Sunday, July 30, 2017

body sacred

I claimed it.  I said, “I am the authority here.”

I held my marshmallowy, post c-section belly in my hand and said, “Thank you. I love you. You are sacred.” I am the authority here. I get to determine if my belly is sacred. I get to send it love. I get to say it is sacred just as it is, without any nipping, without flatness, without a six pack. I get to determine that I love my belly. I get to determine that I show love and gratitude to my belly. Gratitude for my babies. For all the good work digesting my food. For its guidance when I say, “I feel it in my gut.”

(A side note-- I used to think it all was pretty organized, back there behind the skin. I saw the science transparency layovers in a book-- “here’s the digestive system...here’s the reproductive system, here’s the muscles...here’s the nerves….here’s how the blood flows…” Then one day, the doctor doing my diagnostic surgery handed me photos of my innards, explaining all the webbing of the scar tissue. It just looked like a big jumbled stew in there. Not neatly organized. Just a squishy soup of organs.)

After I put my hand on my belly, I put my hands on each other part of my body and said the same. My foot. My shoulder. My ears. My whole body. “Thank you. I love you. You are sacred.”

Do I determine the sacredness and beauty of my body or do I bow the knee and pass my scepter of authority to another?

This authority to determine our own worth, our own sacredness, has been stripped from us. By magazines, by the beauty and diet and fashion industries. And they did it on purpose so that we would feel so terrible that we would spend any amount of money to reclaim what is naturally our right. Our right to say, “I am beautiful. I am sacred.” Instead we compare ourselves to the airbrushing and say, “I am ugly. I am not enough. Here is my money. Please do what you promised.” And they take our money and laugh. And the cycle starts again.

But what if we reclaimed it? What if we looked around, told them all to go to hell, and just said, “I am beautiful. I am sacred.” How would we feel? How would we treat ourselves? What would happen if that were our self-talk all day long, instead of “I am fat. I don’t have a thigh gap. I am ugly. No one tells me I’m beautiful. I am worthless.” Thigh gap. Good grief.

Feel the difference in those words. Beautiful, sacred. Ugly, worthless.

Feel the elevation of the sacred. Feel the devastation, the twisted deception, the starvation, the cruelty of the lies. Feel the light vs. darkness.

And if you haven’t noticed that those dark words are part of your self-talk, just listen. What are those voices saying as you get dressed, as you do your makeup, as you read that magazine? And then, when your awareness dawns, make a new choice.

It was an unconscious choice to give away our authority. But it is a conscious choice to take it back. Choose to see the magnificence. Choose to see the wonder. The wonder of the pores of your skin. The miracle of sensory perception-- we can hug and feel loved! Wiggle your toes. See the sunset. And realize there is so much more than the neon lie arrows pointing at you saying you’re not enough. You are enough because you are sacred. See that you are sacred. You are the authority. Choose that you are sacred. Hold yourself sacred.

This isn’t just for you. This is for all our little girls.

In third grade I listened to a rectangular shaped girl say to the willowy shaped girls, “I weigh 75 pounds!” She owned it, she claimed it. But, instead of saying, “Way to stand up to the man, yo!” my little 8-year old self darkened, thinking… I weigh 85 pounds. That must mean I am fat. That must mean I am less-than. Hide. And the next year when I came back to school as a fourth grader, I bragged about how I had skipped breakfast.

I look back at photos of myself at that age in a swimsuit. And I was just normal. But I thought I was less-than. And so it began.

Instead of waiting around for my particular body type to reach some magazine cover as the body type of the decade, today I choose that I am beautiful. I choose that I am valuable. I choose that I am sacred. I choose that my body is sacred. No one else is the authority here. I am the authority.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

body conversation

What if I could talk to my body and it could talk back? What if all my little cells in my body could get together for a conference and I could ask them questions and they could give me feedback? What would they say to me?

I tried it out. I got out my notebook, meditated to connect to the light, and started writing down questions I had for my body, and the thoughts that came back to me from my body.

I am sharing this with you because the more I say out loud, the more souls I find that feel like I do, that have had similar experiences, but feel that they are alone, like I did, in feeling what they feel. So, just in case you need to know that you’re not alone….


Here’s our conversation.

Me: Hello Body. What will it take for you to drop 50 pounds? Sending you so much love and light-- and gratitude. Thank you for bearing the emotional load and the OCD work and still staying alive and trying to heal. I have tried so many different things. There are so many voices telling me to do it their way. What do you need? I am listening.

