Posts Tagged With: life lessons

the power of forgiveness

As far as I can tell, this holds true for each and every one of us.
It’s easy to want to rid yourself of the ‘bad things’. It’s actually rather simple to begin the process. But what happens when you just destroy your monsters without really examining them? I agree with Erin. I think you have to really understand your monsters before you can kick them in the ass. With examination comes the ability to truly understand. Understand not only your monsters, but yourself.
Knowing and understanding oneself is a pretty scary concept. I think that’s why it’s simpler to choose to destroy that which we don’t like about our selves. Destroying those monsters (or demons, or whatever you like to call them) is freeing! We’re so strong! To rid yourself of the absolute worst bits is a truly empowering experience.
But it’s fleeting, y’all.

Let’s be real, the majority of the monsters inside you originated externally. They were formed in childhood, they exist as part of your belief system. But at some point these monsters are nourished by you. You’ve grown accustomed to them. Sometimes so much so that your belief system becomes dependent upon them.
The most elaborately designed catch 22 in the history of all catch 22s. You and the monsters are trapped together, woven into one curious being because of mutually conflicting and dependent conditions.

Once (most of us) realize we’re dependent upon these monsters that conflict with our concept of self our simplest solution is to rid ourselves of our monsters for good.
Destroying your monsters without accepting and releasing them leads to more chaos down the road. To know the monsters, to really know them is hard and scary work. Most folks aren’t brave enough to tackle that.
Here’s whats tricky. That bravery is really reactivity in disguise.
As humans, we tend to be reactive.
What we need to be is mindful.
I get it, y’all! It really does feel brave to destroy those monsters. But going about it all willy-nilly, slashing and stabbing and standing over your (seemingly) dead monsters is a delusion!
They’re not really gone.
Sure, you may feel victorious, bathing in their heart’s blood as empowered as you’ve ever been, but I promise you they’ll be back. It may seem different versions, but it’s the same old monsters dressed up all shiny and new. And because they exist based on rigid belief systems they come back stronger and meaner than before. This fight will never end.

This is where being mindful comes in.
Until you understand and make peace with your monsters, you’re destined to lather, rinse and repeat for your entire life. (And after bathing in heart’s blood, you better be washing that gore right out of your hair!)

The monsters don’t function from their own cognition. They function from the oldest patterns. The monsters aren’t actively malevolent. They’re just doing what they’ve always done. What they were trained to do by others before we learned to take over that job.
Destroying your monsters will ultimately destroy the precious me inside you.
We cannot truly embrace the me inside us unless and until we accept and understand our monsters.
It’s the most difficult work you’ll ever do.
That is what makes one brave.
It’s easy to slay dragons (monsters)! That’s just a bit of blood, sweat and tears with a sharp blade at the end.

But to examine those monsters, to do the hard work to understand their very existence, that is real bravery. By being mindful and doing the most difficult work, we can accept and release our monsters.
Forgiveness is harder than slaying.
The monsters didn’t create themselves. They simply exist.
We must forgive those who may have created the monsters in the first place. We must forgive that part of ourselves that fostered the monsters growth.

The most precious part of who I am is that me. By learning to embrace and celebrate that me, I was able to understand and accept my monsters. I work each day to forgive them, even though it’s not their fault.
I promise you, I’m a better me for it.
A better human for it.

My bravest moments are ones of forgiveness. (even though I didn’t feel particularly brave)
Yours can be too.

Stop looking outward. Stop pointing fingers and laying blame. Stop picking up your sword.
Forgive your monsters and set them free. They’re just as much prisoners of the belief system as you are.
Forgive yourself and accept that your me wouldn’t exist without your monsters.
Embrace and celebrate the me.
Be the me inside you with grace and humility, and as much love as humanly possible.

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cardinal rules

I have a friend who’s second unbreakable life rule or, “Rule # 2” is that no one is permitted into his home.
I find this fascinating. No one in his home. Ever. (my suspicion is that emergency medical providers are the only exception)

I don’t know that I could ever have his second rule. Let us disregard for a moment the fact that I share a dwelling with YBW and his children (part time).
I need that energy that people bring…and I like to be in my own space. So, that would never work for me. I occasionally want to be around people while also remaining in my own physical space.
And that’s OK. I’m me, not him.

