that I awoke refreshed after a long night’s sleep and meditated for almost an hour, or that my husband is on a spiritual retreat and he keeps calling me with incredible insights, or could it be that every time I observed Sky’s negativity, constant deception, and problematic ways I immediately forced myself to think “MY GOD is in him, MY GOD is there.” When I think “MY GOD”, I get an image in my mind of my guru. It’s not a thought, necessarily, but an overpowering feeling. I feel such heart-melting affection for my guru when I see him in a specific scene in my mind, and I can feel his great Love for me as well. His sincere sweetness is beyond any description, and the closest to God’s Love I have ever experienced. To shift into that feeling when I have observations of negativity in Sky causes all of what’s happening in this dense, physical world to disintegrate… to melt into Love. Maybe that is why I was filled with such harmonious acceptance today. I’m hoping so, because it’s an easy practice for me. If not, maybe the harmony and calmness came from my therapeutic time with Prasad…
Prasad is doing extremely well today. I’ve noticed that, due to an hour long conversation this morning (intimate 1:1 attention), he is less nervous, less scattered, more focused and present, and most of all extremely joyful and more affectionate than ever. My presence is medicine to him, and his is to me as well. We spent a lot of time together without Sky today and had the opportunity to ‘be ourselves’ together, which doesn’t present itself often. We feed off of one another in positive ways, and I can always feel my inner child adoring him… he’s the brother she never had, but always wanted. We were both in such a heightened state of joy by the time we picked up Sky from a play group today, I’m sure Sky noticed. He became very withdrawn and shut down in the car and at home, which is what he always does when Prasad and I are very happy, playful and alive. He wouldn’t speak much, but it didn’t affect me at all like it usually does. Normally, I’d get dragged in, try cheering him up to no avail, all the while realizing I was robbed of my previous, very positive state of mind. Instead, today my level of joy remained stable the whole day through, despite Sky’s various attempts to drag us down.
At one point when Sky walked into the kitchen he was slouching, heavy, angry, glaring at me and obviously depressed. Nothing triggered it, except that we were happy (close to ecstatic). This is how he gets when he wants to drag everyone down. It’s complicated, but if no one shares in being miserable, he feels alone, isolated, and out of control. I observed his face and heard my own inner voice saying “MY GOD, MY GOD… MY GOD is in there. MY GOD is in him.” I felt deep affection; a vast ocean of love, not necessarily for Sky personally, but for the beautiful image of God I know is within him. He would not be living and breathing without it. I saw his sulking, angry face as the mask it really was, and literally felt the presence of God hiding deep inside of Sky and all his self-centered ways. All was well. The whole evening after dinner (Sky’s most difficult time of day) was more smooth and drama-free than it has ever been. My thoughts alone can transform a situation.. Sky was not healed, nor is that my intention, but he did not even attempt to engage in any sort of conflict. That’s a huge “Wow” in this family.
This day was miraculous. I know these spiritual lessons are why I chose to be a mother. They’re extremely difficult to learn, but I’m determined to get it, one day at a time. Unconditional love for all people, regardless of what they do, their mistakes, or how they treat us, is what we are here to cultivate on this planet. Sky is my greatest teacher and catalyst in that regard, and I thank him. I’m realizing that great, unswerving, unconditional love in the face of misunderstanding, pain, and ugliness is the only way out of our suffering, both individually and globally. For the first time I’m seeing that I am capable of it, if only for today.
  • On a last note, I couldn’t help sharing this extract from St. Francis, since it is so applicable in my own life. I was reminded of it by a friend, and I didn’t fully understand it in the past, but it makes complete sense to me now:

Brother Leo asked [St. Francis] in great wonder: “Father, I pray thee in God’s name tell me where is perfect joy to be found?”

And St. Francis answered him thus, “When we are come to St. Mary of the Angels, wet through  with rain, frozen with cold, and foul with mire and tormented with hunger; and when we knock at the door, the doorkeeper comes in a rage and says, ‘Who are you?’ and we say, ‘We are two of your brothers,’ and he answers, ‘You tell not true; you are rather two knaves that go about deceiving the world and stealing the alms of the poor. Begone!’ and he opens not to us, and makes us stay outside hungry and cold all night in the rain and snow; then if we endure patiently such cruelty, such abuse, and such insolent dismissal without complaint or murmuring, and believe humbly and charitably that that doorkeeper truly knows us, and that it is God who makes him to rail against us; O Brother Leo, there is perfect joy.

