A New Mother’s Day

It took becoming a mom to teach me about unconditional love. Somewhere along the line, I became convinced no one could possibly love me. Even as a mom, I felt so undeserving of my family for so long. I would constantly push myself to insane extremes to be the best mom because the truth was I didn’t feel like I was good enough to be a mom. To be anything. This constant belief I was a failure, terrible person, etc etc plagued me. My 20s and early 30s were a constant battle of running to and from this belief. I had to prove to myself I deserved this, yet never succeeded. Happiness was in the next milestone.

Thoughts will dictate your reality. They become self fulfilling prophecies. I’ve ruined my life so many times in 2 decades. Yet that’s not true, because I’m here.

What kept me here was them. My kids. Because I knew deep down if I could love them as much as I do, then I cannot possibly be as awful as I think I am. It was learning to treat myself like I treat my kids that taught me to love myself. I don’t go around berating them for every mistake or lording decades of unforgiven crap. I ask them more often than not what can they learn or how can they make better choices. They’re not perfect and so neither can I be. If I screw up, if they screw up, it’s learning.

The most incredible freedom and peace come when you just stop hating yourself and calling it everything else. I wasn’t a perfectionist, I was a masochist. I wasn’t anything but self loathing. And deep down, I was terrified I was teaching them.

I could hate myself for everything, or I could see how much the kids have learned in our journey. They see love in action. That love is not perfect or happy all the time. Love is a never ending series of choices. It’s learning to be human together. Love is there no matter what.

The coolest feeling on this Mother’s Day is feeling the kids love for me, feeling so much love around me, and feeling love within me. I can’t honestly say I’ve felt this way before. There is a peace that I cannot describe. I don’t see my failures, I see growth, I see love and I feel joy. I know I set an example for them, and now I feel like I am a good example of loving yourself – maybe even to the point you finally just don’t give a shit what anyone has to say or think about you.

Being a mom is a journey to yourself. That might sound odd, but we all learn from our relationships and the most profound relationship anyone can experience is raising a child. There is a love that is so transformative, it changes everything. Suddenly the flaws, problems, mistakes, etc take on a whole new depth and real ness. Before, you were just screwing up your own life, now you could screw up someone else’s. I think so many of us try to be perfect, only to realize we’re losing our minds – worse yet – our souls. We forget who we are in light of all the things we want for them. We don’t want them to hurt like us or make our mistakes. Then, you start to see the reality of yourself. You see how much love you have, and hopefully for most you start giving yourself that love. Because you know you’re teaching them. And you want to teach them how to love themselves. And words aren’t good enough. I watch them grow as much as I see me grow. I teach them all the music that has changed my life, I show themAll the things that heal me. We all know letting things go is one of the biggest challenges in life, and no more poignant reminder exists than knowing you’ll have to let them go one day, as they become adults. And knowing I can’t make them happy, I can only teach by example, has let me let go of so much and just experience the beautiful journey of being mom. Everyone does their best everyday. And love and compassion are what makes us all our best. It took becoming a mom to teach me that, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.Being a mom is a journey to yourself. That might sound odd, but we all learn from our relationships and the most profound relationship anyone can experience is raising a child. There is a love that is so transformative, it changes everything. Suddenly the flaws, problems, mistakes, etc take on a whole new depth and real ness. Before, you were just screwing up your own life, now you could screw up someone else’s. I think so many of us try to be perfect, only to realize we’re losing our minds – worse yet – our souls. We forget who we are in light of all the things we want for them. We don’t want them to hurt like us or make our mistakes. Then, you start to see the reality of yourself. You see how much love you have, and hopefully for most you start giving yourself that love. Because you know you’re teaching them. And you want to teach them how to love themselves. And words aren’t good enough. I watch them grow as much as I see me grow. I teach them all the music that has changed my life, I show themAll the things that heal me. We all know letting things go is one of the biggest challenges in life, and no more poignant reminder exists than knowing you’ll have to let them go one day, as they become adults. And knowing I can’t make them happy, I can only teach by example, has let me let go of so much and just experience the beautiful journey of being mom. Everyone does their best everyday. And love and compassion are what makes us all our best. It took becoming a mom to teach me that, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.I am so incredibly blessed to have the best teachers in the world showing me the wisdom of life and love. My children. Being their mother is tough! Being patient is tough! Feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered is tough! Loving them no matter their behavior, choices, etc is easy. And the same is now true for me. So thank you to them, thank you to the people who are walking this journey with me. Thank you to Evan, who has been there for me in the darkest of times. Thank you to all the moms who came before me. Thank you to my mom.

Strong women raise strong families. Women teach and nurture their families and lead by their example of love. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many strong women, and if you don’t think that’s you, look around at all the lives you affect and remind yourself it is. And if you’re a dude, switch the genders 😊😉❤️

Frantic is the New Calm

Everything is chaotic and frantic. Busy-ness is held in esteem and stillness is viewed as laziness. For over a year, I have not worked because I am on disability and every day, I give myself a mental barrage of why I suck for how little I am doing. I am not accustomed to life like this. I am accustomed to jam-packed schedules. Frankly, I feel best when I am racing around like a lunatic because I feel “productive”.

Yet, I’m not productive. I’m running around like a lunatic. Sure, I’m accomplishing things, but I’m not producing. Sure, I’m doing things, but I’m not living. To live is to experience. How much do any of us actually experience on a given day? How often do we look around and experience our lives versus doing our lives?

