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wanting fully without attachment

2023 December 18
by Rachel Turiel

Hello Friends,

It’s been awhile, fourteen months to be exact. I guess not much has been going on here to write about.

Ha ha ha ha…

Arlo has had a great year.

The end.

Well. There is a tiny little vibe in the household in which the teenaged people may be diverging ever farther from the adults. Currently the kids are wanting piercing professionals to insert surgically sharp needles into their septums, ears, bellybuttons and noses. They are enamored with: cities; a continual loop of expanding and depleting their bank accounts; and…fashion. (As my friend Julia said, fashion in Durango means changing your clothes every 4 days). See: enamored with cities. Meanwhile, Dan and I can be found in the kitchen celebrating the recent discovery that the compost pile is so hot there is actual steam coming off it. #longstandingdream

Next week, we drive to California to check out some colleges for Col, including strategic stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco, for which I’ve been researching “touristy, city, beachy things to do.” Because enough with the desert wildflower hikes and scoping other towns’ farmers markets as if they’re some sort of travel destination. When I asked Col what he might want to do in LA, he said “Oh, maybe walk around Rodeo Drive with Rose and check out the luxury fashion stores.” And then he added, kindly, “will you and dad be able to find something to do while we’re doing that?”

Apparently ankle-length wool overcoats are in. And David Hasselhoff called and wants his mullet back.

Col and I are both bringing this book on the trip. (We both also loved Demon Copperhead). We may never go backpacking together, but I am likely to send select books to the college dorm with email follow ups: what did you think of plot twist in Chapter 3??

It’s all good; it’s just all different. But here’s my new thing. I am practicing wanting fully without attachment. This is perhaps the intersection of Nonviolent Communication (understanding and honoring our needs and envisioning skillful strategies to meet these needs) and Buddhism (non-attachment).

It turns out that as a parent there is so much I want for my kids. I want them to know what they’re feeling; to seek out vegetables; and to find such potent meaning in life that the lure of consumerism, substances, mind-numbing tech, and all the many things that we’ve “drugified” (to use this amazing psychiatrist-author’s term) don’t hook them…for long. But I also know that the road to adulthood is long and paved with $120 luxury brand jeans that a teenager may covet and purchase before deciding they’d rather actually have grocery money.

Rose is off to the gym; Col is off to…the city?

I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to titrate Col and Rose’s exposure to our society. Picture me throwing my entire strength against a door barricading a tidal wave of social media, violent video games, and other troublesome dopamine-delivery systems. Water pools menacingly at our feet while I cheerfully direct the kids towards…camping! Or, picking apricots! Well, my arms have grown tired from holding society back. The kids have picked all the apricots they can. And I trust them to wrestle with this world they’ve been given.

Wanting Col’s lunch fully without attachment.

Wanting fully without attachment looks like me taking responsibility for what I passionately and sincerely want as my preferences; caring for any anxiety and sadness that arises from not getting the outcomes I want; and mourning what is true right now. It’s a #^%! mental and emotional workout! And the part of me that is full of fear and impatience is prone to reach for the easy fix of control and coercion. Until I wake up and remember my commitment.

Living with these growing humans is to look at them through a kaleidoscope – sometimes I turn it and still see small, squeaky-voiced people with arms outstretched to be picked up; other times I turn it and am made breathless to witness what stunning humans they are right now; and other times I see that they’re emerging into new iterations of their very selves continually. Which is to say, everything is to be determined.

This winter I’ve been making soup once a week, and I want my kids to be home to eat with us, and I want them to love it. Maybe they do, or maybe the broccoli dissolved into weird rubbery bits. Maybe they eat it for breakfast because they were out the night before. Maybe they microwave it, blast it with hot sauce, and tote it off to their room. I can use my external power to make a request. Hey, would you be open to eat at the table – I’d love to connect for ten minutes. Or I can use my internal power to soothe my nervous system as they walk towards their room with a steaming bowl of soup. Here is a human who wants space, choice and privacy right now; none of which are a reflection of me. I have preferences, and my well being doesn’t depend on having them all work out. Plus, soup is a vegetable-delivery vehicle.

