Thursday, January 22, 2015

Little Lessons in Simplicity and Climate

This afternoon, as we were searching for our favorite photos of her 'through the ages', Kaya asked me why we chose her name. I started with the simple answer, the one she happened to know already: "Wir wollten einen K Namen finden, nach Nana." [We wanted a K name as a way to honor Nana.] The rest of the answer, I'm a little embarrassed to admit, necessitated a little internet consult. Granted, the fact that my friend's dog was named Caillou, and Geoff had a friend whose dog was named Kaya, is pretty simple. But...we didn't name our daughter after their dogs--as much as we liked the names. It was what we discovered through some very brief research that really sealed the deal.

So, as I dipped into the internet in hopes of a quick answer, I found this excellent--but complicated--article that had me feeling quite connected to the power of the hoaky as that may sound. Yes, I know that we named her Kaya, and for some of you, this might not sound surprising in the slightest...but it still has me feeling in awe of what is really possible in this life.

As this article explains, there are three Kayas, and "these three Kayas are actually aspects of enlightened being. They are the Buddha reflected in three different ways in order to help sentient beings." And, for those of you with little to no experience with Buddhism, Buddha means 'awakened or fully realized one' in Sanskrit.

While this may not sound like much to the average reader just bumping into this post willy-nilly, for those of you who recall what I just shared yesterday in my post about my Embodied Buddha-Mama, I'm thinking you may see what I'm getting at. But just in case, let me spell it out a little further.

Today served as another representation of the simplicity that Kaya offers for my life. Despite our arsenal to fight the bugs ruminating in the surrounding air (Vitamin D, Airborne, Elderberry Syrup, Gypsy Cold Care tea, water, rest...), Kaya caught a little something and had to miss out on school and a family birthday party. She wasn't all that sick, though (arsenal!?), and was in pretty high spirits for most of the day. I told her that even though she had to miss school and a party tonight, we could still have a really fun day, and do something to celebrate. Last week, we'd talked about the idea of going to a bead store on her birthday, and I thought for sure she'd be all over it. When I brought it up, she liked the idea, but made sure to let me know that she wanted to relax first, spend time snuggling on the couch with me, and then possibly head out in the afternoon. Surely it made a difference that Auntie Sara's gifts arrived in the mail, but once afternoon rolled around, Kaya was quite eager to keep it simple and stay home.

Clearly, she enjoyed the ice cream...
Similarly, I gave her the option to do whatever she wanted for dinner. Eat out at her favorite restaurant, head for ice cream afterwards, or stay home and choose our meal. Mac n' cheese and ice cream at home was the clear choice. "Bist du sicher, das du nicht zum Eisgeschaeft gehen willst?" [Are you sure you don't want to go get ice cream?] I asked her, surprised, once again, at the simplicity and clarity of her choice. "Ja, Mama, Ich bin sicher. Ich will dass Dada zum Geschaeft geht und Eis nach Hause bringt."[I'm sure, Mama. I want Dada to go to the store and bring ice cream home.]

This all has me wondering...Is Kaya as she is because we named her as such...or was I informed by something bigger in choosing her name?

The first Kaya, or the Dharmakaya according to that same article quoted above, is "the embodiment of wisdom". It's the wisdom to know the value in staying home to rest even when it would be way more fun to go the bead shop, or have a sleep over on your birthday. It's the wisdom to perceive when is too much. In greater detail, as I understand it, the Dharmakaya is the wisdom to be aware of subjective and objective phenomenon and recognize that each is dependent upon the other, as we all are upon each other. Perhaps I'm seeing this aspect in our lil' Kaya in our much more snuggly she's become with me over the years. I remember when she was quite content to have her own space, in her own bed, at at a minimum, at an arm's length from me in our bed. Even these days, she'll often ask me to give her some space when she needs it.

The second Kaya is referred to as the Sambhogakaya, and in its simplest explanation, "this spontaneous radiance of unceasing clarity is the meaning of the Sanskrit term...". Those of you who know Kaya can likely relate to the significance of this. Our daughter is the furthest thing from wishy-washy. She's clear. She knows what she wants. The red sweatshirt. The salmon burger. Three more songs. Mac n' cheese and store-bought ice cream." 'Sam' means perfect, 'bhoga' means enjoyment and kaya is roughly translated as body. Thus 'the body of perfect enjoyment' is the radiant wisdom aspect of our original nature." No doubt on my part that our Kaya is a little embodiment of perfect enjoyment.

The third Kaya, or the Nirmanakaya, and refers to something that is "manifest in form", but is a form that is for everyone. There are other forms that just appear to highly enlightened beings. I'm grateful that our Kaya is available for all of us, especially for me, to remind me how I want to live and what will make the biggest difference for her life. As it's described further, this aspect or kaya of Buddha is also called the 'artisan emanation'. "These appear as objects of art and the artists who make them for the benefit of all sentient beings..[...]...Beautiful inspired works of art which bring clarity, peace, joy and something special which seems to touch the heart center, are all known as artisan emanations."

