Walk Away From Your Junk

the rogers park young women's action team

Image by samuelalove via Flickr

Number one on Bella’s List:

There are endless new beginnings.  Had a bad day?  Stop right where you are and call-it out.  Then if you want to, if you are willing, if you are able you can start again.

But who is able?  Anyone who wants.  Even the severely disabled can say at some level that they want to end the hurt.  New beginnings are a privilege.  They are the dandelions we pluck and make a wish on.  It reminds me of when Jesus,

walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

The people were trying to push him over the cliff and they just plane didn’t see him walk among them and away.  We do that sometimes with our “start-over” opportunities.

There’s an interplay of forces that make our new beginning possible or impossible.

  • Humility – a willingness to learn.
  • Biology – a physical ability to stop, drop and roll the fire that’s scorching our emotions
  • Insight
  • Choice – choose it

Bella told me more of her story.  After she said, “The day has been ruined!,” her husband took them all to the table.  He told the kids, “Mom’s right.  The day is ruined.  Now who wants to start over?”  And then they all prayed for a new start.  They walked away from the junk.

Self-Care Tip #93 – Start over any time, every time you want.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Do you find this to be true for you?  Is it a real option to start-over when you want?  Please tell me your story.

    Rebel Against Your Own Intuition

    Cover of "You've Got Mail"

    Cover of Youve Got Mail

    Self-Care Tip #87 – Be a rebel towards your own intuition.

    My husband was telling me about how consumers are demanding a more human approach to industry.

    In the 1990’s the film written and directed by Nora EphronYou’ve Got Mail, showed us how the small personal touch was muscled out of business by the book-superstore.  Today, my husband told me that the inverse is happening now because technology allows it to.  Counterintuitive to thinking, the very thing that took out the mom-and-pop store is the very thing that is bringing it back.

    Author of the blog CreatingBrains, Joana Johnson, wrote a post, “Is Barnes & Noble Changing for the Worse?”  She describes their palliative efforts to feel their way through the current changes in the book sale market.  Clearly, buyers and readers are wanting something different from the superstore ambiance again.

    Readers have written in to me about their demands for a more human approach to their own selves.  Here are 2 recent examples.

    My mother always said that it was selfish to attend to your own needs when you were a wife and mother.  I’m happy to see a Christian woman refute that so eloquently.

    I have been recovering from a complete emotional breakdown for 16 years and… the hardest thing I have had to convince myself to do for nearly 70 years now is learn to be a friend to myself.

    These women are rebels in their own way and time.  I’m not a sociologist but I see these changes influenced also by technology and information.  It’s not so easy to stay barefoot and pregnant these days even if you wanted to.  “All things bright and beautiful” beckon to us.  Nor is it quite as easy to fool ourselves into believing that we’ll be able to take care of anyone – children, work, rescue dogs – if we haven’t taken care of ourselves first.  And although we still try to all the time, we just can’t believe any more that we can give what we don’t have.  Our current upside down economy is also testimony to that.

    I wrote a blog post some time ago titled “A Woman’s Work,” that largely speaks to this as well.  Because of many contributors, including temperament and conditioning, in many of us self-care is not intuitive.  It is disruptive.  Taking care of ourselves is even a bit scandalous …but it is more humane and it is possible.

    Self-Care Tip #87 – Be a rebel towards your own intuition.  Be a friend to yourself.

    Question:  What barriers are you passing to care for yourself?  What is making it possible?  Please tell me your story.

    Your Heroic Self – Waiting For Normal

    Self-Care Tip #82 – Have courage to go for what is lovely to you in life.  Be a friend to yourself.

    Pretty, blond, about 5’6″, slender, in her 30’s, mother and wife, no funny shapes or movements but Britt still asked me, “Am I normal?”  It takes guts to ask someone that.

    I just finished this heart-squeezing book, “Waiting For Normal,” by Leslie Connor.  (Yes!  I finally read a book!  It took me 5 times as long but it was no less pleasurable.)  Connor tells us about pre-teen Addie who grew up on the waves of her bipolar mom’s chaos, salvaging bits of wreckage along the way to survive.  Addie is the life-preserver her mom uses for life.  Addie’s own buoy through it all is her hope of one day finding normalcy.  She uses all her smarts to avoid the thrust her mom’s messes force on her.  It requires her full attention.  Addie must have looked pressed for something because her Mom finally asked her

    What’s so special?  What are you chasing after?!