I tend to think in terms of my obituary. Will any of the stuff I frenetically do even remotely go into the paragraph that sums my life? My job most likely won’t even be mentioned. What accomplishments will I even have? Happily, I think on how all these problems that I think are so huge and need so much fixing will also die with me, so I stop stressing about them. My life will be represented by a date – date. What fills the dash?Realistically, the people I am surrounded by will go into my obituary. I will be a “loving mother, beloved daughter, and loving wife (maybe)” But will have actually lived those words? Will you?

How often do we even experience the people around us? Do we experience life and love with them? Do any of us actually understand the meaning of love? We all say it a lot, but do we live it?

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Aren’t life and love synonyms? Our grammar has limited our understanding of both because they have both been filed as nouns, not verbs. Both life and love are experience and action. Yet, how do our actions contribute to either? As we jam pack our schedules, do we create space and time for life or love?

For most of us, we believe love is the opposite of hate. I disagree. Apathy is the opposite of love. Apathy is how most of us exist. How do you feel when you hear birds singing? How do you feel when your children are talking to you when you are trying to check Facebook? How do you feel when you are eating dinner quickly to get to the next thing? Apathy pervades our consciousness more than any other emotion.

It is not intentional; it is worse: it is a byproduct of our refusal to experience life. In our incessant need to get to the future, we lose the here and now. Everything is a building block to some eventual reality where happiness will be. Everything is a means of escaping whatever reality we do not like. Apathy is a relief from misery, which is the more common reality for most of us. Misery is so commonplace now, it feels like happiness. Is it really happy to not hear birds singing? Is it really happy to not have conversations with people where you hear what they say and respond? Is it really happy to be doing as many things as possible at once?

A computer runs multiple processes, and we have created ourselves into the best damn computers in the world. We are more robotic than human. We go from one prompt or command to the other, with no experience of either. It is a fear of idleness that pushes us to constant extremes. We have to have something to show for our lives. We have to do something. We have to be something.

What if the purpose of life is to learn how to live? What if the purpose of life is to learn how to love? If we honestly look at our lives to this point, do either hold true? Are we beloved and loving nouns, or are we dynamic verbs of experience with ourselves and those we say we love?

Until a year or so ago, I operated under the belief I would die and go to heaven and THEN it would all make sense and be better. Then, I came to wonder if earth is heaven. The Buddha sat under a mangrove tree and achieved enlightenment/nirvana, which was right here on earth. Jesus did not say we had to die to get to heaven, he said we had to become like children to know heaven. The Hindi view of life is that we are all gods playing life. No one is pointing up in these explanations. Each is pointing in.

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Each is pointing us to love and innocence, yet even our kids are overwhelmed schedule-wise. They are smaller versions of adults now and not in a good way. Yet, when you watch a child play, you can see the wisdom of aeons. There is no tomorrow or yesterday as they drive a car and smash it into whatever imaginary villain they’ve created. Their imagination is unfettered, and so too, are they. The only fetters that exist for our children are the ones we “wise” adults place on them. All that we have in this life came from imagination. Every tangible object in our existence came from someone’s mind and imagination. The very screens most of us are addicted to lived in Steve Jobs’ mind.

When was the last time we sat and imagined? When was the last time we were productive in the sense of producing/creating? When was the last time we indulged a dream as more than “childish crap”, ignoring the fact that the very man many kill, fight, argue, and hate in His name told us to do the childish “crap”? It’s kind of funny, isn’t it?

We all think of ourselves as wise because we are grown-ups, because we have more years than kids, yet what do we have to show for those years? Anything I created outside of this blog was to make someone else richer or make someone else’s dreams come true. It certainly didn’t make a lick of mine come true.  But my dream of being a writer was silly and unrealistic. We ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, and smile somewhat condescendingly because we all know the truth is we’re going to ruin these kids dreams just like we ruined our own.

It’s not our fault, look how busy life is. How can any of us have time to dream? We have to live! We have bills to pay! We have to make money to survive! We have to work 40+ hours a week to (most of us) exist in an asston of debt, rarely have fun, and rinse and repeat daily. We may go to church and hope for a better reality after we die, or attempt to live as Christians or Buddhists or whatever now, while we miss loving and living. We follow the rules, not understanding they were given to us as guides to help us find life and love at the exact moment of now. Not a minute from now, or years from now, or after our death, it is wherever you are reading this as you read it.

The painful truth we all know deep in the back of our minds, as we race around avoiding it is that it IS our faults. We each created the life we live, because consciously or unconsciously, we create our lives. It is through living our dreams that we can consciously create happiness, but most of us ignore that and blame everything else for our own created misery and imbalance.

It is difficult to realize how imbalanced we are because it is rare for us to be balanced. If we knew what it felt to be balanced, we would not want to feel any other way. The Pythagorean definition of music is “A Perfect Union of Contrary Things”. The creativity and flow of music are balanced by the harmonic precision of each note, adhering to a time and beat, that was created by years of discipline and practice (or autotune). We have two sides of our brains: Logic centered left, and creative centered right. In order to be balanced, both must be utilized, but most of us exist solely in left analysis with all right creativity dismissed as childish crap.

Is there anything more beautiful than a good song at the right moment? Is there anything more beautiful than the spontaneity of a laugh? How often do we allow that experience to permeate our being? The opposite of action would be inaction, and the opposite of busy would be idle. When do we bring these opposites in our reality? Why do we view these opposites with scorn and dismay? Vacations must be earned. Downtime must be earned. We teach this to our children now, and then we wonder why mental illness and diagnoses on the autistic spectrum are rising at alarming rates. How many kids do we know with ADHD? We have to medicate our kids to get them to conform to this sick reality we have all created for ourselves. Can any of us sit still for 8 hours straight? Most of us can’t even do one task at a time anymore, and we are lauded for our multitasking abilities.

