Friday, June 24, 2016

I Said No, Finally

Vacation Bible School was this week.  When the email came out a few months ago, I did something that it took years for me to do.  I sent out a polite email and said, I would not be volunteering this year.

I said no.

Not only did I not volunteer, I haven't even been driving to church every morning.  My teenager is working VBS as a youth leader and my ten year old is participating in Mission Day Camp and we are carpooling!!  I have volunteered for the last 10-12 years. Two years ago, I went totally nuts and led (the children) through a week of Mission Day Camp and if that wasn't enough, I volunteered to be in charge of the craft for VBS.   I put my time in.  And it wasn't without inner turmoil.

From the very beginning, VBS overwhelmed me.  Coming from a very small country church with a handful of kids, I distinctly remember walking into my large church's gym for the first time and feeling overpowered by the intensity of nearly four hundred kids.  I didn't even have my own kids yet.  This gym was boisterous, loud, and full of energetic children.  And for several of the next years, I was responsible for groups of those loud, energetic children.  And even though the week wore me down like no other, and I had no energy for my own children, I persisted in volunteering year after year because that is what I was supposed to do.

In hindsight, I worried what it would look like that I was a stay at home mom who did not volunteer for VBS.   I let my concern over what I thought other people would think prevail over what I absolutely knew was true about myself. And then throw God in the mix and I was totally set up for years of inner angst!  I was never meant to be a teacher of kids.  I tried really hard to mold myself into that but it didn't work.  Girl Scout leader didn't stick either.

Yet I learned.  One year, I filled out a scathing review at the end of the week because I did not know how to ask for help.  That year, I was leading an "active" group that needed a lot of intervention and my co-leader's daughter got sick and I was ALONE with my lot.  I needed to ask for more help but I did not want to bother anybody.  I was miserable and it seeped out in the questionnaire.

Over time, I learned to listen to my intuition, I learned to be assertive, I learned that I was capable of leading children, I was capable of being in charge of something important but it is not my passion.  When you are passionate about something, it is near effortless and you gain energy!  What feels like work in one area, just flows in another.  (and that's God flowing through)

I am an introvert (albeit a social one).  Being around people drains me, especially children : )   I have to cocoon for a long time after spending a week with four hundred children.  Every summer, I would have an emotional meltdown towards the end of the summer and it was awful.  I didn't know how to listen to my intuition, and act on it.  I didn't ask for a quieter job.

But I know now.

But the mind is a funny thing. This past Monday morning, even though I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that I was hanging my VBS volunteer hat up for good, I did feel the need to tell two near strangers at church, that I was not working this year.  And guess what? THEY DID NOT CARE.

I'm the only one that cared!

 I'm the one that had to change my thoughts about it.  The only person I had to truly disappoint was me.  (well my oldest is giving me a small amount of flak, but she's a teenager and well, you know...) Thoughts are so powerful.  Paying attention to what you tell yourself about any given situation is so powerful.  Are the thoughts true?  Is the story that is repeated all day long in your head, true?  Those thoughts can mean misery or freedom.  It is the most important thing to do, to challenge the thoughts that you tell yourself about yourself all day long.  It takes time, but they can be rewired.

So today is the last day of VBS, and I am not even going for the closing service.  I will show up at noon when it's completely over, and gather my children together.  And I'm at peace with that.  I get to stay at home and write today. Pure Bliss.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

So Trump is the Presumptive Nominee...and Why Mindfulness Matters

Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee for President for the Republican party.

The Republican party has imploded.


My small self, with a small s, (my ego) is repulsed by this.  The nomination not the implosion.

And for all of the same reasons so many people are also completely and utterly turned off by him: bigotry, racism, misogyny, inciting violence and hatred, making fun of the disabled and the list goes on and on and on.  His ego is soft, and he cannot handle criticism or opposing views.  He attacks his "opponent" viciously with superficial arguments like gender or physical attributes, not the issue at hand.  He is like a toddler.  It is his way or the highway.  This is the level of emotional maturity that he is working under.

He is the textbook definition of a narcissist.

And a portion of the population is voting for him in droves.

