Archive for December, 2009

sickly sweet

We are in the thick of the holidays. A stressful time for many, we overspend and overdo. We also spend time with people and relatives that we ordinarily do not spend time with. I wonder if this is perhaps the most stressful part of all, attempting to please. Smiling and gushing over a gift you do not like or even want in the house. Putting on a cheery face to open the door when really you’d rather run upstairs and cry on your bed. Swallowing the tears that come when Aunt Edna makes fun of your cooking. This is stress.

Spending even a moment hiding yourself, who you are and how you feel, is stressful.

A long time ago my acupuncturist said to me that the upside of having allergies is that I would never have cancer. He’s the kind of guy that says things like that without much explanation, but I was able to draw out of him that, in theory, your body is sneezing and coughing to rid itself of what it deems toxic. A body that absorbs anything it comes across, without a fight, will perhaps suffer in the long run by storing unhealthy material that then turns cancerous.

This is too simple I know. Cancer is heartbreaking. One of the most maddening things about cancer is that we don’t know why some people get it and others do not. But I haven’t forgotten this idea and I find myself trying to apply it to emotions.

What happens when you swallow tears instead of letting them run down your cheeks? When you let someone summarize who you are as a person based on a funny anecdote about you as a teenager? When you run around trying to be someone you are not? Where do these stifled feelings go? Maybe they simmer inside. Maybe they become sickness.

Perhaps we can add avoiding major illness to the list of reasons to be emotionally true to oneself.

So here’s the guide for life, and especially for the holidays.

  • Feel what you feel.
  • Say what you mean.
  • Mean what you say.
  • Do only what you honestly want to do.

And, perhaps, this is easier – allow the same for your children.

  • Let them cry in disappointment if they don’t enjoy a gift, or expected something different. Even if the gift giver is watching.

Oh, you seem so sad. Were you expecting something else? You thought you knew what it was going to be and were so excited to open this gift, but it turned out to be something different and you’re surprised and disappointed?

  • Let them talk at the holiday dinner table. Even if it’s off topic.

Just a second honey, let Grandpa finish his sentence and then you can tell him about hockey practice.

  • Don’t make them sit on Santa’s lap at the mall when they say they’d rather not.

If there is a connection between mind and body, and I’m sure there is, give yourself, and your children this gift of emotional honesty. Don’t stuff feelings and allow them to fester, let them flow through you, even during the holidays, even in front of the in-laws.

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December 23, 2009 at 5:01 am 3 comments

oasis

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this, still so much to do in time for our Yule trip, and our move. In addition, Echo got chicken pox over the weekend, and a particular co-parent has switched into non-cooperative mode. There is a lot on our plate right now, but to tell you the truth, I miss coming here. On the walk home today I realized I am less in touch with how I feel when I am not actively authoring a blog about feelings.

We went to Kris‘ house today. What a haven of yumminess. It feels so good there. I was remembering that just after Echo was born, I timidly ventured the six blocks to Kris’ house, holding my precious cargo and protecting her from the big wide world. It seemed to take forever to get there but when we did it was like I had crossed a desert and made it to an oasis. Kris feels that safe and nurturing.

Our mouths could not keep up with the thoughts and ideas we have been itching to share with each other, trying to squeeze in epic conversations between reading to children and wiping up pee accidents. It isn’t easy!

There is no point to this post other than to say, what a woman. When Echo and I left Kris’ house today I felt immediately very lonely, because it feels very not alone to be with her.

December 23, 2009 at 5:00 am 3 comments

like snowflakes

My theory has been: keep moving. I figure if I’m doing something then I must be chipping away at the gajillions of things neccessary in the next week. Phew!

But as I speed around like a crazy lady, maybe because there really is too much to think about, my mind has been kind of blanking out, relaxing in the corner. It’s been nice. Into that blank space little noticings sift down like snowflakes.

Here are some of them:

I notice I have so much love inside.

For you reading this.

For these girls.

For Nathan and my family.

For the earth that holds me up as I walk my dog along the river, and for sunshine in the winter.

I notice our cat loves to sleep on bubble wrap.

I notice that our girls don’t care that  presents from a thrift store don’t have flashy plastic packaging or  any kind of advertising cool factor.

And shouting “close your eyes!” while I wrap a present right in front of her is the very best way I have found to torture Xi.

And moving boxes make excellent canvasses.

I notice I can live with a certain level of dishevelment around the house, especially because I know it means we are getting closer to our new and improved home(!).

And my friends are incredible.

And even if you have an artshow in two weeks, move in two weeks and fly to California for Yule in one week, life still goes on. Kids still need books to be read to them. Eating is still necessary. The hamster still pees.

And I have shame around money. Shame when I have some and shame when I don’t. (More on this later).

And I love Yuletide and can live on way less sleep than necessary if making presents is involved.

December 19, 2009 at 10:27 am 3 comments

fevered pitch

This is what an aerial view of my footsteps would look like today.

Things have reached a fevered pitch around here. Yuletide, moving, art show, regular child related insanity, have all come crashing together and I am now officially a chicken with it’s head cut off.

I love posting each night, sitting down peacefully with a cup of tea and talking with you, but alas my friends, this might presently be a luxury I cannot afford. I do not rule out miracles that will allow me to find myself here at this blog, and I think I will still be able to share at least pictures fairly frequently. Please know that I adore you, and am thinking of you even when I do not post.

Wish us luck!

p.s. There have been some amazing highlights lately too.

