melodius

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There is Love in holding, and there is Love in letting go.”  –  Elizabeth Berg

“To see thee more clearly. Love thee more dearly. Follow thee more nearly, day by day.”  

This morning I woke to a sleeping house. What a rare and amazing gift! My husband was already awake and meditating so I decided to join him. Lord knows I need it.

We sat on the floor of our dusky bedroom while tiny dust particles mingled with the determined morning light. *We listened to the sweet subtle voice on my husband’s phone  as birds chirped along in the background. The gentle voice guided us to name our feelings.

Anger, anger, frustration, disappointment, anger, fear, sadness. And then…identify any sensations you are feeling and where you are feeling them...warm, warm, hot, hot, face, tight, stomach, throat, bubble, tight, tight, TIGHT!

By repeating the name of the sensation, the sensation itself starts to melt, losing its hold, losing its power and making room for more space. The sensation, neither good or bad, just is and often goes as quickly as it comes.

But first, it needs acknowledgement. Not judgement or understanding, just acknowledgement.

Then we soften because we allow. We feel it. Even if it stings and hurts.

Much like getting stuck in an undertow while swimming in the ocean, when we swim against the current, we lose our strength. But when we swim with the current, we find our breath and are able to let go and stay afloat.

We breathe. We flow. We keep going. We must keep going.

After my daughter left for camp today, I drove my son to his camp, and then took my baby girl to a coffeehouse I hadn’t been to in over a year. I went there yesterday too and then went back again today because it is just that warm and welcoming inside.

I felt comforted just by being there. Maybe even held. And as I was about to leave, I made a new friend.

She told me I was her hero when I said I had 3 kids. After telling me that she was a social worker with two kids who started her own business helping developmentally challenged adults and is also currently getting her Master of Arts in Psychology, I told her she was my hero! I could feel courage, confidence, and kindness emanating from her like the beaming sun.

Then we hugged. Twice.

Joy Joy Joy. Warmth. Grateful. Heart. Heart. Happy.

I’m not sure I would have had the space in my heart for joy, gratitude, and a new friend had I not allowed the anger and sadness the space to just be first.

We breathe. We flow. We keep going. We must keep going.

*We used the app for our phone Calm: Mediate and relax with guided mindfulness meditation for stress reduction at http://www.calm.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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cracking open with molly

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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.

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

Inside Out; Exploring Emotion

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We returned home last night after spending a few weeks with my extended family in the Northeast. Yesterday was a long and exhausting travel day. We all felt sad to be leaving family that we only get to see a few times a year. And my son was so upset that he spent the entire day crying at the mere mention of anything regarding our trip.

I wanted to make him feel better. And I wanted to make myself feel better. I wanted to say something funny or distract him with a silly story. Cheering others up or ourselves for that matter, is how most of us deal with sadness. But I know this doesn’t always work. And we can’t protect ourselves from sadness, we can only learn how to soften into it. Although it was hard, I tried to allow him to have his experience, gently reassuring him that it was okay as he moved through the rawness.

I was reminded of the new Pixar movie, Inside Out, which we saw on a dreary day earlier in the summer. I thought of the starring role that Sadness played and how much I appreciated the message that joy can’t exist without it.

I didn’t enjoy everything about the movie especially when I questioned whether someone had dropped LSD into my drink as the characters, Joy and Sadness, got lost in little Riley’s Long Term Memory. Along on the journey with Sadness and Joy is an imaginary friend who is part cotton candy, part elephant, and part something with a bushy tail. They start “deconstructing” and begin to change shapes morphing into abstract images reminiscent of a Picasso painting.

As the movie progressed, it took lots of weird twists and turns but, fortunately, ended on a sweet and poignant note. I most appreciate that Inside Out presented a very realistic portrayal about the challenges of moving to a new town and the opportunity to talk about being sad.

Because I found it to be insightful and clever on so many levels and because I am constantly looking for ways to teach and incorporate emotional understanding into my life, my children’s lives, and the work I do with others, I created a list of how Inside Out inspired me to explore emotions. Especially sadness.

1). All emotions are important and all emotions come and go. Although the movie mostly dealt with Sadness, it also explored the major emotions of Joy, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. While emotions like shame, humility, nervousness, jealousy, excitement, compassion, empathy, gratitude, and love were not major players in the film, it certainly creates an opportunity to start a conversation about all emotions. For instance, a friend of mine talked to her son about the particular characters he has in his head. Because he tends to worry, she added “worry” to the list of characters. If a child can identify something such as worry as just one of the many emotions he feels, it can help take away some of its significance and power.  And helping children visualize their emotions by identifying them with colorful characters or images helps them befriend their feelings and relate to them in a more proactive and helpful way.

2). Emotions don’t just live in our heads, they live in our bodies too. You can ask kids what it feels like or looks like when they are feeling a certain way. Maybe when they are sad you can inquire about where they feel sadness in their body. Think of “lumps in our throat” or “butterflies in our stomach.” These phrases help kids understand their emotions and the connection between our minds, hearts, and bodies.

3). We cannot experience joy without sadness. I loved the message in the movie that Joy and Sadness need each other. One can’t exist without the other. And sadness is not bad, and we can, in fact, learn a lot from it. Also, joy all of the time can get really annoying and may even hinder us from reaching our full potential and finding true peace and happiness.

4). Anger is to be expected but making choices when we are angry is not wise. When Anger was in charge in the movie, Riley made some really bad choices. If we let anger rule our decision making process without also listening to reason, kindness, and compassion, then we will most likely end up making some really stupid decisions. These decisions may cause more harm and regret in the long run. Teaching our kids (and reminding ourselves…often) how to pause and breathe first when feeling red hot anger, is a great step towards a more mindful existence. We have no control over others, only how we choose to respond to them and perceive our realities. Trying not to take others outbursts or crazy making comments personally is helpful too. And creating space before reacting (and maybe regretting), allows us to respond mindfully coming from a place of choice instead of operating on auto-pilot.

5). Talking about our sadness eventually helps lift us out of our sadness. At the end of Inside Out, Sadness is finally in charge and the little girl, Riley, is able to talk about her sadness instead of just acting indifferent and grumpy. Her whole demeanor changes as she opens up to her parents. Her dad puts his phone away, and her mom stops gabbing incessantly, and they actually listen! Then the parents talk about their feelings too, and one gets the sense that the weight is slowly lifting off all of their shoulders. Finally, it seemed, Riley felt understood and not so alone.

When my son was four, he told me that laughter and tears were pretty much the same thing. I believe he is right, both are outlets for deep feeling, and both help keep us balanced and whole. Without one, we can’t fully experience the other.

For more on the significant role emotion plays in our life and the topic of emotional intelligence, check out Daniel Goldman’s book, Emotional Intelligence.