    Addie was fisting optimism when she answered

    I’m not chasing after anything.  I’m waiting.  Waiting for normal.

    Later Addie explains to her mom

    Normal is when you know what’s gonna happen next.  Not exactly what because probably nobody gets that.  But normal is being able to count on certain things.  Good things.  And it’s having everyone together – just because they belong that way.

    My son used to have shaggy hair with curls that flew at the world around him.  He came home the other day and told me he wanted it short.  I finally figured out that because none of the other boys in his class had longer hair, neither should he.  He showed me pictures of what his hair should look like.  The whole process was too cute.

    We are all looking for normal.

    Putting aside defining normal, for now I am content to just contemplate the largeness of the effort to find it.  The journey, the process, the coming into such a thing reveals the beauty in one’s character and essence.  It is that, rather than the “hair-cut” that makes me say, “Wow!”

    When Britt, my patient, strove towards her health and normalcy, her intent in context was lovely.  She seemed to me, in those moments we shared together, as one of the great heroes of our day.  A woman of courage.

    Self-Care Tip #82 – Have courage to go for what is lovely to you in life and appreciate the beauty in your heroic self.  Be a friend to yourself.

    Question:  Have you struggled with the question, “Am I normal?”  Please tell me your story.

    Taking Care of Yourself Is Not Selfish

    The line between self-care and self-centeredness is a thin line.  We are part of the narrative.  We are not the narrative.

    I’ve got some heat lately folks for talking about “Me” in a way that excludes the import of “You.”  How does anyone talk about the importance of the self without sounding seriously arrogant, disinterested in others, egocentric, ungrateful and rude?  Clearly it’s a learning process.  That’s something of what I’m hoping will evolve this year as we journey together.  Please let me know what you think on this subject.

    I was very excited about having a morning to myself today and had built up a storybook page turning space of time for me.  However my night went bad, and like opening the oven door too soon with the bread still rising, I just didn’t get up well.  Partly in denial that the day was already slipping away, I kept going towards my hopes.  The clock sped up and I finally got out the door with the kids buckled to where they needed to go.  And then I realized I forgot my computer and phone.  Not so easy to work without those.

    I live in the hills and although I’m not far from street lights and normal trafficked buildings, getting between me and them takes me through many blind 25 mph corners, steep hills over narrow roads.  Today I felt like I got caught in those hills.  My mom-van felt off-balance and the tight corners treated my tires cruelly.  I went back home to get my computer and back down to town finally.

    I had great intentions for today.  However, I got stuck and stuck again.  That is what it can be like when we try to treat ourselves well.  It can feel like the roads swallow us up and we just can’t get there.

    As my husband says, “That’s how it rolls!”

    Question:  How do you see self-care differently from self-centeredness?  Please tell me your story of friendship.

    Self-Care Tip #77 – Don’t get confused.  Taking care of yourself is not selfish.  Be a friend to yourself.

    Down With Guilt!

    Down with guilt, I say!  Let that mighty tree be felled and burnt and each season that brings up new creepers into life again – let them be taken down!  Guilt!  How many times it has weakened us.  A sickness, that ebbs the energy and confuses the mind.  Often unrelated to deed or intent, in comes the uninvited guest.  As in Mansfield Park, guilt is our own Henry Crawford courting Fanny Price.  He may dress well – in church attire, in a business suit, or in a child who thinks she should spend more time with grandma.

    Like lucifer’s apple, guilt brings knowledge that can’t be trusted.  Swallow it and you’ll be looking for fig leaves.  See if any good will come of guilt.  I dare you.  See when you plant it, what will grow.  See when you hide it, how you are tethered.  Let it educate you and notice that you grow smaller.

    Today a friend asked me how things were.  I remembered yesterdays.  Wonderful with sunny emotions.  A collection of connected moments.  I wanted to say something about them.  I was looking in at a shop window.  Chocolates on the shelves behind the glass.  But remembering today, I was denied.

    I yelled from my darkened face.  And then I yelled again.  That was the morning.  Then the kids went to school and I went to work.  What a way to walk.  I thought of this and out popped:

    I yelled at the kids which I hated, but I don’t hate myself.

    It even surprised me.  Saying that to my friend, let me realize that today wasn’t an all-or-none parenting moment.  Many earlier days that began much the same weren’t so forgiving.  And because I didn’t forgive myself so easy, I didn’t forgive others so easy.  The anger chases it’s ratty tail, you know until Guilt tires him out.