Body: You have been unkind to us for many, many years. With ugly self -talk and demanding performance without providing rest, rejuvenation, sustenance-- just pushing harder.

Me: You are right. I am sorry.

Body: And yet you would do it again. If we gave you energy, pain-free existence, health, fitness, you would run again, and drive us, aging, into the ground. We are trying to stay alive, and that is why we don’t heal completely. To keep you on a leash. You need to govern your will. You need to learn kindness and compassion and really good self-care before we free you. You are like a little child that hasn’t learned boundaries.

Me: Well that’s hard to hear. I thought I’d made progress.

Body: You have. And thus you see the increase in energy and decrease in pain as a result. But we will not yield until you progress in this area. Be kinder. Sleep earlier. Better food. And better self-talk. While you have also progressed here-- self talk not so ugly, examine it further. You strain at the bit, and long to run without resting-- your frustration is reflected in your self-talk. We feel your frustrated self-talk and we fear death. We know you would run us into the ground, and so we resist you. We bind you. We chain you. You are barely healing, and you expect to run hard, as if this had all never happened. Your unrealistic expectations affect us, hurt us. We fear them. We fear you. And so we won’t cooperate. We will release you by degrees, to the degree that you are patient, kind, wise and are not frustrated with us- no frustrated self-talk. Get zen and accept what is at the moment. Show us this real change, this zen. Show us real love and compassion. And we will learn to not fear you, and set you free. [End conversation.]


Thoughts on the conversation.

I was particularly surprised at the disgruntled nature of the “body-talk” thoughts that came back to me, when I felt like I had made so much progress. Also, at the idea that my body was digging in its heels on my freedom. I have been making progress, feeling significantly better-- more on that later. And so this little revolt, was honestly the last thing I expected. But I mean-- really, what can you actually expect when you do such a weird thing like have a conversation with your body. But I’m really, really glad that I did. Cuz-- wow.

Friday, May 19, 2017

the wisdom of a ten year old

I’ve been having some enlightening conversations with my ten year old. The other day he said,
“Mom, the things people find to insult in other people are actually the things they wish to improve in the themselves.” Wow.

“Where do you learn all this stuff?’

“T.V.”

Huh. Points for TV.

More wisdom came from this ten year old fount...

“Mom, I am glad for the hard things I’ve gone through because they make me stronger.”

“Really? What do you mean by stronger?”

“They make me more powerful.”

I was pretty impressed and continued to inquire…. He let me know:
“When it’s happening I’m like ‘Why??!!’ But later I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s why.’”

Brilliant.

I could relate with the “Why??!!” right in the middle. And the, “Oh, that’s why,” afterwards. In all honesty, I would not trade the last eight years of suffering because it changed me. Pain changed me because my heart became one full of compassion.

I didn’t used to have a heart of compassion. I worked hard and pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and expected everyone else to do the same. And when they didn’t, I judged them. I just thought they were lazy and not trying hard enough if they couldn’t make their life happen. I had to learn. I had to learn that sometimes our life doesn't look like we want it to even when we're doing our very best. And that's okay.

And while the learning has been intensely painful, I wouldn’t trade the process. Now, because of the pain I felt, most of the time I can see into the pain of other people and give them grace.



Friday, May 12, 2017

a modicum of energy

I will own that it is easier to be happy when I have one modicum of energy. Which I didn’t have a few days ago. But let me tell you how I triumphed that day. I was kind to myself.

For the last many years of weariness, when what my body really needed was rest, I pushed harder. I pushed to my limit. Beyond my limit. And when I would finally collapse from bone-breaking exhaustion, I reprimanded myself.

“You suck,” I chastised.
“I know,” I replied.

As my deep fatigue morphed into debilitation, the voice in my head became crueler, more insistent.

“Look at you just lying there. There is too much to be done to lie in bed. Your worth is solely based on what you do, and what everyone thinks of what you do, and you are doing nothing, so you are clearly worthless. What if people knew? Hide.”

So I hid. What if people knew? Knew that I wasn’t doing?

Writing this down right now with the intent to share it, unmasking the times that I need to rest, is giving me the feeling of the beginning of a panic attack. But I will breathe deeply and press forward because it is important that I don’t hide anymore, and it is important that you know the end of the story….how I was kind to myself.

So let’s skip to the end.

