A mother’s heart

December 25, 2007 at 4:20 am | Posted in Scrapbooking | 1 Comment

a-mothers-heart-web.jpg

Credits:

Sweet Wasabe kit … creator unknown cos i deleted the kit before taking note of the name ūüė¶

Mother’s Day wordart by Jenna RobertsonFonts

Apparently, simplicity is something that’s challenging for me, cos it took me over an hour to figure out if i should use any more elements or quotes, before i decided against it. :/ Finding the right quote was also tough cos i was looking for the Perfect one and cldn’t find it…. so in the end, settled for this one cos i have it in my wordart collection and might as well use it since i seldom include myself in scrapping pics. Though i am “au natural” here and not looking my best, i love this pic anyway cos both of us seem to light up. Was in a phototaking frenzy today cos Mr Gua Gua recently managed to find my camera battery charger which went missing for over a month, so i was making up for lost time, and took some really sweet pics of little boy posing his “cheeky” (as my mum calls it) today. Will scrap those soon!

Before i go off to bed, wishing everyone a Merry X’mas… may the festive¬†spirit remind you of love and abundance that is all around you!

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Buddhism for mothers

December 20, 2007 at 3:56 am | Posted in The journey within | Leave a comment

My temper has been short of late and i have been mainly losing it on little¬†boy. Mostly unexpected, like one moment i’m ok, and next moment, KABOOM. It’s a bit scary actually (for me, and i’m sure a lot more for little boy), and despite knowing better, i can’t help but feel guilty and ashamed for such loss of control. Tuesday was a day of eruptions, and i only feel worse when i recall that i had some time to go out in the afternoon as my mum came over, and only had to take care of little boy in the late afternoon and evening – yet, i cld still hardly survive the day. For those few hours, i was alternating between being Nice Mummy and Scary Mummy, not unlike Dr J and Mr H, and i think little boy was scolded to tears numerous times. Definitely not a day that i wld record down in my database as one that i would like to remember.

But it was fortunate that i did have the chance to go to the library that afternoon to check out a list of recommended parenting books that i got from an attachment parenting forum. (Attachment, btw, in this context, is a GOOD thing… unlike in the Buddhist context :P). One of these books was Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali. I borrowed this book before and i think i only read it halfway, mostly speedreading it through, thinking that all these were nothing new to me. Alas, i was reading it with an already filled cup, and couldn’t benefit from it as a result.

This time round, i was able to slow down and did my best to digest each and every sentence. Hence, i was able to¬†rediscover the beautiful gems pf Buddhism that i have lost along the way in recent years, and now needed more than ever. How foolish it was of me to assume that because i have been to more than a handful of retreats and spent my university days actively participating in the Buddhist Society, that i already “knew it all”. I did know a lot. Not the historical or technical Abhidhamma stuff, but most of the basic concepts and principles. Unfortunately, this knowledge was merely of the intellectual kind, as i was unable to incorporate it into my life and suffered more than ever, since i entered this new chapter of marriage and parenthood.

So i’m really immensely grateful that i had another opportunity to read this book and this time, really read it. Already, just in 1 day and halfway through the book, i remembered and was able to practise the art of just observing, without reacting in an automatic knee-jerk fashion. This evening, little boy was stubbornly refusing to keep his toys and kept wanting to read one last book, one after another. He has this habit of wanting to play almost all of his toys and read as many books as possible in the short time we have together before bedtime.¬†While i get that he is making up for lost time that we didn’t have when i was at work, and i also appreciate this short but precious time for us to bond and reconnect, it is truly impossible to play and read everything and we both knew that he was getting tired (though one of us wldn’t admit it of cos!).

Given the volatile nature of my temper these days, i knew i cld have easily just blown another short fuse with him for not coorporating in keeping his toys and books. It’s a pretty trivial matter, one that i also think is trivial during those days when i was more even-tempered. So never did this quote make greater sense to me, which i read again in this precious book,

The thought manifests as the word;

The word manifests as the deed;

The deed develops into habit;

And habit hardens into character.

So watch the thought and its ways with care,

And let it spring from love

Born out of concern for all beings.

All along, during periods of reflection through hindsight, i observed all the negative behaviours i was engaging in and told myself, this was not who i am. The REAL me is someone who is always compassionate and patient and gentle. As i have seen these sides of me especially during university days, i felt that the present me is just another facade that would definitely fade away (only if certain pple were no longer ard, or if someone behaves in another way instead, or if…. etc etc).

This¬†teaching which came from Buddha¬†and the writer’s own elaboration quickly helped me realised the contrary may be true. If i wasn’t careful, and kept on letting my temper get the better of me, in time to come, i would become a very different person from whom i used to be, and unless i skilfully deal with my thoughts and actions and change them for th better, the present me is NOT going to somehow return to the former me. I believe in Buddha nature and the higher self still, but there is no point in believing in them if they are not reflected at all in the way i present myself to the world.

And now¬†i also see that character is actually¬†made up of moment-by-moment choices, not the other way round. It’s not that we make selfish choices cos our character is selfish, or we make noble choices cos our character is noble. Rather, we become selfish or noble pple, by making selfish or noble choices. As common sensical as it might seem to be, i actually did not know this until now! And this realisation is such a liberating and empowering one, cos it means that no matter what mistakes i have made in the past, it doesn’t matter, cos starting from now, i am able to make a different choice which will help me develop myself towards becoming a better person. What more, i have infinite opportunities to make these choices, so even if i still make wrong ones from time to time, big deal, try again next time… though i better do make the effort to do better next time!

