When I Grow Up…

She was bubbly and giggly. “Oh you’re so cool. I want to be just like you when I grow up!” she said. She was 25, to my 32. And my first reaction to this compliment was to feel old.

Then I thought about it.

The term ‘grown up’ infers a completeness, and I consider myself gloriously incomplete. I hope that I will continue to be. As we grow up, all that we are comes together. We are the sum off all our parts, all our experiences, our achievements, our flaws, our skills… but we continue to want… it is that wanting, that niggling incompletion that makes us hungry to keep on growing.

I like that hunger.

When I was younger I had a list of things to do by the time I was grown up. I would speak three languages fluently, I would have written a couple of novels, I would be this perfect being that I had dreamed up when I got there.

With the blessing of growing older my goals have changed, because my mind has too. I have realized the importance of the little things – the enormity of patience, of thoughtfulness, of being humble enough to put another’s needs before your own while holding onto who you are. I have found satisfaction in a well dug garden, and reward beyond measure in the smile of a child.

Through motherhood I have realized the superficiality of my teenage worries, that my feet were too big, my breasts were too small and I had freckles. FRECKLES dammit!! This was enormous stuff.

Isn’t it an exciting thought, that one day today’s enormous stuff will feel just as small? That one day the goals we have, fulfilled or not, will look so very different from where we’re standing?

That there are new goals just around the corner? New revelations to be found? New experiences to be had that are just waiting to blow the old ones out of the water?

I still want to speak three languages one day, and I will write those novels, but the perfect being I had dreamed up will probably continue to elude me. Not because I’m not good enough, but because it’s meant to. As long as I keep reaching for it I will keep growing… and the sum of my parts will be greater for it.

I try not to ask my children what they want to be when they grow up, we aim for happiness every day instead. I will teach them to set goals, just as I do, but the most important thing I want to teach them is to not see any age – any achievement – as the place where you’re “done”. It’s the doing we’re here for.


Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

When a picture says a thousand words…

We had a great day today, but in the late afternoon Bodhi was a bit… over it. I came into his room quietly and asked how he was feeling. He didn’t answer. “Can you show me?” I asked.

“Yes!” he replied… and did this.



Point made, little one, point made.

The one you feed

“We need to talk.” The words came from my five year old, as he sat me down for what was obviously an important conversation. “Mum, when I’m being naughty if you tell me to stop, or you get mad, that doesn’t work. If I’m being bad, it’s because I’m feeling something that I can’t say. When you talk to me and I feel like that I can hear you, but I can’t listen.”

“How can I do it better?” I asked, humbled by his reminder.

“First you need to make me feel better. “ he said “Then I can do better.”


Most of us accept the idea of separation, that bad and good, madness and sanity, kindness and cruelty, anger and calm are all thoroughly divorced from one another, when they’re not, they’re really just sides of the same coin.

When I was 12 I read A Course in Miracles. It was one of many spiritual books I read at that time, from the Bible to the Qur’an, and a particular quote in it stayed with me more than anything else.

What is the same cannot be different, and what is one cannothave separate parts.”

We have gotten into the habit of war,  both globally and personally, from the war on drugs to the battle within ourselves for our own perfection. We tell our kids to be individuals, as we push them to be compliant, we fight for our marriages, rather than nurture them. We have gotten so used to oppressing the negative that we forget how natural the positive is when we allow.

My son had a meltdown last week in which the boy we love seemed to disappear. He was fury and pain and he screamed his anger and hurt out so loudly than our ears rang.  And stupidly, we got frustrated back. We responded to the anger, and tried to stop it, tried to push against it. Tried to fix this thing that was hard in an effort to make it better.

“First you need to make me feel better, then I can do better.”

My angry boy and my calm boy are one and the same. I can’t punish one without hurting the other, just as I can’t hate part of myself and love who I am at the same time.

The next day, and those since, I didn’t try to stop his bad behavior. I just tried to make him feel better. My goal, above all else, was to be kind, not in the way that made sense to me, but in the way that would nurture his spirit. He has not had a meltdown since. Every time his behavior has gone downhill I have asked myself why, and responded to that instead. In doing so, I’ve turned the coin to the side that feels better and acts better in turn. The bad behavior has dissolved as the need for it has disappeared.

Likewise the more I look at my flaws, the more I realize that they’re linked to what’s missing for me at that time.

