that's San Francisco, for a business conference about Java. He'll be gone all week and we miss him very much over here. But we're rallying- having played all afternoon at Taste of Champaign and had a nice relaxing evening at home, cleaning up after all the cooking and preparing we've done lately for Baha'i events this week. Now I'm looking forward to the week ahead. I think it will be an adventure.
...do your joints ache suddenly and painfully when you're afraid you or your child is going to fall off something high up or when you see someone's really gross injury? Is that what people mean by 'going weak in the knees'?
...does the rhythm of the gas pumping machine as it goes clickilty clickity make you tap your toes or bob your head or even boogie down to make your kids laugh while they're stuck in the car?
I was just wondering.
the wild ramblings of a PMS-y brain, remembering a really good birthday party yesterday where Billy and I worked well together and enjoyed every minute, even through little disasters, the accumulation of time not had by me to myself to write or think or anything due to Georgia not being in school, an exciting trip to the House of Worship Saturday, hearing Red Grammer again, seeing old friends and new and showing Georgia the inside of the dome of the House of Worship and the great awe on her and Maya's faces, Maya's delight and amazement at being in the same car with and talking face to face with that guy in her video (Red) and her trying to crack him up with silly words (and succeeding), more wild ramblings of a PMS-y brain, plotting my escape (not really) when I get to take a planned break tomorrow night (I love being able to look forward to free time and changes of pace), thinking about what fun new things I want to bring to the next Baha'i Feast (since we're hosting it) and hoping that we'll really have the time to plan things to our mutual satisfaction, trying to figure out what all is happening this summer without having overlaps of plans but not getting it together to actually looking at a calendar and the confusion and frustration and vagueness that that brings, the pure delight of looking up at my two children as they lunge for my lap as soon as I sit down on the floor and give me kisses and having such huge love and thankfulness that I am here with them: these are the highlights of my thoughts today.
We've got the computer up here in the attic and it's sweltering up here now, so every time I sit down at the computer, I break out in a sweat and can't wait to get back into the AC downstairs, so I haven't wanted to sit long enough to write even. But we'll be bringing the computer downstairs for the summer pretty soon and that should make things a bit more comfortable. Maya's birthday is coming up, hooray! And Brilliant Star magazine's birthday is coming up too, hooray! Louhelen was great and felt like exactly where I needed to be to learn more about all these great things that I want to do for educational and community development using the Bahah'i Writings. Very resonant. And I was among great companions doing really great work with their hearts and minds to help people. More when I can write in a more temperate atmosphere. Phew!
well actually I'm going to what I call (to the kids) 'big Baha'i school' (grown ups generally call it Louhelen) to learn more about the Parent Training I just facilitated and hear other people's experiences with it and other branches of the Core Curriculum tree (marraige and family life, race unity, etc.). But it's a four day trip and it's sort of in the woods, very much a retreat, and with an excellent chef to prepare my meals and do my dishes. And did I mention that I'm going alone? Without the kids or even sweet Billy? This will be only the fourth time (I think) that's I've been away from the kids overnight since I had kids. Two out of the three have been to this same place for this same purpose. Aaah...
Last time I got to visit the Dorothy Baker room (Lori Vodden was going to do some historical preservation work on it, and she was my partner in crime and got me in too), which is some special room for VIP's, that has her dresser and bed in it. It's quite lovely and was really special because she did a lot of teaching at Louhelen in her day. If any of you have seen Georgia's room, you'll remember the dresser with the huge looming mirror she uses for her clothes that um.. has a hamster cage on it- that was Dorothy's husband Frank's dresser, given to us by Billy's dad (also Frank).
Here is my little essay of thoughts upon completing the facilitation of the parent training:
My personal goal for the course was to be able to do the part of facilitation where you really listen to people and help move the discussion along or keep it on track or whatever is needed, attending to the underlying issues and each person's contributions. Previously, when facilitating this course, I felt like a slave to the clock and trying to get through all of the activities that I was supposed to, hurrying people along, etc. I had found it impossible to really listen or be involved in the actual discussions while timekeeping. I felt like I really had some breakthroughs there. What I ended up doing was mostly ignoring the clock and how many activities we had gotten through and paying more attention to what people needed and how the discussion was going. I think the problem is that I really can't do both at the same time, so I just traded jobs and it was a lot more meaningful to me, and hopefully to other people too. I was very happy about that. It seems like one of those balance things that take a lot of wisdom not to go too far in either direction, something to keep growing into.
I was wary about how the kids would do being babysat in another room of the Baha'i Center by people other than their usual babysitters. It went better than expected sometimes, and worse than expected other times. I felt really torn sometimes between wanting to listen and be with the grown ups and helping the kids have a reasonable time by their standards. Maya always got too tired for the way things were set up before the end (it ended around her bed time). Billy was able to help most of the time so that I could keep facilitating, so that helped. And everyone was flexible and helpful with the kids. And the kids really learned what was expected of them and worked hard at keeping themselves busy and happily occupied. They didn't always acheive this, but I could tell they were making an effort, and they played with some grown-ups that they hadn't even talked to before. Georgia became enamored of teenagers from Christina watching them. Carlton stole the show, making them squeal with whatever games they made up.
