Happy Mother’s Day!

“Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood – finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.”   – Jodi Picoult, Perfect Match

Today is Mother’s Day. I woke up to my gorgeous little girl calling me from the kitchen.  She “snuck” downstairs to make me breakfast and wanted to make sure that I slept in.  The proud look on her face was the best Mother’s Day gift ever!

My girl is the best teacher ever, and every day I continue to learn more and more about life from her  So, in honor of my daughter on Mother’s Day, I’m going to repost what I wrote last year called: What I’ve Learned on Mother’s Day.  Enjoy!

mother's day 2

Advertisements

You’re Never Alone

“Hold me close / Let Your love surround me / Bring me near / Draw me to Your side.” – Hillsongs, Power of Your Love

Today began just like any other regular day.  I woke up, showered, had my coffee, prepped the lunch bags, woke up my daughter and got her ready for school.  This morning I gave her a kiss.  I always make sure to give her a kiss.  I also make sure to tell her that I love her.  I know that she knows I do because when I say to her “I have something to tell you” she responds with “I know, you love me.”  It’s a little game that we play, and I’m comforted by it.

It’s Daddy weekend this weekend.  Fortunately, I was able to see my daughter after school long enough to give her a big hug.  And this time I held onto her a bit longer than I normally would.  I didn’t want to let her go and tonight I miss her heaps more than usual.

2947

And that’s because today wasn’t any regular day after all.  I’m located about 600 kilometers away from the devastating massacre of the innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut, and I’m having a hard time coping with what happened.  I don’t know these people, never met them in my life, and I’m never going to understand what they are going through.  But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried today just thinking about those poor families who have lost their children, wifes, husbands and parents.  And I’ll never understand what drives a person to do such thing.  I don’t know.  I’ll never know.

But I do know that their lives will never be the same.  They will feel an emptiness inside for the rest of their lives.  They will question God about what happened, and why their loved one had to die, be taken away from them.  They will likely fall into a deep depression, not wanting anyone around, feeling all alone.  They will hit rock bottom.

And today when I heard the news, I immediately thought of my daughter, and imagined her in that school and ice-cold fear travelled through my entire body like a lightening bolt.  I thought about all the times I kissed her goodbye on a Friday morning on Daddy weekends, and how my heart rips out of my chest every single time because I don’t get to see her again until the following Monday.  I thought about how many times I wanted to hold her during those weekends and couldn’t and how I’ve had to settle for phone calls.  And then I thought about these poor parents who won’t ever be able to hold their children again, and how they don’t get to have a phone call. They will never hear their voice ever again.

I wish there was something that I could do.  I feel helpless.  My heart goes out to them, and they are in my prayers.  And while they are in their darkest hour, I pray that they never forget that they are not alone. There is someone holding them, loving them and caring for them.

And while I was in my darkest hour, this reminded me that I was never alone.  This is what helped me through those long, dark nights:

What Am I Doing Here?

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

20120731-073646.jpg

I’ve been back in Toronto for a few days now, and I have to admit that I’m struggling a bit. Being back here, back to the old routine is difficult. Yesterday was really hard for me, for Saturday and Sunday were days spent trying to get adjusted to this time zone and with family activities. Yesterday was my first full day back to my routine. And it sucked.

I can honestly say that I think I was majorly depressed yesterday as all I wanted to do is stay in bed. Being summer and having a little six year old in tow sure didn’t allow for that to happen, so the level of crankiness and depression just increased as the day went on and until I was able to shake the feeling.

I couldn’t understand why I was affected like this. I’ve travelled pleanty of times in the past for both work and leisure, but what made this time different? And then it hit me. This time I felt like I escaped reality as I totally threw myself into this vacation and I made sure that I experienced everything I possibly could. I was swallowed up my the culture, the food, the scenery. I totally let myself go made sure to let go of my old life, just for a while. Well this had consequences, let me tell you. It made coming home that much more difficult, to the point of crying.

