Is Happiness Conditional?
I’m excited to continue our exploration into the nature of Happiness.
I’m so grateful for the rich and compelling contributions in response to last month’s Blog,
What is Happiness?
I hope you are enjoying this exploration as much as I am!
Now let’s go deeper!
Is Happiness conditional? What do Yogis have to say?
“Happiness is our birthright,” said Yogi Bhajan.
We can therefore expect to live joyfully and peacefully, yes?
“Happiness is subtraction,” says Anne.
When we subtract or take away anxiety, fear, anger, judgment, criticism and negative thinking we begin to see, feel and come into relationship with our true nature….JOY.
"Happiness is loving All," says Rose.
“Peace Love Joy”, says Mukesh.
Happiness is like the sun! I say.
On sunny days we experience the sun as light and warm.
We know we could not survive as humans on planet earth without the sun’s life giving energy.
On cloudy days we cannot see and feel the sun as easily. But it is still there behind the clouds.
It is still warming us, just more gently and subtly.
Is Happiness conditional?
I believe happiness is much deeper and vaster than that.
Favorable conditions may “set the stage” for happiness to make a strong appearance, but conditions for happiness do not define or create happiness.
If, for example, you know that on sunny days you feel happy, does that mean that you can only experience joy on sunny days?
There are many other weather conditions.
What happens to your experience of joy on cloudy or stormy days?
Here’s another example:
What if you feel happiest when you have at least 500K in savings, your investments are doing well and your debt is paid off?
Is your experience of happiness tied to your bank account?
How is it that homeless children on the streets of India are smiling?
My guess is because their joy is not attached to conditions.
Their true nature shines through.
I like knowing………..Happiness is a choice that is always available. When we choose happiness, we are choosing to experience and honor our true nature.
As always, thank you for joining me on this fascinating journey.
Please leave a comment if you’re so inspired.
I love receiving your comments and I’ll respond to each one for sure!
Love and blessings,
Have you ever been in a place of “between dreams”?
When one chapter of your life is ending and another is waiting to begin?
I certainly have. I wrote this verse about it:
In the place of between dreams
What unfolds cannot be seen
The soul cries out,
Please give me space
Dance, sing, pray
Walk on in grace
I first heard this term, “between dreams”, an aboriginal saying, a few decades ago while attending a week-long retreat in the Canadian mountains led by my longtime friend and soul sister, Julia Press. Julia embodies Divine love.
This retreat changed my perspective
Since “between dreams” was a theme for many participants in this retreat, we spent some time exploring how to be in relationship with this space.
Early in the week we made masks of our own faces.
Unlike previous retreats where we had decorated our masks with color and glitter and feathers to express our individuality, we left these masks pure white.
On the evening of the ritual we dressed in white.
The room was lit with candlelight. We were asked to enter one at a time in silence and with sacredness, find our mask, put it on and then stand in a circle in the center of the room until all had gathered.
Julia asked us to lie down on the floor on our backs with our heads toward the center of the circle.
“It was a breathtaking mandala of humanity in transition,” she says.
Soft, ethereal music was playing. Julia led a spontaneous meditation about letting go so completely that this was like the day of our death, allowing us to fully be “between dreams” without knowing what the experience would be.
Julia and beautiful Bea covered each of us with a shroud from head to toe.
The music deepened. I felt supported and safe in this sacred circle. We were on our own soul’s journey and at the same time we were journeying together.
We lay there for a long while in stillness.
Time to rise from the dead!
We slowly rose, leaving our old “shroud personas” behind and began to look through the eyes of “between dreams”. As our silent, white forms slowly and gracefully moved through the room, we softly gazed into each other’s eyes. We began to embody “this place of not knowing, this newness that had not yet formed into something,” as Julia so beautifully describes.
“Between dreams” felt beautiful and comfortable.
I felt myself smiling behind my mask. We were dancing in the space of infinite possibilities. The Presence in the room was palpable.
Coming back to our circle, we took off our masks.
“The sharing was slow and deep,” Julia describes, “and the experiences people shared were incredible.”
