Venting: Powerful or Powerless?

Venting. We all do it. But, why?

We entrust our friends with our deepest fears and concerns and they listen to us with love and support. It’s a beautiful part of friendship. When we do it over and over and over while refusing to believe that changing any of it is possible. Or, when we put up barriers to any avenue which might actually bring about change we give up all of our power to the outer world. We also forget how those feelings land or how our energy is being placed both on our friends and in the universe.

I realize that part of friendship is being there for each other, but sometimes our friends don’t have the answers and we have to find them for ourselves. Venting isn’t about answers…it’s about support and finding compassion for our woes. But, at the end of a venting session, we can be left bereft because we’ve put all of the negative emotions swirling inside us outside of us, and still no solution has been found. We’ve gathered lots of love, validation for our views, compassion and support, a few ideas on how to fix the problem, yet we’re still a little lost.

The trouble is, somewhere along the way we’ve lost our power. And, sometimes that actually feels safe because then we convince ourselves we can’t do anything and it is up to others to change.

We can only control ourselves, right?

Imagine being so powerful that we could be accountable for every single thought, feeling and action?

Imagine.

Imagine being so powerful that we could actually take action and make whatever is ailing us …debt, failed relationships, stifled dreams, dead-end job, stifled career, aging, illness, fear for our children’s future, caring for aging parents…stop ailing us?

No. Debt won’t magically disappear. Marriages won’t magically be wonderful and dreams won’t just come true. Our jobs won’t just happen to be perfect and we can’t cure illness or create the best path of life for our kids…No.

HOWEVER, we can change our relationship to how we view whatever it is that is bothering us. AND, we can fundamentally change our relationship with ourselves.

I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it happen and felt it happen. Looking at my life objectively, nothing has changed necessarily. I have changed. I have made myself a priority. In doing so, my stuff hasn’t changed. I’m just better equipped to handle it.

So, my dear reader, my challenge to you is find a way to get your power back. Yes, by all means, lean on those you love for support during difficult times. Just don’t get stuck. Find a way out of the storm that leaves you feeling empowered. Lovingly encourage your friends who wallow too long in their woes to find their power and their way out of being stuck on a hamster wheel of venting, feeling powerless, not changing a single thing in their situation, waiting for others to change, venting, feeling powerless etc. etc. etc.

Venting might make the problem feel lighter momentarily because it is being shared. Ultimately, it still exists. It will still be there after girls night, or coffee night. The question isn’t if venting makes you powerless, the question is, what are going to do to get your power back?

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Making Yourself a Priority. Not Selfish – Vital.

As a working mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, teacher – I know all too well what it means to live for others. And, I didn’t even realize how detrimental that was to my identity until I felt completely and utterly empty. I became a void. I felt nothing and it didn’t matter because as long as the to-do list was done and everyone else was okay – then I had accomplished my job.

I didn’t even see how poisoned I was until one little Instagram post last summer. I discussed my deep gratitude for the life I created; however, I couldn’t help but feel exhausted by all of it’s demands. The responses tremendously echoed my sentiments of feeling like all we – as working, married moms – were good for was to serve others.

How had this happened? How had two university degrees, a wonderful career, life-long learning through travel, reading and establishing meaningful connections been boiled down to cooking, cleaning, mountains of laundry, managing a household while still having to look good, keep up said career and aspirations and be gleeful about it? Fuck.

I have never not been happy. Even during the most trying times of my life – I have found an inner joy which kept me going. When I felt that flame was extinguishing – I knew I was in trouble.

Fortunately, the universe brought into my life a chance encounter with a woman whose malas I’ve purchased. And, she, with her deep intuitive knowledge, instantly read my lack of joy, my blocks and gave me some brief direction on how to deal with it.

A plan of action? Sign me up! If there’s a problem I’m the type who needs to find a way to fix it – and fast. I dove in.

Daily meditation. Daily gratitude practice. Daily journaling. Daily excavation of all the things I had buried in order to be the best mom, wife, home owner, guidance counsellor, friend…this led me to Yoga Teacher Training.

