Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whose Train are You On?

Last night I was coaching some powerful women around what they wanted in life. What they wanted was to talk to their loved ones about things that mattered to them. They wanted to connect, to relate and not have judgement, weirdness and conflict.
One serene Japanese woman, said simply, "I want to talk to them about something but they keep getting off track..talking about other things, like their grandbaby or have I called Aunt Melba? I don't know how to get them back on track!" Struggle rippled beneath her smooth, perfect skin. Helplessness began to whisper...

I totally understood. I've been there. How many times do I start to talk to my children about doing what I want them to do and find that they just scream back about gum or their rocket ship?

I stop myself from telling her what to do, as my automatic way of being would. There is something there for her to see on her own.

" What do you see is missing? " I ask simply.
" .....Being with THEM" she comes up with...like a swimmer after a long dive, she breathes, her face relaxes... " Being with them."
"You are trying to get them to get on your train, yes?" I ask.
"Yes" she nodded, clear about her intentions.
" What if you got on their train? "
" Ah, listened to them, got in their world....ahhh...that would be amazing."
" What kind of new world could you experience being on their train?"
She smiled newly, called her friend and created a whole new world of relatedness.
They laughed, they planned getting together.Both got to talk about what mattered to them. Her friend felt heard and empowered.
SHE did that. She got on her friend's train. Saw something new and created with her rather than struggling and resisting and causing two trains to wreck.

Let's face it. We know what's going on on our train, in our brain....and usually it is a one track train and we know exactly where it's going to go.
Depression, sadness, pity, anxiety...all that is is us being on the one track in our own brain in that one direction.
I say throw out the depression drugs! Every last one of them (ok, unless you are in a ward) and go out and volunteer ( and stop eating gluten/wheat, but that's a whole other blog). Listen to your friends problems, build a doll house for someone's sick daughter and listen to her Mom, tell jokes at a senior center and then interview them...whatever gets you out side of your head and onto someone else's train.

I will practice playing with my children more and playing in THEIR world.
As a brilliant lady Kathleen said "It's amazing what comes out of your mouth when you are not in your head." When you are over there with them, all there is is love and relatedness...and a whole new world to see.

Zen Honeycutt

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Courageous and Creative

Today I invented the possibility with my accountability partners (yes I have two...it takes two to keep me in line:) of being Courageous and Creative.
That is my theme for this year.
No more business as usual.

That means some thing are changing. I am completing things that aren't working. I am giving up things I once loved to create a new future. I am purging my home of the unnecessary and unused. I am catching myself when I speak the usual broken record words or sounding like my parents in their frustrated moments. Not always, but an astonishing amount of miracles are emerging where I would least expect them.
Simple miracles in simple moments, that become the most meaningful.

Today, after school, I picked up my eldest son at the second pick up for the day, the sixth errand perhaps, and because I told my accountability partner that I would, and because I knew I could, I asked my children what they wanted to do.
"What would we do if we were being courageous and creative?"

Now normally, my son would get in the car, they might bicker a bit, talking over each other, vying for attention suddenly, and we would go home, spread out to our corners...Ben on homework near me on the computer, and Bodee playing with a toy, back to Bronson to protect his momentary obsession. We would have snack together, maybe read a few books, but the day would continue predictably for the rest of the evening, including much whining as I am cooking dinner and terse reminders that the dinner table is not a trough and we are not pigs.

But this time, today was different. I am committed to being and causing Courage and Creativity!

We declare Hike Time! and then Ben suggests afterwards we go home and write about it. "That would be creative!" he says cleverly.
We hike through a new area by a secret marsh in Irvine. Being courageous, it's a new area and we don't have a map. As soon as Bodee even sniffs a whiff of boredom I suddenly stop in my tracks and point "BIGFOOT! TRACKS!" The boys are on high alert and we urgently inspect the huge tracks of what seems to have been a very large footed walker. Then..."SNAKE!!! The longest snake in the WOOOORLD!" I shout...at a long striped water hose.
"Oh Mommy, you're funny, that's not a snake..." I am inspired by being considered funny.
"Are you suuuuure?" I say slyly, and they realize they are not sure and boldly approach anyway.

We courageously go off the path and walk through winding trails. The boys pee in the bushes with glee and we Christen it the "Pee Bush", walking past it with our noses pinched.
The afternoon is a delightful adventure of nature, trees, rocks, mud, birds, lizards, flowers, marsh ponds and singing boys filled with freedom.

We go home and their drawings and writing about the adventure was as if we had gone to Disneyland.
Bodee also created an apology letter to a boy in school that he insulted. It took great courage for him to acknowledge that he did that and he very creatively wrote "There were two boys who were MAD and then became friends."
Instead of "There, ARE YOU HAPPY?" like he wanted to. It took courage for me not to get angry with him and to create understanding and the freedom to express himself...even if it did take three attempts at an apology.

