Giving during the holiday season whether in labor, time, or goods is the central focus of an effort towards goodness. For some giving is the central focus of a compassionate life; for others giving is a part of public relations that helps them meet financial or relationship goals. Our giving culture equates taking as opposition, bad, or evil. Even accepting gifts or help from others are viewed as taking and therefore wrong. We feel guilt or shame that we are unworthy.

“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” Thomas Merton

As I have gained wisdom through experience and observation receiving has become a vital part of my compassionate and peaceful pursuits. Accepting gifts in gratitude regardless the givers intention raises our happiness level.

Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.1

“Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.”
― Madeleine L’Engle 2

“Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.”

–Brene Brown 3

Humble vulnerability in accepting others help or goods is grace and strength in goodness. It is accepting that we are worthy because we exist. It is casting out fear and trusting the flow of life. Receiving is a doctorate level life lesson in abundance, joy, and ease that eradicates the need for life lessons in lack, pain, and struggle.

When we receive we grow, we bless, we rejoice, we make peace, we let go of unworthiness, we love deeply.

May you Receive this holiday season. Prayers and blessings of gratitude to all.

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Flourishing Beats Pants off Finding Balance

Balance says that you spend equal time with people, tasks, and that you have an equilibrium that creates happiness and success. Bah humbug! Seriously, the science doesn’t follow that. Instead try flourishing as is defined by Martin Seligman and positive pshychology.

Dr. Lea Waters paves a trail of “How the New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen to Flourish” and I might add you the nurturer, in her book The Strength Switch. She explains with examples, stories, and exercises how nurturers can flip the switch from criticism and complaints to valuing and understanding another’s strengths and how they are using, underusing, or overusing them.

May you flourish in your nurturing today as you bring your strengths to the table.

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Students Help Solve Space-Farming Challenges

Students help solve space-farming challenges

Source: Students Help Solve Space-Farming Challenges

In a time when farm and ranch land across our nation is being turned into housing developments, mainly due to children of farmers and ranchers not wanting to continue on with their family business, it is nice to know some students are being introduced to greater applications of Ag business.

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Dirt Road Daily#16: The Wisdom of Awe

Recently, my friend M and I headed into the woods together for our first overnight backpacking experience. We both have an appreciation for nature and a spark for adventure. Our first night we  camped near a lake serenaded by frogs. With contentment we watched the sun set over the lake and then woke frequently to twigs breaking nearby and finally to a cold misty dawn. We were surprised to hear highway sounds in the distance–we thought we were deep enough in the woods to escape such things. Day hikers began to sift through our camp on the trail around the lake invading our primitive privacy. The work and effort it took to carry in gear, cook, and repack did not dampen our wonder at beautiful skies and a variety of animal sounds: the plop of fish, the scuttle of chipmunks and flick and buzz of winged spectators (or torturers).

Apparently experiencing awe is a well-being booster with physiological and mental benefits. Awe can be experienced through nature, relationships, and accomplishments. Some feel awe in association with religious and spiritual experiences. Some feel awe when they complete a marathon or create artwork or watch a marathon and view artwork.

Whenever I am around young children or see photos of children I am filled with awe-a connection to something greater that is inspirational and humbling all at once. Young children lay there thoughts and emotions out there. They are unfiltered, mysterious, raw, pure, and so precious. Preserving their innocence while hitching a glance to see the world through their eyes is fulfilling. A sense of purpose and intention swells up and feels focused and simple.

This year as my youngest goes to college I feel a deep sense of honor that I could daily step into a child’s world. I am humbled by the possible wounding I inflicted at times with my hurry and over structure. I am grateful I have an eternity to be part of this universe, traverse the earth, weave my life thread among so many others and experience something that comes to us frequently enough to evoke joy and rare enough to treasure.

May you be open to awe and embrace its ability to create a meaningful life.


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Offspring Spring off to College

Preparing your young adult or new adult for a life away from home? We are sending our youngest this fall. Although we will miss his energy and light in our home we are happy that he has the opportunity to expand his horizens and step into the wide world. When my offspring are young they learn laundry, sewing, cooking and other skills that will help them when they are on their own. I also emphasize that even if none of their room mates clean up, take out the garbage, and such that they can do it to protect themselves. I found out my oldest was good at keeping dishes done, and garbage out even when his room mates neglected that. My daughter also keeps up with many cleaning chores–in her own time. It’s a matter of wellness!

To help my kids I sent them with a basic cooking guide and a laundry guide.

May you thrive as yours leave the nest or you make changes in your nurturing.

