Saturday, January 16, 2016

Emptiness

My emptiness
I cultivate
So that I can be filled
With Universal truths

But if my emptiness
Shifts
From simple vacancy
To an emotional hollow
Instead of being filled with truths
I am filled with sadness

So I try to let go
Of feeling
Because feeling
Causes the hollow

Yet my feeling
Is connected
To my memories
And some memories
I am not ready
To release

So here I am
Sitting with my emptiness
And wondering
If sadness
Is my Universal truth

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Release

4:10 a.m.

As part of my ongoing quest for personal growth and enlightenment, I am part of an online community where the moderator posed the question, "Got a WORD for 2016?"  Without really thinking on it very deeply, I commented "Release".

So here I am, two weeks into the New Year, and I've got so much NOISE in my brain I can't for the life of me get back to sleep.  On a day when I really, really wanted more than three hours.  I'm thinking to myself, "This is awful!  What can I do to fix this?  How can I get to sleep?".  And my answer comes to me softly, like a whisper, "release" and then (when I ignore it) loudly, insistent..."RELEASE!".

Oh, okay.  So I haven't blogged in quite a while actually.  This happens when I allow life to carry me away, which clearly I have done.  Blogging is my release.  No wonder my brain is so clogged.

It's possible I have been afraid to release all that has been inhabiting my brain as of late.  One part fear of being vulnerable, one part fear of opening the floodgates, one part fear of the unknown (there's so much up there I'm not even sure what will come out!) and one part exhaustion (two parts exhaustion?).  

I chose "release" for my word for 2016 because I need to let go, of A LOT.  But "let go" is two words.  I could have gone with "dismiss" I suppose, but that's not exactly the right sentiment.  I want to feel, process and then let go.  So I think release is a good fit.

There is one thing I wanted to blog about earlier in the week but never found time to do.  So I guess I should start there.

Nexen loves to watch "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood".  It's actually a really great show for toddlers as it teaches a lot about how to deal with day to day toddler life in a fun and productive way.  There's an episode about going to school featuring the song "Grownups Come Back" which made a huge difference our day care drop offs.  This particular episode is about "Thank You Day" which, as you could guess, is about gratitude.  So there's a song which goes, "Thank you, for everything you do...thank you for (fill in the blank).  


At bedtime, Nexen starts singing the Thank You song and inserts things like, "Thank you for playing with me." and "Thank you for making me lunch."  But then he says, "Thank you for letting me cry." and "Thank you for letting me say no." and he repeats these two over and over again about 5 times.  So I find this interesting on a couple of levels.  First, he's noticed there are people who don't like for him to cry, and he clearly doesn't like the way that feels.  Or at least, he can appreciate the difference when I allow him to do so.  Second, there are people who don't allow him to say no.  This one is a little harder for me to figure out but I suppose it is about honoring his voice.

Certainly I don't capitulate each time he says no to something but I also am careful to choose my battles and try to foster a feeling of control over his choices.  I know a lot of adults (myself included) who have a lot of difficulty making decisions in their lives.  I suspect this can often be traced back to a lack of practice and opportunity to make one's own choices as they are growing-up and/or a general lack of respect for the child's choice when voiced.  Or the feeling of their voice/opinion not mattering because it is always overridden anyway.

Anyway that was an interesting happening in the life of child rearing that I'd wanted to memorialize and now I have completed that task.  My brain does, in fact, feel slightly less full.  Not sure that I could get to sleep yet though...still a lot up there.

So lets go back to what I need to release.  A number of things come to mind immediately.  Guilt.  Expectations.  Self-judgment.  Self-loathing.  Idealized "family".  That should be a good start.

1.  Guilt

I carry so much guilt I'm not sure how I even walk around half the time.  I feel guilty for pretty much everything I do.  I feel guilty if I sleep too much.  I feel guilty if I don't sleep enough.  I feel guilty if I eat too much.  I feel guilty if I take up too much space on public transportation or even just on the sidewalk (I'm usually toting at least two bags and two children, commonly a stroller, etc.).  Basically, I feel guilty for existing.  I feel super guilty if I do anything in my life which is not self-sacrificing.  If my action doesn't serve someone else...guilt.  If I take time to myself to draw, read, travel, watch TV, even eat sometimes...guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt guilt.

My countermeasure?  Building my self worth.  Believing I have a right to be happy.  Giving myself things and allowing myself things that I would give or allow others, to make them happy.  Of note:  giving myself and allowing myself these things often makes other happy as well.  But I have to remind myself, constantly, it's okay to be happy, it's okay to feel pleasure, it's OKAY to RELAX!

2.  Expectations

I have this completely unrealistic expectation that I will operate at a superhuman level at all times.  Not requiring sleep, food, comfort or support.  I have a correlated expectation that others will see that I am perfectly capable of all things at all times and not offer help, lest I be offended.

My countermeasure?  Humble myself.  Admit to being human, having limits, getting worn down.  Stop fighting against people being nice to me, wanting to help.  Of note:  this is more difficult than releasing #1.

3.  Self-judgment/Self-loathing

I'm going to go ahead and lump these together.  I know many people are their own worst critic.  But I am pretty ruthless.  I guess it's very tied in to the whole guilt thing.  But if I lose my cool and raise my voice at the children, I feel something very close to genuine hate for myself.  I am never looking good enough, acting nice enough, being smart enough.  Every action I judge and then usually hate.  Rarely do I give myself kudos for anything.

