Posts tagged ‘freedom’

December 6, 2011

The Gift of Permission

Your permission slipWhen I first considered what gift I’d like to give myself this year, permission was the first word to come to mind. What do I want permission for? To be more of a thriving creative force in the world. To do work that excites and fulfills me. To stop being critical of myself and seeing criticism in the words and actions of others. I am the only person who can give me permission for these things.

But why permission? There’s a formality to permission. A granting from an authoritative source. My generation, and those before it, have been trained deeply to look to an authority, someone who knows a great deal about a subject, someone who others also look to for information and guidance in that area. And the fact is that you are the best and absolute authority on you. Only you know your private thoughts and your inner workings. Only you truly know your greatest joys and fears. Only you know what is best for you.

Granting yourself permission is not only allowing yourself that thing that you want, it is declaring authority over your own life. There is no single more powerful thing you can do for yourself. Even if today you’re only granting yourself permission to take a walk in the woods, an extra long hot bath, or half an hour to release your inner artist. Giving yourself permission is empowerment.

So, what will you give yourself permission for today? For the holidays? For the new year and the rest of your life? Let me know in the comments!  Do you know someone who would benefit from giving themselves this gift?  Share the love. (links are right below!)

Advertisements
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? 

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!

December 31, 2010

Happy New Year… some changes and a freebie

Last day of the year.  I’d love to write something deep and profound today (or okay, how about thoughtful and uplifting? That may be more within my range) but I’m not exactly feeling it.  I have some wonderful plans I’m eager to get on with- but I do have promises I’d like to fulfill first.

 So, I assume you’ve noticed the new look.  Maybe you’ve noticed the new tagline.  Maybe you’ve even noticed my slight change of focus and the new page tab up above.

 I began this blog intending my writing to be attachment parenting based ideas for mothers (and dads) to explore their lives as whole beings- while still being a parent.  I think what I’m writing now still applies in that context, but to be honest, I was feeling that twisting everything into being about life with children wasn’t authentic to me.  I am a mom and that is a part of me that will continue to be represented, however the ideas that are coming through my pen lately aren’t specific to parents.  They’re applicable to anyone.

 So, from here on out I’m writing what I am inspired to write.  It may be parenting related, it may be about living in freedom, and it will surely be about freeing ourselves from assumptions, thoughts and beliefs that aren’t serving us.  It will be about living joyfully and accepting ourselves completely, whoever we are and whatever roles we fill.  And it may be about integrating those roles in our lives.  I may also discover more things I’m compelled to write about.  I’ll write what I need to write, because I know that desire is there for a reason beyond myself.  I’ll write more about the new tagline after the new year. 

 What I’m also launching today is my life coaching practice.  I’ve been training with Martha Beck and her wonderful, amazing, master certified coaches since September.  It’s been a truly wonderful experience and I absolutely love everything I’m learning and doing with the program.  But it’s time for me to step out and make use of all that I’ve learned, practiced, will continue to learn.  Thankfully it comes to me more easily and joyfully than just about anything I’ve ever experienced (hmmm…I think I can compare it to reading- which I find absolutely effortless and joyful!).  You’ll notice there’s a “life coaching” tab at the top of the page.  There is where you’ll find some more of my thoughts about coaching and find out how you can work with me for 8 sessions with no cost.  A freebie.  A really cool one, if I say so myself.  And I great way to start the new year, with support for living the life of your dreams. 

 Now I’ve got my favorite man asking me out to lunch and to go shopping- so I’ll leave you with wishes for a very happy and fulfilling new year.  I look forward to serving you,

 Lesley

 ps.  today’s photo is the vision board I created at the start of my training when it was suggested as a way of defining what we wanted to create in our lives and coaching practices – I love seeing it everyday as a reminder of where I am going

December 29, 2010

Respecting darkness

Some poor choices today brought me a bit closer to this subject than I like, however most fortunately  I wrote this a few days ago.  I’m making this post late for that reason, but also because I was busy making up for lost sleep, cooking delicious belgian waffles, helping look up hints for Lego Harry Potter, and making sure we had toilet paper.  And, well, eating too much leftover candy…

Enjoy, comment, share, subscribe… another post tomorrow, but especially don’t forget to check in on Friday!

