Who started the war?

The link to my Women For One article (would love love if you feel moved to scroll to the bottom and comment) right HERE.

********

startingthewar
What are you defending against? Study the situation closely to find out.

Oops.

I had a hissy fit with my teenage daughter.

She might be my Number One Replay Guru.

What I mean by “Replay” Guru is someone who didn’t just bug me one time, or a troubling relationship from the past, or a relationship that involved an “incident” so to speak, or with a friend or partner or family member there was a “thing”.

No….a Replay Guru is a person who when you regularly interact with them, it’s basically a Replay of the same exact dynamic replayed in a slightly different setting or on a different day. But almost the same conversation.

Over and Over. And Over.

Rewind….Click the “Play” button on the remote….watch the way she said THAT, then I said THIS, then she tensely said THAT, then I tensely said THIS, then she said what I said–only it was WRONG, then I said don’t put words in my mouth, then she said THAT, then I huffed and left the room.

LOL.

OK, it’s funny NOW to me. Sort of.

A day later and after I texted her at school “I know I wasn’t listening to you, and I’m sorry and I love you, always” and she texted back “K”.

I’m amazed by how my sense of self (small “s” intentional), my ego, my demand for personal respect and/or agreement rises up like a creature from the Black Lagoon.

But it isn’t really a solid thing, the “ego”. It’s more like an energy, a defended little ball of energy that wants to curl up and never get hurt again by harsh words. It sends out defensive fire, as they say in war talk.

How did the little conversation begin, you ask?

Oh, we were arguing over a TELEVISION SHOW and how one of the characters SHOULD have acted, if they were a nice agreeable sort of person.

Yep.

(No, you can’t see the replay, there will be 17 minutes of silence in that particular section of my life video).

Often when we have these fiery quick repeating replay conversations with people close to us in our lives (I actually did this for a few minutes) we’ll be very upset with ourselves, and the other person, and bounce back and forth between the two trying to figure out who is at fault.

The mind loves knowing who is to blame, in a threatening situation.

The far more interesting, and sometimes far more difficult, activity is to wonder what was frightening, just in the split second before the need to defend arose. You can’t have defense without feeling threatened, after all.

So I take a look.

I review the situation which is recorded in my own mind, from my perspective.

I find the moment where the most troubling feelings appeared inside me.

It was when I spoke out loud, after the final scene in this TV show where the main character heroine (who happens to be the age of my daughter) looked sad and dejected after asking a young man if he wanted to get a cup of coffee sometime, because she’s trying to “date” in her new freshman year at college.

The young man said to her “no, not really” and walked out of the room.

“He could have been nicer about it” I said, and explained how people can say “no” but do it super cool and smooth and kindly so that the other person hearing the “no” isn’t hurt.

My daughter said she much prefers direct, blunt, without explanation. “Who cares about saying it nice?!”

Gasp!

No! People should be polite, kind, gentle, and good listeners! They shouldn’t be rude, they should say no clearly with love, they shouldn’t leave someone disappointed.

This wasn’t necessary going through my mind consciously, but as I look closely now at this touchy moment, this is what I have to say if I give that intense voice some words.

That’s what finding the situation is all about, and staying very close to it so you can slow it way down and see what troubled you.

And it’s the first and most important step in going deep in The Work.

As I reflect upon the situation, I see if I were in the shoes of this TV character (the young woman) I’d feel horrible for a second, and then try to get over it, and probably avoid that guy if I ever saw him around campus.

How did my daughter get so confident?

Why do I get so disturbed by rejection….whether I am the one saying “no” or the other person?

Ack…..is this the Abandonment-Is-Terrible thing again? That ever-endless Top Hits Parade “I am abandoned” or “I could be abandoned” or “Do anything not to be abandoned” or “Abandoning Ship is the only way out of a difficult relationship”.

Seriously?

Sigh.

I realize as I sit with this situation that I was sure our main character in the TV show would be hurt, feel rejected, feel rejectable, feel unworthy, and contract into herself.

My daughter did not see it the same way.

(WHAT??!!)

And in fact, my daughter doesn’t treat me with kid gloves, doesn’t hold back, expresses herself quite simply and clearly, and assumes I can handle what she has to say.

By looking at this situation very closely, and not fast-forwarding into the future…..I can feel an old wound in my side, in my heart.

A belief that says “people can hurt me” or “Rejection can happen any moment, and it’s bad” or “hearing or saying ‘No’ means someone did something wrong”…..

…..all of which boil down to “I need to be liked, she needs to be liked, they need to be liked, he needs to be liked, everyone needs to be liked.”

Phew.

I’ve got my underlying belief laid out in front of me, ready for inquiry.

I wanted my daughter to agree with me, and like me, and share the belief I’ve had since I was a little kid…..that being liked is fundamental for survival, and abandonment must be avoided, that NOT being liked is actually happening in that moment, and it’s dangerous.

Is it true?

“Who started the war? I did. She just told the truth. And I start to punish her for being more enlightened than I am. If there is a war in my life, I started it. There’s no exception. If the war ends in my life, I end it. I end it, or it doesn’t end. No exception.” ~ Byron Katie in Who Would You Be Without Your Story

Much love, Grace

P.S. Eating Peace Webinar on Control: The Harder Way Is Easier (no cost) Monday 5-6:30 pm Pacific Time. Click HERE to get all the information in your Inbox with the link to join on Monday.

 

Without your horror story, what do you notice right now?

