together

fullsizerender-12

My last post was about surrender. And this one is too. I haven’t gotten very far. Or maybe I have. Maybe this is where I need to stay. It is no surprise that the collective psyche is unhinged. There is a lot of uncertainty.

But there always is. Things often don’t go the way we think they are going to or should.

I am choosing to believe that I am not meant to know or understand why things happen the way they do. That not knowing is okay and that there is a force, a benevolent one, greater than me out there in the world. 

And then I wonder, can I reject things the way they are because it is not what I want and still move toward progress? Or do we need to accept things fully in order to move through, move on, and forgive?  Can I feel anger and love at the same time? Hope and anxiety? Acceptance and disbelief?

I am choosing to believe that one of the most courageous things we can do is be brave in the face of anxiety and uncertainty. And just show up as our whole big loving and imperfect messy selves.

No more putting on a “game face.” Speaking of game face, yesterday, in fact, my face was adorned in blue marker. Because I allowed my children to draw all over it. That’s right. And then I forgot, totally forgot that I had a bridal shower to attend. So I showed up anyway, late and embarrassed with the remnants of a blue F on my forehead and the word Dad smeared on my cheek. But at least I was there.  God, help me.

I have realized the last few days that we are all trying to do what we think is best for ourselves, our families, our communities and our country.

And our bests differ.

And that is okay.

I am angry that 43% of the people who could vote in this election didn’t. But I am thankful that we live in a country where we can speak up and share our voices and not be jailed or beheaded for doing so.

I feel like I am swimming in one giant paradox pool.

I don’t want to be angry. But I am about certain things. Maybe I can use it as fuel and motivation. Because it just seems to me that it is good to feel the anger and then be constructive with it and not stew in it for long. Let it out for Pete’s sake. I think that is what has been happening. Like everyone is just throwing up anger all over social media. Sometimes it may feel like it makes things worse. More separate. Less harmonious.

But then again honesty is important.

I don’t want to be divisive.

I want to be respectful. And kind.

So I am choosing to believe that fear and anxiety can coexist with love and hope. We gotta keep marching toward the greatest good.

I don’t want to take things for granted. I also don’t want to make light of the fact that there is suffering. Unfortunately, there always is.

We still need to laugh, however, and tell ridiculous jokes and be silly in the midst of it.

Because I believe lightness holds us. Levity lifts us. It is okay to take a break from being serious. I believe we can do both…be caring and concerned and laugh at the movie “Bad Moms” all at the same time.

Where do we go from here? I think of Martin Luther King. Of Nelson Mandela. Gandhi. Eli Wiesel. Viktor Frankl. Anne Frank. Malala. Madonna Badger. Those on the Standing Rock Reservation fighting for what they believe in.

And all of the people that aren’t famous but put their hearts where their mouths are. That do something to bring more love, more understanding and less hate into the world. Despite how very hard this sometimes is.

This is you. You do this. It may be volunteering at your child’s school to help a student learn how to read. Maybe it is taking the time to let someone cross the street with kindness in your expression. Maybe it is as simple as forgiving someone when they spaced a date important to you. Oy vey!

But so much that hurts is healed when we reach out and connect with one another. When we dig deep. When we share what we are scared to share, what makes us feel less perfect, and maybe even unlovable.

All I know is my connections with friends and family are keeping me grounded these days. I cannot do it alone.

So is nature because no matter what is going on in our human world, nature is happening all around us. We are part of this. And the surreal, cobalt blue colored skies have been so incredibly beautiful.

And the moon tomorrow is a Supermoon! It is also called the Beaver moon. And well I am excited about this.

Movement…like dance and exercise and singing and sharing our voices  – this is life saving.

Last weekend, my family and I painted a fence for a local non profit and it felt so healing to keep my hands and mind busy while doing something nice for someone else. This is essential at the moment. To keep moving in the direction of union and generosity.

So does getting back to the basics and taking really good care of ourselves. And this includes being discerning as to what we want to receive and how we want to contribute.

To feed fear or promote peace.

I am choosing to believe there is so much more good in this world. And so much to be thankful for. And I haven’t felt optimistic every moment of every day this week. On the contrary.

But I want to stay hopeful. No need to bypass anything we are feeling. We notice, pay attention, and breathe.

Together.