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How can we experience anything when we are so busy doing everything? How can we experience balance when being imbalanced is required to survive?

It is time for all of us to make serious changes, and it involves doing less and being more. As Lao Tzu said,

“You should meditate 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy. In that case, meditate 1 hour.”

It is time for the opposite of frantic to come back into our lives, and it is time to live and love life the way we were intended to, as grown-up children. Fully capable of experiencing and appreciating the gift we have in every moment.

 

Rest In Peace Tripp-a-Doo

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I wrote this on my Facebook, and I’m putting it everywhere. There’s so many people who loved and followed this family, and I think it’s a collective pain, though pales in comparison to what Stacey and Bill and so many parents have and are experiencing. I have followed the story of Tripp, Stacey, and Bill for years. They have been such a source if inspiration and love for me to see. I remember donating to these same charities as I was in recovery before. I’m so sad to hear of Tripp’s passing, and I don’t want to send only prayers when I can help in any small way.

I just figure anything to shed some light on dark days is worth it. I’m going to hug my kids a little tighter today.

Tripp Halstead/Team Boom Donations

Sunshine On A Ranney Day

Ride To Give

Also my local food bank: Pennridge FISH

 

Women’s Day (Part 3 – Tips)

Do you need some tips to get started? 

  • Do it.
  • If you are not sure how to do it, ask someone who does it
  • Make time to do it, and do not negotiate with yourself
  • If you negotiate with yourself, you will lose
  • Do not be attached to an outcome.
  • Success is not measured in money
  • Success is measured in your smile
  • The act of doing it makes it – if you want to write, write. Viola, you are a writer
  • Your self-talk is your gateway to success
  • If you tell yourself a failure, hopeless, etc. you WILL ALWAYS PROVE YOURSELF RIGHT
  • You will always prove yourself right
  • You will always prove yourself right
  • Everything you think and say become self-fulfilling prophecies
  • “If I only had the time” will merit you always wishing you had the time
  • “If I had more money” will merit you always wishing you had the money
  • The Universe can answer questions; no one can answer a statement
  • People can answer questions; no one can answer a statement
  • Nothing is more powerful than a question
  • People who answer their own questions are geniuses
  • Genius is the ability to create what does not exist in this world
  • Anything you create is an expression of your genius
  • Nothing beyond doing is required to be a genius

Part 1

Part 2

Women’s Day (Part 2 – It’s Okay to Be Selfish)

You have to be selfish to be creative

I’ll tell you: you are you. There is no one on this planet like you. There is no one who sees the world through your eyes. There is no one who has your perspective, your history, and your abilities. Sure, there are people who are better than you at things, there are people who are worse than you. Who cares? We all are completely unique independent beings. It does not matter what anyone else says or does. If you create competition, you will always lose. If you view everything as a force against you, you will always lose.

If you place yourself first and lose the word selfish, you will find your voice – however that is. Our voices and our expressions are a gift that no one can take from us but ourselves.

What does selfish even mean?

self·ish
adjective
  1. (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

I think it is time for a reality check: We. Are. All. Selfish.

Do you go to work out of some sort of grandiose intention to better your coworker’s lives? No, you go to work for personal profit. If you are fortunate, it’s your pleasure too. Did you have kids out of some benevolent intention of populating the world with minaturized versions of yourself that invetiably drive you batshit crazy with WTF and OMG I love them? No, you did it because you wanted to be a parent. Do you help people for no reason other than to help? No, you don’t. At the end of the day, we all help people because helping makes us feel good.

You – your self – is the vehicle through which the universe comes into the world and the world comes into you. There is no capacity to live without being selfish. It’s not a bad thing to want to do good things for yourself. It’s not a bad thing to want to do better for yourself. It IS a bad thing to deny yourself for the sake of everyone else. EVERYONE loses when this happens. What if you can create something that will benefit you AND everyone else? You don’t know until you open the taps to your own expression and creativity – whatever that is to you.

Your obituary, children, loved ones, etc. will not remember your impeccable house or whatever roadblocks you have set. Do you want to lie in your deathbed telling everyone how glad you were that you worked your whole life and were a dedicated employee making someone else’s dreams come true? Do you want to take your final breath knowing you lived someone else’s life?

The only way for a priority to happen is for it to become a priority. If you are feeling pulled to write, paint, sing: the only way it happens is if you make it happen. If you put it off for laundry, deadlines, others, etc. it will never happen. No one will make it happen for you. No one will make you a priority if you will not make yourself. Most importantly: no one will believe in you, if you won’t believe in you.

There is a negative connotation with selfishness, and that’s okay. There are negative aspects of being selfish. If you truly do not have a crap to give about someone else, there’s nothing positive to be said of this. But the people reading and resonating with this are people who genuinely love people so much, they forget to love themselves first. This is why I am telling you it is okay to be selfish. It is okay to do the one thing you are feeling guilty about doing, or you don’t have time for, etc. It is okay to be selfish. You will teach your children more by your “selfishness” then your “selflessness”.

Do you want your daughters and sons to not express their dreams? Do you want them imprisoned in their minds with “what if”, “could have” or “should have”? Then it is certainly not selfish to take time to yourself to be the person you want to be. It is not selfish to show them that you take time for yourself, to teach them to take time for themselves.