We ate a delicious dinner and made a video for Daddy who was working late. Bodee and the boys sang a song about how much they love Daddy. Priceless.
We even did a Venus Fly Trap science project afterwards...even though I really wanted to check out and write...because my children wanted to create something WITH ME.
And it matters that it's me that does it with them.

I am inspired by our creation.
Inspired by the joy and glee in my children. When I bought them a pack of gum on one of the errands they sang songs for ten minutes about Happy Glee Gum. When we found a new path they shouted at the top of their lungs with bravado.What if we created like that? Expressed joy like that?
When my boys saw a tiny path, they took it, regardless of knowing where it might go. What if we were courageous in everyday actions...what new things, what miracles might show up?

Zen Honeycutt

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Death and Love

" The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?" - Kahlil Gibran

My Aunt Jade is dying. She is in hospice and is not completely aware anymore. She is happy and comfortable though, and at peace with the time being near.
My mother's older sister is a sassy San Fransican activist, one of the people who barrages the government with letters, emails and phone calls to save the whales, the water quality, the turtles in mexico. She is one of the reasons we have the society we do. She is creative, compassionate, fiery and tenacious.
She has straight, pure white hair, cut into a perfect bob that falls to her chin. She wears bright ethnic clothing, celebrating Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Tibet and the Ecuador. She is a independent Chinese woman who speaks excellent Spanish, lives part time in Mexico, teaches high schoolers in San Francisco and enjoys a walk with her dog Radar in the park, chatting casually with her neighbors, more than anything.

I love her because she is vibrant, opinionated and active. She makes a difference in the world around her, and whether you agree with her, or see her verocity for change as passionate or angry, all agree that she knows she matters. She knows each one of us matters. She stood for each of us when we were too busy to email the government. And she emailed us again because she knows we matter and we can make a difference.
I love that about her. She empowers me to be active. She inspires me to care.

As we sat in the sunny dog park by her burgundy, forest green and gold Victorian home in San Francisco on a recent visit, a floral scarf wrapped around her head, wisps of white hair blowing in the breeze, I held her hand and summoned my then 7 year old over to us. I looked at my Aunt Jade and asked her, "If you could have one wish for our future generations, what would it be?"
She squinted at me through the sun, surprised, a little bit, inside her brown eyes, and said " Oh that's a big question...."
She looked down, for a moment, thoughtfully, then up, sure, and said to Ben and I, "To take care of the earth."
Ben looked at her solemnly and said. "I can do that."
I sighed, squeezed her hand and was complete with the relationship we have had. In my heart, my love for her was so full, it overflowed into the next generation.

The sorrow I feel for her near passing is not a misery of which I feel victim of. It is a deep understanding that I only feel this sorrow because I have had the honor to know her, to be influenced by her, to be related to her and to be inspired by her. All a blessing. All a gift.
I thank my Paw Paw (Chinese for Grandmother) for birthing and raising such a dynamic person. I thank her daughter Andra for caring for her mother generously, all the while creating a creative and vibrant life of her own passions. I thank my mother for having had a relationship with her sister that was joyful and open and allowed me to get to know my Aunt Jade. I celebrate her life and know that death is but a phase in life.

"Knowing that I am of the same nature as all other natural things, I know that there is really no seperate self, no seperate personality, no absolute death and no absolute life" - T'ien T'ung-Hsu...from my Zen calendar from my dear, dear sister.

That is a deep concept to grasp, especially in the midst of sorrow.I never understood how people could say that they want to have a party when they die, they want people to be happy. It felt so cold and fake. I get now, there is the opportunity, in her passing to celebrate having been a part of her life. We hurt from death because we love, and if we reside in the love we can be present to the miracles in life. It may continue to hurt, the sorrow is like the burning in the oven, and yet something beautiful can be created from it.
The question to ask ourselves, is from knowning this person, the eclectic, bold and outspoken Aunt Jade, and what she stands for, how will we now live our lives?

With Love to her beautiful and marvelous daughter Andra and compassionate son-in-law Brian,
Zen Honeycutt

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why do we Have To be Nice to Nature?

” Mommy, why do we have to be nice to nature?” asked my 5 year old Bodee on a sunny hike through a nature reserve. We were on our Sunday family hike and I had curtailed his desire to crush anthills and smash flowers and he didn’t like it. And yet, he really authentically wanted to know why…

” First of all, we don’t HAVE to be. And alot of people aren’t nice to nature. You don’t have to be. It’s a choice. You can be. As your Mommy I ask you to be nice to nature, and you can choose to be. Why do you think we might want to be nice to nature?’

He thought carefully” Because they do to us what we do to it. ”

He was roughly quoting the Golden Rule that we had discussed earlier when a squabble erupted between he and his 2 year old brother.

“Great Bodee!….Ben, why do You think we might choose to be nice to nature?” My 8 year old was listening in on the conversation and I was curious to know what gears were churning in his brain.

“Because we ARE nature.” he said simply and dashed over a dirt slope, off the lead the way on our adventure.

We ARE nature.

