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Gifts with Meaning

The whole biological, extended & friend family gang at Jaden’s high school graduation, June 2nd 2018

FB post written on May 28th:

My stepson Jaden has 3 days of mandated schooling left, before he’s set to graduate from a system he’s spent the last 12-years ingesting as a tonic to both grow and be stunted by. We’re in the home stretch of the end of an era. For him and for me.

No more school functions to routinely attend. No more volunteering at the snack and beverage station in the back of the cafetorium at drama productions. No more daily preparations of breakfast or serving as his day-planner, reminding him of this and that before setting off in the morning. No more close monitoring of such things as is common for a youth in your charge when tending to their well-being is your full-time pleasure of an occupation.

What an exciting and devastating time this is, all at once.

 

FB post written on May 30th:

It seemed somehow appropriate that yesterday my soon-to-graduate-from-high-school stepson should have his car in need of an overnight stay at a tire place around the corner, deeming it necessary that I give him one last ride to school this morning. It was well-timed closure for me on the parental front.

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I was stumped in the what-to-get-my-stepson-for-his-graduation-present department and landed on a collection of 11 gifts, each fashioned with a card I’d written a symbolic meaning for. My original intention was to leave it at that. But then I thought it would make for an appropriate gesture if his dad were to write the dad-response on the back of each card. So that’s what we did.

At our family graduation dinner on Wednesday night, Jaden opened each gift and then I read what I’d written, followed by Mike reading what he’d written. It’s worth mentioning that it’s commonly known in our nuclear family that I’m the nice one and Mike is the dark-hearted one (but dark-hearted in the most jovial sense of the word!).

To perhaps inspire others with creative gift-giving ideas, I thought I’d share with you a few of the gifts we got for him, along with the words we both wrote for each one. Here goes! (As is also commonplace in our family, let me apologize ahead of time for Mike’s sarcastic comedic whit.)

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Today

The four aspects of the Plum Village Tradition (Thich Nhat Hanh’s practice) are: study, practice, work, and play.

Today:

Let us study our relationships with one another.

Let us practice to enfold the quality of mindfulness into as many of our daily activities as we can.

Let us work to be fully present in the here and now.

And let us play in the fluid motion of joy, as we train in the art of not taking ourselves so seriously.

Having a sense of humor, being able to delight in simple pleasures, and not taking oneself so seriously is of great benefit. Here’s a 1-minute video I took yesterday – may it help you to train in the fluid art of cultivating joy.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the little toy in this video is solar powered. Prior to yesterday, I had no idea it could dance with such vigor!

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2017 in Everyday Practice, Fun, video

 

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Anniversary

loveatfirstsight                                          I’ve entitled this edited picture of Mike and I, taken in 2014: Love at First Sight :)

This Wednesday, March 9th, my husband Mike and I will celebrate 16 years of married life together. I think our marriage has lasted this long due, in part, to the spirit in which the above photo was taken – that of fun and humor!

And had it not been for our shared mindfulness practice in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition I don’t think we would’ve been able to weather the storms and challenges we’ve been able to. So I attribute our strong relationship to both humor and mindfulness.We have a lot of fun together. I can safely say that we laugh almost everyday together, which I think is a big part of our success as a couple.

We got married young enough for my mom to be pretty upset when I told her we were engaged (as most concerned, caring mothers would be). I was 19 when I met Mike, and he was 20. We got engaged in Las Vegas, of all places, only 2 months after we started dating and were married just 9 months later. Normally the odds would be against such young-aged marriages working out, but then Mike and I have always leaned towards the atypical side of things, even when growing up in our own respective parts of the country, he in Montana and me in the suburbs of Philly.

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Sometimes That Happens

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If I had a slogan or a message I’d like to pass along to future generations to keep in mind it would be this: Sometimes that happens.

It can serve in many practical functions. It’s a great way to respond to children about all sorts of things:

  • Little Billy breaks his favorite toy – “Oh darn, sometimes that happens.”
  • Little Sally complains about eating her broccoli – “I know it’s not your favorite, sometimes that happens.”
  • Little Frank falls down and skins his knee – “Ouch, sometimes that happens.”

It’s a great way to respond to our own inner and outer environments, or other adults, as well:

  • You or someone you know has a crappy day – “Sometimes that happens.”
  • You say to yourself: Gosh I feel sooo lousy today – “Sometimes that happens.”
  • The roads are super icy and challenging to drive on – “Sometimes that happens.”
  • The lady in front of you in line at the grocery store is taking FOREVER! – “Sometimes that happens.”
  • The dude in the car behind you is honking at you for stopping in the middle of the street because he doesn’t see that you’ve done so to let a pedestrian cross in front of you – “Sometimes that happens.”

It’s a widely adaptable phrase.  One to carry with us in our pockets on the go.  And we don’t have to necessarily say it out loud even.  We can say it in our minds, in our hearts, and in the our actions that follow.  We say it with love, care, and a deep sense of connection and understanding.  We say it as a way to acknowledge, embrace, and let go.

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Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Everyday Practice

 

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