What a WEEK

I think I’m feeling the rumblings of summer and the changing of the seasons. I am ready for a BREAK. Ideally, I’d just press pause and take a long out breath. But, life keeps moving.

Every day, I’ve felt like my feet have hit the ground running, from the time I’ve woken up.

We had to bury a hummingbird that flew into our window and broke its neck. (On Mother’s Day, no less).

My glasses broke. I have a backup pair until my new ones arrive. I was ready for something new, anyhow.

My baby has decided that 5:30 am is the best time to wake up and greet the new day. We’ve even had two days this week when he’s woken in the middle of the night to start happily babbling and talking.

I’m wrapping up 2nd grade. We have one more week of lessons for him. And I’m really digging into planning our next year.

On days like these, when I feel like the tasks ahead of me are never ending and overwhelming, I remember a saying from the Tao Te Ching that I learned about from Dr Wayne Dyer. (I was lucky enough to get to attend his talk in person just months before he passed on from this life.)

I’m paraphrasing here: “I do nothing and nothing goes undone.”

This brings me a calm that I can’t even describe. For me, that means I don’t sit and DO nothing, literally. But that I am being swept along this river of life and everything that needs doing will be done, I need only to do what my task at hand is, in this moment.

Stumble and trip

I’ve decided to share some of my personal struggles in the hopes of helping some other mothers out there. We all have our own journeys ahead and behind us and they are all unique. But I have come to know of the power of sharing those journeys with one another.

A few years back, when my third child was a baby (she’ll be 6 this summer), i was struggling in a very real way as a parent. I felt unhappy and resentful and STUCK along with a big dose of martyrdom.

I had recently become a full time stay at home mom and underestimated how difficult that could be. My sense of worth was gone, having been raised in this culture that tells us that we are our occupations and paychecks; I was with my kids pretty much 24/7; I felt my lack of social network strongly now that I no longer saw people through my work; and my ‘job’ of homemaking seemed endless (it is) and unappreciated (it isn’t).

My oldest son was 9, and in the thick of the 9 year change, and were we struggling! I didn’t know how I’d make it through it with him.

I was yelling daily. I was hiding in my room to cry in despair, regularly.

And I felt like the worst mother.

For me, this was a downward spiral. I felt like a horrible parent, and then that feeling would translate into me being even more mean as I felt so horrible about myself. I’d have a day here and there where the weight lifted, but then I was thrown right back into it. I’d often cry in bed at night from the guilt of the things I’d said to my children (mostly, to my oldest), and from the knowledge that I wasn’t being the mother I wanted for my children.

I felt so isolated because who could I talk to about this and not feel fear of being judged? My poor husband couldn’t help me much. He would just tell me that I good mother and to not be so hard on myself. I was certain that none of my mama friends ever felt the way I was feeling. (By the way, this isn’t true!) And I didn’t even know anymore who friends were. Most of my contact with them was through social media and just left me feeling more alone.

Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it was that turned things around for me. Likely because it was a combination of many changes that helped.

Here is my best recollection of what helped me.

  • Finding Waldorf

This will be a whole blog post of its own, so I won’t tell the whole story of how I found Waldorf education and philosophy here. But this was the first step. This helped lay the foundation of me learning how to run a busy household (which i had no idea how to do even though I’d been a parent for 9 years at that point) and enjoy it, how to enjoy homeschooling again, how to begin getting back in touch with my spirituality, how to enjoy parenting again. Waldorf (specifically Waldorf Essentials/Melisa Nielsen) was a game changer and felt like coming home.