But, there were so many BUTS…the time away from the kids and home, the imposition on my husband, mother and mother-in-law to hold things down at home, the amount of reading and work and yoga practice which would take me away from my family.

BUT, the need to do something solely for me was too loud. I somehow worked things out by asking for help, by outlining clearly the time it would take, by allowing my husband to be the father I know he is and my children to know they are just fine without me. I relinquished control on the weekends I was gone – and it was amazing.

I’m just finishing up the in-class portion of my yoga teacher training. It has been a journey of self-discovery unlike any I have ever been on. Yoga has changed my life. I am deeply grateful for the women who encouraged me to go for it, for the women who were by my side for the intense 22 hours every other weekend, for my husband’s humor and complete support at home and our mothers who were there for me by being there for my family.

When I heard the words spoken by Rachel Hollis during my listening to the book, as seen in the excerpts in this post, they resonated in every cell of my body.

The message about being good for others first is delivered so quietly as we grow up, we never think to object. But it slowly eats at our soul and it is up to us to end it. Our children and husbands are happy when we are our best selves because we show up differently. The boundaries I’ve established around mommy’s meditation time and yoga time have been difficult for my children to understand – but they are slowly adjusting. And, I am so bloody happy and full when I finish meditating and my practice – that I mother & wife whole-heartedly. I am once again full of the joy I’ve always felt in my life.

I don’t want to put out the message that my life is perfect and all problems have been solved. Far from it. My struggle now lies in making time to write when my family is at home. That is a big one for me. At least I can see it and acknowledge it. And, do something about it.

In putting my needs first, most of the time(this is still a practice, after all), I can be for my family from a place of love – not obligation, not guilt, not shame, not trying to prove something…but just because I love them.

As hard as it may be, I encourage all of you to find the one thing which sparks you so brightly you feel like you want to explode. And, do it. See the excuses for what they are and lay them to rest. Be the best version of yourself for you, and magically you will be the best version of you for those you love.

Tell me what your journey has been like in the comments below!

Buh-Bye, January!

calendar-3045825_640When I rung 2018 in, I felt a definite shift in my life. I vibrated with energy, ready to focus on the goals I wish to accomplish over the next year.

Within a few days I was barely mobile due to major back and shoulder pain on the left side of my body. I refused to let it hold me back. I iced. I massaged. I decreased inflammation with ibuprofen and used every stretch I could think of to help alleviate the pain. This was when I started my #yogaeverydamnday

This was also when I finally understood the true meaning of listening to my body.

My practice was not the same. My body forced me to slow down and modify poses. My body also forced me to really feel the integrity of each pose so as not to aggravate my injuries, nor add new ones. I did it all without judgment. Each time I moved, I did so deliberately and patiently.

I used to hear my body try to tell me to slow down, but I just thought I was being weak and forged through. I would ignore the signs of fatigue and keep going because that’s how we get strong, right? *sigh*

My modified practice helped me to heal the pain. And, I learned first-hand how patient, gentle treatment of myself helps me to feel so much better. I can be there for me – physically, but more importantly, emotionally.

Then my son caught the flu…and then I fell ill to an awful cold. And, my practice stopped. In the past I would have forced myself to continue practising. But, this time I became curious about why I was so ready to just stop.

Could be January blues. Or, it could be that I was finally listening. Go slow when needed. Be gentle and patient with yourself. Rest when needed – really rest. This last one feels nearly impossible when you’re a mom, but it is absolutely essential. Critical even.

It has not been an easy January. And, while the lessons of this month will help to shape my course as I harness my energy again towards accomplishing goals, I am so happy to see it end.

Tomorrow, February and another chance to start fresh.

Will you be starting something new in February?

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The Secret to Holiday Magic is Self-Care

christmas-2910468_640I read an unsettling article on The Huffington Post entitled Holiday Magic Is Made By Women. And, It’s Killing Us.

The writer is honest about all of the ways in which the holidays, more importantly, preparing for the holiday magic, tug at her, until she is left feeling depleted, empty, with nothing left to give.