And, if gathering around soup seems like a pretty benign longing, I hear you. I have been to another parenting universe, the one where people not being home for dinner is like a passing muscle cramp when you’ve been in chronic pain. In the past year we have grappled with some heavy things, and staying in non-coercion and non-punishment stretched every fiber of my being; this is not a metaphor.

And it’s not lost on me that I may not meet my children’s numero uno preferences. Col would like me to lighten up and Rose would like me to never look at her with that worried face. I am sincerely working on it.

Studies show that as children grow into adulthood they ultimately end up more like their parents than not (I am picturing a crew of anxious mothers pooling their money to conduct these studies). I hold a dream that somewhere on the trajectory of this Cali trip–between spotting coastal shorebirds and strolling through the concrete wilds of cities, and maybe even some persimmon-gathering at a SoCal farmers market–we all find what we need, appreciating both how we diverge and how we fit together.

In the past year I’ve created a new version of Nonviolent Communication specifically for reaching teenagers:

Because sometimes I reveal a teeny tiny bit of emotion in my facial expressions when delivering requests that don’t go over well. See: mom lighten up.

Thanks so much for still being here,


P.S. Another intersection of Nonviolent Communication and Buddhism is this communication class that Dharma teacher Kate Siber and I are teaming up to teach in the new year. Join us!

P.P.S I think Miki Kashtan coined the phrase Wanting Fully Without Attachment.

P.P.P.S. Rose made a recipe off this blog for the 6th night of Hanukkah. Slay me.

8 Responses leave one →
  1. December 18, 2023

    Worth the wait, Rachel. It’s crazy lovely to procrastinate with your wise words! Is it procrastination, though, if I’m learning more and accomplishing more just by reading your blog than by working?

  2. Ellen permalink
    December 18, 2023

    I agree. Well worth the wait. Wonderful to read your wise and incisive words.

  3. Judith permalink
    December 19, 2023

    Thank you so much and you each and all have been missed and yet this 14 mos, moment is perfect…Wanting Fully without Attachment is the most welcomed description of many conundrums here…. in Heart and Be:ing with others…Blessings always from all of the Directions as you make your way WEST and find those persimmons !!!!

  4. Pamela Joy permalink
    December 19, 2023

    Oh Rachel,
    I feel ya! Life with kiddos (mine is now 22!) is quite the rollercoaster.
    I love how you articulate all of it, and how you are doing your best to
    respect your desires/needs AND their desires/needs. That’s all we can do,
    and doing it well some days and feeling like we’re failing at it on others is
    just how it be.
    Thank you so much for sharing all of it. Totally worth the wait for a new
    post, but I was SO excited when it popped into the inbox!
    So much love (and let’s get together for coffee, sometime soon. How about a date in January?
    Pam Marshall

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 19, 2023

      Let’s date in January, Pammy!

  5. Lesley permalink
    December 19, 2023

    I regularly check your page for new posts and am regularly disappointed to see no new ones, though I often go back and read old posts and digest your wisdom in a new light now that my small kids are now teenagers as well. Imagine my surprise and delight when I finally saw a new post today! Thank you so much for this, as always, giving me a new perspective on family life and raising teens … so much of what causes friction is because of our own (sometimes selfish) wants and needs. Struggling at the moment with a teen boy who hides in his room and comes out cursorily to grunt and eat. Where did that creative, affectionate and present little boy go? Thanks for the note on the mobile phone tip …definitely going to employ that one!

  6. Katherine Daley permalink
    December 20, 2023

    Your words and thoughts are so brilliantly relatable- I laugh and learn every time I read (and re-read) them! Thanks sooo much for sharing them.

  7. Bree permalink
    February 27, 2024

    Not much going on?! Rachel, I’ve missed you writing here so much! The “going on” was, and still is, the thoughts and emotions inside you as you walked through noticing your own life happening. It’s the reason I showed up here to read all through the years and the reason your blog is bookmarked in my phone. Maybe it’s weird but I read it like a book, a few posts today, maybe a couple dozen tomorrow. Binge-reading…. is that a thing? Your writing always makes me feel something and makes me think. I love that. Thank you for all you took time to share over the years.
    Whatever prompted me to pop over to the 6512 home page from deep in 2014 posts I’m glad for it. Hoping to see you here again soon!

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