Thursday, 1 November 2012

As I sit here writing to you, I am sipping tea from a mug.  But not just any tea, green tea that I bought from a specialty store...I drove there for the sole purpose of buying tea...for myself.  Oh, we've only just begun!  The special steam billows not from just any mug, the aroma floats from my very own special mug.  I bought just one mug...just for me.  Why make an event out of such a mundane task you ask? makes me feel special.  I am sitting here feeling special because I did something for MYSELF that makes me feel that way.  Let's face it, if we can't find the time to do special things for ourselves, who else will?

Allow me to rewind.  I am a woman who is also a mother...kind of a double whammy.  When I wake up every morning to the sound of the alarm, before my feet have the opportunity to hit the floor, my mind races and is already thinking and focused on someone other than myself.  That's right, before I even know how I may be feeling my concern is already focused onto someone else.  As many women  and moms can surely attest, our days are filled and often over-flowing with putting others first.  Our children come first, as do our partners, our neighbours, co-workers, bosses, sisters, mothers, fathers, dogs previous owners Aunt guessed name it...they come first. And after a long day of all of those firsts, who's got time for seconds?  Sooooooo, where does that leave us?  I have days where I feel I have been left in the gutter...those days when you feel like you have been spit at, stepped on, looked over, tossed aside, chewed, screwed and bbq'd!  And our day has only just begun!  Then we are expected to pick up the kids and arrive home spat splattered with a smile on our face looking fresh and ready to prepare a fabulous meal while initiating stimulating and pleasant conversation over our neatly and creatively set dinner table. Huh?  Some days I feel like I can armour my way through an entire day without even one person looking into my eyes.  Days when I long for just one person to look at me and ask me how I am doing...hmmm perhaps not, for I know that there are moments when if asked how I am, the flood gates of tears would surely burst.  I fear, at times that I won't get out alive!

I stopped putting myself first a long time ago.  So long ago, in fact, that I don't know how to even do it anymore.  That's okay though.  Baby steps, right!  I am learning how to, at the very least, make sure that I make the list.  Not only do others get the best of me, more times than not they get all of me.  So I have decided to reincorporate ME back into my life.  I have decided to start small because BIG seemed over indulgent and wasteful and made me feel overwhelmed and guilty...really...really?  I have decided it is time to start saying yes to myself once in awhile.  Make yourself a nice tea in a special mug, buy that vintage wine just because, draw yourself a tub and wrap yourself in a fluffy new housecoat, buy that cute jacket that you've had your eyes on ...just...because.  Every single time you say yes to yourself you are telling yourself that you are worth it. Every time I chose to say yes, the more special I feel.  And something miraculous is is working!  These acts of kindness towards myself may seem small and silly to some but I am really starting to get to know myself again.  That old saying that we teach others how to treat ourselves is so true.  I have discovered that others are beginning to take notice of my new found self worth and they want to make me feel special too.  This special attention to myself has really opened my eyes.  When I do special acts of kindness for myself I am discovering that it is much easier to pay it forward.  I no longer have feelings of giving solely out of obligation.  In finding more room for me, I have found more room in my heart for others.  Say yes to yourself once in awhile.  I dare you!  I know that you too will discover that you are worth it.  Because you are! 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Sweet Surrender

Surrender to the moment
I love music. I have listened to, danced with and sang along to music everyday for as long as I can remember. I can still close my eyes and in an instant be flipping through my mother's record collection. I loved that sound...flip, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, flip, Van Morrison's Moondance, flip...and the smell of a new record being pulled from its the vellum would stick to the record as you slipped it from its case. I can get lost in the sounds, the words, the meaning, and the dancing...miles and miles of dancing. Music means A LOT to me. So naturally I have a collection of music that has carried me through well, my life.

It seems that I have passed this appreciation to my son. When I was pregnant with Jess I would blast music in the apartment and dance and sing while I rubbed my belly. Now WE listen to music everyday. Jess and I have living room 'dance party date nights' which include singing at the top of our lungs, daring acrobatics and lots of laughter as we test some 'new moves'. I can retrieve most of my fondest memories in the sound of a single note. Turns out, music has taught me one of the most important lessons on surrender.