Without your dreadful thinking, even in the midst of great suffering....who would you be without your story about what is hard?
Without your dreadful thinking, even in the midst of great suffering….who would you be without your story about what is hard?

I’m sitting in such gratitude and delight in the power of people collecting together to investigate truth, suffering, love and being human here on planet earth.

Yesterday we had the first group of inquirers gathering for an 8 month adventure of meeting to do The Work.

(We’re full now, but I’ll do it again next year).

The mind, and the feelings following all the thoughts the mind produces, are magnificent.

But on a bad day….

…..it feels like it’s NOT so good that this mind is so magnificent.

It’s overwhelming.

You feel very much alone, and therefore lonely.

Kind of like this lifetime trek, especially with this mind, is never-ending and something always comes along to trip you up somehow.

Not feeling good seems super difficult, and drives people to seek relief.

Somewhere.

Anywhere.

Trouble is, sometimes there is relief, and sometimes not so much.

Even mentors or teachers, or methodologies, or practices, or books, or teachings we all agree are incredibly powerful and supportive….

….don’t always “work”.

Or sometimes, they work for awhile–we feel better temporarily.

Then, we just want to get back to that good-feeling place but we’re waving our arms around like a beetle turned upside down.

A few years ago, when sitting quietly listening to someone else do The Work on a situation that brought me to tears, I noticed a very persistent and painful underlying belief pop into my head.

This man had been responsible for killing a child by accident.

Life is full of suffering.

Its sooooooo sad.

I don’t like these stories, these terrible things that happen in peoples’ lives!

Horrible accidents, war, trauma, death, disease, starvation, depression, loneliness, being trapped or stuck emotionally.

I asked God (you can call it something else, call it Reality or The Force–that mysterious energy I have no idea how to define)….

…..what’s up with All This?

I asked this question as I heard the destruction, and pain, and the guilt this man expressed while doing The Work.

Flashes of many pictures came through my head. It felt like my heart would break.

People I personally knew who were currently suffering, people in the room I was sitting in, all of whom were there to understand better their difficult feelings about life, and how to become free of the negative, fearful, agonizing thoughts about what happens here.

Why is it so hard? I asked, feeling so desperately sad.

And bam, I realized I had a huge deep-seated base-level belief about being human.

It’s hard.

Bad things happen here.

Just listen to the news!

We wouldn’t be doing The Work, or in meditation retreats, or doing the things we all do, if life were easy, would we? Any of us?

But I felt the awareness of self-inquiry begin then to work on that thought, that deep belief, like a ping-pong bouncing and banging off edges everywhere.

Hard–easy–wanting it to be harder occasionally–wanting it to be easier (almost always, can’t this be easier)–harder–easier?

Too hard, too easy, not hard enough, not easy enough.

Well….let’s take a look at this belief.

Is it true that life is hard?

 

You’re seriously asking this question?!?

Of course it’s hard!

Did you hear what I heard? Have you seen what I’ve seen?

But wait.

Let’s slow down and wonder about this statement, this thing we’re calling “life” and how we conclude it’s hard.

Life is hard.

What is meant by that?

Usually, thoughts like I already mentioned….war, brutality, fear, death.

But is life, itself, hard (even if those things take place inside of life)?

Is it True?

Wait for it.

My answer is “no”.

I wound up here, alive, it turns out.

I didn’t invent life, or create this life. I was given it whether I like it or not.

It…..happened.

Life actually came first, not my thoughts about it, or my experience of it.

My attitude, and preferences, and whether I like it or not…..

…..developed as I grew, learning from all the people around me, taking in what I encountered.

I never thought to inquire about much, I was like a sponge.

No one knows why, or exactly how, life happens.

Not even the most brilliant scholars or genius minds or religious wise-people (although it is amazing to read everything you’re drawn to, if you enjoy it).

So is life itself, hard?

No. I really can’t find this to be absolutely true. I really don’t know what it is.

How do I react when I think this thought, as I listen to the suffering of other people, or remember times I believed I was in pain?

I want to cry and cry. It feels like a grief that is forever.

So sad that such terrible things happen to people, that everyone feels fear sometimes, everyone feels physical pain, loss and agnst.

But who would you be without the belief in the absolute-ness or grand broad idea that life itself is hard?

Not like denial, not like trying to slap a smile on, or think positively.

Just not acting like you’re sure having life itself, being alive, is HARD?

Who would I be without this thought?

I’d feel a pin of light on the inside of myself, maybe back behind my heart, that is here and accepting of everything, knowing I’m here as this body/mind but also perceiving more than what is here.

Just like a flower or a tree, I grow, I live, I die.

Nothing to be done.

Except to be, to wait, to feel the stillness, to feel the balance and unknown mystery of it all.

What if you collapsed and relaxed absolutely everything inside of you, everything about yourself?

Your muscles, your feelings, your mind, your hands, your eyes, your thinking, your breathing?

If you let it all relax, nothing to do…..what do you notice?

I noticed that’s the practice of who I would be without believing my thought that life is hard.

I don’t even have to actually NOT HAVE the thought….

…..only to feel the imagination enter my mind.

Who would I be, without believing that life is hard, even in the middle of loss, hopelessness, loneliness, or being with other people and their suffering?

Turning the thought around: life is easy.

Woah.

I actually have nothing to do with it.

It couldn’t really get much easier, you know?

It’s being completely run by something other than my mind, that’s for sure. I’m participating in it, without choice.

What could be easier than that?