A few days ago, after several nights of very poor sleep, I came home from dropping off my child at school, and… rested. I got super zen and said this to myself:

“Hey sweetheart, I see that you are really tired. Good job taking care of yourself.”

“Hey honey, I’m so proud of you for honoring your body by resting.”

“Sweetie, your body is going to heal because you are doing this important and worthwhile thing for yourself. Great job.”

The other loud, bossy voice, bold from long habit, tried to butt in. But I cut it off. Over and over I said these kind things to myself. Out loud. No matter how many times the voice interrupted, I returned to my kind words, like a mantra in a meditation. I said them during all the times I needed to rest, or take a break, or take a step back. I did what I could. And I didn’t do what I couldn’t do.

And instead of feeling like I was pond scum all day-- feeling worthless and like I needed to hide my miserable, glaring lack of value-- I felt tranquil. And a little bit delighted that I was so kind to myself.  At peace with the idea that today this was all I could do, recognizing that tomorrow was another day, and believing that perhaps that day I would feel a little better.

Can you feel the difference in those words? Worthless, miserable, ‘you suck’’ vs. honoring, kind, important, worthwhile, sweetie. Enormous difference. A rock-your-world difference when you’re saying them to yourself.

I allowed myself to rest. To reset. I honored my body. Without feeling guilty. Without feeling like a piece of trash. I just said, you will feel better later. And you will be able to do more. Right now, you need to rest. You’re okay. And it’s okay.

And it was.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

unweaving

I am genuinely happy. I have some good friends who really get my soul. I have a family that loves me. I care less about what other humans think about me.

My life is not perfect. I still have really bad days, sometimes. I still deal with physical pain, and the emotional baggage that comes with it, in particular the inability to do, which I think is the thing that turned my pain to hell. That was mostly because my sense of self worth was unequivocally linked to what I could accomplish, and by extension, what other humans thought of what I accomplished.

As my ability to accomplish lessened, the less others praised my accomplishments, and thus, the less I thought of myself. And this created agony. “I can’t do!” the madwoman inside screamed. Really what she was screaming was, “I can’t be! My sense of self does not exist outside of my ability to do. Therefore I am more than miserable. I am in agony.” I could hear her calling, wailing. I couldn’t hear her clarity, I could only hear, “I can’t do.” And I could feel her pain. So to appease her, I tried and tried to do more, even as I grew weaker in body, weaker in spirit, higher in pain. I tried and tried, because the tricky, woven in, pain in my heart was unbearable.

But as I am learning to unweave, I feel relief. As I care less about what others think about me, the madwoman’s pain is eased. As I hear her completely, and can pick apart the strands of her cries, she feels relief. And I feel relief.

And I know this sounds weird, especially after 8+ years of being miserable in physical pain, but presently, I am happy. I’m not happy in the middle of a pain spike. I’m crying then. But when the pain is at a manageable level, my heart feels really light. And I’m getting better at noticing when what I’m doing physically, or emotionally, is leading me towards a pain spike, or a bed day the next day, so I can ease off, honor my body and what it needs. Because the wailing woman inside me needs to wail less often now. I listened. I heard her. I honored her wisdom, and she is more at peace. Less mad, from being honored. And I’m just happy.

The the other weird part is that I can create, and be really productive, from a place of joy, instead of this driven place. “They run as if the whips of their masters are behind them,” says Legolas in Lord of the Rings (love!). That was me. Before. Before the pain. During most of the pain. But now-- it’s just different somehow. I was working so hard to prove that I wasn’t lazy, worthless. The harder it became to do anything, the harder I tried to prove that I wasn’t lazy by over extending almost every moment. So desperately trying to prove my worth to everyone. To myself. To the madwoman.

But now it’s just ok somehow. And I can create beautiful things, at an agreeable pace. Without the whip. Without making it so darn hard.

I have been thinking about this idea, in growing depth and intensity, for years. And I wonder now how I am changing. How the idea went from head to heart. I think the key, somehow, is caring less about what others think. And I’m not sure how that happened for me. Part of it was I just didn’t have the capability to run the hard race anymore. People kept asking me to do more, and when I couldn’t they stopped telling me that I was awesome. That was painful enough to crack me open and make me start examining what I really thought and felt, and I began to see that my worth was not based on what they thought about what I do. Later, I read in the book The Four Agreements (so worth reading!) that what other people think about you is all about them, not about you, and a big shift happened for me with that one. More recently, a friend said to me, “You just care so much about what people think,” pointing out that it was really running me. I knew she was right, was grateful that she said it, and was surprised it was so obvious. And I prayed that God would change my heart into a heart that loved, and didn’t care what people thought.