  • Leaving social media

This was a hard one for me. And I was scared to do it because I thought my time on Facebook was my “social” time, since I was a stay at home mom. But after finding the 99 Days of Freedom challenge, I was inspired to just do it. It was life changing. After I got over the hump of the hard work of breaking my addiction, I felt like I had time to breath again. I ended up staying off Facebook for over a year. It was fantastic and life affirming. I read books again, did a ton of crafting and in general, I found so much free time that I didn’t know I had! I did eventually go back because of the usefulness of the groups, but my long break changed the way I view and use Facebook. I see it now as an anti-social time. It is a tool that can be quite handy but i essentially unfollowed all my ‘friends’ and 90% of my time is in groups that are beneficial to my life (local homeschool groups, babywearing groups, Waldorf homeschool support group). Leaving Facebook made me a better mother, for sure. I no longer spent time reading about what other people were doing, feeling inadequate in my own head, a feeling that would often linger long after logging out . Instead, i was fully present with my children and began to remember what it felt like to just BE.

  • Meditation/Mindfulness

Specifically, i found the Mommy Meltdown Cure created by the amazing Sigrid Kjeldsen aka The Joyful Mother. I was lucky enough to be in a small mindfulness coaching group that she led for a year or more, and it was incredible. Life changing! Words don’t suffice to share what it brought to me. Peace. Love. All of that good stuff. She’s now gone on to greater projects, creating a community called Motherhood Rising. She is amazing and I highly recommend her.

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I’ve come a long way in 5 years. But I still trip and stumble. I still fall flat on my face, even. Like a few days ago. But I know how it get myself up when that happens and forgive myself and have self-compassion, apologize to my kids, and remember all we have is NOW.

One of my favorite poems, by Mary Oliver, it brings me right back to the present and grounds me when I read it.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees,  the mountain and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—

over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

Censorship

Yesterday, I was getting all riled up about Facebook censoring certain video links. I was trying to post a link to this video (go watch it, it’s important info) and FB would not allow me to link it, saying the link had been blocked as containing unsafe information.  Whoa. So, I tried and tried, and nope. No way. If I had any doubts about the truth behind FB truly censoring posts and trying to manipulate information others are trying to share, they are gone. Now, I see the truth.

But, it got me realizing something more personal about censorship. I’m guilty, too. I do it all too often. I haven’t been posting much to this blog because I was feeling vulnerable about sharing my truth. You see, when I set up my blog, I decided to make it so that my posts are automatically shared to my Facebook profile. Well, this led to me filtering what I shared, because all my FB “friends” would be seeing it and my mind imagined all the ways they would judge me.

While I long to share my thoughts and feelings with others, to connect, I also have always been scared to allow the wall to drop and be totally vulnerable and honest. Ironic, since that was the point of this blog: to help me move past that and be raw and honest. I believe we are in an age where being vulnerable and speaking our truth is more needed than ever. Thus, beginning today, here I am. Unfiltered. I’ve disabled my Facebook sharing setting to get me started, though I am building up the courage to share with anyone one day. My blog remains anonymous for now, but that may change in the future as well.

Furthermore, I’ve decided to move my homeschooling talk to my old blog. This blog will be about my journey coming home to love, the one truth. Inner work abounds, mystics’ poetry, realizations and discoveries. If you are reading along, welcome. Otherwise, I’m writing for myself here as I don’t expect to have any readers.

Bewilderment

There are many guises for intelligence.
One part of you is gliding in a high windstream,
while your ore ordinary notions
take little steps and peck at the ground.

Conventional knowledge is death to our souls,
and it is not really ours. It is laid on.
Yet we keep saying we find ‘rest’ in these ‘beliefs’.

We must become ignorant of what we have been taught
and be instead bewildered.

Run from what is profitable and comfortable.
Distrust anyone who praises you.
Give your investment money, and the interest
on the capital, to those who are actually destitute.

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
I have tried prudent planning long enough.
From now on, I’ll be mad.

-Rumi

 

Inspiration

The last couple of weeks have been challenging, in my own little world and in our shared big world. I’m not going to go into the details right now, but I feel called to share some of what inspires me at the moment.

#1 The three humans who are walking and running across multiple state lines to get to the Democratic National Convention at the end of the month. Seriously, these guys are an inspiration to me daily right now.  Here is screenshots of some of their FB posts.

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Wow.

ok, #2 John Lennon

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I think about him nearly daily lately. And his two songs, Love is Real and A Working Class Hero, run through my head frequently.

