Monday, April 25, 2016

You Do Not Have to Be Good

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.....

Mary Oliver, from the poem "The Wild Geese"

I have written about Self Care in the past, right?  When talking with other moms I like to soap-box and wax eloquently on this topic.  Yet, it has always been hard for me to do self care!  Perhaps it has been because I have understood Self Care, but not Self Compassion.  For the first time in my adult life I'm beginning to understand that there is such a thing as the Mystery of Self Compassion.
Do you sit and think sometimes that there is such a thing as a "Good Mother"?  Do you spend a large amount of your day trying to figure out ways to achieve the belief that you are included in the rare breed of that title: Good Mom?  Not sure?  Try saying to yourself: "Eryn (your name, not mine;), you are a Good Mom!"

How did that feel?

I'm learning how to sit with that.  To be with that statement, letting it seep into the pores a bit.  But the first time I heard it from another person I cringed.  The first time I said it to myself my body had a reaction- like, "Nuh uh!  That's not truth you crazy!"

What is it about that word that makes it so cringe-worthy?  Good.  You are Good.  Good Mom.  Good Friend.  Good Person.

I think there is an opposing force that we don't ever want to talk about.
This Thing will keep us striving for doing better, trying and trying, hoping against rationale that our circumstances will change and maybe then we will feel better This thing loves to show up the minute things don't go well or according to plan.  This thing, this silent epidemic, will keep us judging each other, then cycling back around to harshly judging ourselves, then back to judging other mothers and women with Comparison; the spiral continues.
It's not just a "bad feeling"; it's a Bad Being type of Thing.

This Thing is called Shame.
Shame is a lie that roots itself so deeply inside that we don't recognize It Is A Lie, like a Cancer that our body doesn't acknowledge so it begins to attack it's true self.  We don't know what is Good or Bad in us when we feel Shame come on.  We don't know what to do or How to be.  We can cope with it, survive with it, but cannot overcome it alone.

So here is my proposition for us women, mothers, friends, daughters, sisters:  Let's stand together against Shame!  Here is the thing about Shame, it's Achilles heel:  It cannot stand to be spoken.

To stand against Shame is to Speak it.
Tell your story..."yours and I will tell you mine".
Let's tell one another, "You do not have to be good!"
You are Good.
You do not have to earn anything by "walk(ing) through the desert on your knees for a hundred miles, repenting"!!
You cannot earn Who You Are

{Now here is where I would insert the following question: "Well you have no idea what I said yesterday to my idea how I clue how mean I was to my husband last night....What if my actions are not good??!?......How can I be good when I do these things??....This is madness talking!  Shut. It. DOWN!"}

In response to this doubter (usually me!) I would say this:  
It. Doesn't. Matter.
I have done that before too. (Hear me!  Yes you... whatever you just thought in your head, I'm sure I have done that before too!)
I have felt that way before too.
Repairing is truly powerful.  And I know you repair well.  Repairing is where the Good Stuff is anyways.
Actions do not define you.  You are youWho you are is who you are.  Valuable, Precious, Destined, Special, The Only You.
The formula for doing things better and feeling better is simply Self Compassion.
The way to get to Self Compassion is to tell your Shame to your trusted people.
Speak your Shame and watch it die.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Being Heard

Have you ever found yourself saying, "I wish my kids would just listen [to me]!"

I have.  Mine are ages 6-9- so I don't often feel super "heard"!

Actually, not being heard or feeling like my words aren't important to someone is a big trigger of mine.  I am a verbal processor, and I express myself with my words.  So Who am I when my words are not being processed by someone else?!

The other day, I decided on a whim to let my children do one thing that interests them.  It was an experiment, really, to see what they would get into if they could choose anything they wanted to do.  It was raining so that ruled out all outside activities that day.

Here is what they chose:
  • My youngest played the piano as loud and as long as he wanted and made up songs about how much I love him.  
  • My middle child wanted to "go through" everything of mine in our mud room, including, but not limited to my purse, my old purse, my pool bag, my Christmas card box, my supplies for making things with essential oils, my recipes, and other nick knacks of mine that I keep in our pantry/ mud room area.
  • My oldest chose to bake a recipe totally from scratch.  She looked at a cook book and decided to just "get inspiration" from that and not follow anything it says.  And she came up with the cupcakes you see here in this post.  Coconut Chocolate cupcakes- with a semi-descent crumb and a delicious frosting!

kind of want to shout from the rooftop that my 9 year old made these ;)
Here's the thing.  I was not prepared for what my kids' chosen activities would reveal.  What they chose was a direct reflection of how much they pay attention to me and what I say!

Here is what I learned from this experiment:
  • My son hears all the things I say to him about how special he is and how much I love him.  He knows he is good and important.  How can I be sure?  Because he put all my words to music.  Has he ever spoken or acted like those words have sunk in?  No.  But he knows them down deep because they come out of him when he is doing what he loves, which is singing loudlyHe hears me.
  • My quiet child, our middle one, wants to get to know me more.  She wants to know me so much that she will go through all of my things for an hour!  She also cleaned out my purse and I over-heard her talking to the trash and the coupons: "You won't make my mom spend more money than she wants.  You belong in the trash" :)  She speaks what she has heard me say to coupons many times before.  Recently I started throwing coupons away in the trash because they were ending up getting me to think more about adding to my possessions and "things" instead of saving me money.  She heard me.
  • And my sweet oldest baby girl!  She made her some cupcakes using the exact ingredients I use when I bake.  I don't bake using a recipe most of the time.  I only use my cookbooks "for inspiration".  In about every recipe I throw together I use the same 6 ingredients and she pulled out those ingredients first thing to start her project.  She must watch me so very intently because she made those cupcakes and they were pretty decent!  I cannot tell you how many times I have had a question while trying to bake something.  I had previously considered it an annoyance to be endured by mothers everywhere.  Yet, she knew exactly how to bake a cupcake!  She knew how it was done because she not only hears me, she sees me, too.

Mom's I hope this is an encouragement to you that You Are Heard!  My kids may not listen to me when they are invested in something else, like looking for lizards :)  And they may not listen to me when I ask them to not do that one thing for the 1,597 time!  But they do hear me.  Our kids long to connect, hear, and be heard.  I love how my experiment with mine taught me about how much they do hear and how much those things sink down deep.
and just look at that lovely crumb <3

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