“And if, compelled by hunger and by cold, we knock once more and pray with many tears that he open to us for the love of God and let us but come inside, and he more insolently than ever shouts, ‘These are impudent rogues, I will pay them out as they deserve,’ and comes forth with a big knotted stick and seizes us by our cowls and flings us on the ground and rolls us in the snow, bruising every bone in our bodies with that heavy stick -if we endure all these things patiently and joyously for love of Christ, write, O Brother Leo, that in this perfect joy is found.

“And now, Brother Leo, hear the conclusion. Above all the graces and the gifts that Christ gives to those who love him is that of overcoming self, and willingly to bear other pain and buffetings and revilings and discomfort for love of God.”

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Filed under Family Happenings, Kids, Living with RAD, Parenting, Peace, RAD kids, Thoughts & Insights

Authentic Living: The Ego’s Ruin

I recently had a sweet, very dear friend tell me she couldn’t believe we moved from 2500 square feet, down to just 900. We didn’t have to do it, but I explained that I really liked it because of the peace of mind- fewer expenses, smaller ecological footprint, lower bills, less to clean and maintain, etc (the list is endless). ‘Less to clean’ has been a huge plus for me as a busy mom. My friend seemed amazed, and said she wouldn’t be able to do it because of her ego. Ego? For some reason that never entered the picture for us. We’d honestly never even thought of it. Of course, we have egos. I’m closely acquainted with mine, her name is Edna, and I keep her in check regarding other matters. But Daniel and I have never been about appearances, or what others think of us, and we don’t need a large, fluffed-up or fancy home to feel like valuable, important human beings. Granted, we do believe a home should be reasonably clean, arranged well, and that natural beauty is of great importance to our overall well-being. Those aren’t rooted in the ego so much as a general sense of self respect and a need for nature, order, and balance.

The little conversation sparked some thoughts because I’m sure she isn’t the only one reading our blog who thinks what we’ve done is probably difficult, strange, or an ego-blow. I recall sitting across the table with another friend last year and informing her of our recent move. She wanted to know all about the house, our amenities, and what part of town we’re in. She’s very into ‘prosperity consciousness’ which teaches we can have anything and everything we desire if we just set our intentions properly, and trust in the flow of the universe. Amen to the power of our minds, especially when aligned with our true calling. I strongly believe in that philosophy since I’ve experienced many results first-hand. However, the majority of people in  that movement (at least the people I’ve met) make lists of all the material things they want to acquire. That’s fine if it’s what you want, and if it’s where you’re at in your personal process, but it’s so far from my galaxy of thinking and desires that I tend to confuse that crowd. After explaining our scale-down move to my friend last year, she looked at me with the most puzzled and disgusted look (lip curling) and said, “Why on earth did you do that??!” To her, we should be striving for more, not less. After all, we are entitled to all of God’s riches and glory… right? Well, to me, God’s riches and glory do not lie in this world. Not one iota. My only response to that question is “Why the heck not??!” My other friend had it right– the ego just doesn’t get it.

For those who would walk into our cozy, little house, lip curled, unimpressed and puzzled, let me just say we live in a way that is in complete alignment with our beliefs. In doing so, we’ve experienced a level of happiness that far exceeds anything we’d experience with granite countertops, jacuzzis, a tiled foyer, finished basement, 3-car garage, or mammoth master suite. I spend very little time having to clean up the house, and every square inch gets the love and attention it deserves because there’s less of it. Oh yeah! I love the ‘less’ part. Every corner is valuable and sacred. Our family is 110% closer and more intimate; we talk to one another constantly, and I can monitor what my kids are doing easily. We have the huge, tree-lined 3/4 care yard we’ve always wanted instead of a massive and cumbersome home to maintain on an average, limiting lot. The regenerative, therapeutic value of being outdoors far outweighs any desires to materially impress myself or anyone else. My yard impresses me. The earth with her intensity, beauty, cycles and seasons impresses me from our sun room windows. The grandeur is in  the natural world for us, which isn’t easily noticed and doesn’t always impress people. That’s perfectly okay with me, considering I love the feeling of having a secret oasis. We like it simple.