I’m sure that by now you can guess that this vacation was awesome. The Amalfi Coast I find has regenerating qualities. Why else would Liz from Eat, Pray, Love and the women from Enchanted April go there to heal and discover themselves? I felt that I healed and a lot of my wounds are almost gone. I ate. Boy did I ever eat. And I rested. There is something about the combination of sea and mountains at the same place which is comforting. Despite the steep roads and neverending stairs, there is a relaxing, soothing atmosphere about this place. Life is precious here, and the locals know this.

20120731-073234.jpg

Then the couple of days in Rome brought me to the busy metropolitan way of life, like back home. It was difficult to get used to business but I made sure to concentrate on what was in front of me. It was beautiful, but Paris won my heart. The contrast to the way of life in Rome was extremely noticeable. Paris….what can I say about Paris. There are no words to describe Paris. It is a city of beauty, love and enchantment. I finally understand why people have fallen in love with Paris. Even though it’s a major city, it has a small town feel to it. Like Amalfi, I found that it wasn’t hectic. All I can say is that Paris just felt right.

I had the opportunity to see family at the end of my trip, and it made for a nice finally. I haven’t seen them in over ten years. I find it fascinating how so much time can go by, yet it can also feel like no time has passed as well.

Sorry if this post was a bit of a downer, but at this time, I’m still struggling to recover from this amazing time. I question why life is the way it is, and how I can provide for more opportunities like this for my daughter and me.

Paris anyone?

20120731-073832.jpg

An Experiment

“You know how it is when you go to be the subject of a psychology experiment, and nobody else shows up, and you think maybe that’s part of the experiment? I’m like that all the time.” – Steven Wright

I’d like you to try something amazing that I just discovered.  Actually, I didn’t “just” discover it.  I’ve known about it for quite a few months, but didn’t do anything with it.  Today I decided to try an experiment, and now I’d like you to as well.  It really is cool.  So please follow my instructions closely that way you get the full effect.

You can do this anywhere – at work, at home, standing in line at the grocery store.  It doesn’t matter where you are.  Don’t worry about looking stupid, because nobody will even notice what you’re doing anyway. Ready?  Ok, here it goes: I want you to smirk.  You know, curl up your lips just a tiny bit at the ends – kind of like you’re smiling to yourself, like you know a big secret that no one else knows. Now include your eyes as well. Let them curl up a bit, also like when you’re smiling.

You probably think that I’ve lost whatever marbles I have left, but before you pass any judgment or dismiss what I’m telling you, really give it a shot.  Now continue doing this for about ten more seconds. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.

Now stop.  I mean it, stop.  Let your face relax into its regular form. Continue for ten seconds like this now.  One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.

Now smirk again.  Don’t worry, this is the last time I’m going to ask you to do this.

Did you feel a shift in your mood from when you smirked and then stopped, and then smirked again?  How did you feel when you were smirking? Did you feel lighter?  Content? Relaxed?  I did.  And when I stopped, I felt “blah.”

I was told about this by a friend who was reading The Power of Infinite Love and Gratitude.  I don’t think I have everything down pact with this technique, so don’t quote me exactly on it but what I do remember really works.  Originally I thought that this technique was full of baloney (no offence to baloney lovers) but it’s not.  Think about it, how could you feel depressed, angry, and gloomy when you’re walking around with a smile on your face?  Negative thoughts can’t penetrate either.  This technique isn’t about replacing your feelings.  If you’re angry, then be angry.  Feel the emotion right through.  This technique shortens the duration of that feeling.  Your outlook is brighter, and things and events won’t get to you as much, so the chances of you feeling angry in the first place are greatly reduced.

I know it’s hard to go around all day purposely placing a smirk on your face, but after a while, it becomes a habit.  Your ‘blah’ face became norm after all, didn’t it?  So why not replace it with a little smile?

Today I made a conscious effort to practice this and I was amazed at how energized I feel. I feel happier, am walking taller, and feel so much more alive. I feel like I was walking around with a big secret that only I know.  Well, it was kind of like that, until I shared it with you.

