Mother

Where can we find soft kisses when we need them most? Who offers us a steady hand when we stumble? Who possesses the voice that tells us that we are loved? Our resident spiritual guru, Stephanie McCracken, has some thoughts to share about who that person might be in this week’s post. Enjoy!

In good health,
Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC

Mother by Stephanie McCracken, MS

Stephanie McCrackenMother: a word unlike any other. It has meaning in every culture and time since the birth of human kind. By definition it elicits a range of thoughts and emotions, as each of us considers the personal and collective vision we have for the word “Mother.”  The day we honor those who embody this wondrous expression is once again upon us. What does it mean to you? How do we characterize the word, the embodiment, the spirit of “Mother?”

Who Is She? 

Venus von Willendorf

At the birth of civilization it was the “Great Mother” the nomadic tribes worshiped. She who could spring forth life from her womb and nourishment from her breast, and revered as a magical being would thousands of years later become the most respected woman in the Christian Bible. “Mother Mary,” a virgin, who gave birth to Christ, is just one of the many creation stories from our collective religious canon. Isis, an Egyptian goddess, worshipped as the ideal mother and wife was honored for her connection with nature and magic. She was the friend of the wealthy and poor alike. Pachamama, a fertility goddess linked to the earth and nature, promotes ingestion of a tonic brewed from “the mother vine or the sacred vine.” In fact, the earth is often referred to as the “First Mother,” giving life to all who have followed. “Mother Earth” provides the theater for each human to rise from the soil, wind and rain. In all of her selfless giving, Mother, often asks for nothing. In our endless quest for progress and growth we often forget to mumble a simple “thank you” to our sacred creator.

A Mother’s Love Remembered

Thank you for my life. From your flesh I was born, from your blood I could breathe, from your surrender I was able to grow and love. We have this day, this collective day, to remember the importance and the essence of what it is to be “Mother.” A day to recollect with gratitude all the giving, caring, and loving smiles; the encouragement, tenderness, warmth, sustenance, freshly pressed clothes, and matching socks. For the hand that stroked my hair when I was sick, and took my temperature with expert precision, reassuring me that it would be okay.

Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. Mary Magdalene by Neroccio di Bartolomeo

Thank you Mom for the freshly cooked meals, the gooey cookies, the cradled feeling of being gently rocked until the tears magically disappeared. For the hand that nestled yours, until my safe arrival to the other side of the street, Mom, allow me to offer a kiss to that hand. To the sweet voice who read the fairytales at bedtime, the passion with which the words fell from your lips – hearing those words was the greatest gift I have ever received. Your words both read and spoken have taken me so far. To the singer of lullabies and pop songs, turned all of the way up on those warm summer days when we would drive with the windows down. You should know that I love the sound of your voice, Mother. The voice that I hear most prominently after all these years is yours. I still hear you, Mom. I know that sound, I delight in it, and I thank you for your encouragement and your courage. As a woman I have felt that glory, the knowing and the gratitude, and you were right.

This Mother’s Day, allow us to recall the sacrifice which lead to the brilliance surrounding her title, she asked for nothing but the charm of your smiles and hugs. The homemade greeting cards were always her favorite, especially when they came with a macaroni necklace that crowned her throat more dazzling to her than any string of pearls and rubies. I think she only wanted to know that we appreciated what she did, to say,” Thank you, Mom.”

Though a single day could never be enough to truly illuminate the magnificence that all of your love and time deserves, it is but what should be many days to honor and recall with great fondness and respect the queens the earthen goddess has created. For all the biological Moms, Step-Moms, Foster Moms, the Mommas of fur babies, the Grandmas, the Mother Earth, a world of Moms who sustain the life from moment to moment, today we salute you and we honor you, Divine and Mortal Mother, Thank you.

Love, and maternal happiness,

Stephanie

Eros, Cupid, and Heart Shaped Boxes of Chocolate

Love is a word that is so often misused, misunderstood, mishandled and misspent, but it remains the choice expression of poets, writers, musicians, politicians, philosophers and greeting card designers alike. What is it about this four letter word that causes such a stir, promotes so much mystery, keeps us awake at night and in a dream-like trance during the day? Our resident contributor and wellness guru, Stephanie, helps shed some light on our ongoing love for the word l-o-v-e.

In Good Health,
Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC

Eros, Cupid, and Heart Shaped Boxes of Chocolate by Stephanie McCracken, MS

Stephanie McCracken“The Task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi

Ah, February.  That time of the year when the days slowly begin to increase, while the climate gives us a pining glimpse of why we love the summer months. Yet, in spite of the frostiness outside our bodies, there is warmth in our hearts. They pitter-patter or maybe they simply ooze with affection and reflection, indicating that now is a fine time for us to consider love.

Since the earliest times we have always been fascinated with the topic of romantic love – think Cupid, spritely son of Venus in Roman mythology. His message was quite simple; love is something that simply happens to us. It happens when we meet the perfect person who is our “soul mate.” We are always looking for our other half, the half that the Gods took from us. When we fall in love at first sight, then we have found someone that “fills” our anima or animus archetype particularly well. This match, cut from the same archetypal cloth, will make all of our short comings suddenly dissipate with the fulfillment of this perfection…uh-oh! With such a wishful perception of what it means to fall in love and linger in love, it is no wonder that Cupid’s arrows often result in more pain and disappointment than pleasure.

The desire to be a part of a romantic relationship is a very healthy one. Psychologists, philosophers, media outlets and the public chatter on endlessly about love.  Yet sometimes this healthy urge can bring us to the pits of repetitive despair. There are those who seem to be in a new romantic relationship every month. Each liaison is asserted to finally be “the one.” However, as soon as true intimacy begins to take form emotional fears emerge and the person is off to find the next “one.” How about the friend who continually falls for “the one” that she ends up loathing? She embraces an idea of love that soon resembles a battlefield where tears replace laughter and frowns are misaligned, forced smiles.  With the advent of social media there are those who increasingly hide behind keyboards instead of taking the risk to experience meaningful human interaction. Perhaps they are so afraid of the risks of love that they choose to stay far away from its possibilities and responsibilities?

Valentine cholocate box

Are there those who are simply addicted to love? The Top 40 catalog of popular music for the past 100 years would have us believe so. Recently neuroscientists have identified that there does seem to be a similar pathway which is involved in the formation and sustainment of all addictive behaviors, including an unhealthy need to always be “falling in love.” We know it is there, those who are suffering know that it is unhealthy, yet how do we move beyond the despair of repeatedly engaging in patterns that debase our sense of personal strength and hope?

So, what then is this thing called love? Love is a mutual interest in each other and in other things yet love is also maintenance of individuality and solo pursuits. Love is compassion and care for the self and for the other. Love is respect of the other and of others-in-the-world. Love is both, “I want to append to this person’s happiness and I will continue to be my own happiness.”  Love is taking the time to listen and hear, being present with the other. Finally, love is speaking with positive clarity and authenticity to the values wants and needs of me and the other.

Remember when someone told you that love begins where and when you love yourself? Mature love will not sustain itself by an unhappy person trying to bring happiness to another—only the unity of the two nurturing mutual wholeness and happiness can ignite the chemical reaction of true and meaningful love. So if you are plodding along anxiously waiting for “the one” to appear, “the one” who is going to change the gloomy trajectory of your life, you may be waiting a while.

Seizing this moment to respect yourself, to love yourself in an authentic and mature fashion, will eventually ripple out into the ether and present an opportunity for you to experience the love of another in a new and significant way. Perhaps you have some thoughts about love that you would like to share?

Love, happiness and unity,
Stephanie