If you keep yourself locked inside of your mind, as the churning tides of thoughts become a cacophony, you will drive yourself crazy. Not in a good way, either. Anxiety, depression, busy minds: these are all manifestations of us not bringing the inside out. Inside of you is the limitless possibility of expression. To me, a thought is an unexpressed intention. What is the purpose of a thought if nothing comes of it? Everything in this world is a physical manifestation of a thought. This laptop I am typing to you on, WordPress itself, all existed first as a thought. How many thoughts have you had that do nothing with? It all builds, it all becomes noisier, and it all becomes a vicious self-defeating cycle if you keep repressing yourself. Anxiety and depression come with artists because the artists’ biggest struggle is allowing themselves to be what they are.

Creativity does not just mean paintings and art, though. Look at Deepak Chopra, or Oprah, or whoever. These are people who pursued their latent gifts and passions – medically, TV personality, chef, whatever. Each of us has gifts like this. The difference is some run with them, and some run away from them

Part 1 – Women’s Day (A Day Late)

Part 3 – Tips

Women’s Day (A Day Late)

As per usual, I’m running late on life. I find it adds to my unique charm. I wander the earth in PJs and post relevant content when it’s no longer relevant. 

Yesterday, when it was actually International Women’s Day, I wondered: “What exactly are we celebrating here?” I could go on a rant about rights (I won’t), or toss my hat in the #MeToo movement, or anything, but instead, I just want to focus on where I think most women need to focus:

Our Creativity

I feel as though the Universe has been nagging me to write on this. I have had more than a handful of women ask me how to start blogging, how to write, how to be creative, etc. If this is you, wonder no more…

When I hear the word equality, I get irritated. What, exactly, is equal for women at this moment? If I were to flash back to any point in my adult life prior to January 2017, my life was anything but equal. I had the privilege of working 40+ hours a week, caring for my children, cleaning my house, and cooking.  Those responsibilities rested solely on me. When did I have time to express myself or be creative? I suppose I got creative with cooking, which I do love and enjoy. As a woman who has dreamed of being a writer since 8th grade, where does one acquire the energy to dream when they lack the energy to even “live up to my responsibilities”? When, exactly, was I to have time to do anything I wanted when everything I needed to do ate all of my time. When I “selfishly” would flop on the couch in exhaustion, or maybe attempt to scratch out a few words in my journal, I’d mentally berate myself for the house still being a mess, or whatever.

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None of that was actually me, though. That was me attempting to live what I believed I was expected to live. As we put on all of these hats, we tend to forget to take these hats off. My writer hat was overshadowed by the Mom, Wife, Career Woman, etc. hat. I fully subscribed to the notion that I had to be more human than human to make it. Equality is supposed to mean equal, yet I think the push for equality has pushed women over the edge. I don’t see how any of us make mental, emotional, or spiritual ends meet when the material world dominates every fiber of our being.

I am not even focusing on working moms here – if you are a Stay at Home Mom, you are now expected to “make up” for the fact that you don’t work (you lazy slob you…raising your children! get a job!) (KIDDING) As a Working Mom, you are expected to overcompensate for your guilt at not raising your children, while still meeting the standards of a Stay at Home Mom, because who does it if you don’t? As a woman who is not a mom, you are expected to justify why you are lazy and don’t have children, or why you aren’t “more successful” with the free time you have.

Women are expected to do more to catch up with men. We are supposed to be the same, but do more to be the same. We don’t get to clock out at the end of the day and flop. We have responsibilities that could run us 24/7, if we allowed. Don’t think I am blaming men here, either. I blame the gender-neutral collective of society. We all – male and female – are really getting screwed. We all seem to bust our asses to not have time to live. Those of us who pursue dreams, creative endeavours, etc. are scoffed until we make bank. Suddenly, we’re inspired geniuses. download (17)

We’re also not supposed to get paid for creativity until we prove we’re decent. All of us here on WordPress likely have a dream we will be discovered/published/turn this into a paid gig and we keep putting out words and content with intentions of getting attention and hoping that attention will one-day garner dollars. These endeavours are easily back-burnered for things that “really pay” or “actually have a purpose”. When you combine this reality with all of the responsibilities we juggle, how does one make creativity a priority? How does one stop from being discouraged before starting?

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I think step one is realizing that none of us is the same. We are all equal in the sense that we all get this life to do with as we wish. We are equal in the sense that we are human. Society and life, however, do not give us all the same deck of cards to play from, and I think it is a disservice to every person on this planet to keep forcing the notion that we do. Some of us have way more adversity to overcome than others. All of us have a myriad of strengths and weaknesses that deal with our gender, psychology, physiology, and on and on.

Women are different than men, and I think it’s time we start embracing and hell, emphasizing what makes each of us uniquely same creatures. I am tired of trying to be a man to be successful! I did. I was the breadwinner in our house. It emasculated my (now ex) husband (Get your pitchforks, he does suck for feeling the way he was trained to feel by society, he should have empowered me and sucked it up, right? Eye roll.) It caused no end of fighting because I felt as though I was never supported or assisted. I did not feel like I had a partner because he came home and did not seem to help me.

Or did he? I couldn’t tell you anymore, it was years ago. It doesn’t matter: I see the same feelings repeated by so many women. Now that I am on disability, I STILL won’t even express myself creatively because I feel guilty for not cleaning more. I feel guilty going to yoga because I should be folding laundry. Do you think for a second my ex has communicated this to me? Hell no! I have communicated this to me. I have set these expectations for myself and I am the only person limiting myself from expressing myself. This is true for everyone who is feeling like they cannot make themselves a priority. The only one doing this is you.