So it was this not very new, yet new to me teaching, alongside with many other equally familiar yet not fully understood teachings in this book that helped me make a different choice tonight. First i was adamant that little boy does not get to read yet another last book and i was trying to take it back from him. He held on and was already almost in tears, and in that split second, when i could have grabbed it roughly from him and allowed him to break into tears, i let him have the book. While i was not happy about it cos it was already late, i chose to observe my unhappiness, and in doing so, it subsided very quickly.

In any case, little boy who was sitting on his favourite spot kept patting the area beside him, telling me, sit sit sit. I just ignored him, putting the books back on the bookshelves. But i have to hand it to little boy’s persistence, cos by the 30th(?) time he said sit, i cld not help but soften and feel partly amused and partly sorry for him, so in the end, i went to him and made the deal that we would read this one last book, then he would help me keep the toys. He just kept saying sit, so i was wondering how much he understood, but he did anyway. After i read the book with him, i reminded him to put it back and immediately he got up and did so.

However there were still all that toys lying around, and i think he was both tired and unwilling to do much further. So i kept a couple for him, but felt resentful and angry about it cos i wanted him to do it for himself. Another power struggle came up when i asked him to put the drum back where it belonged, something he has willingly done before tons of times – not this time. A few minutes went by as neither of us gave in, and i was thinking what to do.

Frankly, my next step was quite out of character for me, and i don’t know what made me to do it. Usually my not so nice but sends the message action is to physically carry him to the toy and force him to put it back, even if it means that i am actually putting it back myself and his hands are just touching mine. Basically, i want him to know that he may not like it but he has to put the toys back. But after reading and reflecting these recent days, i knew this wasn’t the best way as i was disempowering and humiliating him, in other words, i wasn’t treating him with respect.

Well, this evening, what i did instead was to put the drum back myself. Another typical response that i would have to this was the “i give up” attitude, doing everything myself but showing him that i’m angry abt it, though the anger wldn’t have lasted for long either – i can’t stay angry at little boy for long! This time round, after i put the drum back, with him watching (which might have surprised him too), i told him now it was his turn. He still didn’t move. I told him, I helped you, now you help me, i helped you put the drum back, now you help me put this toy back. Before i even finished what i was saying, he was already moving towards the toy, intending to put it back! In the end, i was able to make it fun for him as it was a truck¬†and i kinda directed him to “drive” it back to its destination. But after that, i just kept the remaining 2 toys as i didn’t want to push my luck, with him and myself. ūüėõ

I don’t know how people without children may view this little seemingly trivial event, and i wonder if they may think what’s the big deal. I do think that parenthood offers a whole set of challenges that cannot be entirely understood by those without children – hence, how easy it is for the latter to give advice, criticise and judge! However for¬†me, that was a little and at the same time BIG accomplishment. At least, it’s a small step in making a conscious change in how i behave towards little boy, and i hope it goes a long way in inculcating the right values to him – of fairness, helpfulness – and showing that it is possible to resolve differences in a win-win way.

I don’t expect that i wld be able to do this 100% of the time definitely… hehe, i highly doubt that i’m going to ever be Perfect Mummy, and i guess i won’t give myself undue pressure by expecting myself to become one. However i am going to apply the practice of mindfulness, moment-by-moment, as often as i can, and i truly believe in the power of this simple but wonderful technique, to bring changes to how i respond, and not simply react, to events.

Once again, grateful, to the writer who didn’t shy away from writing this inspiring book just cos she’s an ordinary mom, to the universe for landing this book into my hands, to little boy for being one of my best spiritual teachers (cos he doesn’t teach me the theory but gives me the chances to practice!), and most of all, to Buddha, the one who teaches suffering and end of suffering.

May all beings come to realise the end of suffering and be liberated quickly.

 

See yourself as a flower

December 18, 2007 at 3:33 am | Posted in Pearls of wisdom | 1 Comment

I thank the universe for always sending me messages that i need to hear and reflect upon, hence progressing¬†on this path of self-acceptance and self-love. (Been really hard on myself today…)

SEE YOURSELF AS A FLOWER

‚ÄúWe do ourselves a great disservice by judging where we are in comparison to some final destination. This is one of the pains of aspiring to become something: the stage of development we are in is seen against the imagined landscape of what we are striving for. So where we are — though closer all the time — is never enough.

“The simple rose, at each moment of its slow blossoming, is as open as it can be. The same is true of our lives. In each stage of our unfolding, we are as stretched as possible. For the human heart is quite slow to blossom, and is only seen as lacking when compared to the imagined lover or father or mother we’d like to become.

‚ÄúIt helps to see ourselves as flowers. If a flower were to push itself open, which it can‚Äôt, it would tear. Yet we humans can and often do push ourselves. Often we tear in places no one can see. When we push ourselves to unfold faster or more deeply than is natural, we thwart ourselves. For nature takes time, and most of our problems stem from impatience.‚ÄĚ

— Mark Nepo, in The Book Of Awakening

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