    Because I didn’t spend the day guilty, the afternoon and evening had a chance.  Down with guilt!  Up with new chances!  Hooray!

    Self Care Tip #68 – Take the new chance!  Be a friend to yourself.

    Question:  How have new chances redeemed you?  Please tell me your story.

    Our Changing Reality

    She had been gone for 3 months helping her mother transition from life to death.  However, instead of it being a melancholic experience, she felt better than she had since a time she couldn’t calendar.  Back when she had a respect for herself.  Back when she had youth, she had hope, she believed in a generous future.

    I had no way of knowing what it was like for me until I left the situation.

    Reality is only as real as our perspective.  She came back to a new perspective and her reality changed.  She saw an impoverished life.  She saw need to stop waiting for the better of future’s promises.  She saw disrespect when caring for her disabled daughter and emotionally abusive husband.  She hated disrespecting herself.  She felt this and she rebelled inside.  Holding back her furry with the flimsy lid of guilt-glue.  She cried.  She had just let her mother go and feeling good about letting her daughter and husband go now embarrassed and shamed her.  But there it was.  The thought she hadn’t thought before.  Reality had changed.

    I’m told that it is bad for a counsellor to tell someone specifically what to do.  Turns out that my job includes some counseling.  I ran into a former patient today at a coffee shop.  She saw me typing on my computer and learned about this blog.

    But you do meds!

    Apparently sometimes I’m not that great of a counselor.  Or maybe I am if she didn’t realize I was, with her, all along.

    I had to stop and say hello!  I’ve missed you!

    (Whew!)

    Today, I kept thinking about the way reality changes when we let our perspective get some air.

    This daughter/mother/wife will never be the same woman she was before she left for 3 months.  She didn’t know.  And now she did.  She can’t stuff that knowledge.  She can’t disappear it.  She is left with a knowledge.  Is it better?  I think so.

    We played with options as we talked.  A window opened in the room and a breeze came through called hope.  That was lovely to share with her and I am grateful.

    Maybe when with determined labor we are trudging on in life, we might think of this.  With this memory, we could more willingly accept the urge to walk away just to see for a time.  Maybe a knowing, that we were missing, will come and change us.

    Self Care Tip #67 – We might be in a different reality if we walk away.  Be a friend to yourself.

    Question:  What has your own experience been?  Please tell me your story.

    Mother’s and Sleep

    Mother’s and Sleep

    I was speaking with a friend, mother of 3, including a new baby of 3 months.  Any on-looker could say she had it all.  However, she wasn’t feeling happy.  Looker’s on could also guess just as well some of the reasons why.  Especially those of us who’ve raised infants.  It’s called sleep.  Sleep, the elixir of good living.  Without it, color fades.  Sounds and voices take on an edge like the underside of a long fingernail.  Our thoughts swim about in a mire.  Finding words is confusing and speaking them reduces us to… to what?  Well you’ve been there where my friend found herself struggling to say why she wanted to cry and beat her children.  Just to hear her is enough to make your milk let down.

    Hearing someone say get sleep is uncomfortable.  It brings up all the cultural reasons why we don’t get sleep, the emotional reasons, the relationship reasons, and the reasons around discipline.  Well, whatever it makes you feel or think, it comes down to biology.  You won’t feel good and be healthy emotionally and be able to do things you want to do for others if your body and brain isn’t getting restored at night.  So losing sleep may feel like a sacrifice you’re doing for your new baby or husband who wants to stay up and watch movies together, and it may.  However it is also other things.  Losing sleep is taking yourself away from them tomorrow.  It takes from your own journey, disconnects you from your own self.  Losing sleep is a biological cascade that leads to deteriorating goals, including your ability to give well.

    There is sacrifice also in letting your child cry for 5 more minutes before going to him at night.  There is sacrifice in going to sleep instead of staying up to play with someone you love.  Don’t be fooled in to thinking that you’re getting your child from her crib when she cries for 30 seconds for her sake.  Don’t be fooled into a mother’s martyrdom.  Babies are also healthier when allowed to self soothe.  Babies are healthier when they learn to put themselves to sleep if they awaken at night.  To get good sleep, look past the guilt, look past the immediate pleasure, look past the distraction, look past and see yourself as you will be tomorrow.  Let that be the sacrifice in your life.  A healthy mom, a healthy wife, and healthy individual for those you love.  Sleep for your own valuable self.  You have a chance to live well.

    Self Care Tip #3:  Get sleep for any reason that makes sense to you, but sleep.  Be a friend to yourself.