Thursday, February 19, 2015

That Zim Zum Kind of Love

Pastor Rob Bell is one of my favorite teachers. TIME magazine put him on their 100 Most Influential People list. He's a young + progressive pastor, founder of the Mars Hill Bible Church, and best-selling author.

He and his wife, Kristen ((no, not that Kristen Bell)), wrote a book ((ZimZum of Love)) that I can't wait to read. I saw them talking about it with my favorite lady, Oprah. I literally took notes.

Zimzum is a Hebrew word that represents the space God created outside of Himself in order to make room for the Universe. It means the energetic space between two people, that is contracting and expanding for one another, and because of one another.

Their philosophy is that both partners should make a conscious decision to create space outside of themselves in order to make room for the other and to prioritize their life together.

Something I realized I can be better at in my marriage is the scorecard. For example, "I'm not going to pick up your clothes because I always pick up your clothes. You're a grown man, put them in the hamper." Good "zimzum" can't thrive with a scorecard mentality. When you are "keeping score," you are withholding love + good energy, and waiting on your partner. That stalls the zimzum, or keeps the momentum from building.

However, disassociating with the ego, and wanting to make your partner happy, builds up the momentum. It weakens personal ego and strengthens the union of your partnership. This is one area where G really crushes it. He is such a giver. He always rubs my lower back when we hug, he dishes out compliments to me left and right, and brings me coffee in bed every day. I just think it's all about intention. Because if he did these things to score points, they would be to strengthen his ego. The energy between us would be different. He just does this naturally, and selflessly. In that regard, I strive to be more like him. Not because I want to "even the score," but because I want to keep the momentum in our zimzum goin' strong. The GOAL isn't to be a "better wife" ((strengthening my ego)), I want to drop the scorecard//competition, and give selflessly because the energy between us will strengthen. I want to keep up with the laundry, clean the dishes, and cook our food, without pointing these out to him to get a pat on the back ((current habit of mine that is totally annoying and that I'm working on)).

So, G and I fight. I know there are some couples out there who say they just never fight, but yeah, we definitely fight. But there is a good way to fight, and I want to continually get better. I felt a mental shift when I heard this line:

"Assume your partner is seeing something you don't. When you get married, you gain a second set of eyes."

Usually in the heat of the moment, I want to show my perspective to G, because I'm convinced I'm right, and he could learn from me. Hehe. That sounds so snarky and rude ((but it's truthful))!!! Since I'm neutral now, I can realize that mentality is super-micro. If I zoom out, and take a way more macro point of view ((and yes, it's new-agey and philosophical, but if you read my blog you know that's my style, so whatever)), I want my LIFE to be a RICH human experience. I want to do as much, learn as much, and experience as much as I can. By being married to George, I have the unique advantage of seeing the world through not only my eyes//perspective, but also his. And now, with LG, I also see the world through her eyes! Which gives me a much bigger view on life. This emotional maturity helps me connect to a much broader range of personalities. That's an incredible gift! Even though I may disagree with the way G sees a particular situation, being willing to see the world through his point of view only makes me wiser and smarter.

Tangible example if all of this is too wordy-

I have a tendency to be wordy ((obviously)). I'll skirt around my point in an attempt to be polite and well liked. I think some people appreciate that in me, and I think with some people, it's necessary. Sometimes George's straight-to-the-point comments strike me initially as rude. But I can see that through his perspective, he is respecting the other person's time by not BSing, and just saying what he thinks. As a result, I have gotten better at hearing curt comments directed toward me. My skin has thickened, and now, with the appropriate people, I can even speak similarly.

So, Dave Matthews kind of coined the phrase "The Space Between," but really, I think the zimzum is all about the space between. Is there too much space between us ((distance, exhaustion)), too much overlap ((losing personal identities, goals, and friendships outside of the marriage)), or is it just right? When it's "just right," the zimzum energy is flowin'. That space is SACRED. Being a power couple isn't about having status, money, or power over society. It's about that sacred energetic space between two people.

I know all relationships have ups and downs. I know we will have off days and tough times. And now that I've published this post, I'm fairly certain at some point, it will come back to bite me in the butt, when I'm not being true to myself and ego has taken over. I think subconsciously, I want that, because I really do want to keep getting better. Luckily, when ego pops up in either of us, and the other one can neutrally and lovingly bring us back to our true self, love wins. I am grateful for our spiritual partnership, friendship, and chemistry. We fight and love passionately. I'm so thankful to get to co-create a life with you."Grace is when you know you're loved exactly as you are." Thank you, George, for showing me so much grace over the past 10 years.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Elle Marlie's Valentine's Day Giveaway!

