It’s already the end of the world!

Those of you who know me…know that I live with anxiety.  And yeah…I can’t really even pass it off as one of those cool artist kind of things.  Because it’s not cool. Oddly,  I don’t usually think of myself as a person with an anxiety disorder,  which is funny, since a pretty solid chunk of my day is governed by the fact that I am a person with anxiety disorder. Anxiety can turn something as simple as my morning chores into a psychological game show, where I’m constantly trying to figure out the correct answer before the timer runs out. Do I get dressed now in case I need to go to the hospital for a terminal disease/heart attack/catastrophic health event, or wait because if I move it might just set off the cascading effects of said disease/heart attack/catastrophe?  Oops, you chose wrong, and now you’re having a panic attack! Not only that but you’re not even dressed properly…lol.  But thank you for playing “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”!

Over the years I’ve used lots of therapies…some that worked and some that were laughable but hey…I tried them just in case.  But here’s the point.  The one that has been most valuable…the one that is a life saver….is my journaling practice.  My right arm is my secret weapon.  When I feel overwhelmed, chaotic, in over my head, when it feels like the end of the world…I sit down to practice my art in a journal.  I sit down to tour my imagination, and get those subconscious thoughts out on paper.  You can’t heal if you don’t deal…lol.  To get all hippiewoo on you.   And here’s what I know.  Anxiety, for me, is coming from suppressed emotions/thoughts.  I make it a practice to share those thoughts and emotions everyday.  In my journal.   I let my subconscious out to take a walk.  To send light to those dark crazy spaces.  Because anxiety is not the boss of me. It’s not even a good survival technique for me.  And It’s most definitely not a good fashion look for me.  True Story!

http://tinyurl.com/http-Artasmagic-com

 

You can blame others or save yourself!

Either or.  Not both I’ve decided.  IT’s a funny thing about lessons.  They come when you need them right?  But in my case, I often notice a lesson playing out for others, before I realize that the dang lesson is for me.  So I’m going along watching others struggle with something and feeling like I got it HA!  and then I realize…dang the lesson is for me…not for them. Or maybe it’s for them…but it’s for me too.

This particular lesson has come up about ten times in the last four or five days.  Because, you know, I couldn’t get it the first time.  So, I’ve found myself , hypocritically, trying to point this lesson out to those around me. While not really practicing this little piece of spiritual advice myself.   I hate when I’m a hypocrite.  Ugh.

So, today, I sat with this thought while going about my other responsibilities.  Hey universe…I get it.  Blaming others leads to a whole lot of victim hood, depression, fear blah blah. Then I thought for awhile about how you can avoid blaming others.  At first, I was kind of like…“hey, other people do wrong you sometimes.  Other people can be wrong.  Murderers for instance…child abusers, people who interfere with your joy and happiness, liars (and there’s alot of that on the American scene right now) That is all true I said to myself.  Dang right it’s true I answered myself back”!  Still…what’s the answer to not blaming? Because blaming someone ….even if you think they deserve it… is still not going to get you down the path of healing and enlightenment right?

I suspect that the answer is different for different people.  But here’s what I came up with if it helps…

1.  Identify the problem.  Take a real,  realistic honest look at what is really bothering you.  Look at it from different perspectives.  What makes it better?  What would make your feelings about it change? Can you understand where the other person was coming from?  If not, can you at least get out of the blaming space?

2. Face your fears…take responsibility for resolving it.  No one is going to fix it for you. Most times the person you are blaming is not going to fix it because who even knows what their experience of the whole situation is?  They may be blaming you right back or have some other agenda that you’re not even aware of. Hey…they have their own journey and you have yours.  Save yourself is what I’m saying.

3. Don’t waste your time feeling bad and doing nothing.  Do something.  And if you can’t do something now…then let it go until you can. Really let it go.  Don’t do that martyr thing because… nobody looks good doing all that.

And last but not least…something I learned from Marianne Williamson….Pray hard for the person who you feel has wronged you. For days.  Either it will change them or it will change how you feel about what they did. Or you will get tired and move on to some other problem…lol.  You think I’m kidding but I seriously don’t have the behavioural  energy for long term blame, anger, and grudge holding.  For the most part, you have to really do me wrong in order for me to remember to be mad. And even then I mostly forget.

Now, if I can just put all that into practice…laughter…I’ll let you know.  Guru-in- practice Fonda…signing out.

Some thoughts for my Daughters…..

Dear Daughters and Stepdaughters,

Looking at life through the lens of daughter, mother, stepmother and grandmother, I have come to appreciate how much harder it is to be a mother today than it was for my mother in the 60’s or for me in the 90’s.  Please don’t be fooled by all of the conveniences of modern motherhood – more mothering blogs, advice books, toys, electronic devices, quick foods, and gadgetry have not made your lives easier.