Contrary to our common cultural beliefs that we must always know what the next step is, this ritual offered a new way of stepping into the unknown for me. It offered an opportunity to embrace “between dreams” as a vital, breathing, sacred space that can be honored and enjoyed. Decades later, it continues to inform my experience.
What would it feel like to trust the place of “between dreams” like the magical place between the ocean tides?
As always, I’d love to hear your comments.
Blessings and love,
July Blog 2018
JUNE BLOG-DADS 2018
I’d like to invite you to join me in a unique opportunity. In this Blog, we’ll get to hear from three Dads as they share a glimpse of their fathering journeys with us!
In my work with beautiful Moms and Babes I often have the opportunity to meet awesome Dads!
Dads who are making life style choices that support their increasing desire to be engaged and available as partners and parents.
Is Mountaintop Fathering going out of style?
Do you remember the story of Bambi? There is a poignant scene where Bambi’s father, the great king of the forest stands on top of a mountain and looks down at his young son, luckily with proud and approving eyes. Did they ever actually meet?
Are Epic Quests losing their appeal?
For millennia, men have gone on quests often lasting years at a time and women have raised children on their own.
Odysseus, the Greek warrior spent years at sea and while he was away he hired a “Mentor” to care for Telemachus, his son. The Mentor was actually the goddess Athena in disguise!
Shiva, the great and powerful Hindu God went off to the forest to meditate for years at a time leaving Parvati, his wife alone and praying to the Gods for a son to keep her company. When the Gods granted her wish and Shiva returned, he didn’t even recognize his own son!
In J.R.R. Tolkein’s infamous tale of The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, a company of dwarves and Gandalf, the wizard set off on a great adventure to slay a fierce dragon and recover the gold they claim is theirs.
The New England whalers sought high-risk adventure upon the seas with a promise of fame and fortune for themselves and their families. If they returned that is. The image of wives and children keeping watch on “widow’s peaks” for the mere glimpse of a ship on the horizon has spurred many spellbinding tales.
In more modern times, the nine-five workday, commuter train and business trips have replaced the quests of old. Still, Dads have been largely absent and Moms have been in charge of child raising.
How is it possible to change the role of Father with such a powerful history of absenteeism from the family scene?
Here are three Dads who are willing to share their thoughts and hearts with us.
Meet Adam, Mike and Anthony
Adam and Kate have a beautiful daughter Alice who is now 21 months old.
Mike and Chris are the parents of Mikey, age 4 years and Mia, who is now 20 months old.
Anthony and Charlie are the parents of Johan, who is now 16 months old.
Recently, I asked Adam, Mike and Anthony this question:
What are three things you love about being a Dad?
Here is how Adam answered the question:
The free form games that emerge from whatever is lying on the floor of her room or artifacts we find on our nature walks (now that she has discovered pockets!)
From the perfunctory, “Dad-wants-a-hug” hugs to the light, “I’m- feeling-scared-or-sad” hugs to the exciting, “I’m-going-to-dive-into-your-arms!” hugs.
Standing witness to an emerging multi-dimensionality of love for my wife that is a tapestry of joy, humor, patience, passion and (above all) respect for her intuition.
Wow, Adam thank you!
Here’s how Mike answered the question:
I love having two young souls to guide through life
I love how they bring out the kid in me.
I love that my kids know how to cheer me up when I’m feeling down.
So Beautiful, Mike thank you!
Here’s how Anthony answered the question:
Watching my son grow is a wonderful experience, especially seeing him evolve and develop his personality and curiosity.
Being a Dad gives me a deep sense of purpose and optimism.
I love playing with him. I love my son.
Thank you Anthony. Your words touch my heart.
Here is the NEW QUEST.
This is a quest of the heart. Opening one’s heart to a love more powerful than any takes tremendous courage, perhaps even more courage than harpooning a whale, slaying a dragon or navigating the perils of the high seas.
The heart of the father has been missing for most of human history. These Dads are among a growing tribe of men who are bringing heart and soul into fathering.
Thank you Adam, Mike and Anthony for having the courage to design differently! Above all, thank you for sharing your hearts with us. Your choices ripple outward, positively impacting your partners, children, families, communities and all those you meet.