Advertisements

cracking open with molly

IMG_2020

Last night I had the pleasure of participating in a workshop with author and therapist, Molly Carroll. Her book, Cracking Open, A creative journal for self transformation called to me the minute I saw the cover. And then I opened it and wanted to dive into its colorful tapestry of words, wisdom and art.

I was working on the section entitled, be seen when I realized how hard it is for all of me to be seen. I desperately want to look like I have this figured out, this life business. But I am tired. I have a baby who is still not sleeping through the night. And two older kids. Sometimes I feel lonely and isolated. I am sad that my mom is sick. I miss my family. I question my career and what is next. It’s a lot.

As Brene Brown says, we have to go through vulnerability to get to courage. I know she’s right but it can be so freakin hard and I can’t help but want to bypass the vulnerability part. But it doesn’t work that way.

So last night when surrounded by a group of supportive women, I was surprised that being seen for me was not about speaking up and sharing my voice.

Being seen for me last night was about exposing my sadness. It was about being raw and vulnerable and cracked open for all to see. I didn’t even know that I was sad before I got there. But I needed to cry. I needed to be heard and seen and held by those empathetic women who were okay sitting in discomfort without trying to fix it and make it better.

Because we can’t get to better without being in it. And last night it was sadness.

And today it is better. Because I let it out. I am working on some stuff and I know it takes time, most likely a lifetime. But I am trying one page at a time.

IMG_2019

 

This is me this morning trying to erase the bags under my eyes! 

happy mothering day

photo-1443466612971-98a16c828136

“Mothering Myself” by Nancy McBrine Sheehan

In a society preoccupied with how best to raise a child I’m finding a need to mesh what’s best for my children with what’s necessary for a well balanced mother. I’m recognizing that ceaseless giving translates into giving yourself away. And when you give yourself away, you’re not a healthy mother and you’re not a healthy self.

So, now I’m learning to be a woman and a mother. I’m learning how to just experience my own emotions without robbing my children of their individual dignity by feeling their emotions too. I’m learning that a healthy child will have his own set of emotions and characteristics that are his alone. And, very different from mine. I’m learning the importance of honest exchanges of feelings because pretenses don’t fool children, they know their mother better than she knows herself.

I’m learning that no one overcomes her past unless she confronts it. Otherwise, her children will absorb exactly what she’s trying to overcome. I’m learning that words of wisdom fall on deaf ears if my actions contradict my deeds. Children tend to be better impersonators than listeners.

I’m learning that life is meant to be filled with as much pain as happiness and pleasure. And allowing ourselves to feel everything life has to offer is an indicator of fulfillment. I’m learning that fulfillment can’t be attained through giving myself away-but through giving to myself and sharing with others.

I’m learning that the best way to teach my children to live a fulfilling life is not by sacrificing my life. It’s through living a fulfilling life myself. I’m trying to teach my children that I have a lot to learn because I’m learning that letting go of them is the best way of holding on.

I came across this poem maybe a decade ago when reading  Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom; Creating Physical and Emotional Heath and Healing by Christiane Northrup, M.D. Every cell of my being screamed yes while I soaked up the words like a sponge. It is not selfish or indulgent to take care of ourselves and want to heal our past hurts, hang ups, and old wounds. Maybe it is selfish not to. It seemed like something I wanted to return to as a mother.

And return I do. Often.

This morning my babysitter came to watch the baby so I could exercise and run errands aka spend too much money at various stores. But the minute she walked through my front door, I felt like was about to crumble to the floor into a heap of pure exhaustion. So you know what I did? I said, “F off errands, I’ll get to you another day.”  I took off my sneakers and my confining exercise top with the built in bra situation, strolled into my bedroom, shut the blinds, turned on the white noise machine, and climbed back into bed. It felt rebellious and glorious and so good. And my two hour nap was complete with a dream featuring a magical baby miniature horse and crunchy carrots. An added bonus!

Taking care of ourselves may mean saying yes to sleep and no to errands. It may mean a trip to the therapist or the spa.Whatever it means to you, do it without guilt and enjoy yourself!

Because you are worth it and you deserve it!

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Mothering Day!

 

 

 

 

 

the choices we make

IMG_1030

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Marukami

I learn something new every day.

Many days, it is the same lesson in disguise. Over and over again. I think I will be learning it for the rest of my life.

The lesson is this: We create our own reality. We choose how to share our energy within this reality and what thoughts and actions we want to focus on next.