That got me thinking: I’m so me. Like, all the freaking time! And that me is an unholy mess of a girl, as well as put together AF.
I like that about me.
I embrace it, and I celebrate it.

It occurs to me that so many people don’t embrace and celebrate the “me” they are. Folks are so busy trying to be something they may not be because of any number of outside influences, societal rules, or even to impress a potential mate.
In trying to become something else, bits of the me get lost.
Some of those could be OK to lose, crap bits to bid a “good riddance” to. But some of those are important pieces. Invaluable and irreplaceable.
The me is the best and most important piece of the puzzle. Even if you haven’t completely figured out your me.
I learn about the me I am every day.
I learn stuff I love, and want to keep, I learn stuff I feel ambivalent about but realize may have value. I learn stuff I know I can chuck in the bin because it’s bad for me and anyone I come in contact with. But even the chuck it in the bin stuff can be embraced, because I learned something from it. At the very least, I learned I didn’t need it…at most, I may have even learned why.

Some folks are so concerned with improvement they don’t stop first to examine what’s there that might be handy. They just dump it and begin searching for new stuff to fill the void.
That will never get anybody anywhere!
If folks are externally motivated, they’re never going to experience the all-important A-ha! moments. Never experience the all-important I did it! moments.
I believe you lose the most important aspect of the me when you’re externally motivated. When you need to be filled up by other people, or things. It doesn’t seem to me that you’re even aware of the me inside you, much less embracing and celebrating it. That makes me so sad. I cannot stress enough how much that (those) someones are missing out!

Embrace and celebrate what you have within you. Learn it and learn from it.
Accept and release some of it. Accept and embrace other of it.
But, above all, celebrate the “me” inside you.

I’m me.
I’m a hot mess and a tight ship. And that is the way I like it. I’m so over trying to be what external influences expect me to be.
I’m just the me I expect me to be.
I’m amazing and wonderful because I’m flawed.
Each lesson I’ve learned, the good, the bad, the indifferent have made and continue to make me this wonderfully flawed woman.

I think that’s the most important of my Cardinal Rules.
If I decided to create unbreakable rules for my life they might look like this.

1. Embrace and celebrate the me I am.
2. Live my intention.
3.

(yeah, I sort of borrowed that one, but I feel it keenly)
4. Communicate with honesty.
5. Know my limits.

That’s just off the top of my head…I might mix it up a little, I might keep it the way it is. But, over all, that’s how I intended to live my life.
Cardinal Rules.
It occurs to me that I already lived them, just never stopped to write them down.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

pinball machine thoughts

I’ve been sick since we got home from NYC. Is it allergies? Is it a virus? I don’t know, but there is enough mucus for several people sloshing around in my head.
The coughing is even worse. Because after two babies my pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be and I’ve had more “accidents” in the last two weeks than when I was a toddler.
TMI?
My apologies.
I’m just keeping it real here in my nest.

I still haven’t gone through the photos I took in New York. I mean I moved them from the camera to the computer, but there they sit. No edits. Nothing in my ‘to be printed’ folder. I’m either really taking my time or I’m just not up to it. Either way, I’m about to have loads of time on my hands. Only eight more days of school (including this day).

We did have a lovely time. We walked everywhere! All the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge, half-way across, and back.
We ate delicious food. Drank good wine and spirits. People watched in Washington Square Park. And even got shouted at by a creepy homeless guy.

