everydaybalance

inspirational tools to create life balance in your everyday

state in my heart

September8

it’s just you and me kid

alone at the park

in the middle of the day

and those swings invite us in

 

you giggle so loud

the men

in the tennis court

shout love and then freeze to take it all in

 

kick off your shoes

whisk through the sand

hang from the big tall bar until you drop

slip and slide all the way down to the ground

 

a light blue sky with paper doily clouds

silence until

they part just enough

for you to cry “moon!”

 

when did you get so big

turning half past two

and how do you stay so little

when you create such a state in my heart

 

copyright – Christina Adler -7 September 2012 – San Mateo, California USA

Photo by Christina Adler- Burlingame, California

posted under 2012 poetry

the giving tree – finding everyday balance

September8

Today as I drove into the grocery store parking lot, I passed a woman holding a clean white sign. In large black writing, the sign read, “Single mom. Need help. Hard times.” It is rare to find people asking for food in this affluent suburb and something about her body language told me she had never done this before.

Living in the Bay Area, with a significant homeless population, we are frequently presented with signs asking for help. My husband and I rarely experienced this in Sydney so it became a topic of many conversations when we moved here. We decided that handing money out to everyone wasn’t possible so now we have each chosen a charity that we believe in and make regular donations.

However, today as I pulled into my parking spot, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this woman needed help, and she needed it now. I watched the various reactions from the other people that pulled up in their fancy cars. Some looked straight past her, some shook their head in an annoyed way and even glared at her. Other people just walked straight by and one woman in her twenties stuck a few bills into her hand. I watched the woman’s response as she took the bills. She was genuinely thankful, looking the person straight in the eyes as if to apologize that she were even asking.

I looked to the back seat and saw my daughter eating a cold mandarin, one of the many fresh and delicious foods that filled our refrigerator at home. I got up and took her into the store where we walked down the aisles of the overstocked supermarket. When I paid, I selected to get cash out. I put the green bills in my wallet and walked back to the car. The day was warming up, but the sunlight still said morning.

As we were driving out of the lot, I pulled into a spot close to where the woman was standing. She stood tall, holding on to her pride, dressed as if she had just come out of one of my yoga classes. I reached into the bags for the fresh fruit that I had just bought and the new green bills in my wallet. I got out of the car and asked the woman if she was okay. In a rush of words, she told me that she had been fired and had only just gotten a new job and that she would start on Friday. She was standing there because her first paycheck wouldn’t arrive for three weeks. She needed to do laundry before she started her job and buy food. I handed her the fruit and the money and she took them with gratitude. With a lump in my throat, I asked her how old her kids were. She said she had a son. He was fifteen-years-old.

Something in me changed when Ruby arrived. It was not something I expected or something I tried to cultivate, I just suddenly felt a deep empathy for other mothers and the struggles that they would inevitably feel as a parent. When she said that she had a son and told me his name and how old he was, my eyes welled up. I did not want her to see my sadness so I wished her good luck and ran back to the car. As I was buckling up, I watched her quickly unpeel the banana. She ate it fast and then moved on to a cold mandarin. Her hunger spoke a thousand words and I knew that she had been feeding her son before herself.

As I was driving away, Ruby asked who that was, but my mind was somewhere else. Suddenly I was remembering myself as a fifteen-year-old. I was moody and insecure and I clung to the stability of my home to keep me feeling safe amongst my shifting internal and external worlds. As a parent, I now have an appreciation for how hard my parents, and especially my mom, worked to help me navigate that time in my life. They did this mostly by creating simple moments of joy that provided some relief from the pressures of being a teenager.

Before I knew it, I had turned around and was driving back into the parking lot. As I drove in, she looked up with an open face, knowing I wouldn’t be judging her. I gestured for her to come to my window and gave her the only thing within reach in my car that I knew would give her and her son a simple moment of joy. It was a green reusable shopping bag with an unopened Costco size box of mini brownies.

She took the bag and I told her that these were for her son, because chocolate always makes kids smile. I also told her that I really believed that things were going to be okay for her. Without looking at the contents, she thanked me, this time the lump was in her throat. I knew from her expression, that perhaps even more essential than money or food, was just having someone say that they believed in her today.

As Ruby and I drove away, she asked again, “Who was that mommy?”

I told her that it was someone that hadn’t eaten breakfast and she needed us to share. And suddenly it really felt that simple. She did not have enough and we did. I thought of the book, “The Giving Tree” that I had just read to my two-year-old daughter. The concept of sharing, which we work on a lot right now, felt very apt in this moment.

I don’t know why this woman struck me different from the rest. Honestly, as I write this, I don’t know how I walk past people without a home or enough to eat on all the other days of the year, but I do, we all do. It is a hard subject to write about because the injustice of someone having too much and another having too little brings up guilt and a web of tangled feelings.

Spending time with children, gives us the opportunity to examine our habitual feelings and actions because we are asked to explain them so often. Shortly after learning to talk, children start asking, “why?” several times a day. What if instead of giving the easiest answer, we really thought about the questions. What would we learn about ourselves? What would we change?

This month, I invite you to listen to your heart and when you have the opportunity to give your time or your resources, do so. It is so easy to close ourselves off from others, believing we are different or we do not have enough. The irony is, that when we give, we often feel a more authentic sense of abundance in our lives.

In the town that we live in, there is a wonderful organization called Shelter Network. They provide housing, food, clothing and essentials to homeless families. They help parents find work and also provide education and stress management training. This year I gave a talk at Shelter Network on meditation and stress management. The experience was very grounding and reminded me that sometimes giving from our hearts is even more powerful than from our wallets.

Now when I bring the baby goods and other household items that we’ve grown out of to the shelter, I know that they are going to someone that needs them more than we do. I really like that when the families living at Shelter Network find their own homes, they are allowed to take everything they accumulated at the shelter with them. When our neighbors moved back to Australia earlier this year, Phil brought a number of items of theirs to drop off. He said it was incredibly moving when he saw the shoes that his toddler daughter had just grown out of, put on to a little girl who had none.

Now, when I feel frustrated with clutter in our house, instead of wondering how I can reorganize things, I try to remember this story. It motivates me to move items on that another family may treasure.

This week, we have driven past Molly Stones’ Grocery Store almost everyday. I never saw the woman standing there again, but this morning as she starts her new job and makes a fresh start for her family, I am cheering her on for being one of the bravest people that I have met in a long time.

For comments or questions, please feel free to email me at chrisadler@everydaybalance.net. To subscribe for a free reminder for these inspiration pieces, simply fill in your name and email address on the home page under “subscribe to everyday balance.” For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, visit the ‘for life coaching’ section of this website. Photo taken by Christina Adler in Melbourne, Australia.

posted under 2012 life balance