Monthly Archives: January 2013

Working mothers

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After having watched the movie „I don’t know how she does it” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSi3LdUrq18 (trailer), on an evening meant to be dull, I was appalled by the shallow view this movie shared.

I had today in front of me a working and breastfeeding mother of a 6 month old. A colleague who drove 250 km to the meetings location in the morning and returned back home in the evening. She did that for three days in a row. She looked dismantled. She worked hard to make a ‘I have it all under control” impression. Her eyes were telling a different story.78773642

I’ve done that. I’ve been in her shoes. In working mothers shoes. “I’ve got it all under control’ was my mask for 2 years. I breastfed at day and at night, I divorced sleep, I worked hard running back and forth to breastfeed, I did conference calls with my baby on my lap, I studied for my second post-graduate degree… My free time was all for my baby and her needs. I had two-minute express showers. I rejoiced when I managed to wax a leg – preferably mine. I put my relationship with my husband on hold. All I read were reports for work and books on babies. I have implanted myself into an emotionally sterile environment.

I had no time to connect with my self and allow myself to feel what I felt. When an additional demand for my time came, I screamed out loud “ cant’ YOU see I am collapsing!?!”. I came to realize  that it was ME who did not want to see the signs my body and soul were posting.

At the hospital, they prepare you for the “do part” of motherhood: how to change diapers, how to bath the baby, how to breastfeed, how to feed you baby… They do not prepare you for the ‘feel part”. What is often forgotten/ignored is the emotional world a mother enters into. It is a world of an extreme joy and superiour excitement. It can be quite overwhelming, at the very same time. It has also scientific explanations: the rise and fall of an entire army of hormones. And you have no control over that. And you do not need to.129301984

The lesson I learned from this experience is that it is fundamental to allow yourself to embrace, accept and acknowledge your emotions. If you want to cry, cry. If you want to laugh, laugh. If you want to shout, shout. If you need a hug, ask for one. Family, friends, support groups, which you find emotionally safe, are one strategy. You may want to keep a diary to pencil your thoughts, feelings, desires. You may want to try meditation when you can spare a minute just for yourself. Yoga or karate classes may work for you. Or maybe painting may fit best your needs to express what you feel. Or just paint your nails in different colours for a rainbow effect!  Anything that helps un-bottling your emotions is welcome. And, do it early in motherhood, even if you are challenged time-wise. With lots of love!

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Do you spoil?

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So, do you spoil? Do you get spoiled? I am guilty on both accounts.  Both are equally rewarding, especially when least expected.

The internet and literature is full of negative connotations of spoiling. I wonder if whether we do it justice.

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It’s true, there are limits. The ones you choose and accept. Your internal balance will guide you. With moderation, spoiling brings happiness and a healthy confidence in children. Same goes for adults. At work you notice immediately people who are spoiled. They are confident, eager to embrace new challenges, have their expectations clearly set. In private life, those spoiled at work are easy-going, relaxed and available to their dear ones. The driver who works with us prepares tea for all in our office every morning; his father – a country man – brings coffee in bed to his wife their whole life together.

Spoil as much as you can. And “much” has nothing to do with quantity. Spoiling is not about luxury. A simple word of kindness, a thank you note, a smile, a supportive regard, a shared coffee, a flower on your colleagues’ desk, a home baked dessert, a strawberry on a cookie along your usual coffee can have an amazing ability to enlighten your and someone else’s day.

We don’t need to wait to be spoiled. Spoil yourself. Spoil your body. Spoil you mind. Spoil your soul. With a warm bath, a walk in the park, a delicious cake, a book, a prayer, a massage, a new hair cut, a postponed trip, a visit to the dear ones …

Reward what you want to be happening around you and notice the positive shifts in your life, today and every day.

Giovanni Arpino „Scent of a woman”

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Late evening, in an airport, due to a delayed flight, tired of reading and writing reports, my eyes sought something lighter for my soul.51gI7b3iSyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

A modest bookshop there offered a small selection of books. My eyes lay on „Woman’s perfume” by Giovanni Arpino. I knew the movie based on this book brought Al Pacino a Oscar.

It’s a book for those who try to understand complex characters. It was not a light reading. Fausto, a retired blind and disable captain, travels every summer to Italy. He gets a soldier from his commandment to accompany him on a short trip. A volunteer who soon regretted his generosity. He is face to face with a man who tries to run away from the true self. His discourses are bullets charged with his own internal pain. The soldier’s aim is to help a blind, but he ends up with eye-opening experiences. Fausto was looking for self-destruction and finds love.  A young lady whose undivided devotion enlightened the darkest corners of Fausto’s personality.

The Abyss and Heaven of Abuse

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They knew each other for 13 years. Laura was 42 and Eva 22 when they first met in a bus taking them to the sea side. Eva got attached to Laura the way an orphan gets attached to a mother she never had. Shortly after their relationship became truly intimate. They would talk endlessly on phone and share the most sacred secrets and aspirations.

In the mean time, Eva has grown into a fine professional, with a solid career built on her intelligence and connections. She also married a fine man. Laura was endlessly involved in family struggles: a 33 year married life with a cheating husband, a troubled daughter, who was Eva’s age, extended family intrigues and constant battles.

A year and a half ago, Laura called Eva. She sounded even more distraught than usual. And usual was already pretty disturbed. She learned accidentaly that her husband had an illegitimate daughter who just turned 22 and that he initiated contact with her and her mother. Laura was seeing the way out from it by jumping from a roof of a building. Eva listened for hours and managed to change Laura’s perspective on the situation. It’s somebody’s else tragedy and its’ your choice if you want to play a part on it. Eva was there for her, without judging.

A year latter, Laura’s husband died. A heart attack. Eva was the first person Laura called when she got the news. Her husband at that time was abroad for work. Eva was there again for Laura, helpful, supportive, obliging. She managed to get Laura through the inheritance process without her sharing property with her husband’s illegitimate child. So it was only Laura and her daughter who inherited it all: assets in four countries. Even the experienced notary Eva choose for Laura was daunted by the task at hand.

Laura wanted to travel. She believed her life was a sacrifice to others benefit and now she wanted it all. „I am a bad girl now” she used to repeat. Laura cautioned her with empathy „it’s ok to go into the opposite direction for now, but you need to find your balance”.

Eva was prety traveled and gave in easily to Laura’s desire to travel. Italy was her dream country. Eva took care of all travel, visa and accomodation arrangements, all for best prices. Laura gave Eva money for her flight and accomodation, pretending she would not want to be bothered by it while on vacation. Eva put that money on her visa.

A week before the trip Eva learned she was pregnant. She has not cancelled the trip knowing it would upset Laura. Laura already announced her daughter, who lived in a neighbouring country, that she will not be visiting them this Christmas. Laura told Eva that she enjoyed her daughter’s shock at the news.

They were finally in Rome. In the airport they wainted for their luggage and baby stroller. It was returned to them broken, with a missing wheel. This stroller belonged to Laura’s nepthew and she offered to give it to Eva’s child but did not want to accept money for it. „They ruined our vacation” was Laura’s outlook on the situation, to Eva’s husband disbelief.

Once settled in the hotel, Laura started to exhibit a demanding behaviour. A behaviour of someone who paid a touristic agent and expected services in return. Eva’s pregnancy made her more vulnerable and on the third day of their trip she experienced pain that made her stop and sit down in the middle of a street. Laura started giving patronising advice about Eva’s blood vessels. „Give me a break about your vessels. I am pregnant”, Eva responded, already prety pissed off. Laura extended no hand and no word of sympathy.

The next day, Laura turned her back at them in her bed mimicking a flu. Eva and her family had fun at the zoo that day.

Laura’s daughter now called severall times a day. A drastic change to her previous ignoring and non-carrying attitude. Was Laura’s 15000 Euro recent gift to her daughter behind that change?

Laura refused to join Eva and her family next few days. On the 6th day of their trip they were to take the train to their next destination: Florence. Laura was now again with Eva and her family untill she learned her way around in Florence and disappeared for two days. She reemerged in the breakfast room the day they had to take the train to Milano, their last stop.

On their brief encounters, Laura’s demands continued to get more annoying: this train sits are not comfortable, the taxi driver is cheating on us, the weather is bad, why are we going this way… an endless tirade of negative affirmation.

In Milano, Eva got sick and spent her day in bed. It was New Year’s eve, and as nothing happened, Laura rushed in Eva’s room with shampaign and fruits to „celebrate the New Year”. Eva did not buy this change of attitude.

The day of their return, at the airport, Eva’s family was invited for a quick, family check-in. Eva asked the officer to allow also Laura to join them, introducing her as their grandmother. On the plane Eva’s pain intensified. She could not move and hardly managed not to collapse. Upon landing, Laura left the plane among the first. What’s the hurry?, Eva asked herself. She soon got it answered.

Laura was radiant. Her daughter, her nephew and her son-in-law, all came to greet her at the airport. An unheard-of event. Laura told Eva there is no room in their car to take them to town and abruptly left. She totally disregarded that Eva was barely standing on her feet.

Eva knew this trip was definitory. She knew for some time that Laura has chosen a different path. The path of a ‚bad girl’, as she liked to put it. She only miscalculated to whom she may be bad and to whom not. Eva felt Laura used her to blackmale her daughter into loving her. And she succeded it somehow: Laura’s daughter called 10 times a day, didn’t she! Laura did not understand that her strategy might be working, but only in the short run. What also Laura forgot was that it was only couple of weeks ago that she was crying on Eva’s shoulder because of the costant disrespect her daughter was displaying towards her.

Eva felt it was totally inappropriate for Laura to pay her back for everything she has done for her, including the little thing of „keeping her alive” over the last 18 months, in Laura’s own words.

Once home, Eva knew it was time to put it behind and let Laura follow her own path.

Eva celebrated and cherished her own devotion and ability to manifest such a kind friendship. And above all, the freedom from others’ abyss.

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Active meditation

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I got introduced to yoga about 6 years ago, at my gym. The trainer asked me whether I meditate. „medi’ what? was my response. My life was busy or better say hectic at that time. I did not have time for sleep. The thought of introducing a new item on my agenda was met with huge resistance by my brain, who ruled it all at that time.

If you are here it may mean you are having same dilemmas and questions I had six years ago. I started meditation only to learn that it made me feel more frustrated and tense. I could not manage to reach that promised Nirvana!

My answers came from Osho and his concept of ‚active meditation’. My research brought me here http://www.osho.com/Main.cfm?Area=meditation. It worked for me, mainly because my heart was suppressed and my life had a single, tough, merciless ruler – my brain.

You may come across many techniques. It’s fine to know that not all techniques work for all. We are all unique and finding what works for you is part and parcel of active meditation. The finality, not so much the process, gets the reward. When you’ll reach that state of detachment, clarity, joy and lightness, serenity or whatever else you need, you’ll know what works for you. It shall all come naturally, effortlessly. It doesn’t matter where you are and what you do.157586356

I meditate when I breastfeed my baby. I meditate when I bake. I meditate when I read. I meditate when I walk. I meditate when I write. I meditate when I listen. I meditate on my feet. I meditate on my head. I meditate on the floor. I meditate on a pile of pillows. I meditate under the shower. I meditate when I make love.

Interested? Go for more! And share your experience please. Sharing may also become part of active meditation…