In fact, you are living in such a complex and fast paced world that it’s hard to keep up with the latest recall (Is your peanut butter OK?  Has your baby car seat been condemned?).  Add to that the fact that it is really challenging for you to live a life as comfortable as the one in which you were raised. And the fact that you worked very hard for your pre-children careers, which you are  financially unable to abandon easily without great hardship( and which you continue to pay for.) This despite the fact that you are inundated with the idea and philosophies that you must breastfeed( else you are a bad mother) and spend the formative years exclusively with your children. Hard to understand how you can do all that and work.  You definitely have a recipe for stress far greater than your grandmothers or I experienced.

I feel sad that many of your grandmothers’ generation, and many of my fellow baby boomers, are sometimes so harsh in their criticism of your generation of mothers.  Your grandmother can honestly declare, “In my day, children weren’t spoiled by so many toys,” or “Children didn’t watch so much television,” or “We didn’t need DVDs, smart phones, or iPads to occupy our kids,” or “Children didn’t misbehave in restaurants.” Largely this is due to the fact that many of these things did not exist in her day(with the exception of restaurants and tv).  My peers and I would have to admit that we picked up tons of toys every night and let you watch television so we could cook dinner.  We definitely would have used the DVD’s and smart phones if we’d had them and I suspect so would they.

So, my daughters, I apologize for the disapproval you and your peers feel from women who raised their children in calmer and simpler times. Here’s what I want you to know:

You are all already vastly more prepared and educated than we were as mothers.  I’ve watched each of you educate yourselves on prenatal care, postnatal care,breastfeeding,  study child rearing techniques, agonize over food choices and  childcare, weigh pros and cons of staying at home or keeping your careers. I’m pretty sure a lot of the people in my generation,  and my mom’s parented on a wing and a prayer.  I know I did.

You will make mistakes.  It’s human nature and moms are not exempt from that.  I’ve made many many.  So have your grandmothers and every other mom out there. Moms are not perfect  Learn from them and learn from their mistakes and move on.

Know that I see and appreciate what you are doing.  You are all great moms already.  I could not be prouder of each of you!  Why?  Because you love your children, and I see all of you cherishing those babies and keeping them safe and healthy.  I see the countless hours you spend planning, playing, working to ensure that your children will be happy healthy members of this world, despite being tired, overworked, and stressed yourselves.

Jessica I watched you struggle with your illness and med schedule to make sure that your babies were healthy and safe. I’ve watched the countless hours you spend with our grandsons teaching, and playing despite having little sleep. You rock,  and your patience as a Mom is amazing!

Ginger I saw your little feet swollen up like pumpkins because you worked right up until the end in order to provide for your son economically.  I’ve seen how his face lights up for you when he hears your voice and what a happy little fella he is…letting the world know that he is safe and secure .  You are a wonderful Mom!

Savanna I’ve watched you struggle with pain and illness in order to bring our granddaughter into the world safely ..any day now.   The sheer amount of planning and thought put into how you want to raise your daughter has been awe inspiring.  Truly I’m in awe of the Mom you’re becoming!

If you occasionally feel criticized for your parenting and hear the familiar, “In my day…” – please understand that people who say this have mostly rewritten the past to suit themselves. They’ve forgotten what it was really like. I know I have and they have to.   Also know that their times were far less challenging than yours.

And please forgive me for teaching you that, you have to do it all by yourself and for yourself.  I somehow took that on and most likely passed some of that to all of you in one way or another. Find a village to help you to raise your children wherever you can, and be part of someone else’s village too.  Because it takes a village.  You guys are my village and I’m proud to be a part of your village ever yday.  My world is a better place because you are in it!

Love you all!

Taking a Mother’s day Inventory….

 

Do you take your own inventory periodically?  Ok, well I do.  This is where I think about the things I’ve accomplished (or not) in my life.  Here’s what stands out for me today in thinking about Mother’s day coming up.   Could be something different tomorrow. Depends on the mood.  But this is it for today..