I am writing this as a prompt to you, any you, who is reading this. There are no pre-requisites to expressing yourself. Your ability and talent can only be attained if you begin leveraging it. If you set conditions on yourself – not until the house is clean, not until x, not until y, you have effectively told yourself you will never be able to express yourself. Why? Because everything you say is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Equality is something you hold for yourself. If you feel you must work harder to achieve anything, then that is your reality.  Your beliefs will shape your reality, and if you believe you are inadequate, you will always prove yourself right. Equality is only expressed by you. If you look for equality external to you, you will always be lacking. Why? Because you are your own judge and jury.

Creativity is an element of the divine feminine, which is innate to all of us. We all have the capacity to create, we all have the capacity to express. This comes from a connection to whatever you have a connection to. Women have the physical capability to give birth, which is also an ability to give birth to ideas, projects, etc. We also nurture. We want to care for everyone, but we often forget to care for ourselves first. Selfish is so often thrown against us, that we prevent ourselves from being everything we want to be. Who are you to do what you want when so many people are counting on you?

Part 2 – Let’s get rid of selfish, shall we?

Part 3 – Tips

 

Successfully Failing at Life

When you finally sit down to write and your laptop won’t boot…I guess you start writing a post on your phone because impatient should be your middle name.

Yesterday, I was watching a Netflix documentary – On Yoga: An Architecture of Peace. This rattled me to my core: “…all of our fears ultimately are a fear of death…I think the purpose of life is learning to accept death…”

It’s interesting because the thing I kept wanting to write (but kept opting to allow OCD to run me by the nose and clean my house instead – seriously, if you wonder why I barely write, I’m cleaning…just call me the Scrubbing Buddha or perhaps Sweeping Buddha) was about failure. Sitting in my messy living room, this concept feels pretty all consuming.

I am in the midst of a complete internal tug of war. The cleaning I mentioned is how I’ve spent months of my life since moving back in with my ex. I used to write for hours and hours daily, and now I’m trying to get some kind of consistency beyond “I think I wrote something a week ago”. When I cannot calm down, I clean. My brain likes order and neatness, otherwise my anxiety goes haywire and I tend to get obsessed with people, memories, thoughts, or whatever.

I talked through this all will my psychiatrist and came to realize this is my mania. Mania has always been described to me as being happy and thinking you are God. When I described myself as feeling as though I’m in a hamster wheel in hell, my psych explained this is my mania. I cried a lot after that session. Mania is not necessarily happy. Mania can also be described as “extreme restlessness” and for me, it triggers OCD. I don’t check the oven. I clean and ruminate, AKA think the same thoughts over and over. Alternatively, I obsess about people – my kids, myself, my exes, whatever.

My moods swing from hamster wheel in hell to “I think I bathed a few days ago. I just need to go back to bed, really”. Intermittently, I’ll have “good” days where I’m not too much one way or the other. More often, I have a combination of a severely depressed hamster in hell. That whole cleaning thing? I am a mom of three kids. Cleaning with 3 kids is akin to building a sandcastle next to a tsunami and telling yourself it will stay just so.

Buddha speaks of impermanence. Every parent knows impermanence so well. It’s that kitchen you cleaned and mopped that now has some form of liquid sugar spilled all over the floor or the sparkling toilet covered in pee thanks to a small child who apparently thinks peeing with their eyes closed is a good idea.

Buddha says the suffering comes from clinging to that which will always change. After cleaning for 6 hours straight just to clean up dinner, I get it. I stopped bemoaning that my house is only clean if no one is home, and hell, my moods change faster than songs on the radio. I wouldn’t know stability if it smacked me in the face. I’ve said for a long time: Motherhood is a crash course in Buddhism. Nothing shows the constant nature of change like looking at your 11 year old who you swear was an infant a couple days ago.

I’ve accepted it all as best I can. I’m human. I am going to get pissed off when I feel like all my efforts are wasted even if I understand the truth is change is happening constantly. My only offense and defense in this is acceptance and awareness. In the time I wrote this, I’ve changed. Cells died or divided, thoughts have come and gone, and I’ve calmed down slightly by typing. I know my obituary is going to say nothing about my immaculate countertops, but sometimes I can’t stop scrubbing them. I am aware of my behavior, but instead of being attached to the outcome, I use it as a form of meditation, so I accept it. “It is what it is” is my mantra.

This is life and it’s what we all struggle with. As much as anyone says they want to change something, their deepest struggle is against changing it…and of course: failure. Suffering comes from fear and fear is often the fear of change. Yet, when you see life is constantly changing, you can see your fear is holding you back from living.

Our egos developed to keep us alive. The notion of “I” is attached to your body, your life, and all that you perceive in your realm of being. When we die, our ego ceases to exist as does our bodies. Naturally, our egos fear change and fear failure.

The Buddha spoke of non-duality. That there is no good or bad, everything “just is”. Our egos are our thinking mind. In our thinking mind, we need judgement and labels. A plant is a plant, that person smells badly, and my feet itch. When we were fighting to survive, these judgements and labels kept us alive. That thing will eat me, that plant will kill me, run.

The thinking mind is always there, and many of us are led by the nose by our thinking mind. If you think I sound ludicrous for spending 8 months cleaning all day every day, (it’s cool, I do too) muse on how much of your life is spent thinking. Thinking, labeling, and judging are parts of our life and necessary. If you are driving and think “I should not run over that pedestrian” and slow down, this is helpful. If you are sitting on your couch thinking you are a failure, this is not.