I welcome you to try it out. Let me know how you make out. I’m interested in hearing about your experience.

Smartie

What I’ve Learned on Mother’s Day

“She’s my teacher, my adviser, my greatest inspiration” – Whitney Houston

Photo by Amy Arroyo

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  Normally it’s a day that we honour our mothers and thank them for everything they have done for us.  This year I decided to do that, and something more.  I decided to reflect on what it is to be a mother, and honour my daughter for gifting me with the opportunity of being a mother.  I looked back on the last six years of my life to the remarkable moment when she was born.  On that day I suddenly found myself face to face not only with a little baby minutes old, but someone who would one day be a little girl, and then a woman.  I knew then that I was in for the ride for my life. I saw the tremendous responsibilities I would face, and also the unmentionable joys she would bring.   OMG!

Shortly after she was born I found that my life was turned upside down. It was as if an earthquake took place and the earth cracked open and swallowed me up.  Everything I knew had shifted and all the deep feelings inside of me which I had covered up were unearthed.   Somehow, everything that did not make sense to me became clear – all the stuff that I didn’t understand about my mother. Double OMG!

So yesterday I looked at how my life has changed since this little creature decided to crawl into it and what she has taught me thus far.  Where do I even start to tell you what she taught me?  I’ll guess I’ll start with her rules to live by.  She states (and is right of course) that “The secret to a happy life is to: 1. Don’t take anything too seriously 2. Make sure you have fun 3. Use your imagination”

Not bad for a six year old!

So I’ve been trying to apply her wisdom to everything I do.  And with that have learned countless lessons as a result of following her three rules.  I think I can write an entire book of the lessons she has taught me, but for now I’ll name a few:  She has taught me what it is to believe, what courage and strength is all about, and how to love and dream.  And of course, she is oblivious to all of this because she is only six years old.

There were days when I would be filled with exhaustion.  When I have been brought down to my knees and didn’t think that I could deal with one more thing without having a major freak attack – not one ounce of energy was left in me.  I would find myself wanting to curl up in the corner in a fetal position, screaming at the top of my lungs to God, telling him off and saying “Ok, you’ve got me! I give up!!” And then, my little girl would step in and become my personal cheer leader.  For example, there was a time when I was having a battle with the kitchen cabinets and I was losing in the most pathetic way.  I was ready to throw in the towel, or better yet take a sledge hammer to them, and then cry when she says “Way to go Mommy! Look at what you did! I knew you could do it!” And I knew then that I could keep going.  I did accomplish a lot. It didn’t matter what the world would throw my way, that because of her, I knew that I could get through anything some way, somehow.  I learned that success doesn’t come from everything being perfect all the time, but from trying, failing and trying again. Or better yet, being happy with what you have already accomplished.  And every time I would continue to try, my belief in myself would grow just that bit more.  I learned that it doesn’t matter where I am, there is someone who believes in me, and she is the most precious angel of all.

In the past when I was afraid to do something, I would tirelessly try to dodge whatever needed to get done.  My fear would paralyze me. But with this little delicate, yet fiercely brave girl, I find that there is nothing that could challenge or try to defeat me.  There is nothing else that matters more in this world to me that my daughter.  The courage that this little girl has brought to me allows me to crush down anything that stands in the path between me and her.  I find that I am able to stare down into the darkness and look fear right in the eye and say “get out of the way or else you will get hurt.” I learned that strength comes from standing up, facing things and doing what’s right even if sometimes you must stand alone. I have been faced with many challenges which I wish upon no one and the biggest one being not know if my daughter had a life-threatening condition.  I had to find the courage to take her to the children’s hospital and having her tested, at the same time being scared down to my very core all the while being calm and supportive of her.  It’s a delicate skill to have to be shaking in your boots, be graceful like a ballerina and smile like a beauty queen all at the same time.  You should try it some time.  You’ll feel like an idiot, but it does work.  Really, it does!

