Transition=Swords are out!

Like the picture accompanying this post, I feel like all the trees in my life have been pruned down to the base again, only this time, I believe it was me that did the pruning to start anew.

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I continue to find tools to set my loved ones up for success when it comes to supporting me through an emotional roller-coaster (or a ‘melancholy cauldron’ as I like to call it). The most recent one that seems to help me understand myself is when I tell them that “my swords” are out.

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This is an invitation (warning) not to take anything personal while I sift through what I am feeling. I get a build up of other people’s emotions and I don’t notice that the smallest things can set me off. Anything from someone chewing too loudly, to an aggressive smell, or someone’s annoying voice. Nothing is off limits when I am in this agitated state and I start to judge myself for judging innocent bystanders, and I begin the decent. It has been helpful to know and say when my swords are out so that I can begin to get to the source of the emotions and save my loved ones from gettin cut. Most of the time it stems back to something earlier in the week that I have held onto, or I take on the emotions of someone dumping a story that they have unresolved emotions on.
One night recently I had an angry conversation with my daughter about not being present or helpful in the house. I went directly to bed with Jake and dropped a passive/aggressive comment at him that left him with. an all too familiar comment of, “I thought we were good, where did that come from?” Which then sends me down a road of frustration and defense.

Which brings me to a quote I learned from a Byron Katie workshop recently…”Defense is the first act of war.” The moment I go into defense now, I am able to check in and find where I am trying to avoid an uncomfortable emotion that leads to these spirals that ends in swords being drawn. I am in process, but I seem to be getting more compassionate with myself lately, which gives me the space to bring compassion to others. Defensiveness seems to be a pretty sure-fire alarm system that gave me the illusion of protection in the past, but really just created separation and avoidance of my own feelings through my go too, the créme de la créme of defense mechanisms…BLAME! Check out my favorite video on blame, by Brené Brown.

The biggest transitions throughout my life that had to do with my identity…
-Marrying
-Becoming a mother
-Decision to be a stay-at-home mom
-Getting diagnosed and embarking on an healing journey

I’ve had pretty clear ideas on who I am for most of my life.
Recent timeline that sky-rocketed me into a new phase…
- Dad passed away
- Tré went to college
- Opened the LEM Self-Care Center
- Giving myself permission to feel

This is the first time that I have embarked on such a big transition with awareness. I believe that I was numb, and often participating in victimhood, when I went through big transition of identity in the past. This time I am doing it with permission to feel and working on bringing deep compassion to the playground.

Some awarenesses this time around
- I find freedom (for myself) in not jumping from one label to the next - ie. going from stay-at-home mom to working-mom. There is nothing wrong with trying on these labels, I am finding freedom in not trying on another label for now.
- I am familiar with the grieving process, and I don’t think there is enough conversations and support for understanding grief in the everyday changes in life. I will continue to create space for anyone that wants to understand the grieving process as it translates to subtle changes in life as well as the big ones.
- I am committed to trying on the practice of allowing and feeling big emotion without the stories that ‘something is wrong.’ Sometimes big emotion wants to come through, and with awareness, I continue to see the magic that these emotions bring when they aren’t stifled by an unnecessary story or cutting people.

I am grateful that I have been pruned down this winter so that I can dive into my beliefs to see what’s serving me, and not. I can’t wait to see what blooms this spring!

sMOTHER Love

This is a post of my own vulnerable discovery. I have reached a personal, unhealthy level of smothering my children with my love and attention.  This is not a post to judge any parenting styles or to suggest there is a 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' way to raise a family. Let me see if I can sum up  my most recent 'Spiritual Curriculum' (thank you Belinda Zylberman for my new, curious words for growth:) 

Recently, Jake and I have felt the stress of our life consisting of about 30% work and home life and what feels like 70% BASKETBALL! All three of our children are in 'select' programs. All that means in my opinion is that we have taken the sport to an unrealistic level of commitment and we will share a community life with the same kids and parents for the next 8 years. Now this might seem like a good thing since we live in a community of lovely people and awesome kids. But, just like anything else in life, too much of anything can be unhealthy!

 I recently had two incredibly bonding situations with my kids and Jake, that have got me turning within to reflect on the balance in our lives. One was a family photoshoot that we do every year to send out a message of love and inspiration and the second was our first Live Everything Mindful event centered around the topic of relationship. I observed that after both events, my kids were bonded more than the norm and that all of us seemed to be in a state of not wanting the night to end. Bonded like we went on vacation and they can't get enough of each other whether it be playing or snuggling. After sitting with this observation for a while, I had to ask myself, why isn't this the case with all the kid's different sporting/school  events that are geared towards bringing the families together? Whether it be a trip to the beach for basketball or a local tournament, it seems that we all end up more depleted and distant from each other afterward? This had me taking a deeper look at our reality and a conversation with my mother, into the differences between when I was a kid in sports and why today seems to be so out of balance for me.
     My mom mentioned that Sunday used to always be a day of rest and no sports when we were growing up. Hmmm...a day of rest? That sounds enticing! I also remember being able to go on family vacations without feeling like we would be left behind athletically or not be played upon our return because of lack of our level of commitment;) So if these aren't spoken rules, then why do I feel FOMO (fear of missing out) and anxiety when it comes to my kid's activities?        
     One word...SHOULDS!!! I should all over myself all the time;) "Everyone else's parents will be there, I should be there. What if they are uncomfortable and they need my help, I should be there." Here's where I discovered my biggest realization...trying to control my children's level of comfort. I have my kids so comfy at this point, juggling all their emotions for them, that they could probably blissfully sleep their way through the rest of their childhood. 

I heard a term recently called 'Snow plow parenting'. I've heard of 'helicopter parenting', but this was a new term to me and exactly what I have a case of. I am going through life convincing myself (and assuming) that my kids need and want me to go to every event. That they need me to siphon through all their interactions and process and predict the comfortable outcome of all of them. They have very rarely ever had to be in the position to be at an event and be the only kids that don't have their parents cheering them on. They have never had to ask us to be at an event. What started as us going to their events out of joyful excitement, has now turned into 'shoulds'. It goes without saying that we have enjoyed watching them play their sports. It also goes without saying, that we enjoy it so much, that our level of commitment as parents may be giving them the message that we want it for them. What if they want to stop playing one day? Would they want to break our heart? (dramatic, I know;) 
     Jake and I come from two different backgrounds when it comes to sporting and celebration support. He had a single mom that wasn't able to attend a lot of his life activities and I on the other hand, almost always had someone there cheering me on. He played because he wanted to, and very little external pressure played into his decisions. Where as, I learned that I needed an audience at all times in order to perform and I got pretty bratty when someone didn't show. We thought we were raising our kids in the middle until I recently processed with my youngest and to my surprise, we are almost touching my end of the spectrum;) I'm not trying to paint this as a bad thing. It just feels like a time to reboot and become more mindful on this subject for my own spiritual healing. 
     We sat down as a family and had a discussion around this and we told the kids that we are taking their schedules off our phones and we are making a shift to them putting the events on the calendar that they want us to attend. They are going to begin inviting us to what they want to share. If they asked, we would likely go to everything possible, but I would like to shift from attending out of shoulds, and instead to attend out of a request and joy. Here's to the new awareness and working on our balance of creating more family bonding experiences instead of spending time snow plowing a comfortable path for our children. As a result already, the kids took Jamie to tonight's school dance where he needed a chaperone, and asked his siblings;) Letting go of FOMO... HERE WE GROW AGAIN!