#3 Love.

I know this is broad, but just remembering that the definition of a miracle, according to A Course in Miracles, is chosing love over fear. That is a miracle. I’ve been thinking of this almost constantly, as I wade through the deep waters of parenting, and watch what is going on around the world and in our country. I saw this quote today by one of my favorite people/authors, Kyle Gray, and wanted to scream, I loved it so much.

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Yes.

I’m so grateful for the inspiration that surrounds me when I just open up my eyes and pay attention.

In the words of my favorite contemporary poet Mary Oliver,

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Falling into love

I’ve taken to reading some pages of mystics’ poetry  just before drifting off to sleep. What a wonderful way to end my days! I come across many, many, many that I want to share. But, this one by Rumi last night was just perfection. (Translation by Coleman Banks).

Buoyancy

Love has taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.
I tried to keep quietly repeating
No strength but yours, but I couldn’t.
I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable, chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?
A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That is how I hold your voice.
I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
quickly reduced to smoke and ash.
I saw you and became that empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence.
The sky is blue.
The world is a blind man sitting beside the road.
But whoever sees your emptiness
sees beyond the blue and the blind man.
A great soul hides, like Muhammad or Jesus,
moving through a crowd in a city where no one knows him.
To praise is to praise
how one surrenders to the emptiness.
To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.
So the journey goes on,
and no one knows where.
Just to be held by the ocean
is the best luck we could have.
It is a total waking up.
Why should we grieve that we have been sleeping?
It does not matter how long we have been unconscious.
We are groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness around you.
the buoyancy.

Giving myself a hug

A dear friend brought the teachings of self-compassion to me last year. She introduced me to the work of Dr. Kristin Neff. If you haven’t heard of her before, check out her TED talk. She also has a book, but it was a bit too scholarly for me. Instead, the book on the topic that really spoke to me was by Dr. Christopher Germer. So good.

Self-compassion is what I turn to when I have a child screaming in my face. It is what wraps its arms around me when I lay myself to sleep at 8:45 because I just need the day to be over and am thoroughly exhausted with interacting with a child who has held onto his seething anger at me for over 5 hours.

Sometimes I first fall into self pity, but that is a pit that only makes me feel worse and leads to seeing myself as a martyr. Not a path that leads to much peace and love.

So, I’m so grateful that I’ve learned self-compassion. It is so simple and seems so obvious but it is so far removed from our modern culture.

What does self-compassion look like for me? Talking to myself the way I’d talk to a good friend in my shoes. Sometimes literally giving myself a hug. Having empathy and compassion for myself when I’m in really stressful and challenging situations.

This morning, I’m also thinking about self-appreciation. Kristin Neff has this great article on her website on the topic. Gosh, I needed to read this. Today. This morning at 6am as I am preparing for my day. Focusing on my faults go hand in hand with feeling like a martyr. When my child acts in a way that I can’t understand, shows zero gratitude, and is lashing out at all of us, my mind’s default is to start highlighting all the mistakes I’ve made and all the ways I am not doing a good job as a parent.  Crazy, isn’t it? When I stop reacting to what is happening around me, I can acknowledge that I know that my child is a child. He’s still emotionally immature. His behavior is not a reflection of me. His lack of gratitude for all I do for him isn’t personal and it doesn’t have to be a blow to me. His behavior and attitude is a reflection of his immaturity and the fact that he’s a child!

So, this morning, I’m reflecting on appreciating myself. I don’t need to wait for others to appreciate me, including my child or my husband. As Neff writes in the article,

William James, one of the founding fathers of Western psychology, once wrote that “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Luckily, we can meet this essential need without depending on other people to approve of us. When we treat ourselves with the same kindness with which we treat our good friends, we’ll have the support and care required to help us thrive.

I close with this quote from Dr. Robert Holden. I must remind myself of this daily. How often do we believe it is external circumstances that dictate our happiness? I do, all too often. But happiness is a choice. And it is a choice I want to make.

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