Double-woah.

Except for my thoughts about “life”, it is the easiest thing in the world.

“The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is

 

What about in the middle of such terrible suffering, hearing about the story of someone who accidentally killed someone? Or suffered childhood abuse? What about wars and violence? What about dying of disease? Rage? Starvation? Thirst?

How about the turnaround: my thinking is hard.

If I did not believe my thoughts, I would see the suffering, but also the joy, in the experience of living.

I could find having no heavy opinion, no wish for it to be different than it is.

I wouldn’t feel hopeless, either, oddly enough–I wouldn’t treat myself like I’m a jerk for thinking life is hard sometimes.

I’d just notice, that’s the way of it. I have a brain, it turns out. Nothing wrong with that.

I would notice that in the moment I am picturing this man’s terrible story, I am actually in a room full of loving curious supportive people, all sharing this together, with unconditional love.

I almost missed it.

 

“It’s very simple: When we believe our stressful thoughts, we suffer; but when we question our stressful thoughts, we don’t suffer. We end our suffering. I’ve been told that the whole point of the Buddha’s teaching is the end of suffering. It’s the Fourth Noble Truth, Stephen tells me. Yes, human beings suffer when they don’t know how not to, and yes, it is possible to end all suffering simply by waking up to the difference between what is reality and what isn’t.” ~ Byron Katie in her Newsletter October 2012 

 

You mean, I can question the difficulty, sadness, or suffering….

….of anything?

Yes, anything.

 

“All suffering is mental. It has nothing to do with the body or with a person’s circumstances.” ~ Byron Katie in 1000 Names For Joy  

 

Thank you everyone for coming along for the ride, for bringing your thoughts, concerns, worries, confusion, and despair to this Great Inquiry.

Who would we be without believing our stressful thoughts?

Noticing how shared this experience is, and how much we all love each other.

 

Excited.

Grateful.

Full of wonder.

Coming up with genius ideas for how to proceed.

Aware that the worst story, the one running in my head that isn’t even mine, is actually……over.

What do you notice right now in your reality?

 

Much love, Grace

P.S. Half day mini retreat Saturday 12/12 1:30-5:30 has 4 spots still available. Question your story, change your world. Join us!

 

Stay With The Shakiness of Someone Not Liking You, It’s Worth It

Teen girl resent
Stabbed in the heart by that person? Staying with the broken, hurt place brings you to your humanity.

One night a week, Mondays, became family dinner night several years ago.

Everyone knows I don’t really like to cook.

I have no trouble with cooking, and I love to eat absolutely anything anyone creates (I have zero pickiness) and I love doing the dishes.

I really do not enjoy trying to figure out what to eat, choose the item, find the recipe, and actually cook or make it.

I’d make a smoothie and feel perfectly happy.

At some point I stopped trying to like to cook.

When my kids were little, I always made dinner every night. I had the same 5 things I created over and over–they were really good.

Creativity was not my interest in this department.

Then divorce happened.

Something kind of gave up trying to do whatever you’re supposed to do around meals.

I dropped the “I should(s)…..”

So after a time of the change in the family configuration, and everything starting all over again without the images in place any more of what it was supposed to look like….

….I thought, hey….my kids can do a meal once a week.

They can pick the recipe, or choose whatever we’re eating, and I’ll buy the food or ingredients.

Mondays.

Family dinner night, even if we do eat together other nights, this one is a For Sure night.

Skip to a decade later.

Only daughter here at home, age 18. Son at college.

(Son loves to cook, by the way, and owns two cookbooks along with kitchen items he bought with his own money).

During the past year, Monday night dinner night has been cancelled and thrown to the wayside many times.

I had reinstated it a few days ago.

My husband and I decided on the food.

I was working with clients until 6:30 pm, but after that…..family dinner night was going to happen!

When I emerged from my last client appointment, she was lying on the couch.

“Let’s get dinner on the table!” I declared.

“What???!!!! I HATE eating after 7 pm!! Why did you wait so long?! The only reason I’m even in this room is because of your Dinner Night or I would be going to BED! Now! I am soooooo exhausted! I can’t stand your food idea either! And why didn’t you start at least cooking already!?!”

Lightening bolt courses through me.

I say with anger….

….”Why didn’t you request a different night, then? It’s not like this is written in stone, especially if it causes so much suffering. Go to bed! Family Dinner Night is off!!”

Daughter storms out.

Sigh.

The feeling of being insulted or disrespected arose so fast in me, like a fire.

Under the surface, I am hurt.

She doesn’t care about me, she doesn’t want to spend time with me (us), she’s mean.

Who would I be without these thoughts?

I’ve been here before, in this inquiry.

I see it and feel immediately what it would be like without the belief she doesn’t like me.

If her words did not mean anything personal, I would realize right now I never really asked her if she would be up for the idea.

I didn’t let her know I’d like to spend time with her.

Honestly, I’m not even sure I liked the idea of cooking (of course I didn’t) or making a production out of it on a Monday night.

I didn’t even ask her if she felt ill, since 7 pm was very early to want to go to bed.

Who would you be without the belief someone doesn’t like you?

Even if they say “I don’t like you” who would you be without the belief that it is really, absolutely true?

I’d see them having their reaction.

I’d be with them as they have it.

I’d connect with the reality of the situation, which is that something I’ve done or said is not computing well with this person.

They’re saying “no”.

That’s it.

I turn the thought around: she does care about me, love me, want to spend time with me. I am mean, disrespectful, insulting….to her, to myself. 