That's right folks I now proudly wave the universal parenting flag of white. Alright, so some days it is more of a frantic, exhausted and defeated wiggle of the 'giving in' to a hostile take over...I surrender!
Prior to becoming a Mother I was a fanatic when it came to my CD's. Do you remember that Friends episode, 'The one where Joey doesn't share food'? I was like that with my CD's (and my food, but more on that later). No, I will not lend you this CD! You can listen to it here. If you feel the need to peruse my music, handle the CD properly! And DO NOT put the wrong CD in the wrong case...I may ask you to leave.

The other day Jess and my niece are listening to music and a stack of CD's (not put back in their case) cascades from the shelf...ffffffftttttttt...down they go all over the floor. Now, don't get me wrong, I did sweat a bit and run over to pick them up...but I didn't have to demand they vacate the property. See? Growth. I am now a mom to a sticky fingered, music lovin', five year old AND finger printed music. Jesse has taught me not to sweat the small stuff. It isn't always easy though. In fact, sometimes it's even down right painful. Change=growing pains.

To surrender means, ' to yield (something) to the possession or power of another'. And to yield is to 'give way'. This does not mean that I always give Jess his way. But it has allowed me to step back. To get outside of myself. To live in the moment. To forget my 'rules'...and well...let love rule.

My love for Jess was unconditional the moment I discovered I was pregnant. I am still learning to give up power, to 'give way', to yield. Sometimes I have to surrender ten times a day. But each time I do...well, those are the moments of growth. I strive everyday to be a better mom. To master the skill of unconditional surrender. To allow possibility. Oh and how I have discovered, that is where all the good stuff lives...the treasure lies buried within ...the sweet surrender.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Will Work for Food

This September has been a month for new beginnings.  My six year old son is finding his place and routine in his grade one class.  He had a rough second week at school. Grade one is such an adjustment!  Slowly but surely he is feeling more grounded in his new surroundings and routine.  He looked up at me last week and said, "I just need to face my fears Momma'.  I have been a stay at home mom for the past six years and am now finding myself on uncharted territory as I seek employment for the first time since he was born.  I have my resume and cover letter together and have sent out many on-line applications and have just started to hit the streets shaking hands and handing out resumes.  I am learning so much from my son.  I am so proud of him and once again he is teaching me lessons.  I also must face my fears.  But what exactly am I afraid of?  I know that I am a hard worker and would be an asset to any company.  Change doesn't scare me.  I am wide open to change.  I have had my fair share of life altering 'changes'.  New beginnings?  I like to think that I have successfully lived through many of those.  I have come to the conclusion that what fills me with fear is the blank space that fills the page from 2006 until 'present'.  Why do I feel such shame in the fact that I haven't been 'working' for the past six years.  I wish that I could type exactly what I have been doing.  I would tell potential employers that I am a mother.  That my life has been one huge multi-tasking chaotic roller coaster straight out of the gate, but that I have accomplished more in the past six years than I have collectively my whole life(with a smile on my face to boot).  I have been accomplishing goals for two people.  I would tell them that I have had to deal with a lot of disappointment and fears but I have persevered.  I wish that my resume could show a picture of my son and I.  That they could see the love between us. The selflessness that parenting takes.  The courage it takes to do this alone.  I wish that my potential boss could see the house that I've made a home.  That they could see on paper how comfortable I can make people feel.  That I am a great listener and that being a parent has taught me a great deal of patience and compassion.  The blank space on my resume doesn't allow my potential employer to see that I can make quick decisions while staying calm, cool and collected.  And that I can deal with the consequences of my decision making.  They cannot tell from the words and dates written on the pages of a resume that I have wanted to give up many times but have pulled myself up and told myself that I will never, ever give up.  For the past six years I have been busy raising a human being.  And by raising I don't just mean providing food and shelter.  I have been working hard to actually try and RAISE up my son.  I try to let him know everyday how wonderful he is and how his life matters to this world.  That he can make a difference.  That he is special and wonderful in every way. Talk about a challenge!  I wish that my resume could include the fact that I am an optimist who chooses daily to see and focus on the positive.  The past years have been filled with non stop action and a tremendous amount of success.  Alas, non of these things will show up on my resume, but they are engraved in my heart and written all over my face.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Turn the other cheek

