Last week I wrote about a couple of my shining gifts that came to me from dark days. I really wanted my readers to connect with me and to feel a part of something that happens to all of us; the anxiety and turmoil of a transition and the blessings that await on the other side when we make it through. By opening up and sharing this part of my world with you, I unknowingly extended my hand to receive more gifts! All of your comments and private messages were my gifts; connecting with readers is what drives my work. And it was via the comment of a reader, Alex, that this post came to be. (Alex, by the way, is doing some yummy things over on her blog, A Cook And Her Books, so be sure to stop by and read about her culinary adventures! I promise, her pictures will make you drool!)
Alex mentioned the book Momma Zen Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller. When I took a closer look at Karen’s website and heard more about the book from Alex, a little memory floated through my brain. The midwife who delivered Inaya had mentioned this book to me as a must-read for mothers. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to reading for awhile after Inaya was born and by then this suggestion was buried too deep in my membranes. Well, now Karen and her books have come into my life in this amazing way!
Karen has graciously offered the following words (reprinted with permission from www.karenmaezenmiller.com) which fit so nicely with the self-care in motherhood theme. And before she left Let Me Out, she offered a gift…keep reading!
April 28th, 2009
You should study not only that you become a mother when your child is born, but also that you become a child –Dogen Zenji
One of my first readers, by my timid invitation, was a middle-aged single gay man who had no interest or experience in parenting but a keen eye for content.
“This is about parenting yourself, right?” he concluded after a quick flip through the pages.
I agreed as if I knew. As if that very insight had guided my hand.
But those aren’t the kind of insights that illumine the daily life of a mother when the process is so totally involved with the continuous operation of a malfunctioning bundle, so wholly immersed in behavior management of a toddling monster.
We don’t see our lives clearly when we live it as though it has an external object and outcome. Judging it as if it is a foregone conclusion or – what if? – a looming failure.
Yet how we mother our children can never be anything other than how we mother ourselves, because it is all one life. So my question is not how you parent the people you undoubtedly love the most, but rather, how do you mother yourself? Because there are not two ways.
Are you kind and forgiving?
Do you give yourself quiet attention?
Permission to play?
Discipline to work?
The confidence to do things by yourself?
Are you honest with yourself?
Do you encourage yourself to go outside?
To take a breath?
To try again?
To take risks?
To be silly?
Are you hurrying toward some imagined milestone?
Do you undermine yourself with constructive criticisms?
Are you undisturbed by your apparent lack of progress?
Are you tender, careful and trusting with yourself?
Do you comfort fears, or magnify them?
Do you nourish yourself?
Laugh at yourself?
Smile in greeting each day?
Do you abandon yourself to preoccupations with the past?
Do you make new friends and forgive the old?
Do you allow that the world is entirely your own and encourage self-mastery?
Do you sleep when tired and eat when hungry?
Take a bath and splash?
Do you let yourself rant and cry for no good reason and then coax yourself back into the familiar cushion of your very own lap?
Do you tell yourself you are a wonderful mother and a beautiful daughter? Then let me be the first, and not the last.
How do you mother yourself?
Thank you, Karen, for your important message stated so beautifully and for giving us all something to think about!
If you have not yet let your senses be soothed by some of Karen’s zen, hop over to her website. You’re in for a treat!
And now…*drumrolllllllll*… Karen has donated a signed copy of Momma Zen Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood to one lucky reader!! Keep it for yourself, share it with your sisters and friends, or gift it to someone else and brighten their day!
How do you enter to win??
There are several ways!! Yes, multiple entries!!
1. All subscribers automatically get their names in the proverbial hat (in this case, I will be using random.org to select the lucky winner). So, if you haven’t subscribed yet to receive my posts by email, you can do it now!
2. For an additional entry, please leave a comment below telling us which of Karen’s mothering references above resonated with you the most.
3. Want to enter again? Sure! Just share this post on facebook and/or twitter and then leave a comment telling us you did. Each share grants you another entry!
This contest closes on Friday Oct 28, 2011 at 5 pm PST. The winner will be announced on Let ME Out on Monday October 31, 2011 as well as contacted by email. If you are a subscriber, I have your email address. If you are not a subscriber and don’t plan to subscribe, please private message me with your email address for notification purposes of this contest only.