Could any of these be just as true, or truer?

This was another moment in time, an exchange, a place I felt the vulnerability of disappointment, loss, concern….

….a childlike core place of “ouch”.

After doing The Work for awhile in my room, I felt like I was hugging the little raw, exposed part of me.

Moments later I heard daughter came back into the living room, so I stepped out of my room, and I hugged her and stroked her back as big crocodile tears rolled down her cheeks. She told me she was thinking about how much she had to get done.

“To stay with that shakiness–to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge–that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic–this is the spiritual path.” ~ Pema Chodron

In my graduate school program 20 years ago, we had a saying. “It’s not what I do…..it’s what I do next.”

We had t-shirts made with these words on it. Our special reminder, our discovery in imperfection, in feelings, in staying with something, in repair.

My kids teach me this over, and over again.

And everyone who has ever acted like they didn’t like me, or said so.

Thank you.

“Go ahead, climb up onto the velvet top of the highest stakes table. Place yourself as a bet. Look God in the eyes and finally for once in your life, lose.” ~ Adyashanti

Much Love, Grace

A Mother And Daughter Conversation

an uninvestigated story argues with reality

Yesterday I had a sort of embarrassing conversation.

If it was recorded, it would be really, really bad.

7:16 am.

Daughter: I’m sooooo tired.

Stays seated on couch.

Me: (typing on computer).

Daughter: I should make my lunch.

Stays seated on couch.

Me: You need to get there right at 7:30 to talk with your teacher about the missing assignment.

Daughter: I don’t really need to get there THAT early.

Me: But since I’m driving you we have to get going. I need to get back to work with a client at 8:30. If you’re not leaving early, you may as well go ahead and take the bus.

Major tone change in voice.

Daughter: You’ll have plenty of time, jeez, what’s the problem!! We’re going to get there on time, it only takes, like, 7 minutes to get to school!!

Also major tone in voice. As in louder.

Me: I don’t see you getting up to make your lunch, though, and we should leave in 2 minutes!!

Daughter: But what about Starbucks!?

Me: Seriously?

Daughter: YOU SAID you would TAKE me to STARBUCKS!!!!!

Me (on the inside): (You little demanding entitled butt head, there is no way we are going to Starbucks).

I drive past Starbucks.

There was a 7 minute discussion about how long Starbucks takes from order to waiting to receiving the food and drink, and me giving a speech on how ridiculous to go to Starbucks when you can make tea or coffee at home and put it in a to-do washable cup.

Which would have taken 4 minutes, according to daughter, which would be waaaaay too long. (Longer than Starbucks).

So I’m fuming at the ludicrous conversation and actually IN IT at the same time. And trying to prove that making breakfast at home is faster than going to Starbucks.

I say in a huff, “You know what? You’re right.”

Silence.

Yep. That mature.

I think very quietly all the way home, in the silent car, after daughter gets out and slams car door.

The discussion of minutes, Starbucks, breakfast, lunch, tiredness, assignments, any of that did not really matter.

There was something inside that just wanted to be RIGHT.

It’s like a hot fire ready to scream “You are defying me? The Great and Powerful Oz???!!”

But what’s underneath that urge to defend, fight, and go to war?

Ahhh…..there it is again.

I really want my daughter to be happy.

I want her to feel confident, joyful, energetic, excited.

THIS is not happy.

There’s an extra twist when it’s my child, because I think it means extra extra that if she’s unhappy, I’m a bad mother.

A reflection of MOI.

And actually, I want everyone to be happy. My parents, siblings, colleagues, neighbors, spouse, friends, clients.

The more happy people the better I feel. Right?

Everyone else get happy, now! (Little joke).

However, how incredible to question this deep-held belief that it’s better for me if other people are happy and content.

Especially when reality (the level of happiness) does NOT match what I think I want.

Who would I be without this belief that my daughter really should be in any other mood or attitude or feeling state or experience than she’s actually in?

Wow.

OK.

You mean, no one should feel happier than they do?

But.

I know it’s weird.

Just consider what it would be like to NOT believe that person you love so much should feel happy, when they don’t feel happy. Or that they should act nice, when they don’t.

Yes, imagine not insisting that one single person on this planet be happier than they are.

It sure frees up a lot of pushing.

In fact, it feels like the end of war.

Hmmm, feels a little funnier, happier, goofier, upside-down-ish.

“Both pleasure and pain are projections, and it takes a clear mind to understand that. After inquiry, the experience of pain changes. The joy that was always beneath the surface of pain is primary now, and the pain is underneath it. People who do The Work stop fearing pain. They relax into it. They watch it come and go, and they see that it always comes and goes at the perfect moment.” ~ Byron Katie

My daughter right now, as I type here 24 hours later on the next morning, is reading out loud to me about SAT tests.
Today, she’s not exactly thrilled to be taking a college test exam at 7:45 on a Saturday morning. (She’s got a slight reading disability and does quite badly on tests, but what do I know…..and I don’t care, to be honest, in a really good. light way.)
And she’s the sweetest person, ever.
So beautiful, so stunning. So brilliant.
What I notice is I adore her.
And she adores me.
We get some good sparky fire going between us. The way of it.

Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.” ~ Mark Twain

Much Love,

Grace

P.S. Eating Peace 3Day Retreat. October 9-11, 2015. For more information, click here.

Would You Rather Worry or Be Free?

Would you rather worry or be free?
Would you rather worry or be free?