We have gotten so lost in our thinking minds, we have lost connection with what words actually mean. We rely so heavily on connotation, we have lost sight of the power of our words, actions, and thoughts. The best moments and worst moments of your life are likely inadequately described by words. “Holding my child in my arms for the first time was too beautiful for words” right? What words can you use to describe a sunset adequately? What words can you use to describe how you felt when your lover kissed you for the first time?

Our words truly only have the power we give to them. Calling someone a complete and total douche canoe, on the surface, makes little sense, yet I bet you’d not feel happy if I called you one. This is true of everything in life. Everything only has the power we give it. This is the crux of non duality. Something is only bad if we label it as such and our efforts to pursue or avoid it are the root of suffering. Douche canoe has no meaning beyond what you apply to it.

Did you know the actual definition of failure is: lack of success or the omission of an expected outcome?

To the first definition, the only person who can define success is you. To the second: in this life, we have only one expected outcome. Death. By that understanding, every inhalation and exhalation, you successfully fail. Your life is one successive failure to achieve the only expected outcome you truly have: death. Ultimately, you will succeed by dying. Kinda fucked up to think about it that way right? Yet how much of your life has been labeled with that word?

How can I say the only person who determines success is you? You could argue “if I don’t get my work done, my boss will fire me, he determines the success there.” Yet, by choosing not to do your work, you chose not to be successful, so you did that. Beyond that, we’ve all been told enough times that we learn more from our mistakes/failings than our achievements. So if you get fired, you got a lesson, so there is a success.

“Failure is not an option” – well, death is always an option, but would trying whatever has been pulling at your soul kill you? I opt to clean instead of write because I’m terrified of showing the world how absolutely batshit crazy I am (again). Yet the Buddha has taught me to bring the inside out. That happiness is in being. It can truly be as simple as speaking your mind. “Attachment is the root of all suffering”-Buddha. My attachment to my suffering is keeping me suffering, which means I just need to stop being attached to…me. I’m no one. Me and all my problems have an expiration date. In enough time, the kitchen I scrub won’t exist. I’m not my ego, I could not tell you who I am, but no matter what happens, I am happy, because it is my nature. I just like to think I’m not.

All of this is the only way I stay sane while being a depressed hamster in hell. I have spent so much of my life trying to change, be better, and so forth. Sitting here not cleaning and writing in my “old house” with my ex, I feel like the worlds biggest failure. I would have never expected my life to turn out as it has. I’m not even working right now. There are so many things I can label as a failure. Unlike before, I am glad. As long as I am failing, I’m living. As long as I am living, I am changing. By accepting change, I can be happy no matter what, because I understand my immaculate kitchen will never last. Nor will the bad day. Nor will the good day. No amount of thinking will change that. Without thinking about it all, I have more energy to do the things I care about like impatiently writing all of this on my phone. The true self typing this is inspired, even if my ego is twitching to clean…(Sorry for typos, shitty formatting, etc!)

I hope you all are successful failures today!

Using a Tough Convo to Empower

I’m a pretty big believer in transparency with my kids. If nothing else, my alphabet soup of diagnoses forces me to be honest about my shortcomings. I can’t exactly smile and be “perfect” when depression or panic attacks are fighting my ability to be a human being let alone a mom.

My kids, like any kids, have these things called ears and eyes. They see all of the goings on, even if I don’t watch the news myself. I realized I needed to talk to them about the shootings. I am not one to brush things under the carpet with a smile and everything is just fine.

My oldest told me he’s scared someone’s gonna come in and shoot him. I overheard the boys discussing what they’d do if someone came into their school and started shooting. Like a normal mom, I immediately felt a rage in me that could make a nuclear bomb seem benign. How the fuck can it be possible that my 11 and 6 year old are discussing getting fucking shot in school? How is this a reality?

I looked my son in the eyes and I gave him the only answer I have. “Ty, the truth is at any moment we can die. There are people who are angry, miserable, and full of hatred and sadness. It’s so bad, they think hurting others is the answer. The only thing we can do for people like that is love them anyway. I refuse to waste my life being scared of mean people or even being scared of dying. I know it will happen one day, and my only wish is I live my life so well – so awesomely – that when I die, I have a smile on my face and all the ones I love know how much and deeply I love them. I feel like the only way I can do that is try to be as kind and loving as I can to anyone in my life and maybe there will be less unhappy people in the world. But I won’t let people take away my happiness. Not by making me scared about dying or anything. I won’t give someone else that power. And I hope you don’t either. I hope you live your life finding everything that makes you smile – to the point you can smile and find happiness even when everything is hard. Because you are strong. You’re awesome. And no one can take that away from you.”

I don’t know if that’s the right answer, but unfortunately there’s no “how to talk to your children about people being massacred in school” section in the non-existent parenting novel. I can’t get rid of the monsters, but I’ll do my best not to raise new ones.

I Am Santa Claus

 

My oldest is 11 years old. I knew last year the clock was ticking on his belief in the Big Red Man. I’ve heard so many parents say once kids stop believing, the magic dies. Last year, I began asking why we lie to kids about Santa. Why do we concoct this huge story just to ultimately tell them, “Actually that’s not true. Enjoy your shattered dreams” (maybe that’s dramatic).

I wrote here about changing my attitude with Christmas. I had lost the magic of Christmas myself because I viewed it as a consumer-driven burden. A part of this feeling was: I’m setting my kids up for this huge disappointment! One day, I have to sit down and tell them Santa isn’t real?