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Always Children

Adolescents are often classified as young adults which is only true in outward appearance. Their brains are still between young child in fast growth mode and adult with complete frontal lobe neural connections. The brain’s plasticity with its ability of ever-changing and learning, we humans are always children. Whether you believe in a divine creator and parent or evolution of matter in the universe, we spend our mortal existence in a changing childhood.

This is not an excuse for childishness but an opportunity to embrace childlike qualities and thrive.  Finding meaning in our everyday lives may be as simple as tuning into our childlike passions.  Individual strengths have emerged from these child delights ranging from intense focus and precision to finger painting unicorns on the walls. What type of activities delighted you at age 4?

My oldest offspring enjoyed lining up his books, stacking and building with blocks, battling his guys with sound effects, or making booby traps for his baby sister or “bad guys”.

His sister, offspring #2, had a different approach at four. She loved to dance and sing, play princess and dolls, imagine deep meaningful conversations with her dolls and stuffed animals, hopping and skipping and long spans of time “reading” books.

Offspring #3, the youngest brother, enjoyed lots of social interaction with family and friends, building, laughing, riding his  stick horse and listening to music.

I can only guess at my mate’s childlike activity at age 4 according to the recollections of his parents and siblings. His activities most likely involved deep affection, high intensity activity followed by relaxing. Social connections in the family and out were important to him.

As for me…my favorite Little Golden Book was, “Little Mommy”. Reading stories, writing stories and being a nurturer have always been a part of my playtime work. Strength of appreciation of Excellence and Beauty, Curiosity, and Spirituality naturally came out of my early childhood play. Believing I am a child of God came naturally to me and has influenced most of my choices and interactions throughout my life. The freedom to be childlike allows me to embrace opportunities of seeing the world through new eyes.

May you thrive in your childlike strengths and wisdoms as you navigate this life.

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Dirt Road Daily #15: Ancient Tree Nurturing-Connections that Endure

When I read Peter Wohleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, I was blown away by the similarities in how trees in old growth forests nurture and the desires of modern human nurturers. Ancient trees in old growth forests are meant to live hundreds of years. In forests around the world trees are removed when dead, or cut down around 120 years old or less. Due to their slow growth nature, many species of trees don’t reach their adulthood until they are 120 years old. Cutting them down is like cutting down  18 year olds and saying. “Your old enough. We’ll put a baby in your place so it’s ethical. Thanks for what you put out there.”

A 18 year old hasn’t even begun to realize their potential in the nurturing eco system. They are still refining their neural connections.

In ancient forests the 200+ year-old trees help teach the new saplings how to thrive. They send a message of danger and how to repel it. They pass on their experiences of how to reach the light and retain moisture. Their leaves have built up compost that creates and nourishes an ecosystem of microorganisms that aid the tree in connecting with all the other trees nearby. When the trees die, their carcass decomposes to nourish the next generation. Often the new saplings will grow up out of the carcass. They have a community, a tribe to support thousands of trees over thousands of years. These forest have even been known to migrate to better environments to thrive better when an ecosystem changes.

Many of the trees we are around in our yards and parks or more like street kids. They’ve been left to figure out the world on their own. Their leaves scooped up, the soil compacted down, they have no connection with the other trees on the street or park. No information passed on how to survive pests, and weather patterns. They tough it out until they reach adulthood and are often cut down before that because they die out.

When we nurture others we need connections that are authentic and organic. Connections which we flow our knowledge and pass on our thrival skills. How do we grow that?

  1. Fertilize your connections by giving others agency. Allow choices and consequences. It starts with children as young as one year receiving a choice between socks or two shirts, two snack options, or two vegetable options. Do you give in and do all decisions for your child? What about spouse, siblings, co-workers, employees, clients, students,etc?
  2. Loose soil allows for the most growth and stronger connections. This means your allow space and time for those you nurture. Some need more attention and engagement than others.
  3. Get your sunlight first before giving away nutrients to others. Nurturers must take care of themselves first.
  4. Accept the lightning scars. Storms happen and parts of us break off or are torn away. Like trees we can seal up our wounds and continue reaching for the sun while our roots grow deeper and spread wider touching others and sharing our experiences that can help them to grow past their wounds.
  5. Connect with other species to ensure thrival. Trees extend their neural like connections by connecting with the fungal threads that spread in the lush forest soil and connect to other species of trees and wildlife. We need plants, pets, and even those microorganisms that gross us out to thrive as a diverse planet.

May you thrive as you reach your light and advocate ecology of nurturing throughout the world.

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