With the darkest part of the year just behind us, I want to reflect on loving and accepting the darkness within ourselves.  I’m surprised to see how little this is addressed, seeing how even the most optimistic among us at least occasionally have a rough day, or an experience that challenges our positive outlook.  And even more so, seeing how many people seem to go through life with a distinct desire, or a persistent habit, of focusing on the negative- to always find what is wrong, rather than what is right.  There was a time in my life when I actually felt pride in being a pessimist.  I thought “I might not be happy, but at least I’m aware”.  It surely wasn’t the happiest period of my life, but it also wasn’t the worst. 

 I’ve always respected darkness, and for a long period of my life I respected the dark and heavy places within myself.  This was during my pessimist period, but it was also partially during a time when darkness seemed inevitable to me.  I was a minor and didn’t yet have the freedom to fully choose my direction or my everyday activities (which are what move us in a direction).  I accepted what came out of that- I was angry and I expressed it in what I hoped were creative and productive ways.  I developed a place within myself where I honored the anger and lack of freedom- my own and that of others.  Being highly empathic, I picked up on others’ frustrations- and believe me, many of theirs were much more difficult to bear than my own- and I held them, saw them, and recognized their rightness and their beauty.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I recognized the rightness and beauty of the dark places within us where there is pain and anger and fear.

 Fast forward fifteen years or so to a life where I was no longer denied the freedom of self-determination simply for being young.  This was a life that was nearly everything I’d ever dreamed; an incredibly supportive and loving husband, 3 beautiful, healthy, unique, wonderful children, and the financial resources to allow us to live a bit more than modestly while I stayed home with the kids to support their curiosity, empowerment and freedom.   Here I was with everything I always wanted, yet struggling against my dark places- mostly pain and fear, but also some anger.  Most of it was old, some of it newer, and almost all of it aimed at myself.  What right did I have- a woman of freedom, intelligence, good fortune and privilege- to be entertaining any of these dark feelings, or to even possess dark places within myself?  My life should have been all positive energy, gratitude, light and love, right?  I had no right to darkness in my world full of freedom, love and comfort.

 But there it was, all the same.  *This* was the worst time in my life.  So I did what I could to make it go away.  I numbed- with food, with distractions (Zuma, anyone?), even with complaints and blame- reaching outside myself to look for the solution to make the darkness go away.  It didn’t work.  As I came to learn from my experience, and recently found words for in the brilliant work of Brene Brown, a shame researcher, numbing can’t be done selectively.  When we numb our pain, fear and shame we also numb our delight, excitement, interest and gratefulness.

 So, what to do with that darkness?  We all have some of it.  Some of us, at times, carry it around like a dark cloud or the weight of the world, like Atlas.  Oh boy, have I done that.  I think I was a frequent, long term visitor to that place with the t-shirts to prove it (you know, the ones that are the size of a child’s tent, covered in stains and dotted with holes?).  And we carry this weight and try to pretend we’re not standing in the cold rain being crushed to death as we smile and look for the positive.  We already know that doesn’t help.  So, alternatives?

 I suggest that we find the place I did when I was an angry teen- the place where we recognize that as much as we’d like to *not* feel those feelings, they’re there.  They won’t go away until we honor their presence and give them our love and respect.  Those dark places hold energy and power that we can use to draw ourselves out from under the clouds.

 I’m not suggesting that it’s good to repeat our stories ad nauseum- usually that’s a way of avoidance through blame (ie. complaining).  I’m also not saying we should act out these feelings and dark thoughts.  If one is feeling any serious urge to act harmfully or violently towards another living being, self included, that’s where some professional psychological help is vital.  But we can feel, honor and express our fear, our pain and our anger in ways that release the energy and free us.  I think everyone may be different here, but I’ve found much of this release through physical activity, music, art and occasionally a good hard cry.  (Any other suggestions?).Once the energy is released we can recognize the beauty and importance of our darkness- giving it the love and respect it deserves as our strongest and most effective guidance system, showing us that somewhere we are numbing or suppressing or hiding from vital parts of ourselves.  Then we can turn towards the light of what is calling us forward. 

