I have a similar theory about negativity as I do about guilt.
. There have been some sleepless nights, kids with tummy troubles combined with other added stressors, all layered onto of the fact that we’ve gone ahead and taken our home apart in order to swap our tv room and our art room…voluntarily swapping furniture, repairing drywall, changing mouldings, and painting, you know, in our spare time.
Anyone who knows me, knows that my love of order and my incapability of maintaining it are my largest struggles. I’m a woman on a mission of self-sabotage. I’ll organize any given room only to leave a stack of things to sort ‘later’, which of course never comes. “Why is there so much S&*! laying around! I’ll curse.”
I drive myself crazy.
I love to collect treasures for making projects, shiny rocks and shells from trips, fabrics from old clothing to repurpose, buttons and metal beads, small boxes and containers to sort and organize all of these beautiful bits into.
But clutter suffocates me. Ugh.
So you can imagine, how much I love having the entire contents of our Tv room in the main, open concept part of the house. It’s something that I can’t put into words, the heaviness it brings me. I suspect it’s partly because of how dark a room feels with too much furniture in it. I mean, I value some of the concepts of fengshui– I like my chi to flow, but it’s also just that life is trickier with three guitars in the main part of the house and a toddler who is delighted to find a hammer on the kitchen table at breakfast.
All in all, these are insignificant problems, and I’m aware of this. Last night I finally had a chance to unload all of this stuff, bouncing around in my brain, threatening to explode like fiery, hot lava. I felt a release, and a deep sense of gratitude for my husband’s unacknowledged suggestions.I was there, I heard them, likely shot them down, only to wake up this morning, feeling as though they were my own.
I put a plan into place and took action this morning.
The thing about negativity is that it spreads like wildfire. It’s as contagious as the flu. Anyone within listening distance is the next victim. With six people under one roof, that’s a hard cycle to break, so I reminded myself that these unhappy feelings have the power to push me forward, that I have to do something about them.
Sure, I could sit in my misery (pass me that tub of ice cream!), as I have now for several days, or I could put on my big girl pants, grab a ball peen hammer, laugh like a twelve year old when I learn its name, and begin working on the drywall.
So that’s exactly what I did.
When I first began this project, five years ago. I was scared.
How can I put my thoughts and feelings out there, into the big and overwhelming world when my real voice is so small? Will people think me vain, unoriginal,self-indulgent?
I was terrified, but I did it.
I did it because I needed a platform for all of the ideas and feelings that had been swirling around inside me, and I knew that maybe others could relate.
At the time, my thoughts about mothering, about being female, about love and life and sadness were on the edge of swallowing me up after spending a lifetime not sharing them.
I know now, what held me back was the disconnection from the Sesame Street values I had gravitated to as a child. Yes, for real. Like many kids of my time, I learned about sharing and caring, cooperation, kindness, and acceptance through that daily hour of television.
And then I went to school.
I learned very quickly that this is not how the world works.
Throughout the years, many of my peers learned to become desensitized to cruelty and violence through consistent exposure, but I did not.
I got belly aches.
I learned to ignore the connection between my mental health and my tummy because I had to get up every day and go to school. Ignoring my feelings became a means of survival, and I gladly wore my title as too wimpy, like a shield. I learned to function in a world that didn’t accommodate children’s feelings, despite how loving and caring some of my teachers were.
Gradually I began to accept that my views should remain quiet behind my rose-coloured glasses, and so I left them there for too many years.
Until I gave birth to a small human who gave me great strength. I looked my fear of using my voice in the eye. We squabbled a bit and then came up with a compromise.
My blog was born.
If you’ve followed along, long enough, you’ll notice that some of my favourite topics are just grown up versions of those Sesame Street- inspired lessons, things that are being brought to light in the media as women and children and people of colour are being recognized as humans, while many men are making strides towards becoming more sensitive people. Everything is woven together. Everything is interconnected.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Sometimes I don’t say the right things, there are easily a handful of syntax errors per post, and some things I say might strike a nerve, but through creating these works, I’ve allowed myself a chance to heal sadness and have faith in my strong belief that people are ultimately good. I’ve chosen to share these adventures with you because I know that although we may not agree on everything, we are likely not that different.
Human connection, even through modern means, carries great value.
Thanks for coming along for the ride,
Today, I was planning to be super mom. The kids had asked for a trip into the woods to have tea by the fire. They could have asked for a movie or for candy, but they asked for the very things I’ve tried to encourage in their lives, a love of fresh air, adventure, and water infused with nourishing herbs, so I said yes!
I packed up a bag of tricks– firewood, kindling, dry newspaper. I dug out matches which never seem to be in the same place in our house. I even made the hot tea and brought along four mugs. After dressing our toddler in layers of outerwear, tucking in 6 mittens and boots, and pulling on my winter-onesie (and then leaning over to tuck in my own boots while still breathing), we headed outdoors, only to be greeted by a mound of snow, blocking our usual way to the woods.
This hill has served as a great joy to the kids these past few days, but I cursed it as I tried to move around the pile with a small child on a sled, who, I might add, was wailing for fear of tipping over. As I stepped into the knee-deep snow, dog leash in one hand, sleigh rope in other, and sack of tricks over shoulder, I began to feel the anger rise in my belly.
