Intention Scripts Experience

"We script intention into our designs, and in turn, our intention scripts our subjective experience." - Jason Silva

I look around my home at what I've designed for my family and I see three children who enjoy one another. Who want for nothing. (Except for maybe a Baby Alive doll.) Who spent the morning at the community center and are sitting on the floor in the living room, playing pretend. Who will go to the library in the afternoon and to bed with nourished bodies and clean teeth. Children who travel and know their extended family and love to watch YouTube videos.

In a city with hair and nail salons on every block, in a culture where women generally wait much longer to have kids than I did, in a neighborhood where you don't see school-aged children at the playground (unless they are with a summer camp), I am the women with unshaved legs and a toddling baby and a boy who looks bigger than his 9 years and a girl in the middle. People love to ask me, "are they all yours?" A question I cannot answer gracefully without doubting myself.

I end up feeling self-conscious. Not because of the question nor the hair on my legs (which is less of a statement and more of a symptom of busy-ness), but because I see no others mothers trying to entertain three children with an 8 year age range. Who do I think I am? I am most certainly not good at this. I most certainly lose my composure on a near-daily basis.

So I return to my intention. My intention was to be their teacher this summer. To take them on adventures around this fair city. To build memories together. But there was a learning curve. It took time to get into the groove of leaving the house every chance we got. It took time to figure out the right activities and schedules and techniques for conflict resolution. It took time to figure out how much food I would need to carry with me at all times. It took time to realize what I am attempting with my daughters and my stepson--summer camp plus home school plus school break plus sibling bonding.

Upon articulating motivations, we can better understand the process and the outcomes. Rather unconsciously, I decided to let my bohemian hippie self run the show this summer, keeping my children out of conventional structured activities and close to my side. This was the experience we needed Now. Nothing happens on accident. Including the resulting isolation and unease that pushed me back into this online world, head first. Where I have no one to answer to but myself. Where I can speak to adults. Where I can do something beyond washing and feeding and disciplining.

I see positive changes in my children, too. I see them listening better. I see them excited to get out of the house. I see them exercising their imaginations. I see them reading books, enamored by the local library. I see them making things. I see them learning at the California Academy of Sciences and engaging with nature at the Botanical Gardens and building forts in the Presidio. I see them sticking up for one another.

We engineer our experiences. Next summer, I may release control of my older children. I may maintain smooth legs. I may paint my toes. I may do more work. I may be different. But now that I understand the intentions that shaped this time, my head has cleared. I understand how I got here. I understand why it is right and important and so, so good.

This is day 12 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow the blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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The Summertime Blues

Motherhood has, as of late, turned me upside down. I guess I had it coming. When I became pregnant for the first time unexpectedly, I didn't have cold feet about becoming a mother. I didn't fear losing my freedom nor my body. I had a doctor who interpreted most of my pregnancy as having the potential to go very wrong, yet I carried to term and I gave birth quickly and easily, with the help of a doula rather than drugs. I nursed easily and my baby was healthy and I did not suffer from postpartum depression. My "pre-baby body" returned, I ran my organic tea business out of my home, and all was good. It was all so good. And now, it's harder. A lot harder.

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Where are your holes?

"And the child brings again a fresh quality to life. Every child is primitive, a barbarian; now the mother has to civilize. Every child is a barbarian, remember; he is animal, wild. And the mother has to give him culture, has to teach him the ways of life, the ways of man. It is a great work. You have to remember that – that your work has not finished, it has started. Take it joyously!" - Osho

I started thinking about intentions. It seems we can boil our multitude of motivations down to a few key intentions. The deeper I go, the more I recognize my desire to help other people. Not because I think I have some kind of special authority or knowledge, but because I do not. My struggle is precisely the point. My struggle exists so that I can write my way through it. By writing my way through it, I can help other people.

Maybe. If I can get out of my own way.

The more we get out of our way, the more people we teach. We each of us have our own methods of teaching, our own things we feel called to teach, and practice, so that others will learn by example. A lawyer is under oath to practice the law so that she may lead her clients to follow the law. An accountant helps people to manage their money. A salesman educates his customers about the value of his product. A barista in a coffee shop is there to make sure you enjoy your coffee, and your morning too.

The lessons can be both subtle and glaring. They come through only when the teacher believes in the importance of what she's teaching.

I've grown tired of the cliche that motherhood is hard. Hard doesn't even begin to describe it. Hard is a ten mile run or a job interview or a bad date.

I like Osho's description better. It is great work.