If you enjoyed this Blog, which of course I hope you have,
Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
If I could live in a garden I would….
Become as cool as a cucumber
Sweet as a ripe strawberry
Creative as a squash vine
Gentle as a swallowtail butterfly
Strong as the earth
Flexible as a bullfrog
Grateful as a sunbathing turtle
Clever as a chipmunk
Courageous as a crow
Trusting as a seed
Passionate as the sun
Happy as a gardening mom
3 KEYS TO ENJOYING FAMILY GARDENING
“Mom”, said Noah, now 18 years old.
“Are you going to plant a garden at our new house?”
“Yes, of course!” I replied.
“Please don’t plant anything that takes over the yard like Mint, ok?”
Oh the Mint! From a small sprig to enough mint to serve tea to a nation!
I love that he understands the growing properties of Mint.
That comment alone reminds me of what a valuable
adventure our family garden has been.
More than thirty years of family gardening
has taught us a few things!
KEY #1 Let go of perfection
I love garden design. Every year we’d choose which vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs to plant and where. I’d hold an image in my mind’s eye of a perfectly manicured, mulched garden with white stone paths and weed free beds.
Every year the garden would take on a life of it’s own.
One year our tomato plants were mysteriously disappearing one by one. My boys began to investigate and discovered a whole world of chipmunk tunnels underneath that garden bed!
The chipmunks were pulling the tomato plants down by the roots and having a feast!
That bed became a very creative digging playground. No tomatoes that year.
And oh yes, the mint sprouted up wherever it pleased!
KEY #2 Expect Disappointments and Surprises
We’ve learned that Nature doesn’t disappoint, but rather, she always provides exactly what we need. One year, frequent rainstorms washed away our carefully planted carrot seeds three times.
But the strawberries and blackberries were prolific! Another year, a squash plant started to grow in the lettuce bed. It happened to be a year when we were taking a break from planting squash for space reasons.
The squash seed was most likely dropped by a bird. We decided to accept this plant as a gift from a garden friend. Our whole garden revolved around that growing squash plant. We transplanted the greens to another bed and carefully stepped over the squash vines as they sprawled the length and width of the garden. That one extremely healthy squash plant produced dozens of delicious squash! Thank you garden friend!
KEY #3 Start Small
One small 3ft by 6ft garden bed or patch can provide a good amount of delicious produce.
I learned through experience that having three young children,10 garden beds, an herb garden,
a fruit orchard and numerous perennials was a lot to care for!
I love gardening. However, a small garden patch is just as much fun!
And that’s the idea, isn’t it?
And yes Noah, if we plant Mint let’s plant it in a garden pot!
Please leave a comment!
I’d love to hear how you’d finish the sentence….
If I could live in a garden I would….
Thank you for stopping by.
I wish you many enjoyable gardening adventures.
If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends.
Do you like secrets?
I hope you do, because I have a few to share with you today!
First, I’d like to tell you a story that has a special secret in it.
The spring my daughter was five year’s old she decided she wanted to see the moment the buds on our pear tree blossomed. Every morning and afternoon we would walk by the pear tree on our way to and from her school. Maria would stop, take out her purple notebook and draw a picture of the trunk, branches and closed buds on the tree.
Days turned into weeks and she continued her routine. Still, there was no change in her drawings or the tree.
“Why are the buds taking so long to open? She would ask.
“I guess they’re just not ready,” I’d say.
One afternoon when we came home, her orange cat was perched on the edge of the pond, meowing in a loud voice. Maria went to investigate and momentarily forgot to stop by the tree.
A friend next door saw Maria out playing and came to join her. They spent a while exploring the pond, looking for fish and frogs. Suddenly, Maria remembered the pear tree and ran over to it.
“Mom, we missed it!” She announced as she pointed to the buds in full bloom.
Big, beautiful, white blossoms covered the tree.
“Well,” I said. “I guess the tree wanted to bloom in secret.”
Actually, when I think about it, a lot happens in secret doesn’t it?
A mother’s belly pops seemingly overnight, revealing to the world the secret of the child growing inside her.
