Lessons from a Majestic Mother (and Father)

by Patricia Spadaro

Want a quiet thrill to boost your springtime mood?

Put this at the top of your list:  watch this live webcam of a mother and father bald eagle and their newborn eaglets. The three babies hatched about 10 days ago and you can watch (and hear) them live 24 hours a day  (see more links at bottom of post too).

The non-profit Raptor Resource Project has live webcams of several birds’ nests, and the hottest one right now—high in a tree in Decorah, Iowa—will make you smile. Guaranteed.

WARNING: if you start watching this when you have something you really need to get done, you might be sorry. It’s hard to take your eyes off the tender, magnificent scene unfolding before your eyes.

While I was watching on and off yesterday, the father eagle arrived a couple of times with some fresh prey while the mother—constantly moving her head, watchful and protective—kneaded the nest with her huge talons and fed, cleaned, and tucked those little ones under her immense, warm body.

Why we can’t take our eyes off of you…

Why is this play of nature so fascinating to watch? There’s something deeply moving and resonant in watching the mama eagle gently rock back and forth, back and forth as she hovers over and snuggles her young beneath her. Something unbelievably heart-opening in the way those vulnerable little fledglings stumble and tumble over each other as mother and father take turns feeding them bits of fresh fish. And something awe-inspiring and comforting as the father spreads his enormous wings and lifts off from the nest on his next tour of duty—and then swoops down to visit and drop off a fresh catch.

Most of all, there is something grandly archetypal in this scene that touches our spirit and reminds us of beautiful, majestic, selfless motherhood in the deepest sense of that word.

We all long to be nestled by the great mother. And there is a part of each of us that is compelled to be “mother.” The mother is that part of you that nurtures and protects the emergence of new life. As we watch the mother eagle nourish her young with such majesty and aplomb, it reminds us of our own calling to nurture and protect what’s growing inside of us—and inside those who are in the circle of our care.

We are continually giving birth to something new within ourselves—whether it’s a budding sense of needed change, a seed of creativity waiting to be expressed, a recognition of a long-denied truth. We don’t always do it as well as we’d like to, or perhaps we didn’t have good role models. So it’s deeply satisfying to watch this beautiful mother (and father) energy playing out so naturally and masterfully before our eyes.

The mother eagle shows us what it means to be attentive, patient, wise—enfolding everything that matters under her broad, strong wings.

One has to prepare oneself for each new energy. Every expectant mother thinks about her future child. How then can one not think about the energy that lives within each of us? One has to think about one’s innate possibilities.”
Agni Yoga

Watching the sharp-eyed mother eagle and listening to the helpless chirps of her babies makes me think:

  • What possibilities am I giving birth to?
  • What part of me is the mother eagle?
  • What part of me is like those eaglets, needing nurturing and protection?
  • Am I giving that to myself—and feeding myself what I need to grow?
  • Am I giving that to my loved ones too?

It’s a clear night in Decorah now, and through the night vision camera of the webcam I can see the mother nest her head into her feathers and finally take a nap as one of her restless little ones peeps its curious head out from under her feathery tummy. Time for me to sleep, too—if only I could tear myself away from watching them. I wonder what they’ll be doing in the morning . . . and what dreams I’ll have tonight.

Some fun links:

Links to the live webcam of the Decorah eagles:

If you want to see the third eagle emerging from its egg:

Other nest cams:

Note about the image above, which is a screen capture from Ustream TV: Eagle, Falcons, and Osprey Cams (Raptor Resource Project ) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Tips for Transformational Giving

by Patricia Spadaro

transformational_giving_holidaysToday, more than ever, we are showered with media messages vying to convince us that gift-giving is all about buying more and buying bigger. I’ll never forget the sobs that came from a niece of mine one Christmas morning when she had finished unwrapping the two gifts my husband and I had given her, only to see that her sister had an extra package from us to open. She felt cheated, even though we had carefully spent equal amounts of money on them both.

As adults, we may still pull out the measuring stick when it’s time to exchange gifts. Not only that, but we tend to think that “giving” happens when we hand over something that is wrapped and tied with a bow and ribbon.

Yet take a moment and think about the times, as a child or adult, when you felt most happy, joyful, or at peace. Were those special times in your life really defined by how much money someone spent on you? Or was it the attention you received or the intimacy and connection you experienced that made you feel exuberant?

The gift that matters the most is the gift of your attention, your time—your presence. That’s what can turn holidays and celebrations into feasts of the heart.

Here are a few ideas to help you tap the power of presence as you give your gifts:

The present of presence.
Instead of a material gift, why not devote some time, one on one, with the special people in your life as your gift? Enjoy a musical event together or a long lunch or a fun activity—just the two of you. When you’re with the other person, practice being really present, avoiding distractions that are so easy to succumb to. Be sure to turn off your phone or Blackberry and let yourself be fully engaged.

The gift of listening.
If you’ve had a touchy relationship lately, let your present be this: Don’t talk. Listen. Try asking questions that show you truly want to hear what the other person has to say (like “What do you need from me right now?”), and then resist the urge to interrupt.

The power of the generous heart.
Make a date to do something the other person enjoys, even if you don’t. If you know your friend, partner, parent, child, or spouse likes to listen to choral music or attend a football game or watch a silly movie, even though it absolutely bores you, do it anyway this once. Throw yourself into the experience. After all, it’s a gift. It’s not about what you’re doing; it’s about what you’re experiencing together and how it makes that person in your life feel.

The gift you give yourself will help others.
“What do I want?” That’s not something we often ask ourselves at Christmastime when we’re busy taking care of others. Try giving yourself something in the middle of all the busyness. If you give to yourself—even if it’s just a little precious time alone, permission to say no to attending one more holiday party, treating yourself to a movie no one else wants to see with you, or even wrapping up a gift you buy for yourself and putting it under the tree—you’ll be doing everyone in your life a favor. You’ll be a much happier person to be around when you honor yourself!

Try one or more of these tips and share your results with us . . .

Do You Know How to Receive?

by Patricia Spadaro

“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.” —Thomas Merton Giving is great, but is it always better than receiving? Is giving better than receiving if our giving ends up knocking us flat on our backs, compromising our ability to give with resilience to others? When […]

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What Are You Giving Birth To?

by Patricia Spadaro

What’s the next part of you that is being born? And are you paying attention to what it needs? I was about to make a right turn onto a busy two-lane street today when I noticed that the cars in the left lane had come to a halt. I thought the girls sitting in the […]

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Is Giving a Gift Always the Best Choice?

by Patricia Spadaro

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. —Kahlil Gibran Let’s face it—many of us are still rushing around to buy the people we love the most their holiday gifts, huffing and puffing all the way.  Here’s a story that’s a perfect […]

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The Power of Focused Attention

by Patricia Spadaro

One of the most significant gifts we can give in this modern, busy time of ours is our time. With so many demands placed upon us, we often find ourselves talking or listening to someone who needs us while we are also driving, watching TV, answering our cell phones, text messaging, making dinner, going through […]

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Giving the Gift of Your Heart

by Patricia Spadaro

Better than bigger is the gift of the heart. As little children size up their stack of birthday or holiday gifts, bigger and more always seem better. I’ll never forget the sobs that came from a little niece of mine one Christmas morning when she finished unwrapping the two gifts my husband and I had […]

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