Reflection

It’s 11pm on a Tuesday night in late November. I lie wide awake with my mind whirling , as has become my norm in the past few weeks. The only thing quieting my frazzled thoughts is the subtle snore coming from my eight year old snuggled next to me. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be letting him sleep in my bed, but as I look at his little face, so soft and peaceful…I know these moments are few and fleeting and that soon enough they’ll be a thing of the past. In this moment I feel enveloped with gratitude, that I get to be his Mom; their Mom. That the one thing I’m doing right, is loving them.

On a personal level, this hasn’t been the best year. Not the worst year by any means….but certainly not the best. And the older I get, the more I recognize that stagnancy is almost worse than turmoil, than affliction. Because what often stems from the latter two is perspective; whereas the other tends to lead to a place of mediocrity of mind and soul.

I’ve so much healing yet to do and growing and brainstorming, it’s often overwhelming. But as this year comes to a close, I try to make peace with all of the things that didn’t come to fruition; with all of the times I misjudged and made decisions that didn’t flow with the current of my life, that led me upstream then back where I started…..and I forgive myself. Because sometimes that is truly all you can do. Love yourself enough to forgive.

This year has, however, brought me much closer to my boys; my heartbeats. Even on days I’ve felt like a complete failure, I closed my eyes at night knowing those little humans felt loved and happy and content. And that is everything. For them I am grateful and I am blessed.

In the coming year, my wish is to be the best version of myself not only for me, but for the little souls I’m guiding through this crazy thing called life.

Immersion

I have been reading a lot lately about the concept of immersion in relation to creative non-fiction writing. You find a subject of interest and then immerse yourself in that culture/trade/way of life, whatever it may be. In memoir style writing, YOU ARE the subject. You are essentially immersing yourself in your own life. Not in a “head in the sand” type of way (unaware of what’s going on in the world surrounding you, or uninterested, caring only for yourself). Rather, in this refreshing, self-enlightened kind of way, albeit incredibly vulnerable at times. You learn what made you, what moves you…tapping into memories, emotions, hesitations, and ambitions that shape you in one way or another.

water

When you lose someone close to you suddenly, you begin to think about all of the lingering questions you wish you would have asked them and the stories that were yet to be told. That was, in part, the reason for me to begin writing…the realization that there were many adventures and tales unique to my Father that died with him. Narratives I will never be privy to. I decided I didn’t want the same to be true of myself. And then, as if to cement that way of thinking, I came across the following piece of advice: “Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.” – Neil Gaiman.

One definition of immersion is “deep mental involvement”. In a world that’s become obsessed with being “involved” in the lives of others (even those they’ve never met), the idea of developing a deep mental involvement in my own life, an awakened consciousness, is a concept I’ve welcomed with open arms. Something I truly hope sticks with me through the remainder of my life, whether that life includes a future in writing or not. It’s something I want my children to observe and to learn because what this world lacks greatly, is compassion. And I believe compassion cannot be shown without understanding, and understanding can’t be achieved without consciousness and recognition. We understand others when we can relate in some way, either with feelings or experiences, aspects of ourselves that we must learn to be in tune with if we wish to tap into them for the better good.

To write about something, actually, to write WELL about something, one must have a level of interest that mirrors passion. I have, through this process, become  increasingly passionate about my life…how, where, and with whom I spend it, and most importantly, how I view it. As my immersion deepens, I have found the following state of being to be less and less elusive:

sophrosyne

And that is what I wish for anyone that is reading this. Now, and for the coming New Year.

 

Sunday & Someday 

I’m laying on the grass in my front yard. My body long and placid on the oversized beach towel, soaking up the unusual warmth from this mid November afternoon sun. I started out sitting on the front porch as I often do to drink coffee and read. But as I stared out onto the sunkissed grass, it looked too inviting. At first I felt a bit childish, but not enough to stop myself. Looking up into the same trees I’d seen since I was that 11 year old girl….carefree, unjaded. As I lay there, I close my eyes. Not pretending to be laying by the ocean, exchanging the cool, overgrown grass for some warm sand. In fact, I feel pretty content with where I am, loving that it’s Sunday and I’m home, I’m rested and indulging in this time of quiet. It’s therapy to me.

I open my eyes and fix my gaze on this particular bird, flying higher and higher…observing his technique and at what points in his flight he tucks his long black wings by his side instead of outstretched. Soon enough that single bird becomes two, and then three. Then off they go, disappearing from my sight and me wondering where they are going.

I’m so soothed I contemplate falling asleep out here. Playing out a scenario in my head, one where I fall asleep and wake up to be that 11 year old girl again…laying outside of the new home her parents purchased. A clean slate, a mind full of wonder and pureness. I quickly compile in my mind a list of the most obvious things I would do differently from that point in my life until now. We all have wished we could turn back time on more than a few occasions.

