Being critical of someone you don’t know limits your power of engagement

I haven’t posted in this old journal for so long, there’s dust everywhere. I’m finding half-written entries often. So, here’s an old one that I thought was cool – and, though half-written, I think its in good enough shape to bring it back to life and publish. This one was written circa October 2013.

I have been a little grumpy lately. Recently, I left the local dog park ready to get a professionally made sign that reads: Unspoken Rules of the Dog Park. The sign would have five or six commonly broken unspoken dog park rules for the people who just. don’t. get. it. As I was writing the rules in my head, putting my beautiful golden retriever in my car, a loud fight broke out in the park and I heard someone yell across the park, “IT’S TIME FOR YOUR DOG TO GO.”

Everything about that situation was wrong. But that’s for another blog post. Compare that to the next morning when I had gotten coffee from the barista who knows my name and went to stand in line at the condiment counter to add creamer. This counter fits three if the co-tenants of the counter-space are aware enough make room. But there was someone standing there stirring her coffee and taking sips out of it every few stirs. Clearly, she was no longer fixing her drink up. It irritates me. I was busy coming up with all sorts of things in my head I might say to someone that inconsiderate while I was stirring stevia into my own coffee when she started to speak to me. At first, I felt impatient. She was just an impediment to my coffee enjoyment. Get out of my way, lady. Go talk to someone else. But then I started to listen. And I noticed her smile. And then, I saw her stop smiling. And I reached out and actually touched her shoulder and our eyes connected. And I said, “I hope your coffee gets you off to a good start. It was lovely talking to you. I’m here every morning if you’d like to chat again.” And her smile returned. And my smile arrived. And I left, happy.

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Radical Unschooling Umbrella

I was reading this random blog I found about Radical Unschooling and thought it was a well-written piece that illustrate the process of someone who may need order trying to wrap their head around something that is fluid and orderless. But I was struck more by a “sidenote” in his blog of a conversation with whom he calls Maggie:

Sidebar: it says above that “people can and must work within the system to change the world”. To which Maggie replied “But I’m working outside of the system right now, and making a difference!”

I’m not totally sure I agree with the idea that I am working outside of a system when I allow my children to have freedom and partnership with them on our life-journey. I believe I am allowing them to work outside of the system, while I am simultaneously working at the very edge of the system… as far as I can go… to allow them to go further. Like a familial game of shot put; while at the same time providing an umbrella of protection over them from the boundaries of the system. But…. maybe that’s a perception I could challenge.

I took a look through Maggie’s blog and found a really awesome article about changing fear to understanding regarding inquiries from a school board member regarding her RU family. If you want to read it, follow the link on this sentence. I loved the way she honestly talks about the things she wished she would have said versus the things she did. Either way, it seems like she represented well.

I’d like to start doing more blogging about my RU journey that started four years before I ever even had children. I hope I have the wherewithal to finally do this consistently.

(July 24 REVISION NOTE) Maggie blogs about unschooling from a practitioner’s perspective and more at Process. She and I have batted definitions and concepts around online, in both public and private conversations. I’m a newcomer. She has become my go-to practitioner and sounding board, so I asked Maggie to reflect on an almost-final draft of […]

via Living Large With This “Un” Thing — One Pond-Ripples

The Importance of “Love” during Strong Emotions

I recently had a conversation with someone that left me thinking deeply about my interactions with that person and my own beliefs. On one of my social media accounts, I had posted something that honestly spoke about a trait that I have that, until recently, I had believed to be a flaw. I realized, in the last few weeks, that this trait is actually not a flaw at all but a true gift that I am uniquely aligned to give to people.

That trait is the experience of sitting with people who are in the middle of deep emotional responses to triggers in their lives. For the longest time, my whole life, really, I believed that when people are having emotional reactions that they needed to be stopped. They needed to do whatever it took to get themselves out of feeling any other emotion other than pure joy. I even took some training that specialized in how to help people be able to make these transitions from anger, fear, shame, guilt and sorrow and choose more neutral emotions (or ‘states’) and eventually choose a joyful state over these other emotional states. In my proclamation about this trait that I have, I stated that I prefer to sit with them in their emotions and express love to them than to do whatever it takes to help them change their emotions to something that is more comfortable for me (and, for them).