I am also going to let you in on a little secret that we both share:  A hug can sometimes say more than words ever can. It can make all the difference between having a good day or having a bad day.  It’s a way to communicate that no matter what happened just now, it’s all ok.  In between those arms is a comfortable place to get support, to lean, to hide.  It’s a safe place to go to.  It’s a way to say I love you without words.  My daughter and I hug all the time, every chance we get.  I see in her that she pays this forward.  As a result of our being affectionate with each other, she, like me, has come to feel more deeply, question more deeply and ultimately love more deeply.  And knowing that we have each other’s arms to return to whenever we want, it’s a reminder that we are there for each other. She knows that the door is always open if she wants to talk, to share things with me, now or in the future.  She knows that I love her, and I know that she loves me – no matter what.  She knows that I love her just because.  It’s also a great time to have silly time together, and laugh.  Nothing beats a great hug.

My daughter is the most beautiful gift that I have received.  She brightens my day and warms my heart.  It’s difficult being a Mom, I don’t deny it.  There is no way to be a perfect mother, as such a thing does not exist.  But I strive to be a good mom.  I strive to teach my beautiful daughter the art of living, just as she has taught me the very same thing.  When I was pregnant, I found it odd that I was never alone, even though there was no one else in the room with me.  And now that she is six years old, I still find that I’m never alone, as she is always in my thoughts.  Before I do anything I always find that I have to think twice, once for me and once for her.  I feel that she and I are connected to one another.  She keeps me straight and true as she is the spine in my body.  She keeps me strong by being the blood which runs through me.  She is in my heart and keeps it beating. She is in my soul as she is my energy.  She is my biggest supporter and shares with me little wisdoms each day.  She shaped me into the person I am today.  I now cannot imagine how I ever lived without her.

I’m Selfish, Are You?

The other night my daughter and I were having our routine before bedtime chat, where we talk about anything and everything.  That night we were talking about love.   Such a huge topic for such a little girl.  She said something to me which really didn’t sit well with me and got me thinking – and me thinking isn’t a good thing.  I spent the entire night awake contemplating her words.  These mind-numbing, sleep depriving words were:

“I love you more than I love myself.”

Normally, such words should pull on your heart strings and make you melt into a puddle of goo.  But for me it didn’t.  It did the exact opposite and made me wonder why she would feel that way, and think of all the ways in which I may have to reverse that train of thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the fact that my daughter loves me so much.  But it concerns me to think that she is devaluing herself and putting me before herself.  That’s not how is should be.  One must put themselves first, value themselves beyond anything else.  They must be selfish when it comes to their love.  Oh I know what you’re thinking now – I’ve used the selfish word.  But you do, and before you decide to not continue reading this post, hear me out.

This is how I responded to my daughter.  I told her that she should not love me more than she loves herself.  There is nothing wrong with loving yourself more than anyone else in the world.  She looked at me as if I had three heads and five eyes.

So I gave the following analogy:

COPYRIGHT 2007 JEFFREY FRIEDL

COPYRIGHT 2007 JEFFREY FRIEDL

Picture a tall glass on top of a table and a picture of water.  Now pour the water into the glass and watch the water rise to the rim of the glass.  Once it’s reached the rim, keep pouring until the water overflows and spills all over the table and onto the floor.  Now imagine that your heart is the glass, and the water is your love.  Your heart needs to be filled up with your own love in order for you to be happy with yourself, you be satisfied in your own skin.  Only once your heart has been completely filled can you then love other people the way they need to be loved, freely without compromising yourself, without constraints.

But what happens when you try to love others without loving yourself?  You are unhappy.  You are unsatisfied.  You slowly begin to resent the other person, and that relationship then becomes at risk of deteriorating.  You slowly begin to hate your life.  You then think that no one loves you, understands you, likes you.  So, this is why I say it’s good to be selfish with your love as only then you are able to truly love freely.  You are honoring yourself, and you should, because no one else can ever love you the way you know you need to be loved.  And when you love yourself, life is just so friggin beautiful no matter what happens in it.

What did she say to this?  She said “Ok Mommy, time to fill my sleep glass.”