With the natural disasters happening in Japan and in so many parts of the globe, with such devastating, unthinkable results, it would behoove us to think about our intricate connection to the nature we are.

We are 78% water. If our water sources are endangered, polluted, hoarded or scarce. WE are.

We are consumers of food, which come from nature. If our food is polluted, sprayed with pesticides, highly processed, sprinkled with preservatives or genetically engineered, WE are too.

We are breathers of air. If we create pollution and it goes into the air, through exhaust pipes, factories chimneys, radiation or reactors, and the result is polluted air, WE are polluted too.

We are creators, doers, we Cause as well…we are producers of pollution, which impact nature and ourselves in ways we cannot always see or measure. Just like not crushing an anthill or leaving a flower for a hummingbird to draw nectar from has an unimaginable impact on nature….regardless of how minute we think it is…nature has unimaginable impact on us.

Just imagine, all of human kind’s existence, if measured in distance, would be the thickness of a human hair compared to the existence of the universe and planets. When you think of it that way, one earthquake begins to look a little like grains of sand for an ant hill to the universe.

Sounds like a blasphemous trivialization, doesn’t it? AND what’s so is that the earth will shift again, and will we make up that God is angry and it’s the end of the world, and be victims and raise our stress levels or will we look to an empowering context for our feelings and meaning in life. We can be nice to ourselves or not.

And nature doesn’t care about NICE by the way. Nature, the universe…doesn’t know what nice is. It just is. The plates move. The water flows. The mud slides. There is no meaning of nice or not nice about it. We humans add the meaning of nice or not.

Yes, the results to us are unthinkable…but the source of the tragedy is not in the plates shifting or the water flowing. The source of the tragedy actually comes from a blessed place. It is a tragedy because we love. We care, we are connected to other human beings, to their dreams, their lives, their children. We are related to what matters to them and those they love.

That’s where a situation becomes a tradgedy…when my child is present to what the ants are up to, he chooses on his own, not to crush the anthill. He chooses not to create a tragedy for them. He is a child with imagination and choice.

Nature however, will continue to ebb and flow, rocks and water do not imagine or think about what they are going to do today. God even, if you believe, I assert created the earth and nature as it is, perfect and whole and complete, and just like human beings, nature does what it does. Only it doesn’t have choice. If we can acknowledge the source of the tragedy of natural disasters is within US, and it comes from a source of LOVE, that we are amazing, then we are empowered and peace and creation can begin.

How can we be nice to nature, and to ourselves, today?

Wishing you and your loved ones peace.

With Love,

Zen Honeycutt

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Child's Wish

I am reading my three sons a bedtime story, Pinocchio. At the end of the tale Geppetto declares that his wooden puppet of a son is truthful, brave and unselfish. This was the test that the Blue Fairy gave him to pass and so "Poof!" he is freed from the restrictions of the wood and turned into a real boy.

I am reminded of the huge breakthrough my son Ben has caused for himself lately, seeing his part in the bullying that was happening to him at school, creating a deal and having many days since then of making friends, playing and no bullying.
I kiss Ben on the forehead and thank him for being truthful and brave and unselfish without mentioning why...but he knows. He smiles and nods.
Then he says meaningfully "Thank you for being empowering, Mom."
I am stunned. I didn't know he even new that word. My heart swells with wonder.
"What made you think of that word, empowering, Ben?"
"Oh I just thought of it in my head." he says simply.

I am so touched, so fullfilled.
I reply " That's all I want to be as a Mommy, is empowering for you boys."
He says "I want you to be all that you want to be, and to be free."

I can hardly believe what I am hearing, and yet I fully get that Ben is just such a compassionate, mature and wonderful eight year old. This is just exactly what he would say. This is all he wishes for anyone.
I also get that me being free is of concern to him, and that me being free is freedom for him as well. And in that moment, I am free of all my concerns as a parent.
I kiss him again and say, with a lump in my throat, "I am. I am free. Thank you, Ben. I love you. Good night."
I promptly leave the room and cry tears of wonder, telling my husband what an amazing son we have.

As I write this, my mind goes back to when I saw my parents disempowered or unhappy. They were awesome parents, and like any, they didn't always want to do the job they did, or drive the distance, or file the paperwork...and when they were grouchy or upset or resentful about it...my child like perspective was just "Well then why are you doing it? Just do what makes you happy!".
I wanted my parents to be free too. I still do. As their child, nothing saddens me more than to see my parents unhappy about something. I think it affects our core being, our sense of security and safety. Like Ben, all I want is for them to be free in all areas of their life.
As a parent, I get I cannot really do anything about their choices in their lives (beside suggest, remind, and annoy), and I can see that I can really only be happy and free in my life. Perhaps, rather than figuring out what kind of techniques I need to incorporate to be the best parent for my kids, perhaps just being happy and free with myself is all I need to do.

Be all that I want to be and be free. What a gift to give to yourself and those you love.

Zen Honeycutt