Daffodils open without a moment’s notice and share their joyful yellow hues, baby geese suddenly appear in the pond, a new songbird announces the rising of the sun, all exactly in their own right timing.
Creative process is very much like that, don’t you think? An idea percolates for days, weeks, sometimes years and then suddenly it’s ready to born into form.
Creating Dancing Inside has been a similar process. A verse would appear, then another, then nothing for a while. I see in retrospect, I was learning the steps of my own inner dance. And then things got really exciting when Rose, my dear friend and illustrator began to share the watercolor paintings she had created for the verses. Rose and I, verses and watercolors began to dance a new dance and wow has that been fun!
When it’s time for secrets to be revealed, it’s time to celebrate!
Maria ran into the house and got her watercolor set and a big piece of paper. She sat by the pear tree and painted the pear tree in full bloom! The tree came to life! We kept that painting for many years.
Come celebrate with us as we share Dancing Inside with the world!
TWO BOOK SIGNINGS THIS WEEK!
Wednesday, April 25,
32 Main St South, Bethlehem, Ct 06751
Saturday, April 28
Hickory Stick Bookshop
2 Green Hill Rd, Washington Depot, Ct 06794
Rose and I will be among the featured artists there, celebrating our creative collaboration and Independent Book Store Day!
We may even reveal a secret or two to Dancing Inside!
And even more surprises!
Doug Williams, dear friend and Master Chef, will be providing delicious and delectable treats for you. You’ll get to taste his culinary secrets first hand!
Blessings and love,
Deborah and Rose
She chose to be married on the island where she was born. Why I wondered? Why not choose a new place without generations of family history? Maria and her beloved Marty were clear. The date was set for their island wedding. September 10, 2017. It’s their wedding, their choice. “Trust” was the word that emerged for me and the word that became my mantra through their wedding year. Trust not knowing, trust your daughter, trust the unfolding, trust the weather, trust the Universe, trust love. There, right there is where I anchor my trust, in LOVE. In the deepest, most powerful love in the Universe, the love between mother and child. Here, we see the essential, unconditional love that began the Universe and sustains it in every moment.
As soon as we stepped off the ferry, I was home. I could feel the island opening her arms wide to embrace us. I am still amazed by the loving, genuine welcome by island friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in 25 years., showing up to celebrate with us. “I remember the day she was born,” a dear friend said. “I’m honored to celebrate with you,” said my long ago Montessori student, now Sea Captain, as he set sail with the wedding party, aboard his schooner. Tears of joyous recognition greeted us wherever we went. My favorite Sea Chantey man climbed aboard the schooner and sang a love song for the soon to be Bride and Groom. “Too long, too long,” said the great Sea Captain, as I climbed out of the yawl boat to greet him. Tears filled my eyes.
I see. We didn’t return to rehash the past. We came back to harvest the love. The memories, and there were many as we travelled old, familiar paths, rather than being heavy weights, felt more like blessings, surrounding us like a warm blanket. And most were delightful. After all, this island was a family vacation spot before it became my year round residence for fifteen years. I remember learning to square dance at the Chilmark Community Center with my dad as a young girl; rowing across Chilmark Pond with my dad and sister to watch the sunrise, brilliant sunsets over the Aquinnah Cliffs; playing with my daughter in the white sands of Lambert’s Cove Beach, watching the fishing boats come into the port of Menemsha, with my young sons, world class breakfasts at the Black Dog Tavern, favorite country roads, favorite views. Best of all, favorite people. After 25 years away, it's nice to know that the island is still here. Bless the islanders and lifelong friends who stay and maintain this paradise.
There’s a perceptible flow carrying us to the wedding day, as if we had stepped into a gently moving river. Sunny, clear skies and smiles surround us as friends and family gather from near and far. My niece traveled from Africa, the Maid of Honor came from Spain, one of Maria’s close childhood friends traveled from California. Near or far, it is an effort to reach this island, separated from the mainland by Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Queen of the travelers was my 87 year- old mother, who traveled for two days to see her firstborn grandchild be married.