Now the real meat of this is that this experience changed the way I parent, the way I see my kids, the quality of my interactions with them and with Billy, made me feel more connected to the people in the group, was spiritually revitalizing, and transformed the way I see myself as a mother and as a person. The intensity of these effects was largely due to the active mode of class preparation and facilitation and how being active in one area brings me up into a higher gear in many other areas of life. And then there's the whole reformulating effect that studying the Writings has, especially when it's focused and discussions thereof are delved into deeply. It created new patterns of thinking and then behavior. And there's this great thing that's so beautiful that happened in these meetings- love was there among all the members of the group and it was doing it's powerful work of creating bonds of friendship and understanding.
'it changed the way I parent, the way I see my kids, the quality of my interactions with them and with Billy': Well this is mostly from the Family Virtues Guide, which puts a lot of what we studied into everyday practise- seeing life and tests as opportunities for growing spiritual qualities and all the ramifications of that spelled out really clearly.
'made me feel more connected to the people in the group': It's a great bonding experience to study the writings with these people- so loving and interesting, and it's great to give and recieve support about such an important topic that has dominated my life for the last 5 years in such a thorough and deep way. We didn't officially do the 'parents helping parents' section that's supposed to be in every session because I couldn't see how it would work with a bunch of people who haven't had that experience yet, but the support and solutions to problems part happened anyways. I feel like I know people better.
'was spiritually revitalizing': The action of preparing the sessions, really thinking about the people in the training and trying to adjust activities and make up new ones to fit their needs was a great mental and spiritual exercise because it put me into a very active mode working with the Writings and got me thinking about how to absorb them and discover them. This is the third time I've gone through this set of quotes in the training and I'm getting to know them better, so they're not so brand new and I can work more on trying to understand them instead of feeling surprised all the time. And this training was so good for me (in the way gummy worm vitamins are good and good for you) that it makes me want to continue working with this material and with parents and parents-to-be and learn more and more as I practise this stuff at home.
'transformed the way I see myself as a mother and as a person': Right when we got to the session about roles and responsibilities in the family I found these great websites and books connecting mothers and their experiences to the rest of the prosesses and institutions at work in society and discussing the state of things and what needs to be improved and transformed there in order for mothers to live a more equitable and reasonable life. So the Writings on the mother's role and these other ideas came together and made me see that my struggles were not mine alone but were part of how life is going for many mothers in US society and with the Writings as a balance, I could see what was just and what was unjust about it. And talking about mothers' roles as an abstract helped me detach a little from it and see myself as a person with a soul instead of a person with a baby as a primary defining characteristic.
And the great thing is that all these great processes didn't end when the training ended. What grew did not die back but stayed strong and is ready for growing more, higher, more flowers and fruit, etc. I'm excited about what's next for me in working with parents and with my own parenting.
I've had a glimpse of what's possible in my parenting lately (from Parent Training and a hike in the woods with the girls today), and been thinking about the idea of letting myself dream of how I want our family's future to be as a starting place instead of trying to force my mind to decide some outcome or other.
My mom quoted a dear friend of hers in saying that sacrifice means doing something wonderful because you can't not do it. Your heart is just called by it, and your whole being answers with it's life. That sounds like a good way to find your way in life and avoid regret and mid-life crises. Time to open my heart to dreaming. Where else can goals come from?
I've trained myself to ignore what I want (with success sometimes, other times not;)) in order to deal with the constant demands of my job, and now that voice has gotten weak, and I don't know what I want cause it's not talking. And I mean want in the big life sense. What do I want to hope for? What do I want our family to accomplish? What do I want to have done in the next 10 years? 20 years?
Sounds like it's time for reflection. I'll probably be going to Louhelen in a few weeks (by myself). Maybe I'll get some uninterrupted thinking time then.
Oh, I just remembered I had this dream last night (not directly related to anything in this post) that we lived in a house that was too big for the four of us by far. The master bedroom had two wings, each with a king size bed and a vaulted ceiling. That's how big it was. Then one night I heard a noise and discovered more rooms in the house under the eaves of the roof (ok, not really possible in real life). They were little bedrooms with skinny beds full of people sleeping. They were ghosts sort of, but they needed a home none the less. There were 9 young men, all Latino and speaking very little English and one very defiant Caucasian boy (who cussed me out for disturbing them and in defense of their claim to our house) and they were all orphans or something like that. Billy and I looked at each other, and we both thought at the same time what we needed to do- we had too much space, and here were a bunch of young people that needed a space, so we traded rooms, and ended up adopting them all into our family. Lots of other weird dream things happened, including a rat invasion, but they were just peripheral distractions.
Layli's and my birthday is June 2. Happy Birthday Lay! Mom and I already celebrated at Biaggi's in style so I feel birthday-ed even though it hasn't happened yet. But man, I'm partied out. I don't want any birthday party this year. Maybe an un-party. Whatever that is. Billy's getting slowly over the same strep that Georgia just finished. Poor guy, he hurts so much. There's been one illness or sad event after another here. I'm so glad my mom came to visit though. That really lightened the load in many ways. And I went to a great barbeque today at the Allmarts that was fun and laid back and comfortable and 'child-development centered'. Delightful.