the best advice i’ve applied and spoke to lately can be summarized in one cute sentence, “keep the purring kitten alive.”
whether talking to my good friend about relationships, particularly new and delicate ones, or applying it to parenting my jr high daughter, the strategy applies. how can we create what we want to create in our own lives, connect with others and not get caught up in attachments, fears and how we want things to be? i would love it if my teenage daughter would swear off boys and all things boy related until she is 20 and i would love for the guy my good friend is interested in to be able to create a light and playful courtship with her. in the meantime, i can get stuck trying to force things to be a certain way, strangling the poor kitten who is showing me it wants to connect by being near me and purring. i can also give advice that puts friends and family members in the same boat if i am not choosy with my own words and actions. “that guy just doesn’t know what he wants” you should just………”. Or it may be that the kitten is just trying to occupy the same space as me, to get a feel for me or what it wants, and i am preoccupied with getting my hands on it, not listening for and respecting boundaries.
in my attachment and fear, what sometimes comes to life are expectations that are not honest with my own experiences or are not based in reality. expecting my daughter to swear off boys and freaking out about it will only strangle connection. she will see my hypocrisy and feel my fear. she may even get her claws out. i also lose out on opportunities that are present when i am stuck trying to force what i think should happen in my head onto reality. whew, plus its tiring.
expecting everyone around us to clarify and communicate what they want plus act in a way that is aligned, while in our most honest moments we realize we have not done the same, and then reacting when what we expected to happen didn’t…… hmmm. yeah, the kitten starts to get skittish. if in our reaction we start to cling and grasp, we start to hurt the very thing we want. we also lose the opportunity to model being clear, honest and present, which i believe is the best example on any day.
some things that help me keep the purring kitten alive are as follows.
- get real. clarify commitment. i was pretty interested in boys during jr high. i still remember a $200 phone bill i rang up at my grandmothers talking to my boyfriend, who lived in a neighboring city. i also remember writing a sexy and sassy love letter in high school to my boyfriend that my grandmother found in the laundry. yep. that’s getting real. oh yeah. i also had my oldest when i was really young. in my moments of fear, i have to remember to be honest, to get real. when i clarify commitment, the first thing that comes up is my relationship with my daughter. its crucial that she continues to communicate with me and that she keeps me in the loop. i don’t expect her to tell me everything AND i don’t want her to feel shame or that she has to hide. i also don’t want her to experience a double standard that encourages her to shut me out. in clarifying my commitment, i want her to see an example of her mom continually working and learning how to keep a commitment and stay open, honest and present. ultimately, i want her to clarify what she really wants from her heart. how can i support her in that effort if she is hiding? how will she find it if her headspace is filled with confusion and shame? if i want her to keep purring in my space, i gotta be honest and clear myself.
- patience. i’m gonna say it. hold space. its one of those words i heard a lot when i first started practicing and reading all things yoga. i really didn’t get what people meant. sometimes i felt like it was a euphemism. what it means to me now is to be patient. with others and with myself as i’m learning and they are learning.
- Ask and receive support. this one often seems like the most difficult. especially asking. sometimes i ask a friend, recently i asked my oldest daughter and sometimes i walk outside and ask God. this is especially helpful when i feel stuck. i’ve also found its crucial to think about who you ask and then be willing to tell them what you need. e.g., “i just need you to listen.” “i need you to help me be honest with myself,” “i need to know what your experience is of this. “you will find your own ways 🙂 just remember, keep the purring kitten alive.
photo: taken at vianden castle, luxembourg, january 2015.
keep the purring kitten alive, also inspired by: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/11/the-best-advice-i-ever-got-about-love/