I’d like to add that we have no problems with those who choose to live differently. We don’t think we’re holier than thou, or better than anyone else. We just wanted to simplify our lives drastically in order to experience more peace, happiness, and freedom, and it worked. We’re not selling anything at all, and don’t make a dime from our blog… we’re just passing along what’s worked for us, and why. There have been more than a few folks who have gotten rather defensive with me about their lifestyles, even when we’re not even on the topic. Seriously, they just blurt out, out of the blue, that they don’t like clothes lines, gardening or the smell of chickens, and need way more living space due to company. Okay, I mean it– that’s okay. The ranting can go on forever while I just listen. Reminds me a great deal of what happens when I inform people I’m vegetarian… ugh! I’m not even going there. Again, we make no personal judgments about anything, except what feels right for ourselves.. that’s what we believe everyone should do– live in complete authenticity with yourself and your surroundings, however that looks to you. So, please don’t take any of what we do or believe as an attack. In my experience, when people take what I’m doing in my own life personally, they’ve probably got some self-examination to do.

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under Clean Planet, Home, Materialism, Order & Balance, Peace, River Living, Simplicity, Small House Living, Thoughts & Insights, Wabi Sabi

Living With a RADish: Spiritual Insights

This is a heavy-duty topic, due to the fact that we have a son with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). By writing, I’m hoping to help other parents, if even just a little. Life with a RADish child can be nightmarish and disturbing at times. It’s especially difficult for mothers, since kids with RAD direct most, if not all of their rage toward the mother. We become isolated and alone because no one outside the family can even begin to understand. As a result, I’m officially what is known in the RAD community as a “Trauma Mama”. My life has been turned upside-down over the last few weeks since the discovery that I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After years of emotional and psychological trauma, I’ve finally sought treatment, and am just beginning to heal. The diagnosis came as a shock to me, considering I’ve been very good at holding it together over the years. Liam and autism have made me so strong, I barely knew what was happening in my body. When I found out, old physical aches and pains disappeared (where I was holding a lot of emotions together), and I was left with a deep pit of sadness and hopelessness that I’ve seen no way out of. Other RAD moms probably know what I’m talking about- that deep well of despair we don’t dare dive into because there isn’t even a rock-bottom.

The problem is, when we’re faced with something we don’t accept and have absolutely no control over, we become lost in dysfunctional thinking. We make things all about the other person, and changing them, which doesn’t work… ever. I had to stop wanting the relationship with my son to change, and I accomplished that. I did let go. The hopelessness forced me there several months ago. I accepted that it may never change, and made peace with that. It was sad, but extremely liberating. I focused on me 110%, and noticed that I couldn’t make peace with myself. This is the difficult work- accepting that our very best efforts were not enough. Accepting that no matter how much effort, love and sincerity we put forth in relationships, we cannot always alter the relationship, and especially not the other person. All we can do is look within, and ask ourselves what it is we are supposed to learn from the situation. It’s never about the other person. Believe it or not, we have a gold mine of wisdom within, and these painful relationships are the perfect opportunity to begin sifting through the rivers of sorrow and sadness.

Last evening during meditation I experienced a heightened sense of awareness about the relationship with my son’s anger, lack of trust and attachment. I came to know that every human being has Attachment Disorder when it comes to our relationship with the Divine, or Divine Mother, as I call it. Instead, humans become attached to all the wrong things in this world–  wealth, fame, power, temporary human relationships, and so forth. Some worship or emulate celebrities, lose themselves in materialism, while others fall prey to false beliefs and various addictions. All the while, humans are searching desperately for that authentic, divine connection. I believe we are all just dying to connect to the Divine, whether we know it or not. We are dysfunctional and disturbed because we believe we are all separate; most insanely of all, separate from God.

For everyone our relationship to our true Self and the Divine is a deeply personal one. I go from feeling drawn to the Divine, almost like a crazed mad-woman, then pulling away out of a sense of fear and unworthiness. If you know anything about Reactive Attachment Disorder, you know this is a core symptom. My child loves me more than anyone, but fears (sometimes hates) me more than anyone at the same time. He’s terrified of the power I have, and so are our souls when it comes to approaching our Source and embracing it completely. We avoid spiritual practices more often than we embrace them. My son feels worthless, doesn;t trust adults, and therefore has a need to be autonomous– he will not rely on me to make sure things go smoothly, and is hyper-vigilant in his control. The same is true of the human ego; our need to control our lives instead of trusting in divine will. My point is that I see clearly how RAD children are a little reflection of the soul’s predicament, and how we shut ourselves off from the Divine. This awareness is helping me shift how I view my child, but most importantly it gives me an enormous insight into my own spiritual life. My son truly is mirroring a part of me, and it’s the most valuable part: my soul. For the first time, I’m seeing a purpose behind this gut-renchingly painful, totally insane relationship, so it isn’t quite as painful or insane any more.