These words came across my feed the other day…their truthfulness both enlightening and chilling. The quote is from Tom Hawking: “It is one of life’s greatest ironies that wisdom comes only with experience, and it reaches it’s apogee just as we are deprived of the chance to use it.” This “irony” is one that never escapes me. Wishing I had known years ago what I know now and that the experience from which that knowledge was derived hadn’t contained so much heartache. Realizing now the things that weren’t worth worrying over and the ones I should have worried more about. The people I wish I’d devoted more of myself to and those I should have never invited into my life to begin with. And especially, all of the time wasted on valueless pursuits.

But living in the past (as most of us are well aware), only robs us of the present. And if there’s one beautiful thing about life, it’s that every day is an opportunity for a fresh start. I may not be able to go back and press the reset button, but I can focus on making better decisions going forward so that twenty years from now, I’m proud of thirty year old me and all of the me in between.

Darkness

I remember the first non fiction book I read as an adult. It was about the expectations that we ourselves, as well as others around us, put upon Mothers. I was a young, stay at home, first time Mother at the time. Parts of the book made me laugh, others actually made me cry because I felt relief. It was then that I really, truly began to realize our need as humans to be understood and to feel as though we aren’t alone; in our thoughts and in our struggles. I felt the same, powerful resignation with the next “self-help” type book I read many years later about patience in life. Whether it’s a heart to heart talk with my sister or close friend, or words I’ve read; there’s something so therapeutic about truly identifying with others’ feelings and experiences. The greatest gift I’ve been given from my entrance into the “blogging world” thus far, has been my ability to emotionally connect with many of the things I’ve read from other writers. To sympathize with the phases they are at in their lives, the harsh realities they have faced, and the passing thoughts they share. 

As I mentioned in my first post, I try very hard to be an upbeat, glass half full type person. Usually, I succeed. But like any normal person, I experience emotional highs and lows; often depending on the circumstances of my life at that very moment. In an effort to keep consistently open and honest throughout this writing process, I’ve decided to share even the thoughts I’ve had that aren’t the most nourishing. Because those thoughts, in a way, may prove to be just as helpful to others as the positive ones are. 

After a long day of fighting a cold, shuffling children around, cleaning up after them, feeding them, and getting them to bed, I was feeling pretty spent. But I told myself to sit in bed and write; just whatever came to my mind the second the pencil hit the notebook. And here’s what came out:

I feel as though I am at a disadvantage. To grow the imagination, the originality within me. Although it would kill me not to. It would appear as though I’m stuck. My future has been written out for me. Maybe not the details, but the outline. What I can express, what I can create, is my way to escape; my ability to scream without making a sound. I was born a free bird; I was meant to fly far away and do great things. My mind wanders always. But our choices dictate the direction we’re headed, and I feel I’m on a one way road. This is my truth, my reality. I wonder how many others have felt they are prisoners at the mercy of their pasts? 

Much of these feelings of being confined and somewhat resentful at times, stem from my being a caregiver, a wife, and a mother too early in life. Then divorcing and having to hit rock bottom before I could climb my way back up. I’ve truly felt at times as though my life would have turned out much differently, possibly much more fulfilling, had I not made the choices I wasn’t mentally or emotionally equipped to make. I never had the time to focus only on myself and to pursue some of the things that were in my heart to do. But despite those very legitimate feelings of frustration and regret, here is what I concluded with:

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars” ~ MLK Jr.

We all have darkness of varying shades and depth. For me, that darkness tends to intensify when I am feeling weighed down by the encumbrance and accountability of being a single Mother. The life decisions I am often faced with that sit heavy on my mind many anxious nights. The ones I wish someone else would make for me. Implosion, however, is not an option. Nor will I be content with dutifully moving through life without passion, without intensity. If it takes years of flickering before the star that is my soul shines brighter than the rest, well then, let it flicker. 

The point of all of this being, sometimes we are mentally stronger than other times. Sometimes, even if just for a brief moment, we wallow in self pity. But there are always others who can relate in some capacity. Others who have hit the same walls, and yet come out on the other side. Even though life didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, it can still be beautiful and fulfilling. It’s ok to entertain negative thoughts for a moment, as long as we turn them around and realize that we have the ability to shine, even if it takes us a little longer than most. Life is a process, one we are all trying to figure out as we go. One that’s easier to figure out together. Maybe my life could have been easier in some ways, even more exciting. But there’s no telling if the darkness I’ve experienced and the frustrations I encountered early on in life, have actually made me a deeper, more well rounded, more inwardly beautiful person than I would have been if it had been smooth sailing. 

My mindset for the upcoming months:

“Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Now is your time. Walk closely with people you love. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.”