Motherhood runs a long, winding gamut. I can only speak from my position on it. So let's be clear on who I am: I am a full-time mother, that's 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I have a growing career, but not a paying job. My husband, the money-maker, often travels and I am left to parent alone. I have two children at home all day but for the 9 hours per week of preschool for the five year-old. On some occasions, I have a third glorious child. I always have several bodies to care for--to clothe, feed, bathe and love--though my husband eagerly shares in this work when he is home.

I am endlessly vying for time to write sentences, fragments of sentences, poems, blog posts, essays, short stories and entire novels.

Even on the days that I do almost everything right for them and for me, I still often feel that something is missing. Something I don't notice until I get to the end of the night and it's not there. In its place is a hole. I think this is why so many binge eaters tend to consume their calories at night. They try to fill the voids with food in their attempt to become whole.

When I run into troubles with my family, I start looking for the triggers. Some of them are easy to find, but many are not. Maybe she's not getting enough social stimulation or he's coping with the changes. Maybe she's teething or she's not eating enough whole foods. Maybe he's under a lot of pressure or she feels unseen.

Today my girls and I exercised and we went on adventures and we connected with other parents and kids. Today we cooked and cleaned and walked and read books and played.

Today I disciplined. Today I tried again to teach my little animals the ways of the world--the importance of bathing after you blow out of a diaper and apologizing when you cave to the compulsion of stealing.

Today I spoke to strangers. Today I corresponded with friends. Today I posted lines from a poem to Instagram in an effort to connect with other poetry lovers.

But when I got to the end of the day, I felt a deep well of sadness rise in me. Beyond my duties as a mother, I struggled to see my worth as a human.

That's when I started thinking about intentions, and how I can help other people. Which brought me here. Back to my words.

Where are your holes and how can you fill them?

Since I do not have a paying job, my holes often exist in my net worth, in my isolation, in my writing career. Writing novels is a huge risk. There are no guarantees. Many artists, particularly women artists, have to work extra hard to be seen.

Part of filling my holes is sharing and connecting with my blog readers.

Part of filling my holes is writing as much as humanly possible.

Part of filling my holes is reading as much as humanly possible.

Where are your holes and how can you fill them?

As always, I am available via email, lucymiller7 [at] gmail [dot] com, and I love hearing from you.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Creatures of Passion

I sit down at this computer day after day because I'm searching for something. The internet is my portal and my nemesis. I used to write poetry on a regular basis. Sometimes I'd post it on my short fiction and poetry blog sometimes I wouldn't. I would write to get the words flowing and hopefully create something beautiful to read.

If I were alive before blogs and internet and instant gratification, I wonder who I would be. Would I write poems just for my family and my self like my great-grandmother? Would my children later bind my poems together into a book? Or would I put down my pen in favor of the washing and the cooking and the children? Would I write more because I felt no pressure, or would I write less because I had no one to share it with?

Does the internet paralyze or liberate? I daresay both. It depends on how we use it or let it use us.

When I started writing poetry back in the third grade it was for the love of it because everything we do as children is for the love of it. Back when we were creatures of pure passion. Now we have bills to pay and ourselves to impress. Distractions that shadow our passions. We stop creating just for creation's sake. We're too busy.

I think the people who really have got it going on, the people who inspire and move and make change with their life's work are the people who never lose that part of themselves: that creature of pure passion. They let their creature loose everyday whether they're solving problems in corporate america or pounding the pavement in a pair of running shoes or raising children or designing websites or churning out content or making dinner or teaching yoga or...

Creatures of pure passion feel indifferent towards accolades and money and fame. They want only to kiss the earth and leave an imprint of love. The more we allow space for the creature to play, the less frightened we will become by her creations, and the more freely we can create in all our favorite ways.

When I stopped writing poetry I shut down one of my creatures. Now I'm inviting her back by sitting down with my pen and letting her be free, unconcerned by the scrutiny of the internet or the passage of time.

She loves tall trees and dandelion wishes and she's not afraid of sharing.

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Are you searching for your creatures?

Are you letting them out to play?

What do your creatures love?

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Facing Impermanence

The sun came out in a profound way, the last day of April rivaling the best of summer. My mother-in-law arrived on a jetplane to meet her nine week-old granddaughter. James came home for lunch and early for dinner. Giovanna had her Grandma. None of us could keep our lips off of our squishy gorgeous baby. Love was in the balmy breezy sweet clean air.

They were making dinner together; my husband and his mother and my daughter; while I cared for Skyla. For once I didn't have to multitask. Two of my three major evening responsibilities (Giovanna and dinner) were out of my hands.

So what did I do?

I took a walk.