I am learning everyday. The phrase 'Turn the other cheek' used to confuse me. But I am beginning to wrap my heart around it. I am coming to terms with the idea that not everyone has the same ideals, the same faith, the same moral code. I will be attacked from time to time. I am a recovering people pleaser. If someone says something against me, in the past, I would fight to make it right. But what exactly had I been fighting for? The fear of rejection? The stain on a reputation? The acceptance of someone who can't accept? My foundation is cemented in my faith. Deciding to turn the other cheek strongly reminds me that we are all on our own path. I refuse to throw stones on someone else's walk. I will plant some seed, and walk the path that I have chosen. I pray everyday that it is the path that Christ leads me through. I want my eyes and ears and heart to be open. I want to share my journey with loving hearts who also wander. One of the most difficult lessons of life for me has been that you cannot walk down another's path. I have found myself desperately planting seed, tilling soil, and cutting vines to help the sun shine upon another's walk. I surrender that to God now. Often times faith means closing your eyes and opening your heart. My hand will still reach out to others who also feel that they are lost in hope that they will find some comfort and peace. I wish that I could hold the hand of my enemy as I turn the other cheek. My God wants me that way. There is an enormous wealth of peace in such a simple offering. In the past I considered my inability to deal with confrontation as a sign of weakness. I despised my shaking voice while under attack. But I do have a voice. It is led by my heart which beats to the rhythm of MY path. My heart aches, but it still beats. I will turn the other cheek. That is where my sun is.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Barefoot Parade

My five-year old son asked me the other day when I was going to get a 'real job'. This innocent inquiry made me sad. It brought me to tears. I am a 'stay at home mom'. I am a stay at home mom who cleans houses, sells jewelery and art, babysits and barters in order to be a stay at home mom. It was a choice. It is MY choice. It is the hardest job I have ever had in my life (and I have had many, many jobs). It is the hardest job I will EVER have. I have never felt so challenged, so tired, so judged, EVER. It is also heartbreaking to feel that often times the hardest judgement comes from...other mothers. Why are we so hard on one another? I have never looked at a mom who has had to, or chosen to return to work and looked down upon her. I do wonder how they do it. But in awe, not judgement. My circumstances at the time I was pregnant were different from some. I was working at a job that was not my career. I loved my job and still miss it and my co-workers dearly. At times I feel like I have had to sacrifice A LOT in order to be at home with my son. I sometimes feel like my life is on hold because of this choice. In some ways I suppose it is. I will be starting from scratch when I do return to work. I have lost most, if not all of my professional contacts and feel so far removed from the loop it could have morphed into a pretzel by now. I don't get to indulge and throw myself into my art as much as I would like. I very rarely spend quality time with friends (especially ones without children). In some ways it feels like you are savagely ripped from your 'real' life, from society. This was by choice? Yes. I choose this. Everyday I wake up I choose it again. But don't most moms feel that way from time to time? More often than not I feel like I am misunderstood. I've been called lazy, afraid, a princess, unfocused and indecisive. I have moments when I fall into that toxic line of thinking. But I also have moments when I think I am a brave, patient, loving, risk-taker. When it comes right down to it, it feels right...for us. I have prayed over this choice, I have surrendered it, I have over analyzed it and it still feels right...for us. It is not a job that gives you monetary rewards. There are no official awards. No promotions or climbing of any corporate ladders. No rule books. There isn't even a complaint box. My house isn't as spotless as everyone assumes it should be. When I am exhausted at the end of the day I often can't scratch a million things off of my 'to do list' and am left with the nagging feeling that perhaps I didn't accomplish a thing that day. My ego is so battered and bruised I can barely recognize my old self. But I know that I will never regret this decision. I will never regret this God gifted privilege of time. Despite all of the judgement and the bumps and bruises, I know with all of my heart that we have been given a precious gift.
I wasn't sure how to answer my son when he asked me when I was to get my 'real job'. I didn't want to respond 'well, you are my job'. That may give him the wrong impression, that he is work. But he is work, hard work. What prompted this big question from my little boy? How is it that we have come to a day and age where we are being judged because we choose to be at home with our children full-time. Woman are expected to be perfect housewives and lovers, perfect friends, perfect mothers, perfect business partners and professionals. What ARE we doing to ourselves? Can it be true that it is moms judging moms? Doesn't it take a village? We have to stick together! Help fill in the gaps for one another. To cheer one another on. To promise to be each others biggest fans and supporters. No one will understand us like, well we do. It is time to lift each other up in grand applause.
  Aren't we all on the same team? Aren't we all striving towards the same goal?

