It’s Not That Serious

It’s not that serious. This is my mantra lately as the worry and anxiety creep into my mind. You know, those middle of the night moments when you start thinking about the “to-do” list.  Or worrying about being a good enough (fill in the blank). To avoid becoming consumed with these thoughts, I try to observe them and tell myself, “It’s not that serious”.  Because most of it isn’t.  It’s just my perception, the tunnel vision that takes over when I start overthinking.  We can’t control life, but we can control our reactions.

So I start celebrating the little victories.  “I worked out this morning!”  “I made it to work on time (sort of)!”  “My 4 year old brushed his teeth!”   

In fact, I’ve been taking cues from my 4 year old lately.  Children, especially our own, can be our greatest teachers.  They are often a mirror of our own behavior. They watch our every move and will certainly repeat it.  They also find our blind spots and point them out.  When I am in a rush and taking life too seriously, he’ll ask me “Mom, why are you talking so fast (or loud)?” Or “Mom, why do you keep saying that?”, followed by, “Stop telling me, I already know”.  

 

And I stop- take stock of what I am worried about and try to determine if indeed, it is worth it.  Is it really about him, or is it about me? I then find myself wanting to mimic his ability to be in the moment, incapable of multi-tasking. By simplifying, the grip of anxiety starts to soften. It’s amazing how much smoother our commute to school can be when I let the last 20 minutes of trying to rush him out the door go.  We stop worrying about the traffic, making up stories about why there are so many buses parked at the station (maybe they’re on a coffee break).  He points out things I would have otherwise let slip by as I stare at the car bumper in front of me, like someone working on a roof, or the color of the clouds.  We sing along to Sesame Street tunes.  (I dare you not to smile when listening to these silly songs). He gives me “smooches” and a hug before pushing me out the door to his preschool.  Then I smile, thinking about the moments we just shared instead of the “to-do” list as I head into a busy work day. (Another victory to celebrate!)  After all, it’s not that serious.  Life will still go on as it always does, bringing new challenges and opportunities to live in the moment.  It’s up to us what to make of them.

Aversion and Acceptance

Spring is here, my favorite season of the year as the days turn longer, flowers start blooming, rain clears the air and warm breezes fill the air. I’ve always had a hard time with Winter because of the colder days that are short in daylight hours but recently have found more beauty in it. As I think about these seasons and how they relate to my own life, I want to talk about aversion and acceptance.

After a turn of events that led Jamie to choose rehab, I had a severe aversion to alcohol. The smell of it coming from a wine glass, walking past it at a grocery store, watching it pass the lips of friends and family all made me shudder and sick with nausea. Big emotions have a physical response. I would tell myself that it was my problem, not theirs. That consuming alcohol is very much a part of the everyday adult life for most. That I too, had just been doing the same thing for many years, even before my adult life as a way to fit in, let my socially awkward guard down. But now the very shield I often used to hide behind, was causing me to become physically ill. It was the cause of my pain, not the suffering of going through this difficult time in my life. It made it hard to let the light of others come in. I was in my own winter. I would often make polite excuses to leave early. While this aversion helped me keep boundaries for myself and for Jamie, I never felt safe in talking to anybody about it. Was afraid that the already declining invitations to hang out or have dinner etc, would be even less.

Aversion, can put you in a lonely place. But during this time, I learned to start listening to my heart, my body, my soul. Slowly as my heart began to heal, I became more comfortable around alcohol. Now I even occasionally drink a glass, I don’t just hold it for appearances.

“Love your suffering. Do not resist it. It is aversion that hurts, nothing else.” Hermann Hesse

I have now fully accepted where I am, where my relationship is, where we are as a family. This of course is dynamic and consistently comes with new challenges.

I can honestly look back and say I loved this time of suffering. I have accepted it fully. And now I am working on continuing to live in the present moment and seeking to strengthen and renew relationships, build new ones and to be my best self, minute by minute, day by day, season by season.

 

 

Repost

Well here we are, mid March and almost at the 1st day of Spring.  The “busy” of the holidays and start of a New Year seem to be settling a tiny bit, or rather I have found my new routine.  I am struggling with finding the time to write.  Often things come to me in the early morning hours while I am running or breathing on the yoga mat.  When I get to my journal later, the words seem to have been lost along the way.  But I am still determined to get in at least 1 post a month.  As my first “shared” post was a magazine article I wrote and the magazine has since been taken down, I thought I would take the time to repost as inspiration not only to others, but to myself to keep on keepin’ on.