 In both darkness and light,

Lesley

October 21, 2010

You are enough

I’ve been having a hard time getting motivated to write lately.  It’s not that I don’t have things to say.  I have nearly 2 pages written that I intended as last week’s post- about bullying and about loving & supporting teens where they are, for who they are, and making things better here and now for those who are hurting.    I haven’t finished it.  And I haven’t even sat down to allow the muse to carry me off into “Writingland”, or whatever I was trying to do when I made myself sit down to write every day. 

 I think I know why.  I was feeling inadequate.  It actually makes me want to laugh to realize this.  Here I am, wanting to encourage people to be entirely themselves because it’s the best thing they have to give to the world and the best thing to promote their own joy.  But I’m not accepting myself as enough. 

 I was getting caught up in the shoulds of writing, blogging, preparing to start a business, living healthfully- and even the shoulds of keeping clear intentions for myself and creating my life.  It’s funny how I can use anything as a weapon against myself (and I don’t think I’m alone here). Somehow, even in focusing on what I want in my life, I lost sight of those very things.  I was doing what I thought would bring me joy, would feel like freedom and result in happiness instead of doing things that are joyful, acting in ways that feel free and embracing happiness.  And being just me- whoever that is in the moment- is enough.  That *is* my path to what I want and need in my life.  It *is* my life. 

 Now, it’s not like I’m going to leave my kids hungry because I don’t feel like making dinner (see my last post…), but I can choose to leave behind the shoulds and the driven-ness, focus on the joy and move in that direction.  It feels so much better than berating myself for not following the plan that worked for me last month.  That was then, this is now. 

 My point, however, is that I didn’t lose my motivation because I’m inadequate.  I lost motivation because my true self moved beyond that particular set of externals- the particular form of daily schedule and the set of priorities that had been working for me previously.  I think this is something many of us are in the habit of doing.  When something external in our lives is no longer working, we come to the conclusion that we are the factor that is defective.  So if we can just be better, more disciplined, more driven, more focused then the problem would be solved.  Yuck.  I’m getting depressed just thinking about it. 

 What happens when we realize that we aren’t defective?  How does that idea feel?  Here is where we can find the freedom to examine our thoughts about the things we think we have to do.  If my goal is to feel joy, freedom and happiness, why do I feel compelled to do things that feel constricting?  Because they’ll bring me joy, freedom and happiness at some point in the future, even if they aren’t joyful or freeing now?  Maybe those things don’t feel constricting, and do feel joyful and free, once I realize that they fit with my deepest values and truth.  Or maybe they’re simply things that others have said are the path to joy, freedom and happiness.  Maybe they don’t apply to my life.  And then I can open up to alternatives and allow my joy and feelings of freedom to guide me to a more satisfying place. 

 The simple fact is that I far from inadequate.  I have everything I need within me to create a life of joy and embrace my happiness.  I am enough.  And I’m sharing my own path very openly to remind you as well.  Your answers are within yourself.  You are not defective or inadequate.  You are enough.

October 8, 2010

A bit about living the family life you want…

I’ve been experiencing some interesting shifts in my life over the past few weeks.  I’ve taken on a couple of new roles- my first job in 11 years (seriously) and beginning the Martha Beck Life Coach Training program.  The job is simply the result of leaving nursing school and realizing that I’m going to have to pay my student loans soon.  I work in a bookstore and it’s kind of fun and I get a good discount.  It’s a total “kid in a candy store” experience.  Coach training? I’m not sure I can entirely explain that bit of brilliant insanity.  Or at least the story is too long, but regardless of explanation, I *LOVE* it.  I can officially call myself a Martha Beck Coach in Training.  And it officially feels really funny to do that.  I will be looking for guinea pigs  clients soon and will be offering some free coaching, so keep your eyes out for an announcement.  I’ve found life coaching to be a very powerful transformative tool- transformative in the sense that one’s deepest self is honored and given voice.  Moving on…