The other day I threw a tub of ice cream at the floor in the overwhelm of a ridiculous moment. “Well that was pointless,” Bodhi said, his clarity returning at my show of stupidity. “Now you just need to clean it up.” Yes I did.

Ashamed, I thought that night about how to remedy that part of myself, how to stop myself becoming so overwhelmed again, and I realized that just like my son, I don’t need to fix the bad at all, I just need to nurture the good.

I inspired myself that night, by meditating and reading and resting.  When I did, more answers came than I’d even thought to ask for.

Within us, there is everything we ever hoped for or feared. Within our lover, our neighbour, our enemy – there is joy and misery, wholeness and lack, courage and fear. They exist in the contrast that makes us who we are, their very existence making their opposite possible.

They make up our humanity. And in the raw commonality they give us, we can find each other. We can help each other.

Every action that comes from love, every kindness, every joy we foster – they ALL count. Our true protest against war is a million demonstrations of love, our real war on drugs is a million encouragements of purpose, our true protest against violence is a million acknowledgements of hurt, our gift to our children is a million words and actions that affirm they matter.

And slowly, all those protests and wars, all those fights, all that pushing against, dissolve a little bit. It just comes down to being kind.

Because more often than not, a person who feels whole will pass that wholeness on. A person who feels good will be the best of themselves.

Today I’m not going to fight for my marriage, I’m going to bring joy to it to make it feel easier instead. I’m not going to see a misbehaving child, I’m going to see a need that needs meeting. I’m not going to see flaws in myself, I’m going to see opportunities for something wonderful.

I’m going to flip a coin, and I’m going to win.


A little story about you…

Once upon a time there was a woman. In a lot of ways, she seemed just like everyone else. She laughed like they did, slept like they did, loved like they did. But she felt… different. She felt a stirring within her. An enormous questioning. Maybe it was her intuition, maybe it was an ache in her heart or a strange feeling in the pit of her belly. But when she looked at the world around her, the same world that seemed so comfortable for the others, it just didn’t feel right. She had been brought up in the sameness, as so many others had, so she tried to quieten the stirrings she felt.

But across the road from that woman, or perhaps across the partition at work or walking down the same aisle at the supermarket, another woman felt the same way. A man at the service station was feeling it too. So was a child on the street. All of them were connected in what they thought made them so different. But for some time, none of them knew. Because they all tried to quieten what they felt.

You see the woman had tried to talk about it once or twice. She’d tried to tell her friends that she was questioning the schooling system, or that there were things about conventional parenting that seemed so out of synch with the generation we’re trying to raise. She might have spoken about the treatment of animals in the meat industry, or her heartbreak at the lack of equality in human rights. And those times, those once or twice, she got shut down. Maybe she was laughed at. She got strange looks, she was made to feel as though those stirrings in her were a touch of madness, rather than an awakening.

So for a while, she was silent. She didn’t stop wondering, didn’t stop questioning, but she tried to fit in. She tried, but it got harder. And as she pushed for that feeling of belonging in the sameness, she didn’t realize that the reason she wasn’t fitting was because her ideas were so much bigger than the mould she used to occupy. They had grown. Her questions had brought more questions and more revelations and more injustice and more inspiration, more faith and more fury.

Then one day, when her ideas had become so big, when her destiny to step away from conventions became so hungry that she no longer cared about seeming like all of the others… she owned her difference.

She stopped trying to fit in.

She had confidence in her difference in a way that didn’t make it seem strange anymore. She wore it proudly.  It was beautiful.

And the other woman across the road, at her work or at the supermarket, recognized someone else wearing the difference they also felt, and relief flooded them. The man at the service station, the child in the street, the members of her family who never talked about it either, saw someone else with the courage to create a new kind of reality.

And slowly, tentatively, they said “Me too.” At first it was no more than a whisper, but it grew louder, and soon they were saying it with their actions as much as their words.

A revolution started, from that one woman with the fire in her.

It wasn’t loud or celebrated by fanfare. It was the planting of a garden, the education of a child, the choices at the supermarket. It was giving without expectation of return, it was seeing the best in people. It was the nurturing of community. And that revolution spread, little by little, as more and more people owned their difference.

Slowly and beautifully, the world woke up, just as she had. And it turned into something just a little bit better. All because of that one woman, who dared to connect to the difference in all of us.

How are you wearing your difference today?