Vintage shops were a disappointment.
But the bookshops were not!
At Strand (18 miles of books, don’tcha know) I found some very cool used books, a brand new one I’m pretty excited about, and bought my very first Moleskine notebook à la Dash and Lily. Only mine is navy instead of red.
At Books of Wonder I drooled over the books in the rare collection. (22K for a first ed. of Where the Wild Things Are signed by Maurice Sendak with a Wild Thing doodle.)
I spent a goodly bit of time choosing a couple books I couldn’t leave without. If I still had a preschool classroom I would have bought more. There were (are) so many books to use as the jumping off point for lesson plans!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Thing 2 situation. We still haven’t spoken, though we have exchanged texts. I’m not sure how I can help her in her journey. I’m not sure it’s my place to help her at this point. I do know that “getting yourself together” shouldn’t be a reason not to be together.
I wonder if children have any idea how hurtful the things they do really are. I believe they know instinctively that nothing will make a mother stop loving her child…but I wonder if they understand that one can only bend so long before there is irreparable damage. I wonder this because I don’t know the answers. I wonder this because I know I hurt my mother in my growing up.
It’s hard for an adult child to believe her mom is still protective of her “baby”. That makes sense to me. Only, Thing 1 and I have come to a new place in our relationship. One of mutual love and respect as adults, with a bit of “I need my Mommy” and “I want to protect my baby” sprinkled on top.
A mother’s love has many forms. Looks many ways. Is unpredictable yet constant. That will never change. But it doesn’t mean a child’s words and actions aren’t hurtful. I think even adult children don’t understand that their parents are just human and get their feelings hurt. That realization didn’t really resonate in me until I became a mother.
I don’t know. I love that little girl (yeah, she’s my “little girl” even though she’s about to celebrate her twentieth birthday) but I feel like this must be one of those times of ebb in the great ebb and flow of our love in this life. I hope the tide changes. It hurts more than I ever expected it would.

In the category of ‘getting yourself together’ I’m working on that too. Starting back to school after a three month term break.

Nah, it’s cool. Two more terms and I can wash my hands of this foolishness. Not that a degree is foolish…just I’m so over it. It’s taken much longer than I’d expected and I don’t want to be in this degree program anymore. Only it’s too late to switch to anything else without more courses…
I feel a bit like Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. “Stick with me baby I’m the fellow you came in with.” Only it’s not luck…it’s a degree plan.
Whatever. At this point it’s fulfilling a commitment to myself and a means to an end to move into a M.Ed or MSW program.

It seems my thoughts are bouncing around in my head like a pinball today.
You know what? That’s OK.
Let ’em bang around bouncing off each other for a little while.
It might be a great way to start the summer.

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mother’s day

I struggle with Mother’s Day.
My birthday is always the week of Mother’s Day. Sometimes even falls on that particular Sunday. I don’t remember it bothering me until I became a mom. First one precious little girl and later, two precious little girls called me their mommy. They were SO focused and excited about Mother’s Day that my birthday often fell by the wayside.
When they got old enough to understand, I explained how much I loved their beautiful appreciation of me. I explained that I was their mommy every day. That it was the most special thing EVERY DAY. But that my birthday was only one day and it was special. It took a bit for them to get it, but they knew how important I made their birthdays and they began to come around. So while Mother’s Day remained special, “birthday birthday” became the focus that second week of May.

Mother’s Day is painful for me because I don’t have my mom anymore. However complicated our relationship was, she was my mother and I loved her.
I took Thing C and Thing G to get cards for their mom. I went with YBW to get a card for his mom. I spent the day with YBW and his mom.
It was agony.
I no longer have a mom. It hurts more than I can even communicate.
Thing 1 called to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me for being her mom. She talked about the life she’s building. She talked about going back to school. She told me she sent a little gift, but it was going to be late. She told me how much she loved me.
My heart sang with joy!
Thing 2 did nothing. (I don’t know if she was being purposefully hurtful or not…I honestly don’t think it matters. It was hurtful enough.) People that I did not actually give birth to called and texted to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I’m just sayin’.

When my girls were little and I was teaching preschool, I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the most truly awe inspiring women I’ve ever known.
We were a family. If something happened to one of us, joy or sorrow, it happened to all of us. These women helped me realize who I could be. They let me help them see things from my unique and sometimes brash perspective. (I may or may not have publicly accused the director of being on crack at a faculty meeting…in my defense, it opened a new way of talking about a serious topic.)