Yesterday was prep day for leaving on a very long journey. I’ll be traveling with my two young adult children ages 21 and 18 and my husband.

It will take many hours to reach our destination. We’ll be a long way from home.

I decided to start some of the heavy preparation two days ahead of time.

I made sure my schedule remained clear starting three weeks ago. No clients, no meetings, no classes.

A Monday of cleaning, moving clothes out of my drawers so the people staying here can make themselves comfortable, tidying up.

I ask my kids to work with me on household preparations from noon until 6 pm when their dad will pick them up for an evening out, before they leave town for almost three weeks of not seeing him at all.

Everyone’s doing their thing.

Husband is out making copies of the house key for our visitors. I’m at Rite Aid buying melatonin, dishwashing soap for the cupboard at home, travel shampoo.

My daughter is totally inspired and cleaning all the food cupboards in the kitchen, throwing away old items, washing the surfaces, organizing the canned goods (it was kind of stunning….this kind of thing has been happening for awhile from her).

I’m running a load of dishes, and vacuuming out my car.

Then I decide to locate the passports and put them on my dresser.

My son’s isn’t in the usual place, with mine and my daughters.

“Hey Benj?! You got your passport handy?”

He calls from his bedroom.

“What, mom?”

“Passport!”

Pause.

Pause.

“Oh. It’s in my safe. Up at school. In my new apartment.”

Aw jeez.

It’s not a huge emergency or anything. It takes about an hour and a half to drive there. But it’s critical, you know? He can’t leave the country without his passport.

In the old days, before The Work, I might have snapped at him. “Why didn’t you think of this before?! Huh?!”

Instead, I notice the flare of realizing, and then the wave calms down.

But I say “You need to drive up there today. Not tomorrow. It’s too important.”

I send his dad a text.

The way it all comes together is my son, his dad, and my daughter are all driving north to where my son will be attending his senior year in college starting next month. This is their new plan for the evening.

My plans aren’t different at all.

House is empty, I’m writing, I’m eating leftovers out of the fridge, I’m sitting on the front porch couch enjoying the gorgeous summer evening.

But I have a thought…..my son is going to space out of everything, he’d lose his own head if it wasn’t connected to his body, he’s soooo chill he’s going to fall asleep while standing, I need to talk with him about how often he smokes pot (doesn’t that make people slow?) and how funny he’s the one I have to worry about rather than my daughter.

Click.

That thought.

“He’s the one I have to worry about.”

It’s stressful!

I have to worry about him, is that true?

No.

Last night, the whole change of plans just fell into place without any uproar. My son, my daughter, their dad…all hopped in a car and ventured off to their evening project: get the passport and eat rare road-trip food along the way.

Who would I be without the belief I have to worry about my son?

Noticing I don’t.

He’s having his own life, and there are minutes, hours, days, and weeks where he handles it. Beautifully.

He’s the most kind, genuine person. He’s loving, easy-going, articulate, and authentically gentle and very smart.

But what if this was not his experience, and he was hurting. Or on the street. Or disappeared like someone’s son I did The Work with (presumably using meth).

Who would you be without the belief you have to worry about someone you love?

Look around.

Wow.

This doesn’t mean don’t speak with that person you care about so much.

Tell the truth, be honest.

“Tell me what it’s like for you when it comes to thinking about getting a job, or finishing school this next year, or what you like about smoking pot.”

It’s not about fading into the background or staying quiet about what you really care about.

Which is my kid.

I turn the thought around: I’m the one I have to worry about, especially when it comes to my son.

Yes.

You know what the origin of the word “worry” is, or where it comes from?

It is from “wyrgan” which means strangle.

Which so reminds me of Not Speaking.

If you have a son or daughter or person in your life who you are strangling yourself from speaking to, or speaking about, or you’re feeling mute, and strangled from saying what you really need and want to say…..

…..then speak.

I’ll let you know how it goes when I do.

I’m spending 3 weeks with him, every day, and we are talking.

No doubt about it.

“Would you rather be right, or free?” ~ Byron Katie

Much love,

Grace

 

Stop Yelling! Start Working! When Stress Hits The Fan

If you want to jump into inquiry on Parenting for 8 weeks, or even Eating Peace Online before tomorrow….there are just a few spots available.

Hit reply and write if you’re interested.

*****

Yesterday, I was looking forward to a lovely interview in the morning with a fabulous facilitator of The Work, Ralf Giesen, to be recorded to share with you all and the world for anyone interested in how inquiry has affected his life.

I’ve done a couple of these interviews easily, and LOVED them.

(They’re on my youtube channel by the way).

We were both on our computers, with cameras, at the appointed time.

Looking at nothing.

Both had the google+ open, I was ready, he was ready….

….nothing firing up.

Waiting.

I was quickly checking all settings, sending another invite, googling youtube on how to start a google hangout so I could discover what the heck wasn’t working.

No answers. No Ralf.

Arrgggghh.

I have better things to do than fuss with technology! Kill the google hangout instructions! I hate this!

Fortunately, the next thing in my day of course was doing The Work, as usual.

It was a perfect segue.

The first teleclass on parenting for 8 weeks.

And there were some great situations shared by participants on moments with disruptive, yelling, rude children.

Which was the same way I felt about that google hangout situation.

They shouldn’t be like that!

It is true!

But who would you be if you couldn’t have that thought…even as things are going haywire, a child is yelling and upset, a computer doesn’t work, something doesn’t go as planned?