I most definitely have helped some children find their way.  Evan and I have six children between us.  I love them.  But.. it was a big adjustment.  You know that part in the Grinch where his heart was six sizes too small?  Each child that comes into your life causes your heart to grow. Mine is six sizes larger than it was previously.  It had already grown significantly with the birth of my two children.  So it knew how to stretch. Then it stretched some more.  Hey your heart is a muscle, it can stretch and stretch is my theory.  Being a step mom is not the easy path.  Not gonna lie.  But it is ultimately so rewarding.  Have I been perfect?  That would be a big “heck no”!. But the point is in the trying I think, and the doing, day after day.  The building up of your patience muscle (yeah, it has to match your heart muscle) is an exercise that you get to practice regularly.    It’s not often that a day goes by without someone needing me.  To listen, to witness, to advise, to mother…to pay…lol.  My family was really small and really sort of loners in some respects. In this family I’ve created and grown into…  I’m not often alone with my thoughts, especially during the summer.  You get to find an awful lot out about yourself and your abilities when surrounded constantly by younger people.  I wouldn’t change that for anything.  They’ve taught me so much about myself and mostly how NOT to be selfish ( And how far behind I am in the world of technology lol). . Ultimately it’s not about what we want….it’s about what we can do and give to someone else that makes our lives meaningful.  And they’ve taught me to question my beliefs that I somehow know what’s right for them.  Yep, they’ve taught me to challenge that belief a lot!

On top of our six children, I teach art to high risk children.  I have for about five years.  Oh the lessons that I’ve learned from this.  See…I thought I was teaching them.  Turns out I was the one who had so much to learn. Mostly I had to learn more patience, and about showing up consistently, and about works being so much more important than words.  I had to learn the hard way that not every child is open to expressing themselves.  In fact, most children who are in the middle of a struggle are not.  And isn’t that true of all of us? I had to learn to work on a subtle, below the surface kind of wavelength.  Gently gently pushing them to go a little deeper. Mostly hoping that there was a connection in the absence of all evidence to the contrary.  Yep…lots of lessons here for me.

I’m on a kick, recently,  to listen to the negative stuff in my mind and find out what the positive message is in that.  So in taking my inventory…although I may not make tons of money, drive the newest car, be the skinniest person(mainly because my heart is so dang big..lol) be as positive in some situations as I should be, have the best trained dogs, the cleanest house, make the best art,  or even make all the right decisions every day, I know that it’s ok to be who I need to be.  I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  Finding my way, helping young people find theirs, or at least supporting them in their journey to find their way…just one positive turn around in the negative chatter.  Yay!

Where She was Standing When She Lost The Flow

Ok, don’t judge me.  I think of my creative “flow” as a bright quirky goldfish.  She zips here and there and is generally all over the place.

Yesterday, I was in the “flow” big time.  Journaling away.  Then the kids started calling.  Our daughter (names withheld to protect me..lol) that is getting her Masters was overwhelmed and anxious.  She needed to be reminded that she could do it, and has done it and will continue to do it!  One of our other daughters texted me to check on party times for Sunday.  Our youngest daughter called to see if I would help her set up her classroom at the nonprofit where she works.  My son texted me to make sure I had picked up bread and snacks.  All within about an hour.  My flow just flew.

Once I got home from helping with the classroom….I sat down and tried to recapture where I was in my journal.  The above is all I could come up with in the thirty minutes before bed.  I can’t even remember my original idea.

I’m not complaining…I’m just stating the facts.  Sometimes/Most times when you have children, especially if you have as many as we do, your time is not your own.  And that’s ok.  I know without a doubt that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing when I’m dealing with these children.  Even though some of them are technically adults…they are still my kids.  Always will be. Evidently, I came into this world with a lot of Mom energy.

It’s a funny thing…there are lots of people out there who don’t really see raising kids as a life path, career, or even as work.  That’s ok.  But, for me, I don’t see any other way.  I kind of imagine it as being a steward of potentiality.  One of the kids we touch, teach, help along their way….may save this old world.  And I will be behind them clapping, cheering and wiping away a tear (with a paint rag most likely).

There are other colors…I’m sure of it!

Wouldn’t be nice if everyone could get that everything is not black or white?  I mean, sure…I’m a pretty black and white person when it comes to murder, child abuse, animal abuse, planet abuse…. the horrid stuff like that.   But hey, there’s a lot of other colors out there ranging from grey to white.  It’s not the worst thing in the world to try and understand someone else’s point of view once in a while.  You don’t have to adopt it.  Just stand in their shoes, momentarily,  and see of you can get where they’re coming from.

It would be so boring if everyone believed the same thing, wore the same thing, looked the same way!  Yuck!  Diversity of opinion is not such a bad thing.  And if you can’t get on board with someone else’s opinion,lifestyle, belief…… I’m saying…..at least treat the other person with some respect.  Realize that you don’t have all the answers, that we need diversity in this country in order to overcome our obstacles. Give peace a chance….be a little more moderate in your arguments today and try not to be so inflammatory.  Send some peaceful energy out into the universe.  We all need it.

It’s more obvious for some than for others.