For the record, this is the first time that I've ever learned any of this in such depth. When we chose her name, I knew that it had something to do with the three bodies of wisdom in Buddhism. I'm not Buddhist, but certainly resonate strongly with its principles. And I liked the sound of the name. I'd always had K-names for my dogs (Kensa, Kahlua, and Kess!), and while I didn't want to name my daughter Karen, I really wanted the mom-connection in there somehow.

But here's the part of the story that really gets me.

A few years after Kaya was born, at my mom's memorial I believe, someone asked me what Kaya's name meant. Still fuzzy on the definition (and also aware that there are many of them), I decided to go searching again. As an avid climate activist, someone whose primary motivation in life is to secure the well-being and health of all life on this planet, I was shocked to discover this definition:

The Kaya identity is an equation relation factors that determine the level of human impact on climate, in the form of emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. 

What is the connection between our children and the lives we seek to lead?

I know that I continue to learn everyday from our little Kaya, and am continually impressed with not only what she has to offer, but the outer reaches of what is possible when we stay open and aware and committed to our deepest purpose.

My Embodied Buddha-Mama

Tomorrow, my baby turns 6.
Jan. 22, 2015

When I share that with some people in my life, they can't believe it's happened so quickly. For me, however, I couldn't have asked time to move in more perfect rhythm.

I feel fortunate that I've been able to stay home with her all these years, working part time as teacher, tutor, and now "climate coach", part-time as mama (or is mama a full time gig?!). I never saw myself doing the stay-at-home mama thing--which, I realize as I write it, is really quite a silly term. I never 'stayed at home'. We went out. We go out. But I digress... Being able to be such a huge part of Kaya's childhood has and continues to bring me great joy--and from what I'm realizing, makes time feel a hell of a lot a good way.

And were she elsewhere, who knows what would have happened with her German...
Which brings me back to the general subject of this here blog on bilingualism.

Damn, it feels great to be 'back'. I've missed writing, I've missed being here, on my own blog. I see that more than 1000 people visit here every month now, and where am I?! Dying to be back, I can say that. While I make no promises, the desire lives strong...I want this for Kaya as she grows older. I keep meaning to publish all of these posts into a book for her--there are those amazing companies that exist that do that. And it saddens me to think of all of the amazing details that haven't been captured for her future.

I'll do my best, however, to fill in some holes in my upcoming posts so I can get back to writing from the present.

Tonight, as I was at a Social Action Gathering for my Citizens' Climate Lobby chapter, one of my friends asked me how our little button was doing. "I couldn't be more in love," I told her, feeling the melting in my heart. "She's my little buddha-mama," I continued. "It's like she's my mom and Buddha embodied in one, guiding me to live life as it's meant to be lived..."

And with that, I shared the story about last week, when Kaya told me (still speaking with me in German these days) that she really wanted to have a sleepover with her friends, Eli and Jacob. When I mentioned this to their mom, she was really into it, and we bounced some ideas around. That night, at dinner, I proposed the idea to Kaya that the boys come over for a sleepover after her birthday party at the gymnastics gym. They could come to our family potluck dinner and then just stay. I was shocked--and incredibly impressed--when she responded with a, "Mama, ich glaube das koennte zu viel sein..." [Mama, I think that could be too much.]

Did you hear that, Mom? Where you left off, Kaya is picking up for you, guiding me to slow down and pack in less...

A few days later, proving that I clearly hadn't yet learned my lesson, Kaya asks me to fill her in on our plan for the day. (This is normal. Kaya loves a plan. She finds great security in the structure and expectation of knowing what's coming down the shoot.) So, I proceed to tell her:
Play date with Scout. Brunch with Michael. Playdate with Eli and Jacob. Buy ballet shoes. Head home.
"Mama, das ist zu viel. Ich glaube, wir sollten nicht so viel machen." [Mama, that's too much. I don't think we should do so much.] she proceeds to tell me, both hesitantly and confidently. Of course it is, I realize in retrospect. But the last thing I expected was to hear it from her. What surprised me even more was what followed. When I proposed that we shorten her play date with her best friend, Scout, and pick up her ballet slipper before brunch instead of after, she went for it. She lives for play dates with Scout. Yet, clearly, stronger for her is her need for balance and calm, her strong sense for what is too much.

Are you loving this, Mom?!

So, with this in mind, I'll keep this post brief and let these sweet stories be my re-entry into my blogging universe. I do promise another post very shortly. I'm eager to set the scene, to lay the stage for where we're at with our German and the latest language development on the horizon...and perhaps even create some bridges for those of you who do share my deep concern for the futures we are creating for our littles.

So good to be back. Please 'stop in' and say hi, if you would. And if you're willing, follow me here (or on Twitter, if you have a concern about Climate Change!).  I think of SO many of you when I write, those of you who have written me on email, and in comments, and have played SUCH a huge role in my journey as non-native bilingual mama, and I feel very grateful for you in this community. While we span the globe, we remain connected.

Despite my most recent silence, I feel that...and I hope you do, too!

In loving community,