Rituals & Spirituality

The Ocean, Buddha and Nummies

Amy Wright Glenn's oceanI stand in the ocean. The water is warm, placid, and crystal clear. Little translucent fish swim around my legs. I hold my 22-month old son Taber in my arms. He rests his head on my shoulder.

My husband puts his goggles on to check out a nearby Needlefish. It’s our family morning time at the beach. Having recently moved to south Florida, we are amazed by the world-renowned beauty found a mile away from our doorstep.

My son pulls my blue swimsuit to the side and begins to nurse. I stand tall, gaze at the surrounding beauty, and breathe in the powerful peace moving through my soul. I etch this tender mercy into my heart’s collection of memories. This moment is so primal, so right, and so beautiful.

I stand in the ocean’s magical waters and breastfeed under the sun. [Read More…]

By |June 30th, 2014|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Rituals & Spirituality|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Oranges for the Buddha

TFranz_OrangesBuddhaWhile living in our little semi-urban house here in Kumamoto, Japan, we are often visited by one of the neighbor ladies bearing gifts of whatever is in season in her well-tended garden. In spring, there are strawberries. In summer, eggplants and tomatoes. In fall, persimmons and squash. In winter, oranges. These fruits and vegetables then sit before the Buddha on our altar as an offering—for a short while, anyway—before winding up in our kitchen to be duly prepared and then consumed by the family.

I’ve always been struck by this neat little cycle of generosity: neighbors sharing their bounty; our family engaging in ritual at the altar; my husband and I preparing meals in the kitchen; and the four of us then eating in proxy for the Buddha, just as it’s done in many households and monasteries throughout Japan. It’s idyllic. Almost. It’s that last part where my genuine feeling of generosity too often breaks down and becomes complicated. The fact is, mealtimes with young children can be very, very challenging. [Read More…]

The Value of “Tuck-Ins”

austin'sThere’s a saying in the South that goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  I was raised on this aphorism and felt it acutely around special occasions such as Christmas, Mom’s birthday, and, of course, Mother’s Day.

Growing up, it was always interesting to me that the same amount of fastidiousness wasn’t applied to Dad’s birthday or to Father’s Day.  As a boy, this seemed demonstrably unfair, but as I’ve gotten older and entered the ranks of parents, I think I understand why the disparity exists.  I think it has to do with our need for a protection that is both intimate and nurturing.

Now, right off the bat, I can hear the internet criticizing this opinion.  “Men can be just as intimate as women,” the web might say.  Or “This opinion of yours that mothers are more nurturing than fathers is sexist.”  And I am sure there are millions of counter-examples to refute everything I’m going to write. [Read More…]

Any Day Can Be Mother’s Day

The teacups are set out over the lace tablecloth. One teacup is from Ireland, one from Germany, and one from the Czech Republic. These cups represent our heritage, as well as the ritual of having tea with mom. The teas are chosen, too – one decaf green tea, a pomegranate, and a mint medley.

The teakettle whistles like a train horn to let me know it’s time. It’s Tea Time.

Time to sit with my daughters in the evening and to chat, to watch TV, and to read. Most likely we will be doing all of these at the same time because we are mulitaskers. This teatime is something I still do with my mother, too. It has been passed from one generation to the next, and it makes me happy when we have tea. I smile knowing that this is a mother’s day. Any day can be Mother’s Day. [Read More…]

Mother’s Day

Janice EidusMine wasn’t a happy family. My angry, volatile father tyrannized us, and my mother was depressed most of the time. Yet Mother’s Day was important to us, a day in which we could honor my mother without sarcasm or cruelty, both of which permeated our household. Out of construction paper, I made her homemade cards, and with my allowance money, bought her inexpensive perfume or face lotion.

I didn’t think much about the gifts. I just went to the local pharmacy and pulled them off the shelves. My mother was always very grateful, although I felt detached from her at the moment of gift giving: yes, she was my mother; yes, I loved her; but no – I couldn’t fully give myself over to celebrating her. Things were just too grim in our home. [Read More…]

Toddler Time at the Nature Center

nature centerIn 1916, the wild Cypress Creek wetlands of Coconut Creek, Florida were drained. This morning, I drive to Fern Forest Nature Center to visit the 247 acres of what remains. I want my 22-month-old son and to see our south Florida homeland untouched by housing developments, strip malls, and busy roadways.

I park and help my little one out of the car seat.  He wants to bring his “truck book” along. So, I tuck it in my backpack knowing that soon he’ll be mesmerized by tall trees, spider webs, and fish swimming in streams. It’s true. As soon as we begin walking in the woods, a calm energy surrounds us. He goes at a slow pace, soaking it all in. [Read More…]

By |April 22nd, 2014|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Mothers Over 40, Rituals & Spirituality|Tags: , |0 Comments

Easter on Bikes

Easter-Bunny-Bicycle-DeliveryUnlike Christmas, I’ve yet to really formally lay claim to our family traditions for Easter. So far, they’ve changed every year. Some years we travel to my parents’ house — about 6 hours away by car. We still dye eggs and hunt for candy, but my parents are not religious so there is no church.

Some years we stay home, and do a neighbourhood egg hunt, plus a hunt for chocolate on Easter morning at home, PLUS a hunt for chocolate at church on Easter morning.

I haven’t even quite managed to figure out who brings the eggs and candy and Easter basket filled with chocolate and books, new swim goggles, a fairy wand, and a plush bunny. I think the Easter Bunny brings the chocolate eggs around the house, and a hollow chocolate bunny, just as he did for me when I was a child. But I give the basket with the books and other little trinkets. No big toys — this is not going to be a second Christmas. [Read More…]

Two Hands Mama

two hands

Boy screams “Two hands, Mama!” whenever I’m driving and both of my hands are not firmly fixed on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 o’clock.

The first time this happened was about a year ago. Boy had just turned three, Girl was not yet one. I remember it was raining, really raining—one of those precursor deluges of Japan’s fifth (secret) season. I was moving through that thick mental fog of too many nights doing the semi-sleep shuffle: Baby coughs and shudders—touch baby, baby is okay; baby cries—change diaper, cuddle; baby cries—offer breast; baby whines—cuddle; baby wakes at 4:20 a.m—get up, begin day. [Read More…]

Working Hard to Stay at Home

Taber and Mama 2I wish I had known how much I would love being a mother.

How could I have anticipated the depth of this love?

My heart opens with wonder when I watch my two-year-old son lift his arms, snap his fingers, and sway to music. Any music. We could be in the check out line at Walgreens and if he hears music, he lifts his arms in praise.

Oh, the world is good to him. Despite the little, blue bruise on his forehead from a sad encounter with the edge of an antique bureau, it’s a loving world overall. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a gentle and consistent source of kindness as he learns to speak, share, swim, and jump. May he internalize my love and bring it forth as an inner light in days to come, days when I am no longer by his side to wipe away the tears of sad encounters. [Read More…]

By |March 24th, 2014|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, Mothers Over 40, Rituals & Spirituality|Tags: , |0 Comments

The Power of One: Honoring Yourself

Valentine's Day - Huff PostLast year, in my Huffington Post Valentine’s Day essay, “The Power of One Helps Make a Whole,” I wrote about how important Valentine’s Day is and how I start thinking about the upcoming holiday soon after the last holiday ends!  I explained how I spend several months formulating who I’ll send cards to and who I’ll call/see/meet simply to say “I love you” and express my thanks and gratitude for being in my life. [Read More…]

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