Life Lessons from a Four-Year-Old, Vol. 1

Last weekend we had a full, fun, exhausting day, which included me attending a birth starting in the wee hours of the morning, then coming home and putting on my “Super Mom” hat, picking up my son and taking him to a birthday party. It was fun, but overwhelming at times. I was beyond exhausted. On our way home, I had to stop at Publix as we were completely out of a few staples my 4-year-old son can’t do without. So as we walk in, he tells me “Mommy, go that way, you need some flowers.” Instinctually I said “No, we don’t need them” but then I got to thinking.  I had actually mentally told myself earlier I’d love to make it a habit of having fresh flowers in the house on a weekly basis, to remind me to take care of myself, do something that brings me joy on a regular basis, and appreciate the beauty around us. So when he insisted, I said “You know what? You’re right. Let’s go get some flowers”. So we rolled over there, and I started to nose around, picking up one bouquet after another, examining their beauty as well as looking at the price tag on each one to help me determine which one to buy. He says “Mommy, what are you doing?” with a voice that seemed to indicate I must be doing something completely ridiculous to him. I explained I was looking to see how much they cost to help me choose. My little sage then says, with a roll of his eyes, “Mommy, that’s not how you choose, just pick the beautifullest one, that’s what you deserve. Don’t think about it, just pick”. And it hit me, he is right. This isn’t a car payment I’m pondering, it’s a freaking bouquet of flowers, from a supermarket no less. I deserve this small token of beauty and love. Even my four-year old sees that. The $5 difference isn’t going to break the bank. I need to always remember to honor myself and the hard work I do, and be gentle and kind, and loving with myself. He knew I needed a reminder, he knew I needed some joy, and beauty, and love. So I picked the most “beautifullest” bouquet and showed it to him. He grinned a big grin, took them from me, smelled them, and then handed them back saying “These are for you, I love you Mommy. I really wanted to get you flowers”. And just like that, he taught me that lesson, on a late Sunday afternoon,  in the middle of a crowded supermarket. I matter. I deserve beauty. I deserve joy. I deserve love. Always. image

East-over at the Temple of Juniper

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I am spiritual,  not religious. I find myself saying that more and more often these days, as it really does best describe my position. It came out of my mouth out loud for the first time as my 4-year-old, always questioning, got upset the other day because he said he had “no religion” and was angry and crying about it. I guess it was being discussed at school with the upcoming holiday, and he has heard references in the past of his Daddy being “Jewish” (not practicing, only kind of sort of) and me being “Buddhist” (I take a lot from Buddhism but wouldn’t consider that a religion). I tried to explain it was something personal, that he would learn about all religions and philosophies in his life.  It is something he could decide later when he was older if he wished. He wasn’t happy with that answer. The explanation that worked for him, for now, was “In our family we are spiritual not religious. We are good people, we try to do the best we can, and we take care of each other, the people, the planet”. Which leads to our “holy” trip.
We had the chance to spend the Easter/Passover (= East-over) long weekend camping at Juniper Springs, FL, which is inside Ocala National Forest.  Being there in nature made me feel more connected to Source/Nature/God than any church, or temple, or any other building ever did. The luxury of having nowhere to be, surrounded by trees, nature, and the natural pure springs solidifies for me that life is too short. We are only on this Earth, in these bodies, for such a limited time. I want more time to spend with my family, enjoying nature. As much time as possible. I’m done with the hamster wheel of work work work, hurry hurry hurry, wash, rinse repeat. I want more nature and simplicity in my daily life.  Less alarm clocks,  less complications….more time paddling a kayak surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, jumping off ledges into a pristine watering hole,  dancing around the fire pit with my family, sharing wine with new friends with kids just the perfect age to play with my son while we all got some “grown-up time”…just a plain, over-all slower life.
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Life certainly doesn’t have to be “painful” or “hard” or “fast-paced”, although sometimes it seems like that. Nope. Not my world. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect in any way. But we forget moment by moment that we have choices. Choices on how we perceive things, how we handle things. For example, the last day of our camping trip, right before evening and after supper, a big thunderstorm rained out our last campfire play date. We had to retreat into our tent and throw as much as possible back into the car to keep dry as quickly as possible. And we sat together in the tent and waited. And waited.  And read books. And played games. And dealt with the many, many leaks from the roof of our not-so-water-proof-it-seems tent (who knew you had to seal the seams?). It could have turned into a big, frustrating downer. But we chose not to let it. We made the best of it. Eventually, when the rain turned into a drizzle, we put on our rain gear and took a family night hike with our flashlights, exploring the wet forest which looks completely transformed by the rain. Washed clean. We jumped through puddles, searched for fireflies, attempted (and succeeded, yay, Daddy!) to make our final fire, our blaze of glory with the rest of the firewood.
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So I am grateful we got to spend this particular, significant weekend at our own spiritual place.  That in a sense, we were baptized by the clear waters of Juniper Springs. The possibility of our souls being reborn into a different reality of our choosing had begun.
Happiness.
Peace.
Love.
And although I felt a twinge of all too familiar heaviness as we returned driving back to the big city, I hope we can all maintain some of the clarity of the water to help us stay clear in our vision.
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