Tag Archives: sisters

The Whole World Belongs to You

6 Jul

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
― Lao Tzu

Phoenix and Magpie are such different people in many ways. Magpie is generally happy, easily excitable, and practically bulletproof. She is just happy to be alive, most of the time.

Phoenix is complicated. She is very introspective. She works things over in her mind so completely that everything seems all wrong, and all right, all at the same time. She is overly susceptible to, and concerned with other people’s thoughts and feelings, which ordinarily is a good thing–she understands people, and has so much compassion and empathy–but it is often to her own detriment. I think she tries pleasing other people so much that it leaves her drained of her own happiness. Don’t get me wrong, she is a bright and cheery young lady much of the time, but it seems as if the smallest thing can strangely upset her to the point of deep sadness.

The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. I am also introspective. And, like Phoenix, I used to be highly sensitive to the feelings of those around me, until I learned to filter most of it out (and sometimes block it out completely, or so says my sensitive husband). As well, I can be a very positive person, but when the right mood strikes (or wrong mood, perhaps), I do seem to focus on the ugly.

I have been trying, for years, to figure out how to teach Phoenix to focus on the positive more than the negative; to remember what she has, and not what she lacks. But I think that, generally, I do not pay enough attention to the words that come out of my own mouth, to effectively show her the positivity and acceptance that I wish she would have. Then a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me the book Steady Days, by Jamie Martin. I was reading through it, thinking, ‘This woman is brilliant! Why didn’t I ever think to put my whole life in a three-ring binder?’, when I came across her chapter about Daily Blessings. She recommends writing down all of the things we are thankful for everyday. She has her whole family do this. I figured I could make my whole family do this too. It didn’t work quite as I had hoped–Adam was very irritated at the idea. He enjoys being a cynic.

However, the girls and I have made a (somewhat irregular) habit of asking each other what we are grateful for each day, when we are sitting at the dinner table. It is a small start, but it helps put things into perspective at the end of the day.

This morning, as I sat in a dental examination chair, under glaring florescent lights, thinking about all of my woes, I stared at a cheesy photo poster of a misty mountain cliff, with the above quote printed in the bottom corner.

the fam–this was one of two pictures I could find with both Adam and I in the frame–one of us is always behind the camera.

Times are difficult right now, but I am better off than so many. I could not ask for a better family, more amazing daughters, a more thoughtful and caring husband–and that is what I need to focus on. I lack nothing.

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Grrls

1 Jul

Image

A woman recently told me that she never got over the fact that her parents had a second child. Her life was forever changed the day her baby sister entered the world. She is now an adult, and still carries resentment towards her sister, as well as her parents. I do not actually know this woman, so I cannot speak to the relationship she has with her sister, but her story saddened me.

One of my fears for my girls is that they will not have a relationship when they get older. I know it is normal for siblings to argue, fight, sometimes throw some blows, and that in the end, they can still become the best of friends. But sometimes I worry that Phoenix will end up like the woman mentioned above–resentful and bitter.

Most of the time, or maybe more like half of the time, the girls get along wonderfully. They put on plays together, take turns being each other’s audience for dance performances in their room, help each other out. But often, there is this undertone of melancholy in Phoenix when anyone gives Magpie special attention.

Like this week, for instance, Magpie started a creative dance class. Phoenix has been taking ballet for three years, and week after week, Magpie watches her big sister put on her leotard and tights, and go into the studio with all the other ballerinas. She watches and imitates her big sister’s graceful movements across the living room floor. This week, it was Magpie’s turn to go into the studio. We pulled out Phoenix’s old pink leotard and dance skirt–Magpie was beaming. Phoenix was scowling. Then she began to cry.

I sat down to listen to her thoughts. She feels as if Magpie has to do everything she does, and then Magpie steals the spotlight. I understand what she is saying, and I feel for her. I told her that, but then I also explained that Magpie thinks Phoenix is the coolest and most beautiful person in the world–she will always want to be like her big sister. I hope that someday Phoenix understands this. I think I need to read up on cultivating loving sibling relationships.

Anyway, this entire post was prompted by a photo I took of the girls on their way into their dance classes.  It captured the mood perfectly: Image

That picture says it all! I didn’t have a sister, so I think I cannot understand what Phoenix is feeling to the full extent. I had a pesky little brother, but by the time we were eight and ten, we were friends–and still are. I honestly believe the girls will end up being close when they are older, but I am a mother, and I worry the way mothers do.

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