And this is America.  It is a democracy.  And this is our process!

I can have my opinion and vote and you can too.

How will his temperament serve our country in foreign matters? His anti-Muslim rhetoric and big talk of bombing ISIS only makes their job of recruitment easier.  He plays into their hands.

This isn't an episode of Celebrity Apprentice or Miss USA.  The U.S. has to get along with the rest of the world.   Nothing about Trump says that he can be diplomatic. Nothing.

His presence in the race has provided hours of ratings for the media and entertainment for the masses but it has been cringeworthy every step of the way.  EVERY step of the way. 

I never liked him as an entertainer, because who he is as a person showed through.  He IS a child of God, as we ALL are but his attitude regarding women, is deplorable.  He has no experience in politics.  None.   His record of being a businessman has so many holes in it.  An article in Fortune Magazine, says that he would have billions more if he had just invested what he inherited in index funds rather than all of his failed businesses.  With the bankruptcies that he can't acknowledge, and failed businesses (the defunct Trump University is currently in litigation for false claims and illegal business practices) where is this business acumen the authoritarian voters cling to when asked why he is an attractive candidate?   He is media savvy.  He knows about branding.  The Trump name just appeals to his voters because it says luxury, but some of it is a facade.  He doesn't even own all the buildings that his name is on, he just licenses them to carry his name.  Appearances.

The people who are voting for him really don't know what they are getting themselves into.  He has changed his stance on many issues to appeal to the extreme right which is normal for politicians.  Yet he has no track record to review, to know what the heck he would do in the most powerful position in the world.  He knows what to say, to get a segment of the population riled up.  And most of it, is in three and four word sentence fragments that have no real meaning.

It's not just that he is a Republican and I am firmly on the Democratic side.

It's who he is as a person.  He has no common decency.  It's all about looks.

He makes fun of the "least of these."

It would be embarrassing to have him as our leader.

And with all that said, this is really my point.   This is where the Self with a Big S comes into play for me.   The idea of a Trump presidency is revolting in every way imaginable.   And in the past, this presumptive nomination would have kept me awake at night, and worked up and anxious for days. And for me, that is no way to live.  And mindfulness has gotten me to a place where even if he is elected President, I could accept it.  Acceptance of people, places and things that don't fit with my ideals is terribly hard work but doable.  Life is about acceptance and letting go.  Life is about love.  And I work my way towards that as much as possible.

I don't hate Donald Trump, I just don't agree with him very much, at all.

I would not watch the news. (I don't watch it now though)   I would accept that I have no control over it EXCEPT to vote and contact my Congressman both state and federally.  And I would let it go to a Higher Power.

Our country has gone through many terrible events and our government is one of checks and balances.  The U.S. would survive.

From a Reuters article in March by Peter Apps:

"For all his rhetoric, a President Trump would, like all other occupants of the Oval Office, find himself constrained by the Constitution, judiciary and Congress. Even if the Republicans do retain control of the House and Senate, many members of Congress are already voicing their opposition. And if a Trump presidency proves as contentious as many expect, it could easily deliver the Democrats control of Congress in 2018."
He would more than likely be a one term President.  That helps my endeavor of mindfulness!!  It would be a test but it could be done. I want to sleep at night. I don't want to worry about politics although they are very important.  In the past, I would have worried excessively.  

I want to engage FULLY  in the people in my life right where I am, as a thoughtful, caring, loving present human being.  I can't do that worrying about who the next President will be.

Mindfulness.  Don't leave home without it.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Can I Run From These Feelings Any Faster?

Earlier this morning, feelings were sitting on my chest.  Discomfort.


 (If you've read any of my blogs this is my running THEME and I want to flee the discomfort as soon as I'm aware of it's presence - like a snake in my house type of fleeing)

Feelings are just energy.  They are a normal part of life.  It has been a continual process for me to learn how to cope when the discomfort arises.  I know, I truly know in my head,  I need to be curious and welcoming to the energy and not fight it, and the energy will flow. It can be a day, or a few hours, or just minutes.  And if it's a major life upheaval, it shows up repeatedly for a period of time.

