Coming Together By Choice(s)

August 30, 2008 at 7:12 pm 1 comment

My brother and I are fifteen months apart, and we’ve always been quite different in personality. In fact, there was a period of many years where we didn’t much know how to relate to one another at all. I always longed to be close to him, so it is so heartening to me that in our mid-thirties we have started to come together in ways I’d never have imagined.

He and my sister-in-law have just decided to go vegetarian/vegan, which I’ve been for years (and they, frankly, didn’t quite “get” at first). And I and my husband have just decided to homeschool, which they have been doing for a couple years now (and I, frankly, didn’t quite “get” at first either). In recent years, both of our families have been coming to separate, yet similar, decisions on how to live a life that is more balanced, Earth-friendly, family-focused, and compassionate. And it is bringing us to a level of conversation and connection I had always hoped for.

They are able to help guide us with homeschooling, I’m able to help guide them with food, and we all exchange notes on eco issues, downsizing and natural living in an amazing way as we each continue to evolve on this path of “having enough” living. While we will always be different, we are talking more often, and I think more excited to converse than ever, as we help each other and compare notes.

I asked my mom the other day — who has always been politically progressive but is also pretty mainstream in certain lifestyle ways — what she thought of the fact that she now has two grown children who are homeschooling vegetarians (she wasn’t/isn’t either). She replied, “I think it is a testament to the way your dad and I taught you both to question and to make decisions for yourselves.” A great answer.

Funny enough, another book I’ve been reading, along with Above All, Be Kind (which I am loving more and more the further I read), is a book called Raising Children Who Think For Themselves. It’s written by an MD who decided to look into what she saw as an epidemic of unsatisified and unhealthy children and families. After talking to families across the country, her conclusion was that the root of this epidemic is the fact that so many adults and children have become externally motivated rather than internally motivated.

This means they are so influenced by peer pressure and media pressure that they cannot find their own inner peace and lose touch with their inner selves, and the ability to think for themselves, which leads to unhappiness. While the second half of the book, which gives specific answers to specific parenting dilemmas, has some suggestions I don’t 100% jive with (and others I do), the first half, with this larger conclusion, is so insightful and spot-on in my view. It is a wonderful way to describe the deeper roots of the “having-it-all” cultural dilemma I’ve been writing about here for over a year now.

In short, we must be able to think critically and make tough decisions on how we live that are in line with our deepest values (and know what those values are) to be able to feel that we “have enough.” Once we do this, levels of happiness and connection open up in the most gratifying ways. Both of these books confirm that, as does my relationship with my brother and his family, and my mom’s response to the choices we are making. It’s very exciting to me, and a new way of articulating things that I plan to delve further into.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of thinking for ourselves, making lifestyle choices in line with our values, and creating internally- rather than externally-motivated global citizens. How does this all connect to “having enough” for you?

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Fall is in the Air Life On the Inside

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. The Writer Mama  |  September 2, 2008 at 4:19 am

    This is an interesting topic. My daughter was having a conversation with herself today about how she’s an artist and she’s going to be an artist when she grows up and then she responded to herself, you can’t be an artist. No one becomes an artist. And then she answered herself, yes I can. I can be an artist if I want.

    Okay. Now. The funny part is that we are totally okay if she wants to become an artist. So I don’t know who said she couldn’t. But it’s interesting in response to what you wrote here that she’s already got an internal dialogue going on about it.

    Over at Ariel Gore’s blog, she was pondering whether or not she could help someone who wrote to her live a creative life, which prompted this response from me:

    Creativity is an inside job first.

    I think the reality is that everything that manifests in the outside world, even “a creative life,” is an out-picturing of the inner life. And the bottom line is that many folks don’t want to do the inner work that is required for a harmonious out-picturing of “a creative life.”

    I’m not saying that I don’t see the external challenges. It’s just that when you focus on the external challenges they just seem bigger. But when you start moving the small blockages within, the difference in one, two, five, ten years can be monumental.

    That’s my two cents, anyway. It’s something I notice in my students often. And certainly has always been true for me.

    Back to the point you brought up that the book brought up brings us back to the question: Where do you focus your attention and intention? On the outside or the inside?

    Focus on the outside and you will become confused. Focus on the inside and you will become clear.

    Can it really be that simple?

    I think so.

    Reply

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You are visiting "Having Enough (In a Have-It-All World)"...

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To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

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Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

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