“I Do- The Promise That is Tested”

People make promises and then break them all the time.  To keep a promise, you must understand, that it’s not just to someone else, but also to yourself.

“I’ll accompany you, and you’ll accompany me”, is the promise my husband and I repeated to each other on our wedding day over 5 years ago.  A day we stood in front of our closest family and friends as we committed to spending the rest of our lives together.

Little did I know that a wrecking ball was going to come crashing in the window 10 days later, that would test us in so many, many ways. But my husband saved our marriage, by saving himself first.  Huh, you ask? Remember I said the promise is 2 fold, and lucky for me, he realized he had to start with the man in the mirror.

Long story (to be told another day) short-  the man I married just admitted he was an alcoholic, and not only needed but wanted help. At that moment, he didn’t want to be alone for a second, not even in the shower, like he was afraid the world was going to swallow him up.  I was kind of wishing it would swallow me up.  I felt like everything was surreal, like I was watching a movie. Watching someone face their demons head on is certainly scary.  But surely as the sun rises each morning, we found light in our love.  It was as easy, and as hard, as getting up each day and asking, “What can I do to help?”.

Over the next days, weeks, and months, people asked how I managed to continue living life as usual (as opposed to lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself ).  When you love someone, I mean , really love someone- you love all of them.  I believe that we find reflections of ourselves in those around us.  We’re not all that different from each other after all, and realizing that makes life a little easier. I put myself in his shoes everyday. We became better versions of ourselves and grew in ways that only comes from the hard times.  My husband has become the partner, son, brother, and father that he was destined to be because he started with the man in the mirror.  I am so glad I get to look into that mirror and see myself next to him, as the spouse, daughter, sister and mom I was destined to become by keeping my promise.

If you’re lucky, you will let go of those that you know you will not be able to hold true to your promises.  If you are even luckier, you will find the one that lets you make a promise to be your best self every day by being together.

What About Love?

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So here it is, almost Valentine’s Day… and part of my “New Year’s Goals” was to publish a blog a month.  Well life seemed to get a little in the way as the end of one year and the beginning of another tends to be extremely busy at home, at work, and in general.  To save my sanity, I had to prioritize and with this, some of my hobbies took a back seat.  But it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, or written little snip-its to use later.  So I was looking in my Notes section of my phone and found a lesson in love I had written down.  A lesson given to me by my 3 year old.  And well, as Valentine’s Day is almost here, I thought this would be a great way to refresh my blog, refresh my heart, and hopefully touch and refresh those around me.  And I hope you enjoy this short piece and stay tuned for more…

Today my almost 3 year old gave me a lesson in love. He told me he loved me after I said the same to him. My heart was of course bursting, as we all want to hear those words especially at those moments when we may least expect it (he used to just smile really big when I told him I loved him). However in the same moment he added, “but not Daddy”. I looked over and saw Dad’s shoulders slump as he was busy cleaning up the dishes among so many of the things he does for our family. I know 3 year olds say things to see what reaction it may elicit, so we didn’t dig further at this moment. And I didn’t tell him he “should” love Dad.  But apparently the lesson wasn’t over.  As I laid him down to sleep, he said it again,  “I love you, but not Daddy.” “Well I love you and Dad,”  I replied.   Then he added, “I’ll love him after I wake up from my nap.” Of course my mind started spinning as I was trying to navigate through this teachable moment. So I asked, “You can only Love one person at a time?” “Yes” he added. And I realized- I was the one who was getting schooled on big emotions that so often come from little words.  I put him down and walked out of the room, processing the conversation.  It hit me- to him, love is such a big (and complicated) emotion, he thought he could only offer it to one person at a time.  Of course we know this is not true, but in his mind and heart, when he “loves” someone it is an action that can only be directed at one person.  This gave me pause… a chance to reflect as I left his room.  It reminded me, that we should do all things wholeheartedly in the moment. Especially Love.

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Photo Cred: Jessie Lathroum @insidethepaperbox