“Map of my Dream Land” Cat Charissage (c) 2017 watercolor crayons and sharpie marker
Where would you go if you could go anywhere in your dreams? My spot is that little group of squiggles on the lower right of the map I painted in my journal (above). I imagine that its tip accesses a still, reflecting lake. There is no propaganda, no chemical weapons, not even any handguns.
Happy Full Moon in this month of April, in this Holy Week midway between the start of Passover and the feast of Easter, between the promise of deliverance from slavery and the assurance that death isn’t the end of the story! This week is full of narratives of remembrance and hope.
I want to share two books with you that will warm your heart in the midst of whatever darkness we live in: My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., and Time-In Parenting, by Otto Weininger, Ph.D. Both books have been around for awhile, and both have impressed me deeply.
My Grandfather’s Blessings is simply full of love, written by a physician who counsels people with life-threatening illnesses who witnesses to how life reveals its wisdom, perseverance, and surprises. Her dedication is “For everyone who has been given more blessings than they have received.” She shows us how to see what is offered, and to choose to receive those blessings —- even when there isn’t any miraculous cure. It is full of truth, healing, and wonder.
Time-In Parenting is a small book for parents of young children who are looking for ways to deal toddler tantrums and other deep upsets. Weininger takes a different approach to that of the common one of time-outs, one minute for each year of how old the child is. The book came out after my own son had passed through those difficult years before a child is able to use words to express their pain, anger, frustration, so it didn’t seem particularly needed by me. Yet those years had challenged me deeply. My son had experienced the (one) time-out I had meted out in response to inappropriate behavior as a banishment from those whom he relied on for love and survival. As I left him on the bottom step of the staircase and went back to the kitchen, even though I was still within eyesight, this little 3 year old went from the hysteria of an angry tantrum to the hysteria of a deeply experienced abandonment and exile. I knew at that moment that he didn’t need to be put away, he needed to be WITH someone who loved him dearly who could teach him through example how to calm down. I went to sit with him and hold him then, and from then on when emotions escalated to “tantrum”, that’s what we did: I, or his dad, would sit with him, away from the situation, with love and calmness modeling self control and love for an upset self. Weininger’s book, years later, described this approach with all the good reasons as to why this “time-in parenting” is a good response to little people. That book, full of love as My Grandfather’s Blessings is, helped me trust my best self, and helped me be so grateful that I had not responded to my little boy with anger, violence, or even a banishment. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
So, my dear friends, let’s be with our own upset selves with love and patience. Maybe take some time-in during these holy-days with a book full of love, or create a map of your own dream land. Let us imagine a time-in world where pain, anger, frustration can be calmed with love, and then model that self-control and patience around us. Just maybe we can create our dream lands right here in this dear world of ours.
With much love,