Saturday, November 30, 2013

Five Ways to Know You Are "Getting It Right!"

We have plenty of yardsticks by which to measure our success and plenty of failures to drag us down, but what I am learning as a parent, and as someone dancing with being an adult for a couple decades, is that the messiness of life perpetuates even while we are "getting it right."  It's important to step back a little, take an objective look at our progress, and give ourselves some credit.  Here are some simple items to check on the list and know whether you are getting life right.

1.  Things are better than they were.  Maybe things aren't perfect, but how were they two years ago?  If you see any improvement, then you know you are getting it right and making the right choices.  They might not be the choices that someone else would make but, lucky for you, someone else isn't in charge of your life.  Your values and what is important to you dictate how you make decisions, so as long as things are getting better then you are on the right course!

2.  You, your spouse, and your children are healthy and safe.  If everyone in your household is physically safe from harm, well fed, nourished and healthy, then you are getting it right.  If you are dealing with disease of any kind, or any health challenges, these don't indicate you are getting it wrong.  How you are dealing with those issues and whether you are working towards wellness for those that might be struggling change that.  As long as you are taking measures to address it, coping with the circumstances, and putting health and safety first, then you are getting it right.

3.  Your dreams are being fulfilled, even if just part-time or in microscopic increments.  There is no timeline for when something has to be fulfilled.  Taking simple steps, everyday, toward fulfilling the dreams you have in your heart and your gut are all that are needed.  Prioritizing your dreams out of the picture won't work.  Putting them on the back burner is okay as long as you are willing to allow that dream to be given a little more priority at an appropriate time (such as when 1 and 2 are happening).

4.  You no longer doubt your own worth or your children's worth.  If you have begun to recognize your own value beyond income, material indication, and keeping up with the Jones's then you are definitely getting it right.  Recognizing your own worth is imperative to making progress on the dreams you might have for yourself and your children.  Clothes, toys, cars, electronic devices, are not indicators of success.  They might be indicators of debt, or indicators of values, even indicators of insecurity, but in no way are they indicators of worth.  Pressuring children to live up to others' standards don't improve their own sense of who they are.  When you are allowing yourself, your partner, and your children to be amazingly valuable just as they are, then you know you are getting it right.

5.  You are able to help others that need help, even if it's not monetary.  Donating money is tricky if you don't have a lot to share.  But it's not the only way.  Giving and sharing are really things that allow us to be present in the gratitude we have for our own lives and in recognizing how much more we have than so many others on the planet.  Even if it's just a conversation, or a donation of old clothes, giving to others is an important part of our human experience.  Selfishly, it is a ritual of proving to ourselves that we have more than enough.  Compassionately, it is an opportunity to help others make progress on their path, a path that might have started out much further behind than yours has been.

Bonus: #6

6.  When you take time for yourself, you are renewed and re-committed to the path you are on.
If, after taking time to meditate, get a massage, take a walk, or just read a book, you find yourself with renewed energy for the path you are walking, then you know you are getting it right.  And you also know how important that time for yourself is for making progress on that path.  So take more time, be more of an example to yourself of how good it feels to be renewed, and know that you truly are "GETTING IT RIGHT!"

A thousand waves of blessings to you! 

~ Jessica

Friday, November 29, 2013

Let's Put the Harvest Home Back into . . . Thanksgiving

Let's get this out of the way:

I decorate before Thanksgiving.

I don't shop Black Friday.

I don't cook turkey.

There.  I said it.

What's the big deal about Thanksgiving anyway?  Isn't it just a pre-Christmas?  I think it's a little more than that for the ritual-deprived, average white American that might not understand their own need to honor the passing of the seasons.  As a nature-based family, we've had our three harvest festivals in August, September, and October (yes, Halloween is a Harvest festival).  As soon as the last bits of begged-for candy are donated, thrown out, or eaten, I'm ready to dig out the Solstice decorations because my sense of honoring the harvest and all that means for us as a family has been fulfilled.  For those that haven't honored the wave of harvests, grain, fruit, and animal, Thanksgiving is their only chance to smash it all together and get it done. 

Originally, there was no specific Thanksgiving.  There was Harvest Home, a harvest celebration that happened in September with the Autumnal Equinox and/or the harvest being brought in.  This was a harvest celebration that most folks enjoyed.  You can read more about that here:  What is most striking to me about our history of Thanksgiving in the US is that we didn't even have an official day until the 1940s!  And yet, we have all the hoopla over waiting until Thanksgiving is done to start decorating and shopping for Yule and Christmas.  It's my observation that Thanksgiving is a very late holiday for the harvest and that's why many folks are ready to move on even before it arrives.  I prefer to let the harvest concept rule:  we give thanks for the harvest (and all that symbolizes) when the majority of the harvests are happening (August, September, and October).

Do I celebrate Thanksgiving?  Mostly.  I don't celebrate the unpleasantness of our culture's treatment of the Native Americans, and you can read about how many (most?) Native Americans don't celebrate Thanksgiving either here: .  But there is value in honoring a day that is honored by most of my loved ones.  There is value in giving thanks when my family is also giving thanks, even though every day that my husband, children and I have together we give thanks.  So I guess you could say we "go along." 

We had a quiet Thanksgiving meal with just the four of us yesterday and this is where I admit that I don't cook turkey.  It just seems like a whole lot of effort to me.  I'd rather cook a roast, or chicken, because turkey just isn't my thing.  And today I'm not out shopping for Black Friday.  I'd rather be with my family, even if I'm not wrapped up in the potential importance of Thanksgiving as a holiday.  But even if it wasn't about family, I don't think I'd brave the cold and the early morning hours.  I don't care to dive into the chaos and madness, hundreds, thousands of people going where I want to go, shopping where I want to shop.  No thanks.  And I would much rather support local shops, smaller businesses, and create handmade goods for my holiday wares.

There was no late night scramble to get the decorations up after our meal yesterday because they were already up.  There was no worry over whether we had stuffing and cranberries because we did all that back in September.  And if it were up to me, I'd say lets put the Harvest Home back in Thanksgiving!

Blessings to you all!