  • Our friends Romy, Suresh, and Salome, are putting us up in their brand new garage studio while we remodel. Their place is less than a block away from our house. Such astounding generosity.
  • Kris delivered hot dinner to us tonight. I almost jumped into her arms and kissed her!
  • Sibling play. Although their play is often located within six inches of my feet (even though those feet were whizzing around the house), Xi, Bella, and Echo are so sweet and entertain one another so thoroughly that I am able to get quite a lot done.
  • Nathan’s incredible late night powers. This man can stay up sooooo late, getting things done. And even with minimal sleep he is still so gentle and playful with the girls.

December 17, 2009 at 5:00 am 5 comments

i feel…cozy

Just regular life going on around here, errands, nursing, snacks, dog walks, shipping Feeleez, email, and pretending, but somehow with a Yule tree gently twinkling through the day, things just seem so much cozier.

Xi looked out the window the other day and said: Bella! People are scooping snow off the sidewalk. Well, that settles it, it’s officially winter. I was in full agreement, it couldn’t feel more like winter than these  snowy days have. But then Bella piped up with her nine year old knowledge and said: Well technically it’s not winter yet. I think it starts, like, the twenty first, or something. And I cringed! NO! It just isn’t fair that winter doesn’t begin until the shortest day of the year. I like to think we are chipping away, making headway by trudging through these cold, dark, days.

But at least there is the tree, that palpable feeling of magic in the air, and crafts. Because I don’t sew, or knit yet (I know, the shame! The shame!), I’m working on a few of these. So far, so cute!

December 16, 2009 at 5:00 am 2 comments

missing signposts

I’ve been asking myself, and you, to parent according to your feelings, to live by following the sensations of your heart, and to re-design your entire life by identifying what feels right to you, but what I am noticing, and hearing, is that there are so many of us that do not know what we feel, and therefore cannot honor these emotions.

Here is a  simple process if you do not know how you feel:

Identify:

  • Sit quietly for a moment; you might want to close your eyes, and then wait and see what you notice from inside.
  • Notice how different areas of your body feel.
  • Notice whether any thoughts, images, feelings, memories, sounds come to you.
  • If nothing comes, that’s okay. You may still want to continue.
  • Ask yourself how you’re feeling, and be aware of what comes up.
  • You don’t have to figure anything out, just be aware.
  • If nothing comes to you, that’s okay. Sometimes that happens. You may still want to try again, another time.

Acknowledge:

  • If you know how you feel, let yourself know that this is how you are feeling right now, and that’s okay.
  • You don’t have to know where it’s coming from.
  • You don’t even have to know what to name it; you may simply know that you have a lot of pain in your chest.
  • Breathe.
  • Let your feelings just be there.
  • You don’t have to do anything with them, just accept that this is how you feel.

This is from a site by Kali Munro, M.E.d.

Does this sound scary? Yes, looking at our feelings and letting them out of the dark places where we’ve stored them can be absolutely terrifying, but think of the lightness of spirit, the emotional de-cluttering that can set you free. It is worth it.

As further consolation, as you walk this path and allow yourself all of the feelings that you have, or have ever had, you will naturally begin to accept the feelings of others, as simply feelings. When your partner feels upset about a choice you made in the day you can see it simply as an emotion, like we all have, and that it can simply be there, you do not have to fix it or apologize. And because you are in touch with your feelings you will be able to empathize, and allow the feelings of everyone involved to exist.

And each time that you “let” your child scream, cry, rage in fury, without trying to stop the feelings or shame their outbursts, you will know that you are sparing them the task of rooting out their feelings later, at the age of thirty or forty or fifty. They will already be aware of how they feel because they have had no reason to hide it.

December 15, 2009 at 5:00 am 2 comments

u turn

Because we share Bella with her mom, and her mom moved to a town three hours away, Nathan and Bella brave winter highways every other weekend. Nathan never looks forward to delivering Bella away from us but this Sunday was particularly snowy, making for an even more dreaded event.

As they drove slowly down the highway, inching along the rutted and icy tracks, Nathan’s heart grew heavier and heavier. Both he and Bella worked hard to imagine themselves arriving safely, but their feelings were telling them otherwise. As the truck in front of them disappeared into a blinding white haze, Nathan realized he’d had all these same feelings last spring while again driving Bella to her other house. On that day he had ignored his intuition, the dark heaviness of his heart, and continued on. They crashed. A multi car pile up in which the two of them were miraculously not hurt.

Tonight his heart was talking to him again. Heart telling him one thing, child custody laws telling him something else… he pulled over, cried, and then turned around.

We warmly welcomed them back home, but I have been wondering, how often do we ignore our intuition? What ‘highways’ are we barreling down while pushing our feelings out the door? And why?

A snowy highway, in some ways is an “easy” example, most of us are very in tune and brave when it comes to the safety of our children. But there are so many ways in which we subtly ignore or logically override our feelings on a day to day basis. I think of people that walk down the aisle to their waiting husband-to-be, knowing deep down that he is the wrong man for them. I think of parents that automatically respond to their children in ways that feel terrible to them but do so anyway. I think of couples that break up after years and years of pretending that those negative thoughts and feelings they harbor do not exist.

Nathan avoided death tonight. He saved himself and his dear girl by listening to his heart and not allowing himself to be emotionally bullied onto a path he felt wasn’t safe.

We can live this way too. Not every situation is life or death. We can follow our feelings when someone invites us somewhere we do not want to go, we can decline and say why, we do not have to lie. We can respond to our children the way that feels right, without looking over our shoulder and heeding the norms. We can say no to the job, man, or move that doesn’t resonate in our hearts.

This is what you need to live this way: confidence, awareness of your feelings, courage to admit them, and faith that this path, the one that follows your feelings, will actually save you from further pain.

December 14, 2009 at 5:00 am 4 comments

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