I’m not saying I’ve arrived, because I haven’t. But I am progressing. It feels different. It feels amazing, frankly.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Pelvic Pain Series: Part 2

We must understand the world around us, and so we make up stories.

People make up stories based on their own experience, on their own pain. I can’t tell you how many people have approached me over the years as I’ve sat in my camp chair in the aisle of some store... “Oh, do you have back pain?” or something similar.

Usually I’d just smile, give some non-descript answer, and they’d move on. Once, though, when I was really trying to get authentic, honest about my feelings, un-shamed. I opened my mouth in a bookstore. And told some brave friends about it.

Ok the craziest thing just happened! You know how I decided to stop lying and just say how I feel?...

I was in a book store. On the counter there was a little yellow book sitting face down. It said "you were meant for a joyful life". It was distinctly different from most of the store. I thought "that sounds like Brave Girls" and I turned it over and it was Melody Ross's book Choose Happy! http://my.bravegirlsclub.com/product/gift-book-choose-happy/  I started smiling. I felt like it was a little message just for me. Then the girl ringing me up asked me how I was doing. Usually I would respond something thoughtlessly positive. But I had decided not to do that, right? And here was a little yellow book giving me courage to not tell lies. And so I actually thought about how I felt and then said "a little tired, but happy". And I sat down in my chair. It was odd, and strangely elating.

She had seen me sitting earlier, and now asked, "do you have pain in your knees?" And RIGHT THERE AT THE COUNTER I SAID,

"No, I have pain in my pelvis."
Blink blink. This was almost an out of body experience for me. No lying, hedging, making up stories. I could tell she flinched inwardly, but then surprisingly she asked,
"How long have you had that?"
"About 7 years."
"Hm."

And that was it. I couldn't believe it. I'm driving home in wonder. I feel so unmasked somehow. And like a layer of shame has lifted from me. Why is talking about your pelvis not acceptable when you can talk about your knee or back or elbow or shoulder pain all day long without flinching? Why is my pelvis this dark, shameful, unspeakable part of my body?

I hardly know what to think about this experience-- that I chose social awkwardness over lies.


As I think back I remember feeling Soaring Freedom.
Freedom to speak my truth. “Yes, this is really what’s going on in my life. This is really how I feel.” To actually speak how I feel. Recognize how I feel. Feel how I feel. Honor how I feel. And make new choices. Smiling if I feel like smiling, rather than smiling to hide what I’m feeling.

Being Real Real Real. Instead of Fake Fake Fake and Hiding. When I am real I deepen into myself. And give others the permission to be Real.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Emergence

in this moment
my Wings touch the water as I fly
the chrysalis stretches and groans
Spent
as I Emerge

in this moment
i Sing
and Dance
and Wonder

in this moment
my heart re fibrilates
my soul re Anchors
and i Suck In Air
Stunned
and Free

in this moment
i begin again
and Weave the Precious Strands
of Agony
into Gold
with deft knowing fingers
though i've never done it before

i sleep the good sleep
i dream the good dream
i breathe the good Breath

and Laugh

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

liquified

I want to tell you about PainDay #1. I mentioned before that I was doing MomStuff that day. Like meals. After eating with the kiddos, or let’s call it post-tornado, there was infinite debris scattered on, around, and under the table. Every. Single. Time. Thus I found myself sweeping...infinitely.

But I really didn’t sweep just because it was a disaster. I swept because I lived in mortal fear that the other moms in the neighborhood might just drop by unannounced and SEE the table from the front door. I felt enough anxiety over this that every morning after breakfast, while one child peered through the window by the door, waiting, yearning, shouting, “The kids! The kids, Mom!” as the million children of the neighborhood emerged on their bicycles, I swept. Every day. I never said, “Ah, heck, I’ll just skip it, enjoy the morning with the kiddos, do it when I come back in.” I had to finish it first. I swept and swept and swept until it was done, while his little heart stuttered in its beating with anticipation.

PainDay #1 found me about the same morning routine, but with a bit of a twinge in my pelvis. Unusual, unplaceable. But I was unstoppable. After all, I had sweeping to do. As the morning progressed, the pain did too, until, at about 4:00 in the afternoon, when I was, you guessed it, sweeping...again... I thought, “Wow, this is just really bad. I just don’t think I can do this any more.” And I set down the broom. Never to pick it up again at that house.