It’s like the most calm feeling in the world.

Even though something’s happening, moving, storming, making noise, and not going the way you’d like….

….what if you could ride the wave?

You’re sticking with it, staying connected, but not getting all worked up yourself.

Seems difficult, especially if a person (your kid) is upset and yelling, and it appears disrespectful.

But you wouldn’t rage back AND you wouldn’t withdraw and avoid.

Without the belief, I study hangouts and try to figure out how to do it differently next time, and I’m still not sure.

Participants in our teleclass felt the same.

They’re not sure how to be different yet, or how it will go next time, but it’s actually OK.

Turning the thoughts around: it should be like that.

That does feel lighter, and much less upsetting.

How could it be true, when it comes to kids, or to the technology breaking down?

Any benefits or advantages to it going the way it went, rather than your ideal or alternate version?

I don’t quite know yet.

But I do know I love connecting, whether with a colleague, or my kids.

True intimacy is courageous and loving.

And as easy as doing nothing, moving forward, asking questions, setting things up for the next time, talking….

….trying again.

“When you stay present with your children, that’s where abundance is. And when you stay out of their business, that is where everything you deserve in life is, it’s right there. When you are in presence, there’s no story there, and you are abundance, everything you ever wanted is there in that moment, and you come to trust it. And you come to trust the space so often that you just eventually hang out as that, because there is nothing that can move you out of it, not even a perceived child or a perceived anything.” ~ Byron Katie 

Love, Grace

She Shouldn’t Say That To Me!

Peace Talk Podcast this week is on ANXIETY. I’d love your comments or to read your reviews on itunes.

Haven’t listened yet? Google Grace Bell Podcast.

Peace Talk Podcast Made New and Noteworthy on Itunes!
Peace Talk Podcast Made New and Noteworthy on Itunes! 

*******

So now that I’m done with the recent in-person retreat Eating Peace and getting registrations for the upcoming 3 month online program with the same title….

….I’m aware that next Monday, only five days away….

….a teleclass begins on PARENTING.

Did you hear the shark-lurking-in-the-water sound?

Duhn-duhn-duhn-duhn.

Oh man.

Beliefs about parenting, other people’s parenting, caring for young humans, caring about actually grown up kids, judging how our parents parented….

….is intense, to put it mildly.

I would say hands down, my kids provided the most worksheets on situations where I “lost” my temper than any other situations in my life for the past ten years.

Especially my amazing daughter.

The first time I wrote a worksheet on her, I was ashamed to read it to the person facilitating me.

How could a mother be so mean, babyish, angry, and vengeful?!

My rage was intense.

And this kid was only 8 years old at the time.

She shouldn’t talk back, she shouldn’t boss me, I need her to listen (code word for listen is do-what-I-say I later realized), I want her to respect me, she is rude, ungrateful, loud, irritating, ridiculous, outrageous.

It was weird how mad I could get.

She should clean up her room, wash her dishes.

Even now I will scan the room when I enter the house, see her boots and backpack lying on the chair, and immediately think….

….”WHAT?! She should put those away in her room!”

Like it’s such a shock.

Over and over again it seemed, I questioned and entered the incredible open world of who I would be without my thoughts about my children….

….so stressful, so ingrained, so deep.

So the other day, I told my daughter “you should listen to my new podcast—that’s your DAD doing the intro and outro you know—and it’s only five minutes kinda like your you-tuber friends….I’d like to know what you think!”

She took one look at the cover art, two babies (thank you to the photographer’s son, the laughing baby on the left, who gave the thumbs-up for using the photo).

She said “I hate babies” and marched out of the room.

Who would I be without the belief she should be more respectful, or listen to my genius work (ha) or even care?

Wow.

I’d actually be laughing.

She’s funny! And spicy!

“How can you have rules and still stay out of your children’s business? Drop the rules and find out! You’ll find that your children, on their own, will live every rule you’ve ever taught them, and some of them you may not like. They are a perfect reflection of you. They turned out to be you…..Ultimately you don’t have any control over your children. You don’t have any control over anything. When you think you do, and you see that you don’t, the effect is depression.” ~ Byron Katie

I turn the thoughts around that I have about my kids, even today: she should NOT want to listen to me talk, she shouldn’t like babies, she shouldn’t clean up, I should clean up (especially my thoughts), he should lose things all the time, he should be late, she should love what she loves, I should quit being noisy in my head about their noise.

I am actually really glad she doesn’t like babies right now….she’s seventeen.

There are benefits.

I love she’s outspoken and strong. She refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school, because she doesn’t agree with it.

She’s finding her way.

When I was her age, I was smiling all the time, trying to be nice, rebellious but never TOO angry or upset, and full of very conflicted feelings.

And developing a raging eating disorder.

My daughter is really quite happy with food.

That same night after the “I hate babies” comment, she came into my room before going to bed….

…..and gave me a big hug and kiss goodnight, and said “I love you, mom”.

What a cutie.

To join the 8 week teleclass where we’ll identify our most painful thoughts about our kid(s) and do The Work on them, starting on Monday at 10 am Pacific Time….click HERE.

You do The Work, and watch your kid change (or not). Give yourself some peace.

I’d love to have you with us!

Love, Grace

Do You Think You’re Supposed To Be Loving & Patient ALL The Time?

Eating Peace Online starts on February 22nd. This is my baby, born after years of study, healing, and training. I am now in service as a light worker to others who need help changing their relationship with eating, forever.

