Thursday, October 29, 2009

True Confession Time ...

I am not ashamed to admit that this week I have been stumbling and bumbling through being my truest self. May I share my process with you?

Here's why. My youngest daughter is away at college, five hours from where I live. This past week her off-campus living arrangement imploded. I knew it was time to find her "safe haven," a new place to live as her stress and anxiety levels were off the charts—has been for weeks, including sleeplessness and dips into depression, which does not bode well for study at a Big 10, academically rigorous school, nor good mental health.

As I navigated the dynamics of this move (long distance), including dealing with roommates and parents, legal issues, finding new housing as quickly as I could, not to mention my daughter's descent into despair, I was given multiple opportunities to practice what I preach. All my spiritual muscles were tested with this one. Each of the Transformational Truths was called upon. At times, I did well. Other times, I failed miserably. Here's the rundown.

~I "Honored My Body's Wisdom" by listening deeply and trusting what I heard: 'Get her out now! And do whatever it takes to help her feel safe and secure again. Forget what it costs. Move!'

~ I "Chose Thoughts and Feelings That Honored My Sacred Self" by discerning not to vent out my anger on roommates or parents, as much as part of me wanted to. I kept asking myself, 'Will what I say cause harm or help in this moment?' This is one of my tried and true practices, and if I take the time to breathe through it, I can usually come up with the kindest response.

~ I "Engaged in Practices That Nurtured My Spirit." I had to or I would have gone insane. Breath, stillness, praying with my beads, hot baths, reading Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham, walking through my garden, and allowing my husband to put in his 2 cents worth because he is a pretty wise guy.  (Not to mention cuddling a lot, or was it hanging on to him for dear life in the dark of night?) And I baked apple crisp. :-)

~ I "Cultivated Compassion for Myself" by forgiving myself when I fell into despair, tears, frustration, impatience (even with my daughter), and anger. Congratulating myself that I didn't hurt anyone, or that I didn't harm myself (I don't think...). I treated myself as gently as I could, considering the circumstances.

But today I am tired. Worn out. The crisis has eased and my daughter has a nice place to live. Or at least she will shortly.

So today I am continuing to honor myself with a gentle day, a jammie day. Going slowly, doing just a bit of blogging. A nap will be in order later and another bath. I am blessed because I work at home and can do this for myself. So many women can't and we just keep pushing through the tough times. Then we fall apart or get sick ... That was my pattern for many years.

Which brings me to Truth # 6: I Experience the Divine in Everything and Everyone. I'm in the midst of this one. It's having some rough spots ...

I am going to wait for the blessings to come from this experience because I trust that this whole mess was in Divine Order. I am continuing to open my heart again to the roommates and parents because I know that they are people just like me who simply want to be happy. I have set the intention to see the Holy in them, just as it is in all of us.

I am listening and growing; breathing and being. My life is a work in progress and all will be well—all IS well.

Thank you for receiving and bearing witness to this transmission from my heart. It feels quite healing to have done so. What a lovely community we have gathered here! I am blessed — we all are.

As always, I welcome your thoughts ... 

(Image courtesy of


Angela Recada said...

Dear Jan,

You and your daughter certainly did have a rough time! I hope everything goes well from now on.

I think it's wonderful how you share your own stumbles with us. Your process in dealing with your difficulties will help me, I know.

But often I am disturbed deeply by things that don't even really affect me personally. Today I am deeply disturbed by something that's all over the news about a poor 15-year old girl who was brutally assaulted. Could you at some time touch on how we can still feel empathy for others, and not be destroyed by all the suffering "out there"?


Julie G said...

Dear, dear, Jan,

I feel your pain with you. Though my boys are not collage age yet, I remember when my mom went through this with me at collage. We made it through and I believe we have a closer relationship now because of sharing such an emotional time together. My mom and dad were divorced when I was in collage and my mom dealt with my issues alone (with 2 younger children tagging along). You are blessed to have such a wonderful partner to "hold on to".

In the beginning, you wrote about the "vow of transparency". This open-hearted sharing you do with all of us is truly living your vow. I always look to you for wisdom, peaceful pause, and love and here you are reaching out to all of us. As the scriptures say, the Spirit is strongest in our weakness. We just have to keep our focus.
The 12 Transformational Truths are a perfect practice to get back into alignment. You are demonstrating that so well. You are a strong woman, Jan, just like my mom and so many others in this "room of our own". Keep the faith, All IS WELL!
All Love, Julie

Jan said...

Hi Angela,
Thanks for your kind support.

Your question is wonderful, thanks for asking it. I think the best we can do is to keep our hearts open when news like this grabs us and, somehow, make something positive out of it, for ourself AND the victim. For ex:

1. Turn holding the bad feeling into spiritual practice. Name it, hold it tenderly, and breathe through it until it softens. This is great practice for us to navigate any emotion.

2. Use a mantra to transform the pain. "I breathe in calm, I breathe out anger."OR, "I breathe in peace and breathe out compassion."