What do you do when you just don’t know the answer?  I have spent a lot of my life not knowing the answers to a lot of questions that well meaning people have asked me over the years.  I am a bona fide expert in this field.  For instance, I was always in awe of my friends and family who knew definitively what they wanted to do.  To be honest, I often wondered if they were lying.  lol.  I mean how did they know at 18 that they wanted to be a doctor or teacher or whatever? I say, good for all of you people who knew and know what you wanted to do or be.  Even better if you knew the how, and why, and wherefores.  Those of you who knew/know all that don’t need to read further.  As a matter of fact, you should probably share with the rest of us how you did that.  But for those of you who are not always sure like me….read on.

I often will look to the past to try and help me navigate the future.  But in truth, the past is just the past.  It’s not the future.  It’s not even always a good predictor of the future.  Mainly because we are not the “self” from our past.  We’ve changed and hopefully grown into a whole new person. So…strike that technique to find answers off the list.

I know people who will look to other successful people for answers.  That might be a good technique for some… but for me…. not so much.  Because,  I am not that other person.  And if I am doing what someone else says they did, well it might be okay for a minute, but ultimately I’m not going to react the same way they did forever. And it’s not who I am.  It’s not authentic for me.   So I had to strike that idea too.

So what does work?  What is the “answer” (literally and figuratively)? It took me awhile to realize that the answers are not as important as the questions.  That’s right, you heard it here.  Our society seems to be answer driven.  But what about the lessons we learn as we journey to the answer?  What about that huh?   What about the unfolding in time so that we have a chance to internalize the lesson? It seems to me that the “good” answers are the ones that show up in our lives from a lesson we learned.  Not because we skipped the lesson and went right to the answer.  I know it’s what we all want, instant gratification.  Hey, I’m right there with you.  I’m all about instant gratification.  Unfortunately, the glow from instant gratification sure doesn’t last very long.  And then, you’re right back where you started.  Lost.

What it comes down to is this, for me……I don’t know how to find the answers other than to just live the journey.  That means living with the unknown and sometimes unknowable. So, mostly my prayer is to ask the right questions, to have the strength to live with them, and to recognize the answers when they show up in my life.  TA DA!!   Pretty dang wise you say?  I have to agree.

Rainy Days for Days Weather

The last ten or so days it’s been awfully hard to remember that the sun is shining somewhere.  We’ve had buckets of rain.  And then the clouds parted and I got this.  And it struck me this morning that the weather is such a great metaphor for life.  Cliche I know but hey …you work with what you’ve been given.

When it rains for days on end, a sort of cocooning effect happens around here.  The dogs curl up and so do some of the people (not saying who).  Everyone is sort of forced into an interior life.  A life with no distractions like the yard or the orchard. And because it rained really hard….I tried not to run many errands either. So a lot of make doing went on around food, and meals. Life slowed down quite a bit.  And after awhile, I relaxed into that philosophy.  For a very short time.  Because I had no choice.

Of course, it’s occurred to me that  I do have a choice every day.  I could decide to slow down just because I want to or need to.  Good to be reminded of  that idea sometimes.  We don’t have to hurry scurry through our days.  We get to be the boss of our pace. Thanks Rainy Days for Days Weather.  I needed that!

All the better (a repost from a couple of years ago)

okay so this one was a doozy.  I went back and re-read Little Red Riding Hood and it was just as odd as I remembered.  So I get that this is a metaphor for young girls being preyed upon as they come into puberty.  A not so subtle one.   And I get that the whole moral is that you should not stray off the path or there will be trouble.   But this whole thing just irks the hell out of me.

Why would you let your young daughter go wandering off in the woods in the first place, and if you know that she does silly things and can’t keep her attention on the path….then why send her? And if the grandmother couldn’t come and get her own supplies then she shouldn’t be living alone in the woods.  Just saying.  And in every version I read, there seems to be a kind of flirtiness and a sort of sly sensuality between Red and the Wolf.  They both seem on the creepy side to me.

Yet, this story never seems to go away.   It seems to be part of our consciousness.  Something about flirting with danger and the wild side of ourselves….maybe……something about I can handle myself if I do get off the path and if I can’t , some guy with an axe will come and save me….maybe. Something about death and rebirth…possibly.   Some archetypal images are strong and there’s a good reason I suspect.  So I get the strength of this story…it still just irks me…lol

Possibly it irked me the most when I read the ending.  After conquering the wolf (he dies),having her grandmother reborn from the wolf’s stomach,  and being saved by the woodsman…  Red Riding Hood heads home…and she says to her herself, “i should have listened to my mother.  I didn’t and that’s what got me into trouble.  But at least I never forgot my manners…my “please” and “thank you.”   Thank goodness for that right?  She never lost her ladylike manners in the midst of bloodshed and mayhem and trauma. ACCKK!!  That’s me coughing up a big old red riding hood and the wolf furball.