I’m not saying I’ve mused on this for a year straight, but it has been on my mind. I knew this would be the last year my oldest would buy the Santa story, if at all. I went for a long drive a couple days ago, because I was overwhelmed with people (read: my family haha) and I just needed time to not think. With some loud metal and the open road, I figured I could clear my head and figure this all out.

The solution dawned on me in everything I was doing already. It’s simple and I don’t understand why I wasn’t seeing it. I am Santa Claus. Santa is the metaphor of goodness, kindness, generosity, and love. We invented a magical story to capture children’s imagination and wonder, but the true magic is in the truth. Every year, their father and I bust our butts to create magic. That’s not even Christmas, that’s every day.

We don’t need a fat guy in a red suit to be magical.

mag·ic
ˈmajik/
noun

 

1.
the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

Is there any force more supernatural than love? I’m not talking about the stupid crap we are sold in movies and everything. I am talking about action. Doing what needs to be done and transcending your own ego to care for others. Thinking inside the box of our ego is our natural instinct. Supernatural is love and compassion.

I kept thinking I had to come up with a way to “make up” for killing Santa Claus to my kid or lying to him, or whatever. I view everything in this world as energy. Energy cannot be destroyed. If I talk to my child, I can transfer his belief in a magic that does not exist as presented into the magic that exists in every moment of every day. I believe my kids are wiser than I am, as it is. I did not want to avoid the conversation, and I wanted to sublimate the energy of his beliefs. To me, he could either doubt everything remotely magical, or I can teach him to see the magic in every moment.

We told my oldest that we are Santa Claus. That his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and everyone in his life are Santa Claus. We explained the story is not true – there is no one at the North Pole, but we tell that story to teach little kids the magic of Christmas – the magic of love, kindness, generosity, and gratitude. Since he is a big kid now, he’s old enough to hear the real, true magic. Santa Claus lives in each one of us – in our hearts, not the North Pole. If he thinks back on all his Christmases, that was Mommy and Daddy making magic. Magic is very, very real, and we don’t need a special person. We are all able to create magic – even if it is a hug, a smile, or any kindness.

We welcomed him to our Santa Claus club and told him he is Santa Claus now, too. He has to keep the secret of Santa until his brother and sister are old enough to join the real club. We invited him to stay up late with us on Christmas Eve and be Santa with us.

My son was smiling. “I am Santa Claus?”

“Yep, buddy. Every person you meet is Santa Claus – some just don’t know it yet!”

We showed him some of the gifts his brother and sister are getting, and we emphasized that he’s a big boy, and this is a HUGE responsibility and we’re trusting him to keep the secret. It’s part of being in the club.

He just kept saying, “I am Santa Claus!”

It’s a pretty cool way to teach magic. I couldn’t kill his magic. I want him to see he is magic. It was nice to learn it myself. You get older, you get dumber. So grateful for my wise little man teaching me to be a wise old woman. Instead of seeing $$ signs, I’m seeing the magic of being the magic – in every way.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Merry Christmas, Everyone! Thank you so much for reading. How have you handled the Santa Claus situation? Maybe this inspires a few convos!! Thank you for liking, commenting, and sharing my writing! 

Changing my Christmas

I’ve looked at Christmas as being forced to spend money I do not have on a bunch of shit no one needs. This year, I have been particularly vocal about this materialist society killing everyone’s understanding of joy, happiness, peace, fulfilment, etc. No material good gives happiness. Happiness comes from within. To me, happiness and love are synonyms, and no thing shows or gives love or happiness. Happiness, love, and Christmas are actions, not words and not gifts.

Am I angry about Christmas? No. I just had the simple realization that I spent 1 or more months of my life spending money, preparing, and doing shit for one day. Christmas became a burden. It was a neverending series of compounding expectations, which ultimately created a stressed out and exhausted me. I said to a friend: “No single day can live up to that amount of effort. The ROI (return on investment) is fucked. This is why we’re all so goddamn miserable. We spend months of our lives delaying being happy for a day.

The inevitable feeling I always had to tuck away on Christmas night was “All that for this?”

There are a lot of people questioning why we have a holiday that makes us feel obligated to go into debt for our loved ones, etc. I’ve felt this way for so long, but I assumed it was me being weird. Everyone else seems happy. Clearly, my overwhelmed, exhausted, etc. state was my fault.

I have always looked at Christmas has a metaphor of our best selves. We’re all happier, more loving, kinder. Why, then, do I need to work so hard to achieve that? Why do I save it for a day? I can throw tons of synonyms to describe happiness or being happy. Or, I can give the truth: it’s your choice. Happy is a feeling which is a reaction. Every feeling you have is a reaction, and what you do with that reaction dictates your response. Your response is your choice. All feelings are transient and temporary.

Part of my problem with Christmas is the expectations I would set for myself and my family. I wanted to create amazing memories and moments as well as find the perfect gifts for everyone. I created so much anxiety and insanity for myself in this desperate need to have the best, be the best, etc. I’d have images of these perfect festive scenes that never came to fruition. Most of the time I’d be so damn exhausted, I’d feel like I was barely there anyway. Last year, I focused on taking better care of myself at Christmas time. I cut things off the to-do list, focused on meditation, yoga, and journaling to help me stay calm.

Happiness is cultivated in your mind. For years, I pretended to be happy as I ran around like a Christmas-y chicken with my head cut off. In reality, I cultivated guilt, expectations, and disappointment. It was me trying to make up for being a “shitty mom”. I don’t know why I believe so deeply I’m a shitty Mom, except to say, I look at the expectations of society and I don’t match. Now, I’m thrilled I do not match. I finally understand parenting and happiness are not one size fits all. In striving to achieve Facebook-worthy statuses, pictures, etc. I was robbing myself of genuine happiness and authenticity. I’ve found greater happiness in the smallest situations than in all the convoluted schemes I’ve contrived.