I don’t mean that we make shitty things happen. Sometimes really bad things happen, and it is completely out of our control. It is simply not our fault.

Some people believe that nothing is random. But there is just too much sorrow and extreme suffering in the world for me to believe this exactly.

I do believe however, that no matter what happens, something good can come from it.

We choose what we want to believe.

And it may take a long time to arrive at this place. And it may take a lot of conscious practice. This is, after all, not an easy task especially when bombarded constantly by grim news.

While I was in college studying abroad on a program called Semester at Sea, I had the opportunity to visit The Peace Memorial in Hiroshima. There, where the atomic bomb caused such vast devastation that nothing grew for decades, were now proud trees and smiling children taking photographs with tourists, many of them American.

Inspired by the true story of a young Japanese girl named Sadako, colorful handmade paper cranes symbolized prayers for hope and peace. The story tells us that even while Sadako was dying from cancer, she folded hundreds of origami cranes in an effort to turn her attention towards praying for personal healing and the healing of the world. And with every crane, she made the brave decision to move toward hope and not away from it.

When coping with harrowing circumstances, it is as if we have been split open and the contents come spilling out, sometimes against our will. We may feel like we have little control over our feelings, thoughts, and reactions.

But turning toward our difficulties, not away from them, is what enables us to make the next thoughtful choice.

We also then become more empathetic to the fragility of the human condition. Maybe then we are more inclined to access the wellspring of compassion that lives deep within our hearts softening into our reality.

I have to admit, I get frustrated with people often. Sometimes I stew in this. But after awhile, I choose to believe that we are all trying to do the best we can with what we have been given. And the time between the stewing and compassion is becoming perhaps a tiny bit shorter which is helpful!

Because of the hardships that we endure as humans, our resilience grows and our souls bloom. We can also use these opportunities to become more aware of who we are; our values, what motivates us, and what we need to feel our best. We learn to honor our innate wisdom, surround ourselves with supportive people whom we can trust, and persevere by attempting to find meaning in our struggles.

And always we get to choose what to think and do next.

Fortunately, there are many people who have showed us the way. These uplifting stories are about ordinary people who choose to focus on the solution and not the problem, on the bright side instead of succumbing only to darkness…even though there is nothing wrong with the darkness, and it is an important place to pause from time to time.

Recently, I saw a story about a man who opened up the only store in his neighborhood in New Orleans. There had been no redevelopment there since Katrina. Not one single business. But this kind and determined soul literally spent all of his retirement money on opening a convenient store to help out his neighbors.

Along with selling the essentials there, he provides perhaps something far greater; a sense of community, respect, and hope where there had been little since the storm.

His choice was born from love. He chose to believe in abundance, not scarcity and made a courageous decision without knowing if he would ever be able to save the kind of money he had before.

I am always reminded that I too have a choice as to what to do next when yearning for things to be different than they are.

For example, when I am missing my dad, I am greeted with the eternal knowing that, more powerful than the sadness, is my desire to honor him and bring what I loved about his generous spirit to life.

So I envision what it was like to be in the same room as him. What stands out to me is that he profoundly appreciated the little things; the colorful hibiscus in the backyard, a gin and tonic at the end of the day, hanging with family, the celery in the tuna fish my brother-in-law made, and taking friends from the East Coast to beautiful spots in Arizona for a “50 cent tour.”

He never talked about the potency of living in the moment and looking for the silver lining. He just lived it.

So this morning when I found my tweezers in the car after declaring that someone had most definitely come into the house (again) at night and taken them, I celebrated as if I had won the lottery.

And why not celebrate?

We can always try, as hard as it may sometimes feel, to find something, even if it is one little insignificant thing, to be grateful for. This has become something of a mantra for me.

And these moments inspire other opportunities for gratitude to arise because gratitude begets gratitude. For a brief spell, we may even get to reside in the space of feeling thankful for all of it.

Because there is beauty and potential even when we feel there is none.

And while our genes are powerful and our circumstances heavily influence who we are, what we choose to tell ourselves is equally as important to our well – being.

Being human is the whole enchilada…the whole messy enchilada.

None of us have it totally figured out. And contrary to what we see on social media, no one is happy all of the time. No one is perfect. No one escapes loss. Or disappointment. Or failure.

But here we are.

And still we have choices to make.

Because this is our one beautiful, messy reality.