I knew then, that if I proceeded with AWESOME MOM PLAN, I’d just be miserable, trying to create the picture in my head, trying to please everyone, but ultimately pleasing no one.
And then I felt guilty. Guilty for saying yes and then going back on my word. Guilty for not being determined enough. Guilty for needing help to accomplish this plan. Until I realized that all of these negative emotions were bubbling to the surface in the form of guilt so that I could avoid taking responsibility for their messages, so that I didn’t have to ask myself why I was being so hard on myself. It’s much easier to think I’m being selfless.
Here’s what I’ve learned…guilt holds us back by disguising our own sadness as sadness for someone else, sneakily avoiding our own unhealed pain. Then it allows us to stay hurt, to be complacent in our own healing. With this realization, I’ve started following up the flood of guilt with the question, ‘well what am I going to do about it?’.
That’s when I turned to the kids, and said, “Guys, I’m not going to lie. I really wanted to go to the woods today with you, but I think I’m just going to be grumpy. This is a trip that requires another grownup for help. Maybe we could try again another time. Could we go for a walk and have tea on the porch instead?” There was some small talk that followed. They offered to help, to carry more things, but then, they too, saw what I did…a long path, a lot of snow, and of course, there was the screaming toddler.
And so we walked. Quietly, pleasantly, guilt-free, down our clean laneway.
The tea was nice too.
Just be yourself is a phrase that has always left me more confused than grounded. When I strip away all of the things that have been sprayed over me like a coat of paint… how to be a woman, how to be polite, how to say nothing because no one will listen…
When I peel away the layers of expectation, I always expect to find my true self, yet each time, I’m surprised to find someone I don’t enjoy. I’m whiney, I complain. I am greedy and selfish, and I live according to the laws of safety. My true self is young and inexperienced, and she childishly relies on her ego to get her through it all. So I typically just cover her back up and carry on. I recognized it this time.
Since our latest addition was born two years ago, I’ve been on a journey of personal growth and discovery. Childbirth leaves me wide open. It digs up old wounds and gives me permission to weep over them. It’s a marvellous time to put in some hard work, to notice repeating patterns, to reflect on where I’ve gone wrong, when I’ve been wronged, and how to take responsibility and let go.
I’d like to change the status quo and say that it takes longer for a woman to heal after birth than a mere 6 weeks, or even 1 year. Both in body and spirit, I’ve begun to notice true healing at the two year mark, after the birth of three humans.
Here is a smidge of what I’ve learned this time around as I approach year two…
1.Intuition is wise and should be listened to, but sometimes my inner child wears Intuition’s cloak. I can usually tell because she is begging for me to remain in safety. She likes to rob me of new energy, bountiful ideas, and adventure.
2.Personal growth is just work. It’s all work. It’s the equivalent of forcing yourself to go outside because you know it’s good for you…you’ll notice the benefits once you come in and hang up your coat.
3.Connection is always what I’m seeking. When I feel sad or grumpy or anxious, I’m running up a connection debt….connection to purpose and to people who are special. There is no replacement for the value that connection brings us.
It’s early in the morning. The kind of early I spent my entire childhood and young adult years dreading. I drag myself out of my warm, cocooned nest and thump down the stairs, in spirit, since doing so in actual reality would likely wake the littles.
I stumble into the front room and roll out my yoga mat. Its familiar click onto the floor reminds me of a simpler time when my eyes were less tired and my hair less grey. Even if I just lay here, I think to myself, I’m further ahead than I have been. And with these words, I provide myself the comfort that comes from a lack of self-imposed pressure. I’ll just fold into child’s pose and see where this goes. Before I know it, my body is remembering the sequences of movement that provided my peace and guidance years ago…when I had time to make for self care.
All of my expertise in this area stems from a consecutive 2 days of daily exercise, meditation, and fresh air, and 9+ years of neglecting myself. I have ample experience in being too busy, in forgetting my value, something that can easily occur while providing care around the clock for others.
It is true that there are times when life gets in the way. In my case, young children mean that care for myself comes only when there is time. When our babies are very young, often the care of myself means making time to eat and to sleep while they do. The problem I’ve always run into is that this doesn’t help my spirit to thrive. Often, I spend those first 2 years in survival mode, despite the cultural belief that by 3 months, 6months, 12 months, everything should be back to normal.
Although Sparrow’s timely step towards that two-year-old mark has played a role in my ability to carve out a small piece of time for my own care, it has been a deeper understanding of self-worth that has truly lit my fire within for growth. When I remind myself that I am valuable, that I am worth a few minutes, that I am more important than the laundry being folded (though those menial tasks are valuable to me and my wellness), I begin to feel successful.
This isn’t to say that I feel that I am worthless. I have a good life. I’m a good person. I like myself a healthy amount. I’m not saying that I feel as though I lack value, but I realized that my actions were telling me this. Too many times I’d wait until I finished cleaning the kitchen before I’d take a simple bathroom break. I felt I didn’t ‘need’ new clothes because there was always something more ‘important’ for us to spend our money on. Always. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t relax until all of the work was done, so I never relaxed. I’m worthy of a break.
So Hey You! Person reading this blog of mine.
- Thanks. It feels nice to know my thoughts aren’t being ignored
- You are valuable and deserving of good things. Cut yourself some slack
Mother of Hays