Monday, 20 July 2015


The slogan KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON appeared on a motivational poster in war times more than 70 years ago. Lately it has popped up as a widely used meme covering umpteen topics, from movies to politics to parenting to Internet culture. 

For me, today was the epitome of KEEP CALM. It seemed that my day had the faculty for turning sour at each and every turn. But what eventually followed continued to be enjoyable, if I let it. Which I did. Simply because I had an impressionable three year old watching me. Me. This painfully wounded and deeply scarred me. My motivation for Carrying On is that she won't also have the tendency to have fear as a default or to unremittingly stress or to desire to give up or to struggle not to judge.

Nothing motivates change as effectively as hungering for more for your child. I want more for her than what I experienced with my self inflicted years of loneliness and the struggle with relationships. I want more for her than the expense I had to invest into counselling. I want more for her than the incessant negative self talk I had to reprogram. I want more for her than I am even capable of imagining due to where I started from.

So when she was buckled into her carseat today and got locked in the car I kept my calm trying to get her to un-click a buckle she has never been able to operate. I feared the temperature would get too high and I felt like throwing up. I wanted to go home and hide. But I smiled at her and encouraged her and assured her help was coming. She cried. Of course. But I had to KEEP CALM AND KNOW IT WILL BE OKAY. And it was. And she cheerfully went off to play. 

And when she ran ahead and placed her hand next to a sliding door and it opened on her arm up to her elbow I pushed the door back and hugged her tight. I wanted to be so angry with myself for looking away and letting another incident happen in the same day. I wanted to give up on my shopping list. But I asked her to wiggle her fingers and bend her wrist and wave her arm. She cried. Of course. But I had to KEEP CALM AND BELIEVE I'M A GOOD MOM. And I am. And we continued into the store where she happily asked questions and straightened shelves and helped me locate items. 

And when ten o'clock rolled around and she had just got into bed because of a late bath from playing in the mud I still read a story and said our prayers. I wanted to cut everything short in frustration with myself for ending up in this situation yet again. I wanted the day to end. Tomorrow she will cry from lack of sleep. Of course. (And maybe I will as well.) But I will KEEP CALM AND HAVE PATIENCE. Because she will also laugh and smile. (And I will as well.)


I will have patience with her because she is unceasingly learning and growing. I will have patience with myself because I am still learning and growing. I will have patience with life because then, and only then, can I concede to letting it make us who we are actually destined to be.


Monday, 8 June 2015

That Humbling Thorn

I just had my 20 year grad reunion. (I know, I know, hard to believe.) I'll tell you, I was pleased as punch it wasn't in 2013. Only two years difference. But I am certain the whole venture would have been incomparable if I hadn't gone through the recent struggles that seemed to cement the journeys that began nine years ago with marriage and intensified with motherhood, with all the roller coaster rides in between through to this day. 

I've probably changed more over the years than the average person. Though I'm sure I need to give others more credit for their improvements and their growing up. I'm not saying I'm anything special. To say I needed plenty of work is an understatement. 

Two years ago I was finally learning to love who I was and what I could do. This was following a very rough year of postpartum depression. My search for a path out of dismay led me through diet and activity changes that really augmented my influence on my own health. (Really, there was a time I thought healthy meant adding veggies to Kraft Dinner.) I became physically fit and gained energy. And as I felt better about how I looked I realized that I had actually criticized who I had been too much (like everyone else does to themselves). I went from feeling that I used to be ugly to maybe thinking that I've been acceptable, or even more than good enough, all along. (Maturing is so nice. Imagine having confidence in high school?) 

But pride is a very slippery slope. I began to become obsessed with my workout routine. Sure the endorphins were exhilarating. And quite stress releasing (I am married, after all). But so was the weight loss. If I had stayed in that state of mind I would have become quite fixated on how I would look to those who attended my 20 year grad reunion. I would have compared my weight to the other ladies. I would have probably had a melt-down trying to choose appropriate attire that I would feel comfortable wearing that would show off the efforts that I had made to be trim and muscular.

With all that personal focus, what else would I have been worried about? I know that 20 years ago I thought proper grammar use was an indicator of all-encompassing value in a person. And I was controlled by the idea that admitting any shortcomings in any area was announcing that one was a complete failure. And we won't even get started on past hair issues. 

Would I have even attended? These anxieties were enough in the halls of high school. Who needs them in their late thirties?

Maybe my tremendous insecurity was actually rooted out of my judgment of everyone else?

But I now know that value comes in all forms. People have many different purposes. Many. Different. Purposes. And in order to fully serve those purposes they can't be everything. 