How to Be a Happy Parent starts Monday, February 23rd. Head over to my website to learn more or hit reply if you have questions. A cool bunch of moms are signing up–dads are welcome too!

******

Speaking of kids.

Last week my new podcast Peace Talk turned out to be about kids, or really, taking care of people…

…and what a hassle that can be! Jeez!

Are your kids driving you bonkers?
Are your kids driving you bonkers?

When I first began doing The Work, I investigated my thoughts on just about everybody else before my kids.

They were quite young when I found The Work.

I was so in love with them! I almost had a weird reaction to being a mom I hadn’t anticipated, which was “why didn’t someone tell me this would be so fantastic, ecstatic, and wondrous!?”

Of all the choices I had for careers, work, or creative projects….

….this was the BEST EVER.

I gave birth at home, it was pretty easy, I had super relaxed pregnancies. For once, something appeared to come very naturally to me. Being a mom.

And then.

One day we’re driving to the store, my two kids in car seats in the back seat.

Suddenly, a piercing scream and the youngest is grabbing her brother’s shirt and pulling, and he’s shouting at her to stop.

Something is thrown and it jets past my ear and I hear it hit the front windshield.

Nothing breaks, it was just a plastic apple from the doll house kitchen.

But I was SOOOOOOO MAD!

I screamed at the top of MY lungs shouting “STOP! NOW!” and it felt like my head would explode and fire was coming out of my ears.

My throat actually hurt afterwards.

What the ?

I couldn’t believe how big that scream was.

What was wrong with me? Was my patience faltering? Was I worse than I ever imagined when it comes to maturity and kindness when parenting? Was I a complete whack-job? Would I turn out to be Mommie-Dearest and screw up my kids?

Self-hate, self-hate, self-hate.

I would try hard never to have these kinds of “losing it” moments.

Ever.

Well….in case you haven’t noticed…

…”trying hard” doesn’t exactly work as a solution to a difficult situation or a big feeling.

I needed to explore that moment very, very, very slowly….and do The Work.

It begins with writing a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet of course, getting all the thoughts, beliefs and concerns on paper, so you can see what it is you were feeling and thinking.

What I love about The Work is that you can let out all the ridiculous, completely babyish judgments and just let ’em rip on paper.

Even about your kids.

The ones who don’t deserve your criticism, because they aren’t conditioned yet, they aren’t evil bad people, they’re being little humans.

Yes, even those innocent children you get to judge, and take your judgments to inquiry.

What a relief!

You can start with kids, or if you don’t have any children who are driving you nuts, focus on someone else who makes you cray-cray.

They should quit bickering, she shouldn’t grab, he shouldn’t bite, they should go to bed, I need them to be quiet.

And don’t go flipping your concepts into turnarounds on yourself and aim it back at you, like you’re shooting a criticism gun at your own head—no—instead, notice what is revealed to you, watch what’s disturbing you really, see what your feelings are about, and relax.

When you get to the turnarounds, you might discover new ideas about how to be with your kids (or those other annoying people) in ways that make you laugh out loud, instead of screaming.

Your love for them may pour through, without you even trying.

“Who would you be without the belief that you’re supposed to love your children right now? You’d be free to love them or not, and to be a very good parent, whatever you’re feeling right now….Inquiry sets us free of trying to be anything we’re not.” ~ Byron Katie

Love,

Grace

P.S. everyone who signs up for the parenting class will receive a little book as a gift called “Byron Katie on Parents and Children”. I’ll mail it to you myself.

The Clean Room Fights

Just the other day in Summer Camp, a mom read a worksheet on her screaming, upset six year old.

Some of my favorite worksheets for myself have been the ones I wrote on my kids, especially my daughter.

Sometimes, it would feel like this incredible child was my guru of all gurus, the teacher who was knocking to my knees.

Kids are so great that way.

They stick around, they live with you or are there a whole lot of the time on a regular basis. No getting away from it.

And you don’t want to, not at all.

Recently my 17 year old daughter was away on a trip with her dad and brother. I went into her room to find something….

….and saw the clothes all over the floor, the clothes on the bed from when she had been packing her suitcase, the piles of things on her desk, her wardrobe doors opened with stuff spilling out.

I spontaneously started cleaning it up. I had seen it before, it had been like this for months, my mind had some chatter stirred up about lack of cleaning and messiness and blah-blah-blah but I felt energy, action.

I love turning dirty-ness to clean-ness.

It was fun.

Now, that’s not the “difficult” part of the story.

Fast forward to her arrival back home, just the other day.

She marches in to my bedroom where I’ve been working. She is furious.

“Where is my wallet?!!! It was on the floor in the exact place I always put it–you moved it!!” Frustrated eyes looking at me.

Pause, breathe, hold it…no wait…no, don’t go there. Wait…oh no!

Yep. I did it.

Me: “Well, if you had cleaned up your room beFORE then I wouldn’t have HAD to do it and then YOU would know where your wallet was!”

Her: “You move things around every time and I HATE it!”

Me: “You are so disrespectful!! I cleaned your room up and you should appreciate it!!”

I said it pretty loud.

OK, it’s called yelling.

She started crying.

Instant softening of my body, a sort of collapse down, awareness that I have hurt my kid, that I snapped, was impatient, felt furious.

I quick sat up, opened my arms up to her, and said “I am so sorry I just got so mad at you. I was so happy doing that job, and I love the way it looks now, and I thought you would like it too instead of getting upset you can’t find something.”