The morning of the wedding, preparations are underway in the Field Club Spa. Make-up and hairdos, laughter and coffee, bridesmaids pinning dresses, flower girls trying on their flowery crowns, ring bearers struggling with suspenders, Mother of the Groom aglow in her silver, sparkly dress and me, Mother of the Bride, taking this all in, amazed by the easy unfolding.
The elegant, earthly simplicity of the Venue sets a calming and inspiring tone. Browsing the scene, I step into the Reception Tent and into another exquisitely beautiful world. The gentle green and white floral arrangements, the soft sparkly lights, the arbor of flowers over the Bridal table…I delight in my daughter’s masterful touches and in the tireless, passionate devotion of the wedding team.
I notice a woman walking toward me. “Hi Deborah, do you remember me?” she asks as she comes near. In a moment I know who she is, my beloved midwife. We embrace and again, tears fill my eyes. Was it really 30 years ago that she placed her wise hands on my growing belly and listened with such love and care to my daughter’s strong heartbeat? “You are a woman,” I remember her saying, “Your body knows how to grow a baby.” Through her patient, wise guidance I learned to trust my body, my baby, the unknown, and the process of birth during my first pregnancy. By simply placing her hands on my belly, she could accurately determine my baby’s position, size and gender. Technology errs greatly compared to the experienced, wise hands of a midwife.
I am grateful that she is here. Her presence helps me to bring clarity and wisdom to all that stirs in my heart. Again, she offers her support for another birth. For in marriage, a new partnership is born, hopes for a lifetime of love and prosperity, radiant health and joy. We all gather to bless and celebrate this new life as we hear and feel its strong, heartbeat, its powerful promise and behold their radiant love.
“May this day be the day you celebrate your love the least,” the Matron of Honor exclaimed.
As Mother of the Bride, I bow in gratitude.
“Birth is all around
Just look, in every moment
We forgive and breathe”
All birth is Sacred...look to nature
Every pregnant woman is a Goddess. As she labors to bring forth new life, she embodies the Divine Mother, creator of all life and deserves the highest respect.
Is there any sound more beautiful, more sacred than the sound of your baby’s first breath?
When I was seven years old, I got to choose a kitten as my own. I chose a gray one with white paws. I named her Mittens.
A year later, Mittens was ready to give birth to her first litter of kittens. She chose my closet as her birthing room. My mom, my siblings and I found her a cardboard box and lined it with soft towels. We placed the box in a corner of my closet and waited.
I didn’t know what to expect. My senses were attuned to changes in my cat.
One evening I heard Mittens softly mewing in my closet. I crawled in next to her. I stroked her head and she purred softly.
The closet was dark and quiet. I felt peaceful sitting with her.
My siblings wandered in and Mittens growled. They respected her space and left. Mittens was teaching us what she needed in order to give birth.
She continued to allow me to sit with her. I began to notice her rhythms. Meow….. purr……meow….purr….. work and rest, work and rest.
Then her rhythms shifted. Meow meow meow meow! And in moments her first baby kitten wriggled out of her body! Mittens licked her baby, nuzzled her, purred and softly assisted her to her nipples with her gentle paws. Tears filled my eyes. My baby cat is a mama now! And she is such a loving, patient mama.
My siblings heard the commotion and hovered at the door.
“What color is her fur? Long or short? Girl or boy? What should we name her?”
Before I could answer, Mitten’s chorus of meows began again as she birthed her second kitten. Slowly and with powerful trust, Mittens ushered two more kittens into the world. Four soft mewing babies all welcomed with licks and purrs, warm fur and mama’s milk.
Mittens was instinctively protective of her new babies. We knew not to touch them. One calico, one orange, one tiger, one gray and white, each precious and perfect. We brought our new mama cat food and water in those first days. She allowed my siblings to look in and we sang to her, celebrated with her, rejoiced with her, all with quiet voices and big smiles.
Twice a year until I went to college, I sat with Mittens in a dark, quiet corner of my closet and stroked her head, honored to support her and witness the miracle of birth again and again.
Birthing my own three children, I drew on this experience.
Birth is sacred and holy, private and quiet, surrounded by loving support. This is my picture of birth.