Creating a family life can be daunting: such a huge responsibility, and this wavering between too many resources and not enough as we try to work with the things no one seems to talk about. From all my work with parents, sometimes I can feel the emotions mothers experience drawn in space almost like the four temperaments. Perhaps there is the dark side of isolation and sadness like the melancholic, the fiery choleric need for order and doing (and maybe anger and frustration as things don’t line up to our plans and expectations), the deep phlegmatic ponderings in nature and spirituality, and the sanguine joy and fun of play and creating beauty.
However, all of these emotions also have a polarity. Isolation and sadness can give way toward helping others and ennobling them through our own dark experiences; the need for order through domination can also become leadership and delegation and setting priorities, the ponderings can give way to action, the fun and joy of creating can give way to stillness to just see and observe.
The pieces I see missing from mothers is this scattered sense of too much information and too much time gathering information and not enough doing. The practical piece, that willing and doing, just has to be there. I don’t know about you, but I am tired at night from the sheer doing of it all.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into Day Number One: Inner Work.
Please have a notebook and a piece of paper and ponder the following:
- Who do you feel called to do and to be? As a parent, as a mother, as a human being?
- What are you passionate about?
- What were you passionate about before you had kids?
- What are two strengths that you have?
- How could you use these two strengths?
- How does your homemaking and raising a beautiful family fit into doing something for your community or the rest of the world?
- What are the things you model for your children that you are most proud of?
- If you had to name three things that are your top values, what would they be? Here is a pretty long list of different values to choose from: http://www.timethoughts.com/goalsetting/ListOfSampleValues.htm
- Where does your spiritual and religious life fit into your experiences of mothering, parenting, and/or homeschooling?
When I first wrote this series, Day One looked at mission statements – personal and family mission statement to provide a framework for the twenty days. I think one thing that can be valuable in this process is looking at your own biography first, your own development. If you divided your life into seven year increments, what would be the defining moments of those time frames? What kind of person were you then, what kind of family did you come from? How have you changed? I think that gives you a better place from which to answer the above questions. “Tapestries”, by Betty Staley, looks at adult development through cycles of seven years and may be helpful to you. You can find a chapter by chapter look at this book on this blog.
There are several other things often mentioned with inner work. One of these is the concept of self-forgiveness and forgiveness in general and the other is how we use our inner work in relating to others; for me with parenting and homeschooling I think about observing and meditating on the child. I think these are important as well, and will include these in later blog posts for a complete focus.
Many people consider inner work to be the work and development that increases their sense of calmness, centeredness, peacefulness. Many families find increased personal development through a specific religious path and prayer. Many people these days do not seem to have strong religious or spiritual beliefs. I heard some statistics somewhere, I cannot remember where at this point, that stated approximately 15 percent of the US population now has no religious affiliation at all, and almost 2 percent of the US population is now atheist. I am sure if one looked at people who said they believed in something higher than themselves but had no structured religious or spiritual practice, the number would be high.
I encourage you as part of your inner work during the next twenty days to explore where spirituality, religion and your beliefs in these areas come into play in your life and in what you model for your children. Many children come into wanting answers regarding something higher than themselves around the age of nine or ten year, and demonstrate wanting to be a different religion than what the family is or wanting to experience something religious or spiritual if that has not been a part of their upbringing. These are questions to think about now so you can provide the best guidance for your child during these times.
Artistic work is a often a catalyst for inner development, and I will post our artistic work in Part Two.
That completes some thoughts for Day Number One!
Happy pondering, and most of all, happy DOING! Make your commitment, pick a time of the day and stick to it! I will be waiting to hear your progress!
Many blessings and In Joy,