Now a key underlying belief in this kind of exchange, once you do The Work on “she should appreciate what I’ve done for her” (not) is to look at this one, which can be very insidious and very painful:

I shouldn’t get angry.

Seems true, right?

I should be tolerant, patient, confident, loving, kind, powerful, clear and direct at all times with my kids. I should never be triggered and turn into a brat myself. I should be mature.

Is that true?

Well, yeah. Duh!

Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

No. There are, apparently, thousands and millions of parents who are not tolerant, patient, confident or grown up with their kids. Apparently on planet earth, mothers, including me, get angry and fed up sometimes.

How do you react when you believe you shouldn’t snap, throw your hands in the air, feel pushed to the limit, or get angry?

I feel very bad. Depressed. Quiet.

I see images of how my dad used to feel so upset with himself when he got angry and raised his voice, which was only about once a year, maybe. He would leave the house for hours. It was like he committed a major crime.

I feel frightened of how my kid sees me, how others might see me, I feel ashamed.

But who would you be without the belief that you shouldn’t get angry, and you feel bloody angry?!

Now that’s different. Without shame about actually feeling anger, or rage, I allow it to run through my body. I notice how much I care about this situation, about myself, about my daughter.

I actually feel excited.

This anger is alive, powerful, like a burning flame. It crashes through me and I notice how I’m absolutely madly in love with my daughter even when angry with her. I see how I don’t want to hurt her at all, and she doesn’t want to hurt me either.

I relax completely around her needing to like a clean room. I notice that I love clean rooms, but its not a requirement that anyone else, or that she, loves them.

I should get angry.

There’s a message in this passionate surge of feeling. It’s beautiful, striking, wild, big. I seem to care about this. A lot.

I should notice how much I love clean rooms, I can respect myself in this conversation, I can have great compassion for a moment when a wallet seems lost, I can ask what it’s like for her, we can brainstorm from here where the wallet might be, I do not need her appreciation, I need to appreciate myself, and appreciate her.

All in a burst it’s over. She suddenly remembers where her wallet is (not in her room) and goes to find it.

Even if I don’t like that I felt so at war, hostile, defensive or upset in that flash of a moment…I appreciate the presence of the swift, powerful energy of anger.

I’m still learning today, because it was present.

I notice I love the story of passion, energy, change, revolution.

“What is this inner revolution? To begin with, revolution is not static; it is alive, ongoing, and continuous. It cannot be grasped or made to fit into any conceptual model. Nor is there any path to this inner revolution, for it is neither predictable nor controllable and has a life all its own.” ~ Adyashanti

Feeling angry doesn’t mean you have to hurt, break, punch or harm anyone. It’s just a feeling.

You’re not wrong to have it.

And then from this point, you can see what else is true, and take the most balanced, jedi, powerful path with your passion. Maybe anger is love in disguise.

And we’re taking off the costume here, and seeing what’s real and what’s left.

Wow do I ever love that kid.

Much love, Grace

 

A Mother’s Grip On Reality

My kids are driving me bonkers!  

A mom in Summer Camp Telecalls recently reminded me of my own early mom days. She wanted them to quiet down, so she could do The Work.

Kind of hilarious, the energy that wells up….“Be Quiet! I’m trying to question my thinking over here! JEEZ!”

When I had two very young ones, I was beyond thrilled to have these two amazing kids in my life. In fact, I was pretty blown away by the miraculous and bizarre way we all arrive here on planet earth.

But their presence in my world was also like a match that lit up whole entire inner buildings full of belief-systems about parenting, what “good” moms do, what “good” kids do, what “good” dads do, how kids should turn out.

I need to make sure these two kids feel safe, secure, happy, heard, important and valuable.

Right?

That means I should never be driven bonkers by them. I should be patient, kind, gentle and wise at all times.

24/7

In case you haven’t noticed…..it’s impossible.

But if you do The Work and question your thinking, you may be way more “sane” than you could ever dream of when it comes to your kids.

So let’s go.

Is it true that you should be a perfect mom, that it’s your job to support their confidence, success, and happiness in life?

If they aren’t happy….or if they bug you….do you really think it means that there’s something wrong with your parenting?

Well, no. I know there aren’t any perfect moms.

How do you react when you think you need to be the one who inspires and creates success and happiness in your kids’ lives….and they sometimes look pretty upset?

I feel anxious, sad, worried. Wondering how their future will turn out. Playing out future possibilities.

Not staying right here in the present.

But who would you be without the thought? Without the belief that you need to help them, support them, make sure they know they are valuable, happy, safe, comfortable?

Whew. Now that is a relief.

Lots of moms and dads will think that if they let go of the belief that they are responsible for their kids, they won’t even care.

They’ll be neglectful, and wrong.

But can you know that this is even true?

“How do you react when you believe the thought that you need to protect your children, and in reality they’re perfectly fine without your protection?….You got through your difficulties, so what leads you to believe that they aren’t at least as capable and courageous as you are? What leads you to believe that they have fewer survival skills than you do?” ~ Byron Katie

Turning the thoughts around: I’m driving myself bonkers! I need to make sure I myself feel safe, secure, happy, heard, important and valuable.

Because I am, and so are you.

Every human is worthy, safe, secure, happy, heard, important and valuable.

We can feel this for ourselves. We don’t need a mother or father to tell us…..not really.

“A mother’s grip on reality is a wonderful thing.” ~ Byron Katie

Much love, Grace