I'm participating in my first giveaway! I ((virtually)) met two sisters from New York who make the most badass jewelry out of raw minerals. They are just getting their official online shop started. They've been selling at different markets and local venues. They have the most darling baby girls. One of the sisters has so much in common with me, it made my hair stand up! We are both Geminis, both have May babies the same age ((hers is named Lula, mine is Lilah)), and have been with our men for 10 years. That's just the tip of the iceberg. SO in honor of love and Her many forms, we are teaming up to give away this beautiful purple druzy necklace. All you have to do is follow us both on Instagram (@LindsayVM and @ElleMarlies), and tag 3 friends on this posted pic on my feed. For additional entries, you may repost the photo to your account, or tag an additional 3 friends. Unlimited entries until 2/9. I will announce the winner on 2/10, and the piece will be shipped in time for Valentine's Day!

DUDES! This is a great way to get your gal something she'll love without spending a dime.
LADIES! Treat your sister, or treat yo'self. You deserve it. Plus, we all love getting fun mail.

This is a great way to spread the word about the amazing new virtual shop, Elle Marlie's. Support small business, support these beautiful sisters, and remember, somebody is gonna win! Might as well be you!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Musings From Another Mother: Ashton.

Since becoming a mom, I've felt more spiritual, and definitely more connected with other women. I wanted to pick the brains of some of my friends, and share their musings here on this blog! I believe that if we collaborate, with the intention to grow, we can all benefit. I am constantly inspired by the women I surround myself with, both in the "real" world and the "virtual" world.

One of my New Year's intentions is to share thoughts and opinions from a diverse group of women on this blog.  Of course, to be cohesive with the subject matter, I will invite women who identify themselves either as feminists, spiritual entities, or mothers. Ideally, all three. Hehe.

My musings can be repetitive. I'm opening the conversation to include musings from other women.

In January, I showcased my friend, Janelle. For February, I'm showcasing another inspirational mama, and another friend of mine. Ashton.

I remember meeting Ashton in middle school. We were both in LEAP. Now, she lives in Tennessee, and is a wife and mother to 2 daughters. She's always been thoughtful, as well as thought provoking. This format of writing reminds me of our journal-sharing days back in 6th grade with Ms. Shaw! Her responses to my questions inspired me, but I can't say I was surprised.



What's your definition of a "feminist"?

To me, a feminist hopes for and fights for equal treatment for everyone, regardless of gender. However, I often extend my feelings of equality to race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, ability, religion, etc. Equality for all! 

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Absolutely. I experienced a true "feminist awakening" a few years ago and am constantly exploring ways to push myself and encourage others around me to pursue fairer treatment of all. Plus, I mean, I have two daughters, and having them has really opened my eyes to different expectations across gender. 

How has empowering yourself as a woman made you a better mother?

I think it makes me very aware of things that I want to be different for my daughters and other daughters in the world. By empowering myself I don't allow anyone else's expectations of me (or motherhood, really) to decide what is right for me and my family. And, hopefully, I am setting an example for my daughters to follow that nothing is off limits to them. 

Side note: The other day, Olivia told me that she may or may not want to get married when she is older but she does know she wants to be "an artist, a zookeeper, and a mother- and ride a motorcycle" and I thought, "okay, I'm doing alright with this motherhood thing."

Do you feel closer to whatever you call the Higher Power since a having a "feminist awakening"? Further from? Ambivalent? Do you think feminism and spirituality are related, or have nothing to do with one another?

I am a Christian and I definitely feel closer to God since becoming a mother because I now have a better understanding of unconditional love. I have never felt so connected to anyone like I do my daughters and I believe that is how God feels about us. 

For me, feminism and spirituality are related because they are both the greatest influences on my life. My belief in God and belief in the love He has for me and all of his children strengthens my feminist beliefs in equality for everyone.

What do you do and what encouraged you to get into your line of work?

I work as a behaviorist for a local firm. I work primarily with children with developmental delays that impact their behavior and their families. Typically we help target and reduce problem behaviors and teach children socially appropriate behaviors to get their wants and needs.

I taught special education in a Title 1 school in Nashville for 2 years and would often have great success with the kids in my class (most of whom had emotional or behavioral disorders) but I realized quickly that without consistency across environments and caregivers, most of that work comes apart. I wanted to work across people and places to help make the child as successful as he could be, so I went back to school at Vanderbilt and earned my M. Ed. in Special Education and Applied Behavior Analysis.