3. Use the feeling as an opportunity to pray or turn the angst over to a higher power. Trust that there is a higher purpose unfolding here and that blessings will come.

4. Do a variety of metta practice. Sit quietly, imagine the person and enfold them in wishes of lovingkindness.
"May you be safe.
May you be well.
May you be strong.
May you know you are loved and cared for."

Do the 4 line format and use the words that feel right to you. Metta works!

5. Keep your heart open--no matter what. Open-heartedness invites and invokes compassion. Sharon Salzburg calls it "having a heart as wide as the world." Even when it hurts, or we feel anger or social injustice, that alternative is much better than being closed off and numb.

This trauma invites us to be present with this young woman in all her suffering (because she could be us or one of our children). This is what we are here for: to enfold one another in love. Just hold her in your heart like a mother. All will be well. She may even FEEL the love of many and be buoyed by it for her healing journey. xo

Anonymous said...

Ah, Jan, yes, the hardest stuff of all -- our Cub being threatened in any way at all.

It seems to me you navigated this beautifully, which would be the point of all the spiritual work. Navigation -- not the disappearance of rough waters. (I know you know that!)

And Sakyong -- when does he NOT help? :)

Angela Recada said...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful (and immediate!) answer! As you may suspect, #4 and #5 especially appeal to me.

Thank you, my friend.


Nadia - Happy Lotus said...

Hi Jan,

First of all, your daughter is blessed to have a mother who is rooted in spirituality and love. I think it is great that you have been able to be there for her. What a gift.

That said, I know it can be hard to be centered when you feel like everything is out of whack. Things do happen for a reason and nothing lasts forever. Easier said than done but it is the truth.

I am sure one day your daughter will look back at this and realize the significance of this piece of the puzzle.

Jan said...

Thanks, dear one! Seems we have similiarities in that I am a "single mom" when it comes to this college thing too. :-) Thankfully, my daughter and I are best buds; she is my joy and we are very close.

I appreciate your kind comments about transparency. It is the only way I know how to be and I hope other women will feel confident enough to follow suit. It is very freeing not to hide anymore. (Though perfectly fine to keep many things to ourselves, too!)

You strike a chord with the "cub" metaphor. It doesn't help (or does it) that I am a Leo and can be rather fierce when it comes to my children. :-) May we all OM on with joy today and leave any dark clouds behind. :-)

I thought those two might appeal to you, as you are already one of the most openhearted women I have come to meet in the blog world. xo

Helena said...

It is during times like these when we are really being tested if we can walk our talk.

Although I am in my 40's I still have to share accommodation due to financial reasons and it is a real test having to deal with neighbours who are messy, noisy, or whatever.

Well done to you for dealing with it in such a good way!

Joy said...

Thank you for sharing so openly. To watch how wise ones work through struggles helps to build my own confidence in dealing with my challenges. You definitely "walked your talk" in magnificent ways, and your daughter is blessed to have a mom who is centered and spiritual and applies such principles as you help guide her through. What an example! It is all guided and I'm sure you will find answers and lessons after you are well rested and "back on your feet". Lots of peace.....

Jan said...

I appreciate your support. I, too, am glad I found the path(s) I did while I was raising this one. She has been deeply impacted by my journey in positive ways. When she was little she even attended women's circles and meditation sessions with me. She was cute! She was telling people I was Buddhist even before I knew it myself. (LOL)

It must be difficult to share such space, even as an adult. It sure puts spiritual practice in a new category. I bet you must send those around you healing/calming energy because of what you know and do. :-)

Sharon said...

Jan, your honesty is a gift to all of us. Thank you for sharing your process during a stressful time. I get a strong sense of how you value every person, even during difficult times. I know, too, how important it is to take responsiblity for how we "are" in situations that test us in terms of doing what's best for our kids. We need to do the right thing and be able to live with ourselves tomorrow.

Joanne said...

Sounds like one of those times when we just want to get in the car and swoop in, bringing our little bird back home to the comfort of the nest! Kudos to you for handling the situation with the patience you did, it sounds like you paved the way for a smooth transition for your daughter.

Jan said...

Well, we are ALL wise women, that is for sure. Perhaps some of us are more confident to claim it. :-) Part and parcel of being our truest selves. I continue to be amazed at the wisdom bubbling up out of you because of this path you are on. You remarkably resilient and faithful. Blessings all around!

Thank you for this note of support. I hope all of us can begin to pay closer attention to our inner movements so that our outer movements are sourced in well-being and kindness. But it is a journey, and one that may take many years. May we trust the timing of our own unfolding!

So true! In fact, I asked my husband if he thought I should drive the 10 hrs. (there and back) to do so. But even in the asking, I knew this would be "rescuing" and I intuited this was a growth opportunity for all of us. So I stayed put. When our children are involved, we think of their safety first, right? I am sure you do too with your girls. :-)

shiny mamaof6 said...

The patience and strength that you modeled here are such a gift to your daughter and to yourself. It is so hard to let them handle things on their own, especially when we are afraid for their safety. I have a history of swooping in and taking care of things. It never felt like I was actually helping. I am able to be there for my kids now and not take things on as my own.