I slipped Skyla into my trusty front pack and I walked through the city in the heat I love so desperately, the heat I'd been craving since it sidled away eight months earlier. The sky shone robin egg's blue and flowers popped out of the ground at every opportunity and the trees loomed like giants. Bicyclists whizzed by and people walked their dogs and children drew on the sidewalks. The lake brought certain peace while the volcanic mountain, so big it looked like a painting in the sky, humbled us mere mortals.

We are at the mercy of the earth.

And on this day, Mother Nature graced the Pacific Northwest with a lush and lustrous aura. The juicy green and glassy blue landscape like a highly addictive drug, the ether charged with something golden and Good.

I was getting exercise while connecting with nature, roaming my patch of the planet both paved and wild. My husband was at home. My daughter was happy. My baby was strapped to my heart, a smiling cooing suckling sleeping angel, the light of heaven pouring out of her in the form of pure unadulterated love.

I became rigid with contentment which isn't as lovely as it sounds. While climbing a long set of stairs, I had to stop. My heart cramped.

I was afraid.

How could life get better than this? How long could I hold onto these riches? How could I possibly feel this happy when so many people are starving and sick and depressed? I was standing at the top and looking over the edge.

Anxiety wanted to ruin my moment. If everything Good is ruined by worries, what's left? Why is it so hard to let ourselves feel mind-numbingly happy?

My theory? Because we grow attached to the current picture of our life. And we know deep down we can't take it with us. Everything exists only in fleeting passages.

My baby will soon be grown.

The weather will soon turn.

Everyone dies.

We intuit these truths of impermanence and we fret that everything will change before we are ready. Before we have really gotten to know someone or told them how we feel or followed a dream or appreciated the perfume of prolific oxygen.

I stood there for a moment, deciding that I deserved to feel Good without guilt or anxiety. I'd hit some lows the week before and I'd learned some lessons. I'd waited long and patiently for this baby and for the spring.

So I gathered presence around me and I breathed it in and I knew it: the best is yet to come. I could learn how to move comfortably within my natural state of joy. Instead of aching along with society, I could take my birth right and use it to weave light into the dark places.

My joints loosened and I noticed the moss on the edges of the stairs like a decorative trim. I took the next step and emerged out of the shade. Sun flooded my eyeballs as if to say, yes.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

- Marianne Williamson

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We Are All Babies

We think we're so grown up, don't we? We understand so very little about the vastness of the universe, about the force that makes the sun shine and the flowers grow and the rain fall and our hearts beat. It's not our fault. We are only human. We can only see ahead of us so far as the earth curves. Just like our babies can only focus on objects 8-15 inches in front of their eyes.

And yet we think we know what's best for us. We think we know what makes us happy. We think we know what's important. We think we know how to live.

Because how else could we function if we didn't pretend to know what we're doing and where we're headed?

(Fake it 'til you make it.)

Like my 7 year-old stepson, Emile, says: "I know all the facts about life." If we listen to children and consider deeply their feelings and motivations and opinions, we can learn quite a lot from them. How often do we think we know "all the facts" about something, only to find out (seconds or days or years later) that we were missing vital pieces of information? How often do we think to ourselves, if only I knew then what I know now?

(Hindsight is 20/20.)

We have ideas about death but really we have no idea what happens to us after the life-force that lives behind our eyes goes away forever. Does forever exist or is time cyclical like the days and the seasons and the years? Whose to say we know any more about living than we do about dying?

And whose to say adults know any more about life than seven year-olds? In the grand scheme of creation, aren't we all babies?

I look at my baby and I can see that she is perfect.

According to certain spiritual teachings, this is how God sees us. We are perfect in all of perfection's shades of gray. Imperfectly perfect. Perfectly imperfect. Sinners with full redemption.

My baby scratched herself on the nose recently. I was sad that she accidentally hurt herself with those flailing little arms. She didn't mean to. But she's okay. Wounds heal.

Isn't it the same with us? God, the Universe, All That Is watches as we hurt ourselves. We undervalue, we doubt, we over promise ourselves. We flail about and we fall. God knows we don't mean to do it, but we are confused, we are disorganized, we don't always see what's right in front of us.

My baby gets very upset in the car. We never go anywhere until she has nursed. If she's fed and asleep, she usually wakes up when I strap her in. If she's fed and awake, she will last for an average of 15-20 minutes before losing her cool. And if she's fed and truly tired, she does not fall asleep peacefully in the carseat. Rather, she cries. If we're going longer than 5 minutes, I pull over and nurse her, but this doesn't usually help unless I can knock her out with milk while still strapped in her carseat, a feat of contortion and a test of patience and an investment of time, all of which are more often than not in short supply. She wails and she screams at the top of her lungs (have you ever heard the top of a newborn's lungs?) and she grows sweaty and those arms wave in the air like she's calling out to Jesus.