What's your greatest struggle being a professional and a mother?

For me, I am passionate about both my work and my family- and the hardest part is determining who to give what, when. Right now I work mostly afternoons and evenings which cuts into time with my children, but I have a flexible schedule, mornings off with my husband, and weekends at home with my girls. So, it's irregular, but it's our normal.

How does your role in the home affect you professionally?

I am fortunate to have a husband who sees me as his equal in all aspects and supports me. When I thought about going back to school he encouraged me and helped make it work out financially. When I work until the late evening I never have to worry if the kids are fed or in bed on time. I do not have to be the primary caregiver, house cleaner, and also a full-time working woman.  We share all responsibilities evenly and rely heavily on one another, and it's something that I think makes our relationship so unique. We both have jobs that we are passionate about (he's a full-time musician) and we both encourage and support one another to do that and have a family.

What spiritual practices//habits//routines do you incorporate into your life? How do you bring spirituality to your family life?

Given our crazy schedule, we do not have a very set routine. We attend church on occasion and pray before the meals we eat together. We read the Bible and talk about the parables and Christ's message of loving others. But that's about as far as a routine goes.

The biggest practices we are incorporating into our family life are practices of generosity, gratitude, and stewardship. We try not to be over-consumers (nearly everything we purchase is second hand) and we try to teach our children not to be wasteful (we recycle like crazy). We communicate with our children that not everyone has what we have and we live in an excessive society, so we are constantly purging things from our home and donating them, as well as trying to reduce the amount we bring in. We donate time and money to causes we support and I have definitely seen that rub off on our children. We are trying to teach our children to value people, not things, and to value their world. And so far it's working out nicely.

Are you raising your kids the same way you were raised, from a religious standpoint? 

No, not really. The foundation of the beliefs I was raised with are the same but in practice our beliefs are much different. 

What are you keeping the same and what are you consciously changing?

We are Christian, and we believe God loves everyone, even those who are different from us. There are many things I was taught as a child that does not sit well with me as an adult and, to me, those things do not speak God's message of loving others. I do not believe that women are subservient or that homosexuals go to hell. I don't believe that God is a Republican (or a Democrat, for that matter) or that God blesses us with monetary things. I believe God meets our needs, sure, but I do not believe that if I'm "in His favor" I will be given a rich, healthy life. I mean, look at the life of Jesus. In case you cannot tell, the "prosperity gospel" makes me sick. In summary, if I truly believe that God loves me more intensely than I love my own, imperfect, children, I can't believe many of the things I was told as a child being raised in an Evangelical church.

I think one of the greatest things I am changing is the way I respond to people different than I am. For me it's not, love the sinner, hate the sin, it's just love the person. We don't teach our children to be tolerant, we teach them to be compassionate. One of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle Melton (she's basically my guru) says "traffic is to be tolerated, people are to be celebrated." We don't want our girls to have the attitude of "well I'm still nice to so-and-so even though they do that" because to us that's not the message of Jesus. We don't describe others to our children as being good or bad- and we are teaching them (and ourselves) to turn judgment inward (reflective) instead of outward. I want to question the way I treat others and show God's love, not the decisions others are making.

Oh, and there's also that thing where we tell our children God is both our Father AND our Mother. If we believe we are "created in His image" we can't believe that half the population is different from that image.That's pretty different than what I was taught as a kid.

What is the difference between religion and spirituality? 

I think religion is (most) people doing the best they can to put into practice their spirituality. And to me, spirituality is this deep rooted sense that something greater than you exists, whether that something be a purpose or a being, that depends on the person experiencing it. I think religion and spirituality can exist in the same person but I've also seen them one without the other. 

What do you think happens when we die?

I wish I knew, but I just have this reassuring feeling that whatever it is, it is peaceful. I believe in an afterlife but I don't know what that looks like, but I do believe that my family will be there and we will live in the presence of God. I just imagine it will feel like being really, really loved. If Heaven happened to be an endless beach with an eternal sunset and an umbrella drink, I would be okay with that too.

How do you talk to your kids about the big questions?

We are a pretty direct family, so when my kids ask something, we answer it. If we don't know the answer we tell them we don't know the answer. We always ask them the same question back like "what do you think about that?" I think our communication has always been so open with our kids that there hasn't been many big questions, but rather a series of small conversations saying what we believe, why, and what we do about it. We also don't lie to our kids so hopefully that keeps lines of communication open as they get older.