When I started this blog I promised my family and friends anonymity. That’s why I never use anyone’s real name…apart from my own. My girls and Sundance have expressed their ambivalence regarding this promise. I keep it because YBW is especially protective of his identity, and the identity of his sons. I respect that. Nobody “signed up” to be part of my public words regarding my private life. I want to keep those who need to feel safe feeling safe.
That said, I’m going to use the names of the women from that perfect moment in time when we lived and loved and worked in the safest and most creative environment.

It kind of started this way:
On Sunday, Nicole posted in our private group chat:
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! I would not have survived young motherhood without you all!!

I was thinking something along those lines when I was washing my hair that morning. I was thinking about some of the women that influenced my life. What I learned from each of them and how I incorporated that into my parenting style, and into my own personal development.

I learned from my mom that always having to be in control will wear you the eff out. That it breaks you and makes you miserable. My mom taught me the value of creativity and expressing opinions because she squashed those out of us as children. She taught me that love is conditional, you must be exactly what someone wants or they can’t love you.
She taught me that you just have to keep fighting for what you believe in. She taught me what true sacrifice looks like. She taught me that a color book and box of crayons eases heartache. She taught me that birthdays are the most important celebration, because the day you came into the world is sacred. She taught me to love books. She taught me Elvis is the King. She taught me that being redhaird is the most precious gift, and that only a few of us ever have the luxury to receive it.
Some of the things she taught me made me a better mom because I did the exact opposite of what she did. Love is unconditional. Creativity and expressing yourself are the most important life stills to possess.
Some of what she taught me formed my most basic ideology. Birthdays are sacred. New crayons are priceless. Books are uniquely portable magic.

Nicole taught me that organized chaos is a great way to raise children. She taught me that love is fierce. She showed me how to see things through the eyes of a child. She taught me the value of true and long lasting friendship.

Jessica taught me that I was more capable than I ever realized. She taught me to listen differently so I could truly hear. She taught me to ask the most important question: What’s best for children? She taught me the value of my own mothering. She taught me when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. She helped me believe in myself at the lowest point in my life. She showed me the fire in my belly still had embers to nurture. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Becca encouraged me to trust my gut, because she never seemed to be able to do that for herself. She taught me to appreciate every contribution. She brought out even more nurturing in me, she needed and still occasionally needs to be taught self-love. She taught me how innocent kindness can change lives. She taught me that my tough as nails hide could benefit from softening up a bit.

Terri taught me to see my firstborn in a new and different light. She provided much comfort and support when I was struggling with learning how to mom a three year old and a new and extremely sick baby. She was an example of love and tenacity through her own terrible illness. She taught me how to approach the enigma that is the three year old with the perfect mix of fear and appreciation.

Nancy taught me that I must embrace and celebrate my gifts. She is the first person who said out loud that I am a writer. That moment caused a change in my life that I will be forever grateful for. She supported me with love and hope when I didn’t know who or what I really was. She taught me that life is so much more than simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Marianne taught me that letting go is so much better than holding on too tightly. She taught me the importance of repetition. She helped me realize that a classroom was one of the most loving environments in the world.

Cory taught me that I matter. She helped me understand how to be a mom and a real person too. She accepted me for who I am. She guided my learning of that most important skill. I’m not great at it, but I am working at it every single day…even all these years later.

Julia encouraged me to take risks. She helped me realize that fear is a part of life, but if I didn’t try new things I might miss out on something extraordinary. She taught me a new kind of patience.

Sara gave me the courage to breathe when I needed to take a step back. She showed me the importance of kindness when Thing 2 and I experienced serious separation anxiety.

Like Nicole, I would never have gotten through young motherhood without these women. The gifts they gave me have gotten me through the last twenty two years.
It takes a village to raise children.
It takes a village to raise parents too.

I’m so blessed to know and love these women. I would not be the woman I am without experiencing their love and support.
I saw Becca this weekend, we talked about how those years were a sacred moment in time. We will never be able to recreate that, but we’re lucky enough to forever be better mothers and better women because of it.

Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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