The conversation that ensued in the comments is what struck me as interesting. A person, who also has a great deal of education regarding coaching others to change their states… a considerable amount more education than me, responded and said “being at cause is what’s important. They can’t feel your love anyway, only their own.” I think I may have responded without fully thinking about her post, although after having thought about it, I would still submit that my response is accurate for me. Either way, my response was affirming of the other person’s beliefs and confirming of mine; asserting the possibilities for our two beliefs to exist at the same time. This allowed for the conversation to flow for other participants but effectively stopped the conversation from diverging into a debate about whose beliefs were more right.

But, I believe that I am a fairly introspective person and when faced with these types of conversations, I like to take some time to reflect on what happened,  what I did and if there’s a way I could have performed better.

So, I thought about it. Sometimes, the best way to really dig out an answer about something is to take that concept to an extreme. So I tried to come up with an extreme example that would help me fully determine what my values truly were and what I felt was more important: helping the person see their responsibility and their choice in their emotion, or sitting with them, with love, as they figure things out or as they just sit and feel emotions. The scenario I came up with is this:

If you were alone with this person and you were the only two people left in the world, and that person was dying, and that person was extremely emotional over how you came to be the only two people left and over their impending death, what would be the most important course of action? On their dying breath, what would be more important? Helping them take responsibility for their emotions and for the situation that they were in and possibly allowing them a moment of release and relief as they go out (as more often than not it is more relieving to see and understand your responsibility and participation in an event than it is to deny your responsibility) or sitting with them, experiencing your humanity and experiencing empathy with them as they go through whatever it is that they’re going through.

The answer wasn’t very clear from that scenario. And that’s when I realized that it is not my responsibility to make that determination for the individual. It is only my responsibility to make the determination of whether I want to participate with them or not on their final journey. In fact, I believe that the right course of action, if I elect to stay with them, is to ask them what they would prefer. And then to follow-through with their preference. I believe you should always gain permission from someone before you offer them advise or insights on how they could be doing things differently. If the person is not capable of providing an answer, then what would I do?

I would sit there with them. And I would cry with them. And I would reflect on what was happening and what was going on and I would feel sad. And I would feel joy. And I would probably feel the entire bandwidth of emotions. These moments would be important for both parties involved as it would more than likely help them feel safer in their situation and I would have gained the experience of being present in the moment and not trying to change a situation. I would certainly not attempt to take their final experiences from them, for it is their journey to go on and not mine.

Obviously, 99.99999999% of the opportunities I have to work with people who are experiencing strong emotions that might feel uncomfortable to me are not these situations where people are in their last moments, so the question I had for myself is this: What would make their last moment any different than their present moment? What does make it different? Can I ever be sure that this present moment isn’t the last?

The reality is that if people are coming to me and they are emotional about something, they are generally going to give me hints as to whether they are just looking for someone to listen or whether they are asking for help solving their problem. If I choose to engage with them and I believe they are solution-driven, it is my responsibility to get clarification on that first. Although I tend to be the person people come to just when they want to be heard and want validation that it is quite perfectly okay to have emotional responses, no matter what the situation is; most people are not seeking advise from me. So my default response will always be to sit with them and feel with them. Maybe that feeling is just pure discomfort from their emotional response. Or maybe I’ll be able to actively empathize with them while they figure everything out. Or maybe they’ll never figure it out and our only connection will be that moment when I sat and loved them, and they sat and felt safe to have their feelings.

One thing that I do know is that, if at all possible, I do not want my last moment with someone to be one of trying to change them because I have deemed that it is either better for them to see their responsibility or because I feel uncomfortable with them. Rather I want that last moment to be filled with nothing but love and safety. And that is a choice that I am able to make and carry out on my own, without requiring their permission.

Breakfast Day 2015

Today is breakfast day! It’s also April Fool’s day. But mostly, for me, it’s breakfast day. It’s a personal holiday that I’ve established and am trying to share with the world as a day to reflect your loved ones, living and passed.

