Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Playground woes

I was at the playground with my kids this weekend (I spend a lot of time there!) and my daughter fell down and split her lip open. A pretty common occurrence, no? In these situations, I am surprising calm and collected, I can assess the situation and act quickly. I scooped up my daughter (dripping in blood...faces bleed A LOT), and asked my son to grab his ball and water bottle and come to the car with me. 
As I laid my daughter down in the back of the car and wiped her face clean, all I could think about were the staring faces of all of the parents as I left, of all of the inaction I saw before my own eyes, of how nobody offered me a helping hand. I really didn't need help, but I wanted to feel a connection somehow, that another parent could say, "I've been there, this isn't easy, let me offer you some help." 
An incident like that gets to me because I like to think of people as genuine and good, I like to think the best of people, and when I don't see that it makes me shake my head and wonder if I'm missing something. Maybe it makes me feel a little lonely, too. 
 When I think of it more, I realize that my disappointment comes from the fact that I actually had an expectation that even just one person would act with compassion. It is true that expectations lead to more suffering than necessary, and I need to let go of them, even the little ones. 
Lately, I've been trying to live one day at a time, accepting each day for what it is, reminding myself that I am the master and the cause of my attitude, feelings, emotions and behavior. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hug it out

Do you ever have one of those days when you let your mind fill with self doubt, when your inner dialogue is so mean to yourself, when you feel like your skin just crawls with loathing for the things your mind does to yourself?  I have them, and it is like a vortex that sucks you in and tries to drown you in your own thoughts.

I am learning to recognize this in myself more and help myself through it.  I don't really talk about it because it makes me feel badly that I'm my own harshest critic (maybe this is true for most people).  I try to remind myself that I am a good person at heart, that I am not perfect (and that imperfection is OKAY), that I am trying my best (and that some days it looks different than others), and that my intention in life is to love fully, to seek happiness, and act with empathy.  

When I am not successful in letting those thoughts of self doubt go, I resort to my oldest trick...hug it out.  It sounds terribly simplistic, but it helps me.  Luckily, I live with two small rugrats who love to hug and cuddle me, and they are never stingy with their affection. Sometimes I squeeze them so tightly, and it feels so nice to smell in their sweet scent and to feel their genuineness, to see the world through their eyes, to tangibly feel that I am exactly what they need....and that is so key for me.  They don't care about any of the faults that I see in myself, and it reminds me that there is more to life that the battles I fight in my head.  There IS love, there IS happiness...and it exists all around me, I just have to step back and take a look. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A little kindness goes a long way

A very long time ago, I heard a quote that has always stuck with me, and I remind myself of it often:
"Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something."

I think this especially hits me when I am going through a rough patch, it reminds me that we all have struggles, we all have things going on behind the scenes, we could all use a little more empathy and kindness. It's easy to get lost in your head, to allow yourself to become self absorbed, to retreat a little....but taking the time to be nice to a stranger, to smile for no reason, to have empathy for the world around you can lift your spirits, and oddly enough...can show you how to have empathy for yourself.  When I am down, I find that my thought process gets harsher on myself, and when I am mindful of treating others with kindness, it allows me to see that I should be treating myself the same way.  
Take the time to remember that we are all going through life with worries and fears, we all doubt ourselves from time to time, we could always use a little encouragement (or at least a random smile or a door held). Making kindness a part of your day will bring it back to you tenfold, if not from someone else, from yourself. 
Make someone smile today and I bet you will find yourself smiling, too :)

Monday, September 8, 2014


I have this nagging feeling....something I can't quite put my finger on, but a need for something that is just outside of my grasp.  So many of my days are filled with the very mundane ins and outs of living that my mind gets trapped in desperately wanting to break free. The more I try to quiet it, the more frustrated I become and I need to channel these thoughts in a better way.  
I've been turning to yoga to help, and adding that to my week helps me to boost me up, it lets me feel strong and puts me exactly in the moment...but it doesn't alleviate the yearning.
Maybe I'm expecting too much from life, maybe I'm a little dissatisfied with life, maybe I need to have a little more acceptance that this part of my life is fleeting and that I should embrace it more fully.
I guess the truth is that I've never felt so NEEDED, living with small kids is so draining at times, and I feel that there is little time or energy left for myself.  It feels grounding, but also very smothering....giving my all to what I feel is good and right for my kids doesn't always mean that I do the same for myself, and that is something that I want to work on.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Living in the Moment

I've been thinking about this concept a lot and working really hard at Living in the Moment.  I am trying to come to terms with the realization that living with small kids will both suck the life out of you and breath life into you (sometimes within minutes of each other). I am not going to live a life waiting for bliss, I am learning to find happiness in every day and making it a priority.  Love and joy are both a choice, and I choose them over everything else.

It is really damned hard to live in the moment when so many of them are filled with "Mommy!  Get me this, do this for me, (whine, whine, WHINE), my toe hurts, I need something, this milk is in the wrong cup..."  I let those moments get to me and make me long for QUIET moments...but when the quiet moments do come (they are rare, but DO happen), I let my mind fill with what will be next, with preparing for the next fire, with anticipating.  I am trying to teach myself to stop, to take each moment for what it is, accept it, and get as much as I can from each one of them (without using "good" and "bad" as descriptors).  This is not easy, and my old brain is working hard at learning this new trick!!

I'm not completely successful at this yet, but I'm learning.  Practicing mindfulness will bring more happiness (it's been scientifically proven TED talk on happiness).  It's a great talk, if you don't have the 10 minutes to take a listen, the take home message is that there really is no "secret" to happiness, but that even if you are doing something that you don't particularly "enjoy", you can derive more happiness from that moment by focusing on what you are doing.

There are some things that I try to keep in mind that help me stay in the exact moment that I am experiencing, and here are some of them:

  • Mommy hugs and kisses are really high currency; I am equipped with exactly what my kids need to give them comfort and love, even if I can't "solve" their problems.
  • Accept that life is not about living in pure bliss, it is about appreciating the bliss that you do feel and learning how to find more of it.
  • Letting go of expectation sets your mind free and allows you experience life as it comes.  *This one is particularly challenging for me, but also gives me the greatest results. 
  • Let go of the "what if's"....You are well equipped to deal with whatever comes your way in life without running through every possible scenario before hand.  Preparing for scenarios that might never come to pass is not helpful and is wasted energy.
  • If you feel something BIG, then let it be big and figure out how to learn from it...don't diminish your reaction to a situation, don't let any one else diminish your reaction, but do reflect on it and learn why the situation feels so big to you.
  • Love yourself, you are worthy of love and happiness, don't be your worst critic, and ask for help when you need it.
Maybe those things are not very earth shattering or novel, but they do help me.  When all else fails, take a breath and lift something heavy, or rock a new yoga pose, or sing really loud or recite a poem from heart....just do whatever it is that makes you feel totally bad-ass.