Archive for January, 2011

January 21, 2011

Illusions

I’m recycling an old post of mine from an email list this week- edited slightly to make some kind of  sense separate from the conversation.  I’m just tired and decided that rest is my priority at the moment.  And I sort of like this piece of writing.  My apologies if you’ve seen it before, and many thanks to anyone I was paraphrasing in the original (much much love to my shiny peeps!).  Have a lovely, restful, joyful, wonderful week everyone!

For years I have been trying to find the way to truly feel and embrace and embody the kind of parent I have wanted to be.  But knowing something and living it are two very different things.  I struggled, I strived, I read, I thought- and I think I know what was missing through all of it.  *I* was missing.  I think a lot of Moms who are drawn to gentle, connected parenting are those who are “pleasers” by nature or circumstance.  We want everyone in our lives, particularly those we love, to be happy.  We want to support their happiness, we want to help fulfill their needs, but we forget that we also have needs and desires and sometimes want support for our own happiness. 

 In the mainstream this so often turns into a rigid “I need to have my needs met, to hell with yours” (and I have seen this approach taken on by parents who began with the intention to be kind, gentle, loving and connected and then burnt out because they’ve ignored their own needs for so long).  This is often aimed at children, particularly infants, but it permeates interactions with everyone in their lives.  I think for those of us who have chose NOT to take that route, it so often results in carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Often this leads to a sort of under the radar blaming energy- the martyr role- which creates a repeating cycle.

 It really was only in the past few years that I realized that it is not my job, or purpose in life, to make the people I love happy.  As it’s quite literally impossible to MAKE someone happy- happiness is entirely an inside job.  This puts pressure on everyone.  (if my job is to make you happy, your job is to be happy, NOW DO YOUR JOB!) Then it becomes a blame/guilt/shame cycle.  I have finally learned that to support and uplift and be there for those I love does not mean “make them happy”- and I think many moms in this cycle misinterpret the idea of connected, supportive parenting in this way. 

 To support and uplift and be there for those I love means I create a foundation.  I am strong and clear and loving and kind.  And to do that, I need to make sure MY needs are met.  Back to what I said before- this does not mean “I have needs, screw yours”- it means that to be of any use to anyone, to be able to serve our children and the world in the best way we can (which does not mean “making them happy”) we need to be well cared for- and we need to do this ourselves. 

 We need to be happy and be gentle with ourselves, get enough sleep and physical activity and nourishment (both the physical and dare I say “spiritual” kind).  We need to nurture our own connection to our wise selves- not to the exclusion of others, but to the benefit of others.  The love we send out to the world is diminished if we are not already saturated in it ourselves- self-love, self-care.  It’s like the concrete that creates a strong foundation for a building- it allows us to then support and uplift those we choose to carry with us. 

 Maybe those of us who are strongly left brained are more prone to this – not automatically connecting these things, because they exist in the more feeling realm? (I consider myself strongly integrated brain-wise- but usually my initial processing, my default processing is left brained- logical and linear)  We carry the weight (sometimes quite literally- or at least in my case- and I think there’s a huge connection between these revelations and the healing path I am on now- I am both literally and figuratively letting go of the weight that’s holding me down *updated note- I did begin a personal wellness journal blog this week, which can be found here)- and it’s not something you can learn, I think, from a “thinking place”- it’s a “feeling place” thing. 

 And it does come down to honoring and accepting, recognizing and feeling what you are feeling- walking away from those mental constructs we create because we’re so AFRAID of what those feelings might do to us- that they might be too much.  I used to think I was flawed because I couldn’t just “get over it”.  And that’s pretty much the opposite of validation.  Not validating our own feelings makes it awfully challenging, if not impossible to validate anyone else’s.  And when you’re busy trying to “get over it” the kids’ joy and silliness can’t even reach you- the self-invalidation is like an invisible wall- like an awful version of casting a “protego” charm around yourself and living inside it- separated from everyone and everything else by an invisible force field.  Sure, nothing can hurt you, but nothing can touch you either. 

 I’ve known for a while I was one of those people- one of the “try-ers”- but have been at a loss how to get out from under that cloud, that weight, the burden of Atlas- which is something like “Hey, I’m barely avoiding being crushed over here- I’m okay with it, really- I’m smiling- but please don’t be unhappy because then this will actually crush me as I try to help you”.  I’ve had to make a significant investment in myself- to heal, to trust, to rest, to feel.  And hey, it turns out that the world I was carrying around- it was a movie prop- an illusion- it was pretty darned heavy, but I was never actually in danger of being crushed- just seemed that way.

p.s. can you find the teenager in the photo? 

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January 14, 2011

Being Peace (part one)

I’m doing something out of the ordinary here and writing just off the top of my head, though I’ll admit to throwing some ideas into my journal earlier this week.  My greatest accomplishment since my last post is surviving the virus that passed through my household with a minimum of complaint- though it wore me down to the point where I could no longer keep optimistically stating that I’d probably feel better tomorrow (as I did for 3 days) and settled on “I know I’ll feel better eventually” and decided to simply hang in there the best I could with my boxes of tissues and the ability to order and read books on my phone.  And read I did, since I couldn’t even sleep.  A few weeks ago, way back in 2010,  my friend Ruth mentioned The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins to me- stating that they were the best books she’d read all year.  I agree.  But being a whole 2 weeks into the year, my statement doesn’t mean as much.  I’m guessing that they may still be the best books I will read this year.  They are also profoundly sad.  And inspiring. 