It all started with the passing of my Grandmother. She was a very important and influential woman in my life and I wanted to find a way to honor her memory and honor the beautiful things that she passed on to me. So, rather than feeling sad every April 1st, I created this celebration with the intent to share memories and share experiences with each other about people we love. So, I invite people to eat breakfast. It doesn’t have to be breakfast at breakfast time. It could be breakfast at any time. But breakfast. Why? Cooking breakfast was one wonderful thing that my grandmother did for us. Any time we were with her, she cooked us the most elaborate breakfast complete with bacon and eggs and pancakes. This was her thing and she loved cooking breakfast for her guests. So, I pass her love on to others as we share our memories together.

Today, I shared my experience with my entire Diversity Development Program group! We shared bagels and coffee together. It was such a great feeling to be able to share my day with new people and they all loved the idea. My hope is that next April 1st, they will share this time with others as well, or in the very least, give a little thought about Breakfast Day and their loved ones.

So, today, grab your traditional breakfast and take a bite, and reflect on those who really have a wonderful influence in your life, whom you love and respect, both living and passed. Let me know how it goes!

With love,

Tabby

The Kindness of Strangers, Again

Today was apparently my lucky day. Actually this whole damn week was pretty lucky for me, which is cool since it was St. Patty’s day celebrations and luck was being wished all around. I had a week of mostly green lights while driving to and from work AND had some actually awesome accomplishments at work as well. But today was very lucky. You see, when I first moved out to Irvine, I had nothing. Well, barely anything at least. I didn’t have a couch or any seating surfaces. I didn’t have a table. The only thing I really had was a bed and a REALLY cheap ikea … thing … that has two shelves and could hold a glass of water on it for night time.

Over the course of the year and a half, I’ve acquired a few things. And luck won out many times. For instance, one time, I was shopping at Ikea for dressers. After walking around for hours, determining if it was something I should spend money on, I decided that it wasn’t and headed out to my friend’s house to pick up something from her. And that’s when I walked into her disaster of a house as her and her husband were putting new furniture together for her bedroom. “You want some old bedroom furniture?” I did NOT turn that down. It was an actual bedroom set. Like… things that matched. With the same handles and everything. I scored a chest of drawers, lengerie drawer thingy, and two tall nightstands with that drop. Sweet deal. I have good friends.

Well, today I showed up at the dog park, like I do on some Sundays, playing with Jackson. There was someone there that Jackson had taken a liking to (like that’s hard) and the guy was asking around if anyone wanted a bed set. It piqued my interest. Eventually I followed him and his wife and daughter to his pick-up truck and low and behold, there was a massively large headboard and footboard there. And wouldn’t you know it… it was nearly a perfect match to the dresser and nightstands I had gotten from my other friend!

Not really knowing how I would rearrange my room to fit my new bed, I agreed to take it and they dropped it off at my house. What a kind thing for him to do. He was going to take it to the GoodWill, but instead gave it to me. He sacrificed his precious GoodWill donation receipt for a perfect stranger!

Anyway, I hope that I haven’t used up my luck potion just yet. I have a few more things this quarter where I could use a drop or two. But in the mean time, I have some logistics to figure out regarding just how I am going to re-arrange my room and my apartment to fit this colossal thing.

Here’s some pictures, in case you didn’t believe me. The headboard is LITERALLY taller than me. That’s damn tall. But, also, awesome.

15 Signs You’re Trying To Get Your Shit Together But Like, It’s Hard

Okay it’s like this blog was looking at my day-to-day life and writing itself. A little creepy but a little true. Okay, who am I kidding, it’s a LOT true.

Thought Catalog

Young AdultYoung Adult

1. You went to the grocery store and bought all healthy things, but then you got tired and hungry when you got home, so you ordered pizza. You’ll cook tomorrow, right?

2. You got all that spinach for all those green smoothies. You made one. You threw out the spinach after it turned into mush in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator. Nice!

3. You woke up this morning like, I’m going to the gym if it’s the last thing I do in my entire life! You didn’t go. You’ll get ‘em next time, champ.

4. Last weekend you were all, I’m never drinking again, that’s it, never, ever, ever, ever? Two days later, happy hour happened and now you’re just breaking promises to yourself.

5. Save money? Budget? What do these words mean?

6. If you get all your laundry done and put away within the…

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