I'm holding you up in prayer today, that things are good for your precious daughter and that you are at peace also.

Laura Hegfield said...

Oh my goodness Jan, I'm so glad I took a moment to stop by and catch up with you today...what an ordeal for all of you! Sounds to me like you applied your tools not only with aptitude, but with gentle grace. It would have been an easy step into the mind tangle tango (my new favorite phrase), but you avoided this with mindfulness and compassionate wisdom. I'm so pleased to hear that your daughter is on her way to a safer place (mentally and physically)and that you are too. What a gift to have a "wise guy" to lean on in times like these. Mine is quite the angel...whispering calming messages to me in the cloak of night when our girls are safely sleeping and cuddles too.

All is well indeed.
Blessings my friend,

Jan said...

Well, thank you for those kindnesses and for your ongoing "holding." As you know, parenting is something we were not taught, especially parenting mindfully or consciously. The more we "work" on ourselves, intending to embrace our truest selves, even our parenting is illuminated. Everyone around us benefits.

And throughout, trust in ourselves and in the Universe builds. So vital to good parenting so we don't always rescue, but support, and trust that our little ones do have to find their own way. They have a path to follow and Spirit is ever-present within and through them--just as it is for us (as grown-ups)!

Such kind words. Thank you. As I grow older, I realize more and more how important for us to embody equanimity so those around us can to. And if we lose balance, to come back to center as quickly as possible. :-)

I am glad that you have a loving partner to support you too. It certainly makes the journey quite rich and satisfying...

Cheryl Wright said...

I felt your anxiety as I read the earlier part of your post. Then, as you shared the Transformational Truths that helped to lift and caress you, I too sensed an ease in my own version of anxiety.

Your path through this experience with your daughter, encouraged me to not let the major and minor difficulties that appear in my life, to keep me tangled up in their potential under-current of despair and depression. Instead I am resolved to meet them head-on with deep breaths, gentle self-care, and positive thoughts and mantras like you mentioned - "All will be well...All is well.

Let me add Jan. You have done well. I rejoice with you that all is indeed well once more.

Wilma Ham said...

Oh Jan, this is a test to show what you are made of. Hmm, as all the others said you did well and that shows us it can be done. Thank you for role modeling!
The Ho'Oponopono concept has helped me when I see an out of whack thing happening and I keep wondering 'why?'.
Also as Jesus says in love without end, certain things have been set things in motion that has to be played out and we have to accept those AND with being the love that we are.
As you too indicated, keep your heart wide open, we are not to judge, we are to forgive and being the love that we are. As we are all one, we all have a part to play and Ho'Oponopono deals with that beautifully. I am so very grateful to have an understandng that allows me in situations like this to keep my cool and as you say not to do more harm.
Thank you Jan for your courageous being and sharing, much love, Wilma

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

It's wonderful to be in a holy and centered place when life is beautiful and without worries or troubles. It's challenging, though, when the apple cart gets tipped and we're scurrying around amidst the chaos, trying to maintain calm while retrieving the apples and putting everything back in order again.

I truly appreciate your sharing here about how you were challenged and how you managed through it all. I've had a tough week of my mind playing games with me and being judgemental and contrary. I've had to continuously remind myself to stay on my own mat and let others own their own journeys. Growth is not a linear path and it can sometimes be messy for me, but I'm learning.

Gayle said...

Hi Jan,

Like Angela I was very disturbed by the 15-year-old girl's ordeal and wished I could do something for her, so thank you for your suggestions and thoughts on that.

When I was young I used to say "Once a mother, always a mother" when my mother gave me advice. Now I would give anything for that advice for me and my divorced sister trying to raise her son. I was thinking this was probably not the daughter you wrote about who wanted to be an environmentalist in your book. But I'm sure she has the same integrity and gratitude for her mother. Hope next week is better for you.

Jan said...

I appreciate your attunement to my process, Cheryl. I do love your statement
"..I am resolved to meet them head-on with deep breaths, gentle self-care, and positive thoughts and mantras.." Such a powerful response to difficult times. Thank you for that!

I am not familiar with the Ho'Oponopono teachings, but they sound lovely... and very healing. I will check them out. So glad you have found a process that touches your heart and guides your spirit.
It seems all the wise ones continue to remind us to "be the love that we are." I concur, and this is my highest intention for myself too. Love on!

I will hope that the weekend offers you respite from those nasty ego voices. :-) It sounds like you have had a rough week. How heartening to know that you pay attention but do not succumb, as best you can, to their pull. May your mat continue to bring you to places of inner clarity and peace...

Like you, I know I will always be a mother--to many! I even feeling very mother-like to many of my mentees and women who visit here. So when others hurt, we really feel it and hold them in a heart embrace.

Yes, this was the daughter who is the environmentalist. She is currently enrolled in environmental sciences in school. A weight discipline, hard work, so a living situation must be optimum for her to be relaxed and well. :-) Thank you for your care.