Thursday, December 24, 2020

81. Within the Stream

 "Words will never bring

our children to a knowledge of the Tao.

We don't need to argue.

We don't need to teach.

We don't need to push.

We don't need to strive.

We only need to live

content within the Stream.

My words are over.

I wrote them for myself,

that I might hear them often enough

to begin to understand them.

And as I begin to understand them,

may I begin to live them.

If looking over my shoulder

has brought you some pleasure,

I am content."

I write to connect with myself and others. What I thought would be a single project/exercise several years ago has taken on a life of its own and seen me through two of my biggest life milestones to date. As I prepare for a third, I am already planning the next phase of this blog. Having things to look forward to is a blessing. Being able to share those things is a bigger one yet. I'm glad I'm still here, and still moving forward.

80. Empty Nest

"If parents follow wisdom,

their children remain happy. 

They content themselves

with simple pleasures

and don't look to constant stimulation

to keep themselves amused.

They love being at home

and don't have to go elsewhere 

for approval and acceptance.

When they leave home

to continue with their own adventure,

they carry with them

confidence, contentment, and joy.

And their parents watch them leave,

with satisfaction, peace, and happiness.

The 'empty nest syndrome'

should never bother

parents of the Tao.

Of course we'll miss our children.

But all their lives we have helped them

embrace life and welcome change.

We have learned to do the same.

New moments await us.

Our nest,

and theirs, 

is never empty."

I am grateful for the time I spent living alone. Through it, I learned to fill my own cup, and how to fashion a bigger cup for moments when I wanted or needed more out of life. This is not to say I was always happy to do so, or that it was easy to do at all. It wasn't. Over time it became so difficult that I found myself running into situations in which I perceived that I wouldn't have to do it all alone. Such situations have both brought me great joy, and gotten me in a lot of trouble. As I recuperate from and gain perspective on it all, I discover better how to model self-sufficiency and contentment for my daughter. I reconnect with the parts of myself I honed during that profound alone time. I know they have been a reserve of strength for me at this time in history of necessary distance from others. May they help me be more available when we can all be together again. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

79. Refuse to Level Blame

 "Parents of the Tao

refuse to level blame.

They watch the evening news

without complaining.

They observe the failures of others

and never gloat.

When their children

let them down

they remain serene.

They fulfill their own duties

and never worry about others.

There is never a need to blame our children

for anything.

We can, of course, correct them.

We can guide them gently

and with wisdom.

But blaming our children

for their faults

is not the only problem.

Monitor your conversations

for a seven day period.

Make a note each time

that you complain or blame

concerning anything.

Your children listen.

Are they learning to blame others,

or take constructive action?"

I am grateful to my parents for teaching me to take responsibility for my actions and choices. One thing I wish they had done a better job of modeling or communicating to me is how to distinguish between what I do and do not have control over. The biggest thing I am learning as a parent now is how little actually falls into the former category. Oddly, this makes me feel more at ease. Life becomes about doing what I can, and respecting myself and others enough to recognize my own limitations. Hopefully this will equip me to help my daughter take a realistic view of her own. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

78. Difficulties Are Overcome By Yielding

 "Parents facing hardship and sorrow

must become like water.

They must  embrace 

the hardest things of life

and enfold them with their heart. 

Death and loss are overcome

with gentleness and serenity.

We all want to protect our children 

from the sorrow and loss of life.

We cannot.

But the way we behave

when faced with these things

will give our children all they need

to remain at peace.

Remember water.

Nothing hard can stop it.

What hardships are you facing?

What are your children learning

as they watch you?

Over the past three years or so my family and I have faced more different difficulties together than I would have thought possible for one small group of folks to handle. I am grateful for the hard lessons I learned early on in life that have equipped me to embrace hardships since then if not with ease, then at least with some measure of grace. This also is not easy to maintain, but I never stop trying. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

77. Never Seek to Triumph Over Your Children

 "Parents who follow the Tao,

never seek to triumph

over their children.

They have no need of winning

to protect their position.

Their position is secure.

Nor do they let their children

triumph over them.

This would harm their children.

Winning and losing

have no meaning

to such parents.

They always find the balance

between too much

and too little.

No one is afraid of them.

They are afraid of no one.

There are times,

especially when they are young,

that we must impose our will

upon our children.

But do so only for their safety.

It is all too easy

to use our size and power

to intimidate our children

and get our way.

This does not teach the Tao."

The way I see it, my children are my triumph. They are my way. Why would I try to best them, or get in their way? For me to intimidate the people I love who have opened my heart the most, challenged me to love the most and be my best, would be a sin indeed. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

76. Hold Tight Only to Compassion

 "It has been said by experts,

'You must be consistent,

or your children will be confused.'


Who among us is consistent? 

Circumstances are always changing.

Children become confused

when parents become rigid,

holding rules about love.

Be consistently flexible.

Hold tight only to compassion.

As people age they become

either soft and supple,

or hard and brittle,

both in mind and body.

I have seen profound examples

of each type,

so have you.

Which are you becoming?

Children are flexible

in body and in spirit.

The greatest gift we can give them,

is to become the same."

I have mentioned before what a struggle it can be for me to adhere to any structure or routine. As a parent I depend a lot on my husband, who thrives on what I like to tease him about as his "schedule," to help me provide this for our daughter. I am making my peace with this difference between us by learning to see a schedule or routine as a framework for being responsive. This I know I can always do with compassion, but I have to maintain some compassion for myself, too. Finding the best way to be consistently flexible may also help me establish the kind of loving authority I hope to achieve as a caring, mindful parent--the kind that will help me make and keep agreements with my daughter, and model integrity for her, and the kind that will help me set and maintain boundaries so I don't need to fear the mistakes I will, inevitably, make. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

75. Space and Time

 "If parents are always intruding

into the world of their children,

the children will lose their independent spirit.

If parents impose rule after rule

on the behavior of their children,

the children will lose their self-confidence.

Keep your children safe,

but do not be afraid

to leave them alone.

I once heard a child counselor say,

'You can never spend too much time

with your children.'

Yes, you can.

Children need, of course,

the assurance of your presence.

But they also need,

at every age,

plenty of space to play the games,

to imagine the futures,

and to dream the dreams

of childhood.

Too much time spent together

may be serving your needs,

not theirs."

I love watching my daughter play independently. I love playing with her, too, but when she engages in an activity, with a toy or book, by herself, it's a breath of fresh air. As for self-confidence, I never had much; as for my independent spirit, I never felt very entitled to it (even though I realize now I absolutely was, and am.) More than anything I want my daughter to know I trust her, and respect her. I love who she is, and as I witness her growth into herself, I can only keep growing into myself, too.