I’m reminded of Swami Sri Yukteswar’s quote: “Human conduct is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine.” This, too, can be applied to RAD children: Until they are anchored in their mother’s unconditional love, their behaviors will always be difficult to understand.

(Deep breath)

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Sane Parenting in a Crazy Nest

Parenting children with severe disabilities has been the most difficult, trying experience of our lives. Daniel and I have been going through a lot lately, especially with our child who has serious emotional/mental health issues. Liam’s autism alone has been challenging, and at times completely overwhelming for me, but there is nothing like the stress of parenting a child with a silent, psychological disability. Yes, it is far more difficult than autism, and I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that. People on the outside see this child as normal, well behaved, and almost perfect. What they don’t know is how much turmoil he experiences and attempts to transfer onto those closest to him, especially me. It forces us into a constant state of hyper-vigilance, and drags the entire family down.

My mistake this Summer was in choosing not to enroll this child in a 5-day a week, full day camp for the entire Summer. A part of me refuses to acknowledge this as a need, considering most families have no problem keeping all their kids home for the Summer. ‘It would be nice’ just to have them all home, building family memories, right? A big, whopping no. I’m a stay-at-home mom and therefore have spent nearly 24/7 in the presence of negativity, opposition, and constant manipulation for the past three weeks. Last evening I realized just how much I need the long, full-day breaks we have when school is in session. I also realized  the toll it’s taken on my mind and body over the years

For those without severely handicapped children, I’m not sure how to describe the state I’ve been in for the past fifteen years. I say fifteen because it all began with Liam and his autism diagnosis. It has been such a long time, and become such a normal way of life that I haven’t noticed what it’s been doing to me. It’s a gradual toll, slowly building up, year after stressful year. There is the emotional aspect, and how we are helpless to change the painful conditions with our children. Then there is the physical toll of caring for a child who cannot take care of himself, combined with the psychological drain of coping with another extremely manipulative and often frightening child. I sat last evening in a car, quietly noticing my body. Alone, away from the house and all the activity, my body remains in fight or flight mode. Unless I deeply relax into a long meditation period, my body is flooded with adrenaline and nervousness. I shudder to think of where I’d be without my meditation practice.

With the kids home 24/7, I have found myself wondering how a family like ours is supposed to do this. I’ve reached the end of my rope, and have already let go. Maybe we’re not supposed to do it. Maybe we’re supposed to fall apart, lose our minds, become lost in helplessness and sorrow so we can come out at the other end of it. I was listening to a talk by our guru last evening, and he said “We cannot know joy without sorrow.” The truth is, we wouldn’t even notice joy without it. Is this why I find myself bursting into massive waves of spontaneous joy in the midst of everything? At times the waves of joy are overwhelming, and I literally feel like I’m going to burst. Is it the deep sorrow that enables me to experience joy in such an overpowering way? If so, it far outweighs every ounce of turmoil.

The ultimate goal is to remain in  that state, despite everything, trusting that all is exactly as it should be. When we are fully present in the moment, not concerned with past or future, we find peace and joy. Easier said than done, especially when I can’t seem to find a moment away from the draining spears of negativity. Our guru also says the company we keep is stronger than our will. No amount of will is going to get me out of this state if I’m in the presence of it 24/7. So, as a parent devoted to my children, what’s the answer here? At the very least I need to take much better care of myself next time (put Me first), and plan Summer according to my own needs. July will be a better month since we’ve enrolled our child in a full-day, all month camp. It’s a painful reality needing distance from your own child, but one I need to acknowledge fully if I’m to be here, completely present for myself and other children.

Posted by: Jill

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Filed under Family Happenings, Kids, Parenting, Peace, Thoughts & Insights

Daniel speaks: The cottonwood seed and my first coaching call…

Did the giant cottonwood tree intend to get that big, or was it just open and willing?