I can't be everything. And that's okay. And because of an injury, I couldn't be that girl who competed in mud runs and races. I couldn't brag about my ability to do push ups or run steep hills or climb the monkey bars. Those were things of the past. That thorn in my side had humbled me. 

Instead, I was able to just enjoy being with people I went to school with without worrying about what they thought about me. I wasn't the smartest or slimmest or prettiest or the "est" of any category. But that wasn't even on my mind.

(Seriously. It wasn't. Tell that to 18-year-old me.)

And as the weekend concluded I was kind of thankful for the injury that put my daily exercising to a halt. Maybe one day I'll be healthy enough to get back into it to some extent. (For sure. I gotta get running again.) But I won't be comparing the results to how anyone else appears.

Life isn't about being pretty enough or smart enough or having nice enough hair. It's about enjoying people. Sure, it's easier to do certain things with those who are like minded in a particular area. But I like having people in my life who encompass all the different ways this universe can be experienced. 

Experienced with people. Not in comparison to them. 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A Day in a Continuum

It's a new year. A time when people pertinaciously attempt those changes that they've pondered making... again. A time when the scale is distrustfully worshipped. The fridge is decisively analyzed. And the lists are valiantly declared.  

The goal is to set a course that will result in finishing the year in a more estimable place than at this beginning. Thinner. Healthier. More organized. And happier. Definitely happier.  

The planned method to reach that goal is often a lofty one. A self-depreciating, rule filled regimen that requires unwavering determination. Without taking into account the amount of road blocks. The nostalgia over such a previously insignificant part of a memory. The salivating glands at the idea of something forbidden. The it's-not-fair cries inside when observing simple day to day rituals so innocently taken advantage of by innocent bystanders.

Until finally, it's enough. You can't take it. It may only be New Year's Day, but next year you will be stronger.

But probably not. Not out of motivation to win the battle of a day that gives so many the illusion of a new beginning when the world just keeps ticking on the same as before. Not out of worshipping this commercialized event calendar that tells us when to love, when to fantasize, when to give, when to change.

I thought about following the routine. Marching out my own acceptation of this yearly affair. 

But the tumultuous path the last year took has left me with too much of a new acceptance of the way things have become. And more importantly, are naturally becoming. Change is in my every day and so this season isn't a break in my steps at all but merely a part of the continuum that means I must be getting somewhere. I hope. 

Simply put, a New Year's resolution just doesn't fit two aspects of my current journey. One is my ever changing opinion of the world around me and the way it should be and the other is that same phenomena subjectively applied to my own life, my own home, my own body. 

I am 30 pounds heavier than this time last year. And I don't care. I have a family who loves me. I'm healthy. I'm beautiful. Take away the cellulite and I think I would actually like this current form better. (A new wardrobe would increase the comfort.)

I don't stress over my hair anymore. And I don't regret it. The more I worried about it the more I hated it anyway. (And hate is an understatement as I think my hair has resulted in an embarrassing amount of tears and tardiness.) I've grown to love the natural look. I think it adds a softness. An air of contentment. Definitely more contentment in my daily routine. 

My floors are gross. So what? I've got two dogs, a toddler, and a husband. And I enjoy their company. I'm enjoying my child's presence to the fullest. That's more valuable than the opinion of someone who doesn't have her heart on my sleeve like my little one does. Anyone can critique the hair balls and foot prints. I don't care. I'm going to the library. Hiking the surrounding forests. Testing the coffee shops. Going bowling and swimming. Visiting family. Watching the mind of an inquisitive toddler expand. The floor can wait. (I don't even think I cringed writing it that time.)

These declarations may seem mundane to you. But not to someone who this time last year would have found these ideas far fetched. The opinions of others has always mattered too much. The fear of failure has always clouded my choices. 

I didn't resolve to change these things a year ago. Most definitely I would have chosen the distinct opposite. But it was many events over the last year that broke things. The forgiveness I had to give. The black and white I finally had to see. All while busy raising a child. It adjusted priorities. It helped me see what will matter in the end. 

I'm not saying someone resolving to lose weight is erring. I'm not saying someone determined to be a better house maker is on the wrong path. I'm just saying the desired growth isn't from a day pronounced to be the catalyst. It's from opening up to the miracles of revelation available every day. The stories of strength from each struggle. The recognition of what matters in the hustle and bustle. The taking responsibity for oneself that has to be adopted as a lifestyle. 

I can look back at my rough year, the stressful year of 2014, and label it's denouement as a successful year. It stressed me out until I let go. Day by day it worked on me. Improved me. Helped me to walk into what will be an amazing 2015.