It makes my heart ache to write about this. Because, sweeping? Really? Because, why didn’t I take care of myself when I was hurting? Because why didn’t I care what my body was saying to me? Because why did I care more about what the other moms all around me would think of an unswept floor, more than I cared about myself? Or my kids?

The inability to sweep was just the beginning of the humiliations to come. In the coming SurgeryDays the moms in my circle would do more than sweep. They cleaned everything. They made meals. They watched my kids. Some were incredibly compassionate and loving. Some were achingly, humiliatingly judgemental. But at that point, I couldn’t leave my bed, so there was nothing I could do about it.

I wanted to tell you about PainDay #1 because it is such a clear illustration of my past life, of my prior priorities, of the things I want to change about myself.

I want to listen to my body. I want to not care what other humans think about me. I want my kids to be more important than the floor.

I have been forced to slow it down. And though it has been, quite frankly, hell, there is a gift in that hell. The gift is unhideable awkwardness. The gift is inability to do. The gift is being forced to choose. The gift is learning to listen to my body. The gift is having to go inside. The gift is all my bones being liquefied in the chrysalis and coming out a butterfly.

Monday, May 1, 2017

choosing SuperMom

I’m drinking my son’s smoothie. Usually that grosses me out. But I decided to let it go this time because it was such a good one. I made it this morning for his breakfast and lunch, because he bit his tongue really hard last night and can’t chew anything. I threw a thermos of it into his backpack and baby-wiped his mouth at least once on the way to school while he spooned in the the other one from the cup. “Have a great day, make great choices, I love you” and kissed the top of his head as he dashed, careening up the front steps, attempting to avoid a tardy. I felt a little like SuperMom. Why? Because today I chose to.

Most of my MomLife I didn’t choose to. Now as I type, slurping smoothie on my front porch, I feel a little like SuperMom and Mr. Rogers combined, having just changed out of my stiff leather jacket and into a zip-up hoodie. I choose to feel like SuperMom. Not because the dishes are done, because they’re not. Not because there is not laundry to fold, because there is. Always. Not because the bathrooms are sparkly, because really, they could use a scrub. But because I choose to.

Part of wanting to create excellence in MomLife for me was because I just like things being done well. It brings me joy and exhilaration. But if I’m honest, there was always a little voice inside me, ever increasing in volume, gnawing at me to prove myself. Whispering that I wasn’t enough in MomLife. That all the girls who would have graduated along with me with all our gold stars would be on “career path” now and would be secretly judging me, thinking me less-than, for taking a walk on the stay-at-home-mom side of life. (I kind of think we should rebrand for accuracy-- something like “stay-in-the-car-mom” or “stay-at-Target-mom”...)

I worked harder and harder in MomLife to prove my valor to these invisible foes, who were really just my sisters doing the best they can just like me. I could hit Walmart for a grand, heaping pile of groceries, with a toddler in the cart, a baby on my hip and talking on the phone all at the same time. And prequel it with a trip to storytime at the library. These were the pre-Pain days, of course.

Even as the PainDays began, once I healed from the surgeries, I was up, albeit more slowly, still trying to prove my valor. Back to story time at the library, sometimes with my own chair. Enduring stares from the whisperers as I sat on my camp chair in the aisle of Target with little children all around me. Who does that? A highly motivated stay-at-Target-mom, that’s who.

But I could not validate myself. In pain. Out of pain. I was not enough. What I did was not enough. What I thought other people thought about what I did-- not enough. Ever, endless, non-validation.

Until I chose.

To even write this blog, I’ve had to choose that my life is valid. I choose to validate myself and what I do in the great wasteland of invalidation that is MomLife. Because honey, there are no gold stars here. (Though, to be honest, I have often secretly thought of making myself a gold star chart…) The only way to truly feel like SuperMom-- is to just claim it for myself. And weirdly, that actually works. For the first time, it works. And it works even when I’ve let go of so many commitments and obligations so that I can heal, meaning, I’m doing less than I was doing before. But with more joy and deliberateness.

And it was the only way I could choose healing. About a year ago, I committed (finally, good grief) that my health came first. Very first. For Reals. But the only way I could make that happen was to begin to let go of the validation from other people. All of those nameless, faceless, or named and faced, fellow humans that I believed had the time and energy to scrutinize my life and find me wanting, or not.