My countermeasure?  Be nice to me.  Talk back to myself in a positive way.  My impulse is to judge, so let that happen.  And then speak rationally, nicely, to myself and change the freaking script.  39 years I have told myself to focus on the negative.  When there isn't any?  Make something up.  So let's just change it up now.  Find the positive, even if it is minute.  Even if I have to make it up.  And use it to change my impulses.  Of note:  easier said than done.

4.  Idealized "Family"

Inevitably people with whom I talk ask me about having more children.  And I do have this dream where I meet a nice man, fall in love, and have however many more children time and finances allow and then we stay together to the end of our days.  I think I need to release this idea that a scenario like that will perfect my life.  I think it's harmful to me and the children and our current family structure to have this idea that makes our life seem flawed.  I know it isn't perfect but what is?  Throwing another man and more children into the equation?  It's just a whole other brand of difficult.

My countermeasure?  Enjoy now.  Treasure and value my life and the people and things that are in it just the way they are now.  Stop judging myself and my family against societal norms and just know that we are a great family.  We are whole and we are happy.  Just the way we are.  Families always grow and change, it's not that I am accepting status quo and not moving from it.  It's just that I need to stop making myself and my poor children feel like we are inferior or second class citizens because I am a single mother and they do not all have the same father.  We still live as a family, stand as a family and count as a family.

Okay, I think I'm purged for now.  This was good.  For me anyway.  And I will not apologize or feel guilty about it (of course I had to swallow an apology and fight the guilt).

5:19.  Sleep for an hour?

 




Thursday, December 31, 2015

My little loves,

New Year's Eve is coming to a close and it is the first one in quite a while (your whole lives?) when I haven't had you home.  I've missed you and though it may sound strange, I am grateful for the opportunity. Someday, perhaps, you'll come to understand that sentiment.

My heart swells at the memory of your sleepy smiles, energy rallying to toast the New Year and partake in your year's ration of alcohol.  It's funny how the excitement and joy of those moments steal away the natural tendency for introspection the New Year offers up.

This year I am surrounded by (relative) quiet and I have no distraction from my year end reflections. Once again, we weathered a great deal of change, our little family.  We were blessed a great deal by our family, friends and the universe.  We experienced tragedies in our immediate and world communities.  We found ways to connect and move forward and grow even (especially?) when it felt difficult.

I am moved by the daily love we provide one another.  I am so grateful and proud of you three.  I am proud of myself for being able to let you go, to let you grow, to let you know.  I watch in wonder as you prove to me that my best effort has been good enough.  My lack of perfection has not been your downfall, as Fear once told me it would be.  I am infinitely happy to see this.

Here's to a New Year, my heart holds you close though my arms cannot.

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

If only...

If I could hold myself
Like a newborn
As though I were
A precious gift
To the world

If I could love myself
Like a toddler
Forgiving mistakes
Expecting only growth
Never perfection

If I could forgive myself
Like a child
Understanding forgiveness
Breeds compassion
And compassion
Breeds understanding

If I could allow myself
The freedom
To feel
To see
To hear
To touch
To speak

Perhaps I would not hold myself
In such contempt

Perhaps I would not be afraid
To accept love

Perhaps I could spend Wednesday nights
In mindfulness

Alas,

Tonight...

I hate myself

I'm afraid of being loved

And I spent my night seeking mindlessness

Clearly, unsuccessfully.

*gloom*

Monday, October 26, 2015

(I) The leaf

To hear a leaf
Fall
It is not
The space around it
Which must be quiet
But your mind

A quiet mind
Begets
A special state
Of awareness

How to quiet
The mind?
Listen
To the body

The body shares
Earthly intelligence
The mind
So often
Rejects

To hear a leaf
Fall
Share a secret

Mine?
I'm afraid
To be touched

Yet
I allowed
You all
To touch me
That day
In the woods

I watched a leaf
Fall
And I saw
Its fearlessness

For what leaf
Is concerned
With its appearance

What leaf
Is concerned
With its past

What leaf
Is concerned
With its future

What leaf
Is concerned
With what the other leaves
Are doing
Or have done
Or will do
With where the other leaves
Are going
Or have gone
Or will go

I watched a leaf
Fall
And I sensed
Its euphoria
Wind drunk
But graceful still

Its return to Earth
Nearly defying gravity
With its skips and hops

Returning gently
to Mother
Waiting silently
Equally unafraid
Of an undisturbed rest
The weight of rain
And snow
Or an earthbound journey
Down a river
On a shoe

I watched a leaf
Fall
And I opened my heart
To it
And I opened
My heart
To you


(II) The tree

The tree that called to me
Was pale
Barren

I went to her
She showed me tenderness
Her smooth trunk
Anxious to be touched.

Her gift to me
Was emptiness
Her advice to me
Was, "Grow!"
My question to her...
"How?"
Her response...
"Let go.

Be a leaf."



I can't imagine her
More beautiful
Though lush with greenery
And then the brilliant hues of Autumn
She must be quite stunning

It's her wisdom though
That's most attractive
And her willingness to share

I could try
To become a leaf
But perhaps
I am more suited
To be a tree