You know the saying, 'don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes'. Here, take mine. You can have them for as long as you need them. I'm pretty sure that if I tried on yours I would polish them up and make them look shiny and new. I would try to make your life a little easier, a little prettier, attempt to make your load a little lighter. But for one moment, perhaps we could all throw our shoes into a big pile and forget about them. Let's have one big barefoot parade. Let's get back to a place where we can look at each other judgement free and rediscover common ground. Let's encourage growth. Let's pick one another up. Let's love one another. And when it is time to put our shoes back on, let's just take a look at all of the beautiful choices we have. Some wear ballet flats, some red stiletto's, others running shoes or steel toe boots...different yes,

but they are ALL big shoes to fill.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

When Life Gives You Chocolate...

'Life is like a box of choclates', the famous words from 'Forest Gump'.  Not today my friends.  This day, life is like attempting to take two rookie dogs for a walk on retractable leashes.  That's what life is like for me this morning.  A sneaker up-er.  The day began with my 'in the big leagues' six year old, fresh grade one'r, beautiful baby boy crying at the drop-off door.  This day began with heartache.  I wanted to scoop him up into my arms and sprint him all the way home.  Waving good-bye and turning away, I feel like a stranger in my own skin and I wonder what kind of monster abandons her distraught child.  Feeling like a vicious beast, my day begins.  A lame attempt to 'shake it off' and bring myself back into a 'only sending out positive vibes into the universe', prayer sending wonder woman follows.  A lovely walk on a beautiful day should mend my confused and aching heart.  One dog(new to a leash) walks calm yet apprehensive beside my heel.  Two dog, carefree and wag a few steps ahead.  Red dog, blue dog.  Life is good.  I've got this.  I am completely in control runs out of bush and darts across the street taking the troops completely by surprise.  Wagging dog breaks for it in hot pursuit.  Heeler wraps leash around ankles.  Faster...tighter...PURPLE DOGSSSS...and...we all fall down.  Life.  My life.  Ok Mr. Gump, I agree, 'You never know what you're gonna get'.  It is all in how we perceive.

When I think about a box of chocolates, I am ready to dig right in.  Completely surrendering to the element of surprise.  You see, it matters not what ooey gooey goodness explodes from the centre of this precious gift...I LOVE CHOCOLATE!  Get into my mouth and I will deal happily with the consequences.  But how does one find the deliciousness of life's unexpected dish outs whilst sitting on the side walk with a sore bottom, leash burnt ankles, barking dogs and snickering cats?  Come on!  That's funny!  Right?  YOU LAUGH.  You laugh so hard it brings tears to your eyes.  Then, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off,  untangle the mess, wipe the stream of mascara from your laugh sore cheeks, huddle your team and smile and wave.  Heck, walk that sore bottom over to a bench and eat a whole box of 'YOLO' chocolates.  Throw caution to the wind.  Take chances.  Allow yourself to do something crazy.  Get silly.  Laugh it off.  Sure, my life can be 'like a box of choclates'.  It can also be a tangled up chaotic gong show.  My life gets messy.  I trip and I fall.  I get eggshell in my omelette's and things expire in my fridge.  I am far from perfect and therefore my life is far from perfect.  But this crazed life is on lease and it happens to be the only one that I've got.  It is my precious gift. So it's messy and careless and bruised at times.  It is also yummy and funny and full of unexpected chances.  For example, there is a chance that the neighbourhood already thinks that I am crazy.  Well, they will now.