I hate it. Those cries scratch my heart like the keenest fingernails on the squeakiest chalkboard, like the anguish of the person you love most in the world. I want to save her. I want to wipe away her sadness. I don't want to go anywhere in the car, and when Giovanna was a baby (who did the same thing) I often didn't. But my life is a different life now. Mainly I have a 4 year-old who goes to preschool and likes to do things and if we stayed home all the time she and I might both go crazy. So I try to pretend it's not happening. Sometimes I cry along with her. And when she cries for so long that her cries slow to intermittent wails and the sweat on her head leaves wet shadows on the carseat, I think I must be the worst mother ever to let my tiny child feel such desperation.

Alas I also know she's okay. She may feel lonely or tired or bored, but she's being cared for, even strapped inside that loathed seat. It will be over soon and I will take her in my arms and make everything better. I can do that for her.

Don't you think it's the same for God? God watches us as we go through things. We become strapped to our burdens and burdened by our minds. We have bad days and depressive periods and new lows. We call for help and when no one answers we call louder. We think that maybe no one's listening, but really God is listening, waiting for the right moment. Waiting for us to arrive so we can be delivered from our pain. Because everything is temporary. And if we get out early, we won't ever get to where we're supposed to be going.

Have I told you that my baby is beautiful? I have never seen a human being more beautiful. She is beautiful because she is pure light. She shines with divinity. Her physical appearance does me in. The pocket of flesh beneath her chin and the rolls on her limbs and the rotundity of her belly. The dark brown in her eyes and the cradle cap in her eyebrows and the fuzzy hair on her ears that remind just how very new she is. The length and elegance of her fingers and the softness of her feet and the itsy bitsy milia on her face.

What if God see us the same way? Sweet and gentle creatures with cute noses and funny pimples and jiggly thighs and hair in weird places, every speck of us adorable and perfect. Could it be possible that there is nothing inherently wrong with any of us after all? Did God give us the gift of babies so we could know how much we are loved by source?

After all, we all come from God. Source. We are all God's babies.

I like to think of us this way. Smart, sophisticated and savvy humans doing complex and important things to help this planet evolve, but underneath it all we're just sweet little babes, looking for some love, wondering about this world and what's going to happen next.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." - Albert Einstein

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Skyla & Cruz, soul-cousins born 9 days apart

If You Worry About Tomorrow

Depression. It's like cancer. Either you've had it or you love someone who's had it. And it comes in a huge variety. Like headaches. Benign and fleeting or heavy and serious and in rare cases, deadly.

Feeling depressed here and there is leaps and bounds from chronic debilitating depression that interferes with your relationships and passions and work and everything else...but mostly your natural state. Your birth right. Your happiness.

What is happiness anyways? I think it comes from the joy we find in the moment.

I'm sitting here in my bathrobe, nursing Skyla while Giovanna draws with a pen in Daddy's old notebook, pondering depression and happiness and joy. I've had a bad morning and I'm sad and I'm wondering when things will get easier and when I won't feel so bewildered by life. 

The sun just broke through a few clouds, bringing with it an immense shining of gratitude. I want to climb out of the hole but I can't find the first step. So I ask myself, what's Good about this moment? 

The sky. The lake. The abundance of trees. The sweet fuzzy head between my arms. The curly talking head to my right. The laptop beneath my fingers. The people on the other side of my phone. 

If you stop enjoying that which you once loved, day after day and week after week, I hope you seek help in a professional or a loved one or both. This is the kind of depression that needs treatment, though I'm sure there are as many definitions of depression as there are people who experience it. Likewise, depression does not arise from an isolated reason but from a complex web of experiences, past and present; the tangles in your auric field.

And then there's the anxiety that either contributes to depression or is often a byproduct of depression. Suffice it to say that depressed people have a lot to worry about, and people who worry have a lot to be depressed about. The world is just so damn scary and evil and hard. Even white middle-class Americans like myself know that things can fall apart in a second, and nothing is guaranteed. When we have our basic needs met, we have everything to lose. What's more, we have expectations. We want to know deep satisfaction and purpose and maybe even a certain version of "success." Maybe we don't believe ordinary is enough; maybe we want more. We think happiness is something to find or have or keep or achieve.