And the less and less I care about their validation, the happier I am. The more I get to choose SuperMom for me, even if nobody else happens to think so. It’s kind of Rad.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Pelvic Pain Series: Part 1

I’m telling you this so that you can know that it’s possible to be happy even when things aren’t perfect. Or, even if they really suck.

I cringe a little to think I’m coming up on another anniversary of “when the pain started”. I cringe because I always hoped I would be out of pain “by now”. And I’m not yet.

So I’m at almost nine years from when I started feeling pain. It just started one day out of the blue. I was doing all my mom stuff with little kiddos wanting to go out to ride bikes with all the little kiddos in the neighborhood. And I started feeling pelvic pain. Just a little at first.

I could just stop the story there. Because pelvic pain? Who wants to talk about that? Nobody. Including me. It’s just uncomfortable, talking about this unspeakable, clandestine part of the body. It’s one reason I’ve been hiding.

“Now I don’t really understand your wife’s health situation….?” well meaning, or perhaps just curious, people inquire of my husband. He’s become fiercely protective of me. And so, unflinchingly, he looks them in the eyes and says, “She has chronic pelvic pain,” and watches them blanch, glance away, and sidle off before they get too much more uncomfortable information. Nobody wants to talk about pelvic pain. He is a champion.

I’ve wondered sometimes what the difference is. Why I could say, “I have chronic elbow pain,” and it would be no big. Or I could say, “the reason I can’t walk is because of the pain in my toe,” and we could all accept it without blushing and live happily ever after.

But when someone sees you sitting in a little tripod camp chair in the fabric-cutting-line at Hobby Lobby at Christmastime, the last thing they want to hear in response to, “Great chair! I wish I had one! What made you think of that?” is “I have chronic pelvic pain and can’t stand up for more than a few minutes.” Guaranteed.

It’s a little weird to me how bitter I feel writing this right now, when in so many ways I’ve come to so much peace, happiness.

Maybe I feel bitter because I have let my own, and other people’s, social discomfort control me for a very long time. I have let my non-elbow, non-toe, pain become this dark secret. Like my pelvis is inherently bad. Why do we all feel uncomfortable talking about the seat of creation in our bodies? Why are some parts and pieces forbidden to address, to talk about, to accept as part of the great beautiful whole of our glorious bodies that our creator has blessed us with?

I don’t know. I just know that I’ve carried a secret, hiding, shame, about the area my physical pain is located in for many years now. And I’m so done. So here’s Part 1 of the Pelvic Pain Series. And I will continue to add to it. So I don’t have to hide anymore. And you don’t have to hide anymore. And how not hiding is part of being happy.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

hiding from the school bus

I was sailing along down the road two mornings ago. Had just dropped off one of my kids at school. I was listening to a book. And thinking about...a TV show. Yep. Nothing deep. Owning that. Suddenly there was a school bus in front of me that I was about to T-bone. I screeched the brakes, pulled to the right, and came to a stop at the curb of the intersection that the bus just galumphed through, unhesitatingly. I don’t think the driver saw me. Or maybe they are trained not to veer because they are the biggest, and a little car like mine would just be squashed.

I pulled into the parking lot on the corner to catch my breath.

I had almost run a stop sign. Into a school bus.

I have been learning for the last while about how you can store emotions in your body, and that they can make you sick, and have been spending considerable focus releasing trapped emotions in an effort to regain my health. I didn’t want these intense negative emotions that I was currently feeling to stick around, so instead of stuffing them down inside, or pushing them away, or numbing out with food or Netflix, I decided to feel them, and let them go.

I breathed deeply. What was I feeling? My heart was pounding with that ‘almost got into a wreck’ feeling. So much Shame, Guilt, Embarrassment. I mean, it was a school bus! I was feeling Anger. At me. Feeling Gratitude. That I didn’t actually hit it. And that my kids weren’t in the car to see their mom do something so stupid. Ah. Hiding. I wanted to hide this and never tell anyone about it.

Hiding is one of my Things. Hiding when the kitchen’s a mess, hiding that I don’t have the energy to do my makeup and hair some days. But, one of the purposes of this blog is to help me stop hiding. Hiding my lack of perfectness. Hiding my insights into behavior and healing. Hiding who I really am. To stop me from slipping away. Into nothingness. So I will at least write this post, even if I never post it.