I spent the past few years, intimately learning to let the feelings flow.  More than thirteen years ago, I shut down my feelings after a terrible bout of postpartum depression.   The PPD started a few months before childbirth and ran for the entire year after. It was such a depth of sadness, pain and anxiety and I NEVER wanted to go THERE again.   At times, I felt the struggle to live through each moment.  Along with the sadness, anxious thoughts never stopped in my head. I can visualize one particular Saturday morning with George and I could not make up my mind about going to Target for a shopping run.  It was an endless loop:  "Can I go?", "Will the baby get hungry?" "Will I need to breastfeed?"  "I really need to get out the house" "George can help" "This is the only day he can help" "I can't go, it's too much" and then it started over. And all of the questions repeated endlesssly.  It was utterly draining.

God bless George.  I didn't tell him everything.  It was a very isolating and lonely existence.  It was the loneliest I had ever felt in my life.

So I unconsciously stopped feeling.  And that's not good either.  You can't just stop the so-called negative emotions, you also stop the pleasurable ones as well.  I have had to learn how to have fun again.  And that seems cra cra, but oh so true.

What I'm awakening to, is that what comes with those feelings are thoughts. Now that I'm not so scared of the feelings, I'm seeing that thoughts go through my head SIMULTANEOUSLY with the flow of emotions.  Those thoughts tell me something is wrong with me.

What comes first, the thought or the feeling?  The chicken or the egg? It doesn't matter, I have some rewiring to do.  I just saw things more clearly this morning.

I got a little more curious because I knew the sadness would flow.  And that's when I caught my thoughts going into a rabbit hole.

The thoughts are part of a story I tell myself that is also on loop.  We all have stories about ourselves whether they are true or not.  That voice in my head says I am not enough. Unless one has graduated from Mindfulness - at an Eckhart Tolle level, the thoughts are there.   The work I have to do is to rewrite the story that I tell myself.  I have to question the thoughts that pop up in my head and ask, is this true?  If this person does not accept me, does that mean I'm not worthy?  If my dress size is considered plus size, am I worthy?  Even though my house is not neat and I lose my patience with my kids or my husband, am I worthy?  The questions are endless and oh so personal for each one of us.   Career, job, material things, health, accepting anyone in our life for who they are, spiritual journey, on and on.  If we think we are not worthy, until this, whatever THIS is, occurs, we tell ourselves that we are not enough.

I know I am worthy, as each person who is alive is worthy.

I know deep down, I am love at my core. I know also that I have a faulty loop.  So I shall work on questioning and rewiring.  And eventually I will spend less time on this, and more time on loving.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Grieving The Living

I am grieving a living person.  It's a very painful process, excruciating.  But I'm willing to go to the mat, and do the heavy work.  I don't want to live in this box anymore.

I have let my self worth be directed by a person who is wounded.  I can't do this anymore.

I am making myself small in order to try to gain acceptance and I will never get it. It has been shown to me over and over and over again that I will not get it.

Now is time to have compassion and acceptance for myself.

 I have to branch out and know that a higher power is going to see me through.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Changed My Party Identification to Democrat Today

The Iowa caucus is behind us.  This pushed me to do something today that I have been meaning to to do for years.  I changed my party identification from Republican to Democrat officially.

This is HUGE.

It has taken a long time to step out of the shadows and embrace who I am.

This is BIG.  

In the last 2-3 years, I worried about posting anything on FB that would give away that I was not with the grain of my Red state.

At this point in time, I can't believe I ever felt that way.  

Politics and religion became intermixed when push button issues became Republican and equal being a Christian.  Now, I see that so differently  When I was ashamed before, now I think, how could you even think you are a follower of Jesus - and espouse such hate and fear.   What would Jesus do?

Living my authentic life is evolving.

Slowly and surely.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Hello Roid Rage

I was sick for close to three weeks with the crud.  I would feel better and go out and then have relapses.  I had wheezing, sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion, and allergies.   It gets old really fast to not have the energy to keep up with life.  I tried resting, antibiotics, inhalers, and other over the counter meds and I still wasn't up to par.  I went to the doctor and ended up with a steroid shot and then a steroid pack to take over several days.  I must have never had this combination before...