A loved one recently shared with me a transcontinental conversation with a loved one of her own, an African man who is happy in spite of living in poverty. He makes $30 per month, most of which goes to his daughter's school fees and medical care. He lives with no running water, no electricity, but plenty of death. He said that because of the struggle to survive, Africans live only day to day and don't worry about tomorrow.

In other words, they live in the moment, and not because they're trying to be zen or mindful. If they get to eat today, then today is a good day.

He said: if you worry about tomorrow, you'll go mad.

Simple truths are often the most profound, the most important to digest and understand.

May we remember this when we find ourselves in billows of stress. May we take this to heart when we become paralyzed by anxiety. May we focus on enjoying the moment rather than preparing for the future. May we practice looking for the Good so our minds stay healthy. May we turn down the volume so we can live in peace.

Just do what you can, now.

gandhi

The Most Outlandish Tale About Anxiety and Depression Ever

Scroll down to the stars to cut right to the story, which started here. Today I'm posting a wee piece of fiction as part of a blog hop, Adam's clever idea inspired by the anxiety that helps him write stories.

He says: When you think about it, having a freak out episode, or an anxiety or panic attack, or a grey matter meltdown, or whatever you wanna call it, is nothing but a series of creatively fabricated events that never happen. It’s fiction. A lot of the time, it’s really good fiction.

I've had this same realization about anxiety and storytelling; perhaps the gross tragedies unfolding in my mind (and torturing my soul) are not morbid and sick but a misdirected imagination, an overzealous desire to fabricate another universe.

But I never knew if this was true or simply an excuse for my paranoia. Until now. I feel so much lighter. How do you feel?

To start reading the story from the beginning, go to Adam's blog.

Here is my 200 word contribution, the 4th installment in the series.

***

On the other side of my window, branches and leaves whisper secrets, teasing away my exhaustion.

It's just the wind.

But if the wind is actually a man, and if the man is coming to steal my car, and if I didn't pay the insurance as I suspect, I will most likely end up sleeping on the side of the freeway. Drinking fumes during the morning commute instead of coffee. The car is far from paid off. And public transportation around here is as sparse as my eyelashes which I pluck from my eyelids when no one is really paying attention. Including me.

I drag my rattling bones out of bed to check on the car. But when I get to the front door and reach down to turn the lock, chills drip down my back like an egg cracked on my head.

It's a sign.

Better for my car be dissected and sold off in pieces than my body.

I climb back in between the sheets, checking for the jagged knife stashed between the mattress and wall before succumbing to my bed's embrace. Who needs a lover when you have a down comforter and plenty of imaginary friends with benefits?

Sleep assaults me and I am safe. Until my dreams take over.

***

Now go visit the blog of the brilliant author, Ericka Clay, for what happens next!

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7 Ways to Get Unstuck

Something kinda cool happened the other day. I was rifling through the folders on my hard-working laptop when I found an article that I'd written exactly one year earlier with a specific website in mind. When they didn't want it, I forgot about it. In the past year I've discovered a new website (is it just me or are websites as infinite as the stars in the sky?) that I love even more than that other one. And so I sent in this randomly-found piece and they claimed it just a few hours later.

It made me wonder...what else is hiding out in my computer, waiting patiently to be published? What else is possible?

The article explains 7 Ways to Get Unstuck. It occurred to me that the article itself had to get "unstuck," and paradoxically it took both #3 (Be still and wait) and #7 (Stop waiting) to get there.

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image via ceitci.org 

The Story Behind Skyla

"Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape."

- Rumi

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I already had the name Skyla on my list. I knew I loved it. And obviously I have a thing for the sky (hence my blog name). But the task of naming a child does not produce immediate answers, at least not for me.

When I saw this quote on Instagram from heathercooperloves, which was a re-gram from adonnrowley, I took a screenshot. Every time I came back to it, I got tingly.

We don't have to conform to standards or fit into boxes or worry about the outcome. We are here to do things that make us feel  good. We are here to enjoy the rainbows, bask in the sunshine, bathe in the ocean, gaze at the stars. We are here to cry in the rain and listen to the clouds and cling to one another in the storm.

We don't have to take this life so seriously. Failure is a myth, the prison walls are made of fear. We can fall and get up as many times as we want. We can fly without crashing. We need not hold back or be afraid or stifle our truest, wildest, happiest dreams.

I hope I can teach my beautiful biracial daughters to live like this.

I want them to push against the boundaries built by modern society. I want them to break through the glass ceilings and make their own joy. I want them to create anything and everything they want. I want them to follow their hearts and believe in themselves, because we are all as big as the sky.

Just as we chose Giovanna because "God is gracious," we chose Skyla to remember that we are limitless potential, bound by limitless love.