In Hebrew, the words spirituality and fragrance have a shared grammatical origin and are therefore almost identical: the word for “spirit” is Ruach and for “scent” is Reach. This reflects the ancient belief that sanctity is characterized by divine fragrance. ~Dr. Naomi Poran
My mother-in-law has just phoned to say that she and my husband’s stepfather are on the top of a mountain. They’ve been married for a year and we gave them a book called 501 Day Trips in the UK when they were visiting us this weekend. The weather is blue sky glorious and they’ve just tried out one of the suggestions in the book – a trip up the Cairngorm mountains on a funiculaire. She was brimming over with happiness and it warmed my heart.
Family get-togethers can leave me fraught and frazzled if I’m unable to retreat into silence to recharge my depleted energy, so before they came to visit – they left today – I filled my home with flowering potted plants and jugs and vases of flowers; French lavender, fresh daisies, yellow carnations with red tinged petals, rust-red gerberas with golden centres and a jug of fragrant hyacinths and freesias. If ever I felt frustrated, saddened or on the brink of angry blurting, I went into the kitchen and stuck my face deep into their heady scent and inhaled their healing fragrance. (I wish you could smell them below!)
Be still. A daily practice of silence bears gifts — a heightened sensitivity to beauty, deep inner peace, and a profound feeling of connectedness to all living things. ~ Cheryl Richardson
Recognising our challenges and acknowledging each other’s humanity is a vital step towards finding peace and claiming our personal power. If you have a challenging relationship with your in-laws, maybe even your parents, I hope the following article helps. It appeared in my Coaching Moments column in 2007 and describes an experience that helped me turn a corner. I was reminded that change has to come from deep inside us, while help can come from the most surprising places.
I’m still evolving, still learning, still doing my very, very best to honour the person who gave birth to my husband, and that phone call today was a moment to treasure.
I’m also trying to teach my children that we contribute to our own pain when we expect people and situations to be different from how they actually are; when we resist what is.
The Gunless Game
The brooks for the fishers of song
To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game
The streams and the woods belong. ~ Sam Walter Foss
I’ve tried to do the work on why I let her affect me so much, constantly asking myself what my feelings say about me. What am I scared of? What do I dislike about myself? How can I get rid of the shoulds, accept what is and change my thoughts? She is, after all, a decent woman, a good woman who in addition to raising a family, has had a challenging life, devotedly looking after her wheelchair-bound husband until he died. I keep coming up with the same answers; the sad truth is we’re both judgemental and I can’t be my best self, my authentic, creative self with her. We simply wouldn’t have chosen each other even though we both love the same man – my husband, her son.
It’s a drizzly, damp, grey day today and I’ve been daydreaming at the kitchen sink, remembering one of my mother-in-law’s visits a while ago.
She’d travelled the length of the country to visit us. As I couldn’t do any coaching, I’d decided it was a chance to practise at home instead, getting rid of old stories and any stuff of my own that had been stopping me from moving forward. Here was my chance to communicate from a clean place, relish her as the woman who gave birth to my wonderful husband, respect her humanity, her limits and the difficult, stressful life she’s had. I decided to say less, listen well and use my intuition to hone in on her needs.
If the first few hours had been a coaching session, I suspect I would have excelled at silently relishing the truth about fraught relationships with in-laws, but not much else. I would have failed Step 2 of the IAC exam miserably, and not just for having an agenda and trying too hard!
So my husband decided we should all spend the day at a deer and falconry park. His reasoning? Plenty of open space to wander around in, lots of things to see and do and game wardens with tranquiliser guns close at hand.
After some hot Scotch broth in a café with tartan tablecloths, I found myself relaxing as we strolled around and encountered all kinds of deer. In one enclosure, I sprinkled some dried food pellets on the ground for a small Muntjak deer and couldn’t resist stroking her rough coat as she ate. Suddenly, she stopped eating and reached her head up towards me. As I stood there stroking the soft, beige fur under her ear, the world stood still. Nothing mattered except two creatures gently breathing – connecting silently on a grey day in a damp Scottish field. I have no idea how long we stood like that until, startled by the arrival of another family, she bounded off.
I smiled gently to myself and the whole weekend took on a warmth and connection I would never have dreamt possible. The universe always makes sure we get what we really need. All we have to do is reach out and trust that we’ll find perfection in the silences.