Outside our home, up against the levy, next to the Kaw River, is a huge population of giant cottonwood trees. And now is the time of the year that it is literally snowing cottonwood seeds.

It is a meditation all by itself to sit and just watch them float, and drift, and lazily meander to the ground. There is literally no effort in their journey. They could travel for miles before they come to their final resting place in the warm embrace of the Earth. They don’t care. They are just happy to BE.

Yet, just like the great Buddha said, inside that seed is the giant cottonwood. It is already a reality. So what makes the difference?  What determines whether one particular seed will fall at just the right spot on the earth, be covered by the exact right amount of soil, be exposed to the right amount of water and light to germinate, sprout, grow, and become that giant cottonwood?

I think the very first ingredient for the future manifestation of the cottonwood tree is the carefree nature of the  seed. It first has to let go, and just float. Let the wind and the pull of the Mother carry it where it needs to go. Without that innate, total freedom, it would never land where it needs to.

I just did the very first coaching call of my new life coaching career, and it went extremely well. Thinking back on that session,  my mind goes to the mighty cottonwood tree.

Those seeds are like our many dreams, visions, intentions, aspirations – that which we are called upon to BE. Our beingness is within the seeds of all we dream to become. We have many potential outcomes and realities, all happening under the magnificent sky of our souls.

That which we allow to unfold is far more magnificent than anything we could ever plan to achieve. Yes, we have our visions, our clearly stated intentions, our aspirations, our goals… and we release them… and…

and….

and….

then what?

The journey between releasing the seed and witnessing the cottonwood is the subject of many thousands of books and seminars, classes, courses, teaching, techniques…

and most of it is a mystery.

A mystery of letting-go, action without strain, witnessing, meditating, flowing, acting on hunches, synchronicity, miracles, people coming together at the right place and the right time.

In closing, I would say that one ingredient in allowing the seeds of our intentions to become the cottonwoods of our reality — better than air — more nourishing than sunlight — more refreshing that water — more magical than luck…

is love.

After we envision them, release them, watch them dance and float to the ground with a smile on our faces, we need to find where they land…

sit…

smile…

and pour our greatest love into them.

Posted by: Daniel (originally from his blog Behind the Greenhouse)

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Farmstead Harmony

Today I’m feeling especially struck by the perfectly harmonious relationship we have with our animals. I was pulling weeds around the roses this morning (which have their first blooms of the season and the fragrance is to-die for) and threw all the weeds into the chicken run. It was a large pile, but they were all devoured in less than thirty minutes by both the ducks and chickens. Instead of tossing them into the garbage or compost heap, they disappeared into a perfect cycle… we’ll basically be consuming the weeds through our eggs. There is something primal and beautiful in having that symbiotic type of relationship with other living beings.

I’m noticing we have the most ideal mulch now. Every month we clean and rake out the entire chicken run. All the old straw and manure goes into the compost pile. Chicken and duck poo breaks down quickly since it’s dry and grainy, so we’re able to stir it around a month or two and see the most ideal mulch appear for our garden beds– rich, organic straw. We laid a heavy layer over our tomato bed, and they’ve been taking off like crazy. (**PLEASE NOTE: The compost we put on the beds was from the Fall/November. Compost should be aged at least 3 months for above ground crops, and 6 months for ground/root crops**) My point- we fed the chickens our scraps, weeds, etc. and they produced fertilizer resulting in mulch that both protects and nourishes our plants while at the same time saving us a lot of money on mulch. Then we’ll  consume the most amazing tomatoes we’ve ever eaten (if all goes well). I’ve been so excited about the mulch, we’ve been putting it everywhere. Note: we have to be sure to use the very broken-down straw compost since it can burn plants if it’s too fresh.

I should add that we have a new type of Dandelion control going on within the yard. We consume it ourselves, but never from our back yard due to the dog waste. Prasad walks around every day picking Dandelion and Violet to feed Forest, our growing Flemish Giant. The Dandelion that was taking over the cellar door is trimmed way down (sometimes he even gets the whole root out), and this week he’ll be pulling out the plants behind the air conditioner. Would Prasad be so willing to weed without his bunny? Probably not. Once again, it’s a sweet example of the natural harmony that takes place when you have the right animals around.

There are so many other examples of this in our lives, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get used to it and take it for granted… it is, after all, the most natural of things.

Posted by: Jill

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