I woke up the next morning, feeling alive and righteous. There was no wheezing, no sore throat and oh my gosh, I feel alive and have energy!!  Woo Hoo!  Yes!  And then over time, it became apparent that an irritable alien took over my body.  I am angered so easily.  So very easily.  (There is no way to watch anything in the news about politics right now.)  I even felt the need to start posting political rants on FB, but just went so far as to like a few Democratic posts.  Benign FB posts are annoying me.  I don't feel right in my body.  At moments, it is hard to be with myself at all.

And then I began waking during the night, alert and for no reason.  And I want to eat everything in sight.

This weekend, I wanted to rip George's head off numerous times (and I know he wanted to rip mine as well).  And then there is our teenager...  I just backed away from her several times, because I knew I was in no frame of mind to go head to head.

The irritability feels so uncomfortable.   I have worked so hard at mindfulness to recognize when these feelings and energy come my way, to be curious, and to allow them through.  I have worked so hard to let anger, anxiety, and sadness not take over and paralyze me.

But this rage is not going anywhere.

Sitting and breathing with it.  Being in this present moment sucks.

And, this is life.  It is not guaranteed to be smooth.  At all.  Being in the present moment is harder right now but it will pass.

I just wanted to feel better.  I wished to feel better and have energy.  Heh heh, I got that.

This will pass.  I will avoid those things that I know stir me up.  I will back away.  I will not read about politics right now.  I will be angry.  This too will pass.  I will send a message to my doctor and ask, can I quit taking them now?  And it is okay.  Feeling uncomfortable will not do me in.  It feels like it will, but it won't.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Putting the Air Mask on First

During Christmas break, I tend to lose my marbles when the kids are home 24/7.  It's just the way it goes.  And every year, I forgot that this will occur, and finally after 13 years as a mom, I'm starting to catch on.    I get cranky, short-tempered and yearn for any adult conversation at Easter, Mardi Gras, Thanksgiving and Summer Vacation.  During this past Christmas break,  putting the air mask on first, what airlines tell you to do in preflight demonstration before you put the mask on your child, resonated with me big time.

It really sunk in.

It is one thing to have intellectual knowledge of a notion or idea it is another to put it in practice. (And for it to go well.)
I have read and talked about many parenting ideas that I know are right from an intellectual standpoint
yet putting ideas that I recognize to be good in practice requires much discomfort.

I saw an incremental change during the last school break. On the spur of the moment, I decided to go to yoga and leave the ten year old with the thirteen year old (and the ferocious guard dog and the alarm system on!)  The ten year old DOES NOT LIKE staying at home with the thirteen year old.   The thirteen year old who herself has Red Cross certification and one babysitting experience under her belt, DOES NOT WANT a sitter anymore. So what's standing in my way, is the beloved heart and nerves of a ten year old.  (On this particular occasion, my husband was able to leave later for work, and off I ran.)

But this time, I was going for it, no matter what.  Even though it made my ten year old uncomfortable, I wanted and needed to go.  In the past, I would have hedged back and forth, the child would have seen that I was hesitant and they would have gone for the jugular for me to do what they wanted.

The practice of yoga, feeds my soul and works out my body.   I feel refreshed, renewed, and mindful afterwards.  It is exactly what I needed to take on the rest of the day and school break.  And it hit me that this is what it means to put the air mask on first, because then you are better able to handle what comes your way.   This was actually practicing that idea with one caveat.

I would do things before that were FOR ME but I would feel GUILTY over it and WORRY the entire time.  This was one time, I walked away and left my worries at home and focused on myself for an entire hour.

It was almost better than an orgasm.

And it lasted longer.

I came home from yoga, went straight to Mallory and said, "I know you didn't want me to go and I appreciate your cooperation, I really love to practice yoga and it makes me feel really good" (...Laying the foundation for future yoga sessions)

And the kicker is this act of putting the air bag on first is teaching my children to take care of themselves.  Losing my mind and being short tempered, is not how I want to love my children or myself.

Taking care of me, helps me take care of them AND most importantly they learn from watching what I do.  Not what I say.  What I do.