My kids don’t understand money, etc. Why would they? That’s when I saw the stupidity of my expectations: my kids have no concept of all the shit I’m doing because Santa does the work. They have no concept of money because kids do not understand the stupidity adults live in. All the expectations I would place were with all the time, energy, and money I’ve put out, and the kids have no way of understanding or appreciating that.

Christmas is a consumer-driven holiday. There’s nothing about Jesus in the money I’m spending, etc. Jesus is in the hugs I give my children, and the I love you’s and the giggles while we make a mess baking cookies. None of this is dictated by a date on the calendar – originally the solstice, which was taken by Christianity for Christmas, to drive pagans to Christianity. Now, it’s been taken from Christians by Corporations & Credit Card companies to drive everyone to debt. I was wondering how I can get away from this consumer crap. I don’t want my life dictated by shit. It could be the nicest whatever, ever, but at the end of the day, it’s stuff.

Yet, my kids want presents. I can’t say, “Well your mother has realized society is idiotic and we’re abstaining this year.” This is my problem, not theirs. So, I changed my attitude. Everything in this life is a tool or a weapon, depending on your choice. A lot of people mistake what Buddha taught regarding attachment. It’s not to have nothing, want nothing, etc.

It is to cling to nothing: no moment, no thing, etc. In the fleetingness of Christmas, my greatest disappointment was it was just one day. One hour, really. I’d spend days upon days wrapping presents, and within an hour all that time was scattered on the floor for me to clean. If the kids hated a present, I’d be upset.

I don’t think Buddha would advise me to change anything but me.

Instead of buying gifts, I thought in terms of investments. I am investing in my children’s happiness. Sometimes, you make a good investment, sometimes bad. This lets me detach from the expectation of outcomes – happy, sad, indifferent. It’s an investment, and we shall see how it goes. I did my purchases with the word “Tool” in mind.

Attachment is allowing something to control you, versus you being in control. If you are constantly chasing stuff, money, tail, this controls you.

Reaction/Response. A reaction is a base instinct. A response is controlled. It’s a higher level of being. The way words get interspersed leads to a lot of confusion in this regard. The things I purchased were with helping the kids connect with passions, hobbies, and ways of cultivating happiness for themselves. What they do with these gifts is their choice, and if it goes to waste, I’ll consider it a lousy investment. I won’t get upset, etc. because I know I did my best, and I know they choose happiness for themselves. I’ve been talking to the kids about gratitude almost constantly. Pointing out everything we all take for granted – hot water, our home, food, etc. I feel like we all so easily get caught up in the “buy me, buy me” we forget how lucky we are. I forget I’m fortunate to even be pissing and moaning about buying presents or baking cookies.

Many believed I was “anti-Christmas” this year, and I’m not. I’m anti-killing myself for a bunch of crap no one needs. I’m anti-anything that doesn’t cultivate happiness.  The way I was doing Christmas did everything but cultivate happiness. It dumped a ton of happy feelings in one day, a fleeting, transient thing. In changing my perspective, outlook, and actions, I’m showing the kids with the example to take care of themselves, and create happiness and love – every day, not just December 25th. Nothing I did over the past month was really about Christmas. It was just about being a family and loving each other. Christmas is a day. I won’t kill myself for a day anymore.

Some changes I made:

  1. No More Wrapping. Too much time and effort with NO payoff. I’m killing trees and myself for, what? A pretty picture?
    • Solution – I bought a ton of adorable cloth Santa Sacks. I put presents inside and place sack under tree. Done.
  2. I’m making investments, not buying gifts
    • Obviously, the kids got a few toys. More than that, though, the bulk of my money went towards developing hobbies: a snake for my youngest, because he’s wanted a pet, and I thought responsibility/caring for an animal would be good for him. My daughter wants to be an artist – she got an art kit and art desk, and my oldest is getting a telescope because my motherly instinct is telling me exploring the cosmos is right up his alley.
    • Not just kids, though. I focused everything I bought as an investment in someone else cultivating happiness or a better life. Re-discovering hobbies/joy they had as a kid, etc. It challenged me to be creative, attentive, and do more than just mindlessly buy crap.
    • I’m creating opportunities to teach gratitude – for the people in our lives and the tools we have to create happiness
  3. I listened to myself
    • When I was tired, etc. I just listened to my body. There is literally nothing about Christmas that is more important than my health and wellbeing.
    • I blew off friends/commitments if my energy was low
    • I did not do more than I was capable of doing
  4. I am staying present
    • The magic of Christmas and in my mind, the magic of life is in the smallest moments. I overlooked them in my hyperfocus on the “big day”. Singing and dancing to “Must be Santa” with my baby, ignoring an overflowing sink of dishes to play dolls with my daughter, etc. Christmas is tomorrow. Right now, I’m ignoring my overwhelming children and taking a time out to blab on here, because I’ve been too busy/tired to write. 😉 balance!
  5. I’m not perfect
    • I am not perfect
  6. I’m the only standard I’m holding myself up to
    • Did I do my best? Perfect. 😉
  7. I made Christmas, love, and happiness synonyms.
  8. I am grateful

This is not just about Christmas, these are attitudes and thought processes I’ve been cultivating. I’m not spending 364 of my life looking forward to 1. I said this month, I’m not spending 30 days or whatever prepping for a day. I spend 365 days a year cultivating love and happiness – in myself first, and through sound investments 😉