Posts tagged ‘peace’

June 10, 2011

Peace, Reactivity and Auto Repair

A few months ago I wrote about Being Peace, fully intending to write a follow up.  That follow up didn’t come to me right away.  But in the events of my life this week I’ve found even more to consider with the concept of being peace.

We’ve been road tripping this week- me and my girls.  Drove from SC to PA in one day and we’ve been hanging out at my parents since then.  Yesterday morning I noticed that I was feeling on edge.  Potentially reactive.  Score one for awareness.  I noticed.  I breathed.  I recognized that with the changes in our routine the girls and I were all a bit off kilter.  I got creative- even if “creative” simply meant creating a plan to run with for the day.  Noticing, breathing, moving on with the day.  It was good.  My older daughter and I went to run some errands.  It was a hot, hot day.  The air conditioning in the van wasn’t quite cutting it.  Hmmm.  Service Engine Soon light on.  Hmmm.  Observe.  Turn off the air.  Turn it back on.  Hmmm.

I’ll be completely honest.  At this point I could feel the panic beginning to well up.  It would be so easy to go into full blown hyper-freakout, where I can’t think clearly and have no patience or tolerance of any other requests, challenges, or needs.  I’m over 600 miles from home.  My van is my freedom.  I have plans to be in NY in 3 days.  How much is this going to cost and how much will I have to change my plans to pay for it?  Do I have the money?  Can I get it fixed soon, or will I need to rent a car?  Do I have the money for that?  Will I have to arrive late at conference?  How can I write when I’m feeling this tied up? I have writing to do!  AAAAARRRRRRRHHHHHHHGGGGGGHHHHH!  This was once my default setting.  Playing the “what if’s” into a nasty hairy thing- a big jumbled, twisted, knotted ball of awful that tends to sit right in the center of my body.   I need to shake it off just thinking about it.  And I did still have some of these thoughts.  Okay, all of these thoughts.  Even though some of them aren’t even real problems.

But I didn’t go into freakout mode.  I kept breathing.  I kept asking myself “what’s the next logical step to take?”.  I breathed.  I didn’t avoid my feelings.  I looked them straight in the… well….whatever part of feelings you look them in.  Yep.  There they are.  What next?  I didn’t waste any energy trying to make them go away.  I didn’t stuff my face (not sayin’ a piece of chocolate wouldn’t be nice!).  I didn’t yell at anyone.  I played a minimum of mindless computer games (okay, I do have a Solitaire habit that’s rather unfortunate).  I didn’t break out a bottle of wine.  I didn’t blame anyone or anything- didn’t get angry at myself, or my van, or anyone else.   I didn’t complain.  Or at least I don’t think I did.  But I probably drove my mom nuts with my thinking out lout.  I made some phone calls. I did some research.  I bought some fluids and parts and tinkered.  I was thankful for my van, for internet car repair message boards, for cheap auto parts and good mechanics.  Did some more research.  Made some more phone calls.  Went to a mechanic.

My van is safely operable, for now.  The permanent repair is set up for when I get back from NY.  I am feeling a great deal of relief.  And I’m also feeling thankful for this experience.  The repair itself is irrelevant.  I found out a lot about holding my own place of peace- the place of peace where I can see and observe my thoughts and feelings, accept them and even embrace them.  I avoided reactivity- which prevented much distress for myself and those around me.  As a mamma, as the one my children calibrate their emotional scales to as the underlying mood setter, that’s very important.  When I keep my peace, I help create peace.  Not once did I fall into the easy trap of “why does this stuff always happen to me?”.   Which is big.  Ultimately because it’s not true.  But also because the further I fall down that rabbit hole, the worse I feel, the more negative of a mood I set, and the less likely I am to see the good that is happening in my life.  And the less likely it is that my children will be able to see the good that is in their lives.

And so I’m left thankful and peaceful and looking forward to my time in NY among one of my favorite tribes, connecting with my amazing girls.  And looking forward to getting my car repaired… for probably only the second time in my life.  Pretty effing cool.

Until next time,

Lesley

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June 3, 2011

The Last-Minute Rock Star

At the moment I’m preparing for a road trip that will take me from SC to PA to NY and back again in the space of two weeks.  In my mind, someone who is truly great at this sort of thing would have a comprehensive checklist prepared, have a detailed to-do written (at least mentally) and would have had all the items that aren’t necessary to everyday life packed and ready to go by now- the minivan clean and maintained and ready to roll, home tasks that need completion before leaving nearly up to date and be ready to simply, calmly and joyfully put the stuff in the van and leave when the time comes.  Oh, and they’d definitely have the conference talk they’re giving in less than 2 weeks at least in a completed rough draft state.

My experience of this process is rarely anything like this.  Usually I experience a combination of procrastination and panic, with an underlying and continuous monologue of reprimands and reminders of how insufficient I am and how I’m doing it all wrong and how much of a loser I must be for not just doing the freaking stuff that needs doing, that culminates in me yelling at everyone to “just get the *&%$#! out of my way so I can get this stuff done and get at least a few hours sleep!” at about 11pm the night before we are planning a 5am departure.  Not an ideal situation, in my personal opinion- especially when I do not function well on less than 8 or 9 hours of sleep.  Any wonder last year’s incarnation of this trip had us all craning our necks along the highway to find a Starbucks? (when, of course, a green smoothie would be MUCH more of a help!)

So in the midst of my procrastination and panic this week I decided to do a little self-coaching on this subject.  In the process I remembered that I am a last minute person.  I function well doing things last minute and I rarely fall short of my own expectations no matter how much I’ve delayed and put off.  I recognized that what I dislike most about my usual pattern is not my last-minute nature, but the lack of trust I hold that I CAN do what’s needed in the time I have (I’m amazingly efficient when I’m motivated- a great illustration that tasks take as much time as we allow them!) and my lack of calm and peace in the process.  I don’t like being unkind to my family.  And I’m downright afraid of how unkind I can be to myself.  My “deer in the headlights” feelings of panic and inability to act are mostly about how much I’ll berate myself as I’m losing much needed sleep and yelling and then trying to fuel myself on sugar and caffeine.

I’ve decided that this year, I’ll prepare for our road trip in the usual way- acting as I feel the motivation.  Except this time, I’m choosing to trust in the fact that I always get it done.  I’m going to trust that I can do this calmly and without yelling at anyone, or mentally abusing myself.  I am going to invest in my well-being by saying no to others’ requests of my time and attention when they don’t align with my goal of a peaceful and calm packing process and departure.  Many of my children’s requests WILL align with this goal- they’re as excited about this trip as I am, maybe even more!  Some of them might not.  But I can feel good saying “yes, but not right now” knowing that we all benefit from peace and calm and trust that everything works out.  Ultimately, I’m going to step up and be a last-minute road trip rock star- flipping the bird at the reptilian voice in my head that is not really me, but an amalgamation of cultural expectations and past criticism that I’ve allowed to remain.  I’ll be kind and loving and roll on the wave of adrenaline I get when the time comes.  I’ll enjoy it.  I’m actually pretty great at this last minute stuff.  Time to own it.  Time to rock my last-minute capabilities and evolve them to a more peaceful and loving place.

So anyway, take what you can from this story and apply it to your own life.  Where do you berate yourself for being who you are, and what is the real problem with the situation?  How might a different thought change what you do and how you do it?  How can you be the rock star of who you are and bring it?

I’m off to do what I’m inspired to do today- just like I was inspired to write this post.  Rock on and let your stars shine!

Lesley

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

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