 What has been inspired within me, from reading this trilogy, is a desire for peace and freedom for all but also knowing that peace and freedom are an inside job.  We can’t live violently and expect peace.  We can’t hold ourselves or others back and have freedom.  Yet in so many ways we live violent and captive lives.  I’m not talking about outward physical, active violence and captivity.  Most of us are not gunning down 9 year old children outside supermarkets or keeping someone locked in the basement (okay, I honestly hope no one who reads my blog is doing these things…if you are, please go turn yourself in to the authorities and get some psychiatric help).  And though there are much more subtle forms of active violence against one another, particularly against children, I’m not going to discuss those today.  What I’m going to talk about are subtle, non-active forms of violence. 

 Violence takes place when we don’t step in to protect someone who is being hurt, when we ignore suffering that is within our power to relieve, and when we hold on to anger or hatred.  This is the kind of violence that takes place within ourselves and often, against ourselves.  A friend has a bumper sticker that reads “World Peace Begins at Home: Be Nicer to Your Kids”, and I completely agree with the sentiment, however I think that ultimately we could say “World Peace Begins Within: Be Nicer to Yourself”.  And while fine things, good food and enjoyable experiences are all perfectly good ways to express appreciation to yourself, they are superficial.  If you don’t actually feel love and appreciation for yourself and are treating yourself with violence through self-criticism and cutting inner dialogue, those superficial things are like an abusive parent giving a child a toy to make up for the bruises.  They are a distraction from self-inflicted pain.

 Every time we tell ourselves we are stupid, ugly, worthless, inferior….pick your poison…we are inflicting violence against ourselves.  When we hold on to anger and hatred, no matter who those thoughts are aimed towards, we are inflicting violence upon ourselves.  It’s pretty easy to illustrate the impact they have on our lives by making us feel stressed, contracted, unable to relax, and how those things create some negative results in our behavior and our lives.  Helping people work through all of that is what I do.  What I have been considering for the past few hours is how we can turn around this self-inflicted violence through our inner dialogue.  How we can be peace.  But that, my friends, is for another day.  I have some ideas swirling, concepts connecting, reticulating splines (oh, wait, no… that’s my daughter’s Sims game…) and I’ll reconnect them here at a later time.

 Until then…Peace.

 Lesley

p.s. – if you enjoyed this post, please share via the links below.  Thanks!

January 5, 2011

Immerse: to engage wholly or deeply, to devote (oneself) fully

One of my intentions this year is to post weekly to this blog.  To support this intention I’m joining in the WordPress Post a Week 2001 challenge.  I’m taking this as an opportunity to more fully practice imperfection as well as to, of course, immerse myself in this process.

From the depths,

Lesley

I want to more fully define this term and what it means here.  The title above is not a strict definition.  It’s cobbled together from several I found online, as well as from my own thoughts- as is everything that follows.  Immerse is my word of the year for 2011, (link) and it has become a key element in the focus of my work (yep, there it is in the tagline).  Right now I’m completely in love with this word and it’s implications in living a life without limits, a life where I am here and completely devoted to being present, digging in, and bringing my whole self to my actions.  It makes my heart beat faster and I start smiling uncontrollably when I think about it.

 On one level, immersion is about throwing myself completely into whatever I’m doing in the moment- whether that’s writing, playing with my children, eating dinner or taking a nap.  It’s like presence and mindfulness, but in a very physical way.  Being immersed is very difficult when you’re up in your mind thinking about being mindful.  Being immersed engages all the senses and opens up a 360° awareness of what is around you. 

 But to immerse does not simply mean this.  I’m a bit of a word geek- so as I was looking up the definition I was curious about it’s history.  It comes from middle english meaning “embedded deeply” coming from latin roots that mean something like “to merge into”.  To immerse, for me, means to merge into the life you are creating for yourself.   It also means merging your *self* back into your life.  A few years ago I was living my life simply going through the motions.  I was physically there and in action- but my *self* was elsewhere.  I’ve rejoined my life, but I’ve learned how it becomes easy to simply being functioning on auto-pilot and allowing the delicious parts of life to drift away.  Immersion is the act of reuniting the self into a whole and remaining whole.  Being deeply and fully involved in your life in every way.

 Immerse means to surround yourself completely in your hopes, dreams, ideas and the actions you are taking to bring them to life.  You can do this within your work, your art, your family, your relationships.  You can also do this within your self; making sure that you have everything you need to be fully present.  This means delicious, nourishing food, joyful movement, deep rest, creative expression, uplifting connection with others and quiet insightful time for connecting with yourself. 

 Immerse: to engage wholly or deeply, to devote yourself fully.  Today I am choosing to immerse myself in my family, my work, my creativity, and in my well-being.  There is joy in simply devoting yourself fully and engaging deeply.  Where will you immerse yourself?

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