 Maybe it’s the effect of reading all of Martha Beck’s coaching books in quick succession, or immersing myself in the training materials and classes, or that my life and entire extended family has been shaken soundly by the loss of a much loved family member, or that I’ve taken a job with varying hours so that I need to be more fluid with my regular schedule of activities (or, or, or…AND?)- but I’ve been experiencing the sort of soul deep tiredness I can only recall feeling during early pregnancy.  No, I’m definitely not growing a baby.  But I think I’m growing something new.  New awareness, new connectedness, new possibilities.  It is this soul deep tiredness that resulted in the lack of a post last week- and why this post is not going to be my usual planned,  thought out, and edited until I can live with it sort of thing. 

 What I want to write about in this moment is the power of simply showing up and doing what needs to be done.  Doing the things that ultimately create the life you want, even when in the moment you are feeling utter exhaustion, mild aversion, or even stark indifference, is one way to honor your self and your intentions.  Right now it’s tempting to go back to bed, even though it’s 1pm and I have to go to work in a few hours.  But it is also my strong intention to write and I haven’t done much writing in the past 2 weeks.  It is time to get back to it (says my essential self), so here I am.  Not doing it well, but I’m doing it.  I’m respecting my intention and giving myself the opportunity to be who I want to be. 

 So, how else can I apply this to my life?  And how can you apply this to your own?  And where does this fit in with living among others, and particularly living with our children?  For me this starts with my intention- who I want to be, the life I want to live, and how I want to feel.  Personally I have some strong intentions when it comes to how I live with my family.  I intend to have deep connections, to be supportive and loving, and to embrace every member of my family for exactly who they are.  The thing is, I can intend these ideals as much as I like, however if I do not follow through with the actions that embody these intentions, I’m not likely to have the experience that I intend.  The exact specific actions to live these intentions may sometimes be unclear- as five distinct individuals, each member of my family connects in a different way and feels supported and loved in different ways- but there are some general, across the boards ways of learning about one another.  The ones that are coming to mind at the moment are receptive listening, open ended questions, and simply doing things together. 

 I’ll be bluntly honest and admit that I don’t always feel up to doing things together and that when I’m tired I’m exceptionally challenged in the area of listening or even tolerating sound of any kind.  It’s a sensory issue- when I’m tired any auditory stimulation bores into my brain like a drill.  I’m breathing deeply right now as my daughter is in the next room humming loudly.  I value her free expression and I’m perfectly free to grab a pair of earplugs or shut the door.  I’m choosing to enjoy her enthusiasm.  My head is buzzing, but I feel wonderful in that I’m living my intention- I am embracing her bigness and her noisiness as she feels happy.  Wait a minute- I want to go give her a hug.  Okay, done. Are there other ways I could respect both her expression and my own limitations?  Sure there are.  But at this moment I’m choosing my intention over my momentary desire to close the door, climb in bed and put a pillow over my head.  At other times I might simply let the kids know I need a nap and take one.  But at this moment I’m also following my intention by continuing to write. 

 Earlier this week, I was feeling the same way and the kids wanted to play some games.  We played.  We talked about strategy and problem solving as these ideas came up.  We moved on to other games and watched a movie together- which got us talking about history and communication and how people interact.  I was tired, but I was also living my intention.  We connected deeply and I got to know who my children are at this point in  time.  It changes, flows and shifts so frequently.  I supported their desire to connect and do some fun activities.  Am I sorry I didn’t get more sleep?  No, not at all.  I was relaxed and fairly at rest the whole time.  It was good for me- by connecting with my children and connecting with my intention for our lives together I also connected to my own essential self. 

 I’m not going to clean this up and end it neatly, or even really edit it at all (if you hadn’t already guessed by the very unpolished title)…. I’ll just ask a couple questions.  Where are you, today, in this moment, choosing a momentary desire over a deeper intention?  And how might your life be different if you chose to live your intention instead?

%d bloggers like this: