I have a black dress with a beautiful flower print, three quarters sleeves, midi length. I call it my 90s dress. As in “a dress to wear in my 90s”.
I picture myself in my mid ninetees wearing it with an orange scarf, a flirtish small purse, mid heels, by my partner’s arm, heading to my daughter’s house for an afternoon picnic.
This is my pledge. A pledge to a long, healthy, happy life, surrounded by people with whom I share a commitment to nurturing. I love the feeling this pledge gives. It makes me grateful and wise about how I use my life resources.
I once met a psychiatrist who cautioned me about the way I use my resources, in a period I worked for five big clients simultaneously, under tough tight deadlines. A did not know the word No at that time. From an Yes person, I turned into a robot. The psychiatrist asked me to pay a visit to her hospital. Seeing Mentally alienated people was an wake up call. It showed the bottom which brought in the salvaging perspective. The mind is a servant. Put it to good use and it will serve you. Make it run endless, meaningless errands and it will rebel. Payback time will get tough. The bottom will be quick to hit. Regaining balance will be challenging.
Back to my dress. It was on my “to donate” list. Until its orange flower print gave me that sense of perpetuation. Was it its stand-out orange pattern, with its energising sunny colour? Was it the contrast between black and orange as in a competition for a bet on the bright side of the life? It can be both. It regained now a prominent place in my wardrobe. This pledge is printed out, folded and kept in my diary, as a claim made with an open heart and humility to a long, healthy, prosperious, loving, fulfilling life for the good of all.
I have written on a number of occasions about mothers vulnerability and my own motherhood journey. E.g. https://lovevonbeautyvonlove.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/working-mothers/
I am child-centered parent and I believe this perspective enables an optimum anchoring into my livelihood. Motherhood, and parenthood for that matter, is not only about us. It’s also about that little human being that has questions, doubts, challenges, ups and downs, as many as we do, or even more sometimes.
I believe in sharing experience in a non-judgemental environment. What sadenns me is when it becomes a mere publicity tool for business interests, even if hidden under a noble “healing” promise, which comes with more side effects than health benefits. Or, what’s even worse, usng vulnerabilities for promoting interests of a particular group with clear net gains. Here is one example of what I mean: “Throwing a new mom pity party” by Kate Rope http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-rope/throwing-a-new-mom-pity-party_b_5022680.html
When things are tough, going extreme is the least helpful approach. Been there. Done that. It made me search for a middle way between “sickeningly hard” and ” constantly cheeriful”. The door to this path had two keys. One was to look at it through my inner child eyes retrospectively. The second key was to look at my motherhood through my own child’s big eyes.
My childhood was harsh, shadowed by meds my mother’s doctors prescribed, out of best intentions probably, with the knowledge and abilities they had at that time. What they missed was that meds effects went beyound her body and mind, spreading into my mind. I know now why people call me tough.
My child will become a parent one day. Would I like her to feel guilty because of my doctor’ s choice to prescribe heavy medication? Would calling my life with “a wife, kids and a house “the full catastrophe”” (quote from Kate Rope) help her grow into a happy, balanced, generous adult? My answer is No.
This perspective brought a doctor into my life who, when prescribing remedies for me, asks about my relationship with my child, and similarly, when prescribing remedies for my child, asks about her relationship with us, her parents.
What I try to always remember is that we, adults, make choices and these choices impact our kids lives to levels we may not even suspect. I choose not to bond with pity on my parenthood path. I choose to bond with empathy and love.
I developed a habit of having a cinnamon cappuccino every morning before taking the stairs to my office. Vegans would say the milk in my cappuccino is a killer. Some doctors would warn against having more than one cup of coffee every day. My dentist would have something to say about coffee effect on my enamel. My supervisor would wonder about the way I start my day. She would approve though I am sure, if I share my secret with her.
And it’s actually no secret. Habits… Good habits. Bad habits. How we label them is up to us. Though well wishers might want to “help” with labeling. Reading news is a good habit when it helps keeping abreast of developments for our work, financial decisions, travel plans… When reading news turns into creating excuses, procrastinating or “indulging” into the negative side of things, our mind might reach a boiling point. I’ve seen a friend been devoured by news in 2009 in the times of what is conventionally called “the crisis”. What his mind, absorbed by the constant negative flow of news, was missing was that ups and downs happen with a regularity outside our control. How we react and what we do are the only things under our control.
Back to my morning cappuccino, I am ready to trade a bit of my teeth enamel, to absorb a bit of lactose, to face a raised eyebrow of my supervisor, for the lovely smile of the lovely coffee shop lady who makes just the perfect cappuccino in our office cafeteria. Knowing customers’ habits is her habit. The other day I came by with a colleague who joined our team after a four month break. She still remembered how he likes his tea…. habits that are good for our body, mind and soul connect and create an invisible network of what makes our lives beautiful in many shades and on different levels.
Recently I discovered that a habit is also “a long, loose garment worn by a member of a religious order or congregation”. When time to change the “garment” will come, i’ll probably develop a new habit. Harmlessness and moderation are my habits’ friends, who do not object to minor addictions from time to time.
A chocolate and wisdom addiction, for example. Harmless, aren’t they?
…or two. Quick. Radical…..Let’s see where this will take me. This urge is close to anticipation of an orgasm. It builds in waves…stronger and stronger. Will I ride on the wave? Will I let it sweep me away? Will I be on the crest of the wave? Will I let it pass? I do not know. I want to know.
In the past, which I cherish, whenever I wanted a change I used to run to the hairdresser. A change of hair cut or hair colour would trap me into thinking of it as a change I wanted. Now I laugh at the thought of it. Pictures of myself keep reminding me how self deceiving I was. An urge for change rooted into most intimate thoughts will not go away with a new hair-cut or new cloths or a new partner or a new house.
As I sip my divine mochaccino (thank you barista!), I realise that there is actually no need for change. It’s my inner self which screams for freedom. Freedom from conventions, freedom from self-inflicted stereotypes, freedom from what others want me to have/want. When I am at peace with myself, there is no such urge. I am filled with creative flows, I am generous, I am happy. Have I forgotten the golden rules of inner peace? Be grateful, see the beauty in everything around me, enjoy it, even if it’s a lemon!, brief, smile, laugh, dream with eyes wide open, let the warmth of love heal my heart…
I witnessed huge changes in one of my dearest friend’s life. I know him for for over 15 years now. He embraced enormous life transforming changes over this period. I realised every change he made towards his inner self was gradual, painful at times but in a beautiful, creative way. He is now at peace. I see it in his eyes, his gestures, his smile. Will he want to radically change anything now? I looked for an answer in a coming-out video he recently made public. I do not think so. He seems in a safe harbor, filled with love. So for now, he will probably simply wave good buy to any sudden urge for change. ….And I am going to do the same.
Well, with one exception perhaps: a visit to a make up artist does not count, right? 🙂
Over the last years, I’ve noticed a sweet laziness embracing my body and mind in anticipation of my birthday.
I wish I knew what I did in the womb couple of days just before my birth. I know what my child did…
My laziness comes in many shapes and is fun to observe:
It’s a laziness of a cinderella melting in the arms of her dance partner just before midnight.
It’s the laziness of a happy mother half-asleep with her happy kid by her side.
It’s the laziness of a lioness just before going hunting at dusk.
It’s the laziness of a half-asleep mistress inhaling the smell of her generous lover.
It’s the laziness of a body just out of a terrific spa treatment.
It’s the laziness of a mind exhausted by too many hide and seek games.
It’s the laziness of a puppy bothered by a kid who wants to play.
It’s the laziness of a fighter who has it all now and does not need to prove anything anymore.
It’s the laziness of a otherwise busy morning which brings the peace of mind back to its temple.
I came to realise that laziness is a right (happy to have the mind of lawyer here). Once in a while it’s actually healthy to indulge on. With love for ourselves and dear ones. It buys you time to listen, hear, smell, observe, contemplate, enjoy and be grateful for everything you’ve been blessed with.
I was not born that way. I was raised in that way. “There is a God up there who sees everything you do and punishes you when you misbehaved” was a standard reprimand. This did the job. It instilled the purest form of abstract fear into a young soul, surrounded by many others who dared not think in any other way.
When I was 14 I took part in a nation wide French language competition. A teenager one-two years older than me interrupted a colleague’s prayer for good luck with a sharp “There is no God. If there is one he would strike me with all his might as I speak no”. I still remember his cynical laugh. That was probably the first non-orthodox and up-front view I have encountered on the matter, which raised a question deep in my mind.
Years later I was on the verge of a love affairs, which smell of danger. I was asked back then if I wasn’t afraid to enter into this relationship. “No’ was my answer, fast completed with “I am only afraid of God”. That was a rather strong belief, rooted in my childhood and early education.
My journey of self-nurturing brought me a fundamental personal appreciation of the ‘fear of God”. I read the Bible in my late teenage years, a time when I begun practicing independent thinking. I processed this reading years later when I read Solomon’s Proverbs and Ecclesiaste.
My mind came to appreciate the following: God (with whatever name he is known or called by his followers in whatever region of the world) is the Creator and as such is a Parent. Parents love and nurture. So does God. He gifted us with minds, souls and hearts to choose and accept or not the consequences of our choices. Blaming it on Him or stopping doing something out of fear of a Supranatural Repercussion is a strategy, no doubt, but with such a limited learning for personal growth impact. Is fear an ally to your growth? is a question with a very personal answer.
Fear and belief may go hand in hand. Up to a point though. The turning point is when the feeling of light is fading or, to the contrary, is brightening you, your life and the life of others.
On a facebook post, a mother complained that her five years old daughter cried upon watching a young stars’ TV show. Her distress came from the thought that she is fatter than those girls dancing on the stage. There were comments asking for the show to be closed down…
There will always be trends. Skinny vs. voluptuous. Tall vs. petite. Dark vs. blonde… . Or other manifestations of socially acceptable standards and ‚shows’ one cannot possibly compete with. Or, better said, should not compete with. As it is about that uniqueness each of us is conceived with.
To me, it gets down to self-esteem and sense of worth. High or Low. It is up to parents/guardians to nurture a healthy self-esteem, whatever the circumstances and regardless of trends and/or shows on display. “Children with healthy self-esteem will grow up to revel in others, in turn helping them feel special and whole”, What All Children Want Their Parents To Know, by Diana Loomans. It’s a five star book on a To Read List for parents. Each person, and kids are no exception, are to be “The Lovable in the Kindgom of Self-Esteem” (a renowned title by Diana Loomans).
Self-esteem is nothing new. The absence of teaching of self-respect and self-assertion has been described by George Bernard Shaw in Treatise on Parents and Children (1914) as having ‚appalling effects”. And that mother’s post is a testimony to that, one hundred years later.
Self-esteem creates a mental safety net regardless of the storm outside. The self-esteem allows stars to shine regardless of the twilight. It does not matter if your parents were ignorant or unaware or with a poor self-esteem themselves. If you did not have a choice back then, you do have a choice now: to build and nurture your and your children’s self-esteem. With Love and Patience.