I let the emotions come up, wash over and through me. I imagined a great hole in my middle that this river of emotions whooshed through. I let myself just sit and feel them. It was uncomfortable. And it was ok that it was uncomfortable. I let myself feel the discomfort. And breathed through it.

I connected with the light. And in my meditation prayed for the emotions to be released. Used my tools of releasing emotions. Sat there for probably 20 minutes. Breathing deeply through all of this. Until I felt a shift in my heart where I had felt such heaviness. So I think I let it go.

I’m feeling a little more heaviness now as I write, so I think I’ll check in with myself again to see if there is more for me to release.

This is exactly the opposite of how I have handled emotions for most of my adult life. I didn’t really have any tools for expressing emotions other than yelling, and I didn’t want to yell at people, so I mostly just stuffed all of my negative emotions down inside my body instead of releasing them, or talking through them. Until they became a great smoldering crockpot of yuck, simmering up on a high shelf I never looked at. I breathed shallowly so that I wouldn’t smell it.

At some point in my life, the shelf broke, and the crockpot came crashing down with all it’s blistering poison. And I finally had to start sorting through the things that were making my body sick. I know what it’s like to have a toxic crockpot.

A little at a time, I’m trying to build new patterns. And be gentle with myself when I revert to the old ones. Sometimes healing comes one step, one almost wreck, at a time.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

rethinking perfect

A few days ago I woke up from a nap at dinner time (still technically dinner time, right? People eat late in some places…) and  went to the kitchen to investigate dinner possibilities. I entered into the chaos of grocery bags filling the island, the table covered with projects, and the sink filled with dishes, children strewn across the house.


Earlier in my Mom Life I would have been either paralyzed by mommy guilt at the mess and lack of healthy dinner steaming at the table Leave it to Beaver style, or depressed and snippy in my martyrdom at having to first organize the mess to even get to the dinner prep.

But something in me was changing.


Did everything need to be hard? Was half the stuff in my life extra hard because I made it hard? With all my crazy unrealistic expectations? Did I make life grueling because the harder I worked the more worth I had?


I had been pondering these questions for a while now, and finally, things inside me were shifting.


No, I didn’t have to make this hard to prove my worth. No, I didn’t have to meet somebody else’s expectations of what dinner as a family needed to look like.


After all, I was The Mom!


That was actually huge for me to choose into. Most of the time I looked around in a panic thinking, “Wait! I’m The Mom??”


The Mom was supposed to know all answers to all questions. The Mom was to make all the right choices instinctively. The Mom was to maintain a lovely home full of lovely, clean, well-mannered children.


Sheesh. Talk about unrealistic expectations!


The Mom was the daunting perfection captured in the TV of yesteryear, seared unmercifully into my brain. Such a burden to live up to. Such a burden to know you’re not living up to.


But suddenly, here I am, a new The Mom. A The Mom that says, hey, we can love each other and enjoy each other without this having to look perfect right now.


So I put on a Brave playlist from my phone and started singing and dancing around the kitchen. (Yes, singing and dancing). And I squished the groceries over on the island, turned on the broiler,  and opened a bag of tortilla chips. One kid grated cheese and another opened a can of beans, and when the nachos were coming out from under the broiler I called to the kids in the the living room who were currently in a dog pile in the middle of the floor, to grab a blanket and spread it across the floor for our living room picnic.


So. Dang. Fun.


And guess what? Dishes and kitchen chores and blah blah blah all eventually got done after dinner.


But what I would have missed, if I had chosen into grouchy The Mom or blamey The Mom? I would have missed  questions about the peso compared to the dollar,  a recital of a school dance routine (very close to the beans…) and dad sharing a music video with significant lyrics from our life with our kids.


Would that have happened if I’d stepped into paralyzing, mommy guilting, martyrdom because it didn’t look perfect? No. It just wouldn’t have. I know. Because I’ve done it before a million times.


And now, I’m rethinking ‘perfect’.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

cramming

When I was in college I took French. Unfortunately, I had never learned to study a little every day.

French was a particularly difficult subject to cram. I simply couldn’t cram it all into my head the day before the test because at least part of the test was actually speaking in conversation. All my old cramming study tricks, like acronyms and such, didn’t help much when I actually had to converse. It takes daily memorization and daily outloud practicing dialog with another person to gain mastery over speaking a language.

Added to the ‘no cram factor’ was my real fear of not being perfect in dialog. When it came to dialoguing with another person in French, I could barely speak at all because I was so afraid to make a mistake. My accent was passable, I could read and basically understand what I read, and even what was spoken to me-- but I was terrified when I had to speak out loud for fear of getting it wrong in front of someone. I expected myself to be fluent before speaking.

So I went totally overboard when “extra credit” opportunities showed up. There was one time we had to give a presentation in front of the class. I knew this was my opportunity to utilize all other skills and creativity to boost my grade. For my presentation I acted as an M.C. for a French fashion show. I dressed super funky, and then dressed up roommates and friends and got them to come to my French class to walk across the room as models. I painted large impressionist-ish watercolor posters of fashions for the background. I used my clip board as part of my act to flamboyantly announce each new fresh face, though it really it was just a reference crutch for all the things I was supposed to say in French about each model and fashion. It was so over the top that my teacher just blinked.

I likely got every possible point to boost my grade. But when it was time for me to sit just one on one with him in the hallway, during the actual test, and have a short conversation in French where he asked me simple questions and I answered, and vice versa, I froze. I rarely even practiced dialoguing out loud with another person for fear of embarrassing myself by getting it wrong. When it was time to actually speak my own unrehearsed, unmemorized words without notes, I was paralyzed.

The deep fear of not being perfect has kept me from dialoguing with people for a long while. The fear of embarrassing myself. The fear of not saying it just right. The fear of making someone uncomfortable, of ruining my relationships by speaking up. Having that all crammed inside me has made me sick. Like a great simmering crock pot of unspokenness, that I periodically cram more things in.

I don’t mean I want to lash out and hurt people with my words. I don’t advocate hurting people. I mean being who I really am. Asking my questions. Having the courage to speak up. To speak my truth. To go big and get it wrong. To give myself space say one thing, evolve, and say another. To say what’s in my heart even if the way I say it, well, just sucks. To open my mouth anyway, and let the words tumble out because I can’t keep them inside perfectly anymore. I’d rather have them outside imperfectly. And gain mastery by actually speaking my language.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Source-validation

I realized it was more than self-validation. 

I thought I had come upon this fantastic, super effective way to finally fill the bottomless cup inside me. The bottomless cup that made me fight with my husband because he couldn't fill my dark void; that made me scream inside for validation while my sloshy words spilt across our relationship. 

Enter Self-Intervention. 
My mother, in her wise-woman wisdom, suggested I make my own lists of my sacrifices and my contributions. The ones the hand-wringing woman inside me wailed on and on about unabashedly--I normally keep her on a short leash, but she tragically broke free the other day and caused quite a stir.


Enter Epiphany. 
Lack of validation was making me feel 70% bad. But even perfectly worded validation from my husband would only make me feel 20% good. Meaning- he couldn't fix it. 

In other words, his validation couldn't fill me, no matter what he said. Sigh for me. Sigh for him. 

This epiphany made me eager to try out these lists. This was now about me, not about him. 

Enter Lists. 
Sacrifices. Contributions. I scribbled down the words. I connected with the Light before I started and asked My Maker for help. 

And more than an epiphany occurred. 

Sacrifices. I finished the list. There were big items. I read through the list. And sighed. But this time, a good, deep satisfied sigh. And an empty space inside me filled. Deep satisfaction flooded me. "Worth it," my Soul said to me. 

Contributions. I finished the list. It was long. I read through the list. And laughed. A bubble of joy. And Light flooded me. Deep, knowing Light. It filled me in a way that no other compliment or accolade ever had- because it stayed. Compliments and accolades faded like the last bite of a cookie that just made you want another. But not this Light. It was jubilant. Otherworldly. Steady. Independent. Like it would not matter if I never got complimented again because that once empty space had a no vacancy sign. And the wailing woman could finally rest. 

And I was like, "self-validation rocks!"

I walked around for a week talking about how this was the solution. 

But today I realized that it was more than self-validation. 

It was Source-Validation. 

I tried a couple more times to self-validate and it just sorta fell flat. "What is wrong with my miraculous solution," I wondered with a crinkled heart. 

I left out the miracle. 

My self-validation worked because I had connected to Source. Connected to the Light. Something Beyond me had helped with the miracle. That was what filled the dark space with Light as I read my sacrifices and contributions. It told me a True thing. 

And so the flooding of joy and satisfaction was not beyond me, but from Beyond me, and ever accessible.