I felt so sad and helpless as I read about her experience. I also felt anger.

Most of us have been her at one point in time as we try to make everything perfect for the people we love. We do it so they can enjoy this festive season and have memories to cherish as they grow up and grow old. There’s so much magic to the holidays and we want those we love to experience all of it. We do this out of love. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s not so beautiful is the cost. When was this unspoken expectation that it’s mom’s job to make the holiday magic born?

I asked my husband if he would do half the things the writer listed in her article for the holidays. He responded with a resounding “No fn way.” “Why not?” “Why?”

Why? indeed. It seems men understand the magic of the holidays, but aren’t prepared to burden themselves with it. Because my husband also doesn’t expect me to do it, when I prompted him further. So, why do I feel the need to do it?

December is upon us, and while some are completely ready for the holiday magic, others (like me) are still in the midst of preparing. This article served as a reminder that unless I take care of me, slow down and enjoy the holidays myself, no one around me will either.

So here’s to all the moms that make things happen. The extra touches are always nice, but are they truly necessary? Perhaps, if you’re feeling stretched during your holiday preparation time, take a moment to ask yourself, is this truly necessary?

The holidays are a time for magic, however they are also a time for family and friends. Hopefully this will help when we are in the midst of wrapping, baking, checking off the to-do list. And, in that moment of self-care, when we fill ourselves up so we can fill up the others who need us, we will feel the holiday magic.

How do you plan on making time for yourself during December? Tell me in the comments!

Wishing you a great, restful and magical few weeks before Christmas!

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I Don’t Share My Meals With My Child/No Comparto Alimentos Con Mi Hijo

(Abajo para el español)

Call it selfish.  Call it egocentric and self-centered.  Call it whatever you want – but I don’t like sharing my meals, especially with my son.

I watch as his father and grandparents love giving him food off their plate – sharing the best parts of their dinner with our boy. It is amusing to watch him open his mouth wide to receive the yummiest spoonfuls from their plates.  A few times he has affectionately cuddled into their laps and shares in their meal once he has finished his own.

When it comes to mommy’s plate…not much is really freely given.

At first I thought there was something wrong with me.  Really, Karen?  Really, you can’t share a bite of food with your little boy – to whom you give EVERYTHING?

And there was my answer.

I do give everything of me to my son.  My days and nights revolve around him.  His activities, his emotional, physical, moral and educational needs are at the forefront of every decision I make, of every action I take.  His comfort and well-being is my priority always.

So, when I refuse to share my dinner with him it’s my way of keeping something for myself.  Of reminding myself that I matter too.  This is a lesson that parenting has taught me quite clearly – but that’s another post for another day.

I think every mother keeps something to herself – something to remind her that she too matters.  And, I don’t mean the big things – like time to exercise, time with friends, leaving them an extra hour at day care for “me time”, or even separate vacations.  I mean little things in the daily grind, like not sharing food, keeping a secret chocolate stash or extra t.v. time for them while a steamy book is read.

After all, a happy mommy equals a happier child and a happier home.

What are the small ways you stay happy (and sane) every day to remind yourself that you matter?

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En español

Digamos que es egoísta. Digamos que es egocéntrico. Llámalo como quieras – pero no me gusta compartir mi comida con mi hijo.

Veo que su padre y sus abuelos les encanta darle comida de su plato – dando las mejores partes de su cena a nuestro hijo. Es divertido ver cómo abre su boca para recibir las cucharadas más delicioso de sus platos. Algunas veces se sienta cariñosamente y recibe la comida de sus familiares una vez que ha terminado la suya.

Cuando se trata del plato de la mamá … no mucho se le da muy libremente.

Al principio pensé que había algo malo en mí. Realmente, Karen? Realmente, no puedes compartir un bocado de comida con tu niño – a quien le doy todo?

Encontré mi respuesta.

Doy todo de mí a mi hijo. Mis días y noches giran a su alrededor. Sus actividades, sus necesidades emocionales, físicas, morales y educativas son la vanguardia de todas las decisiones que tomo, de todas las acciones que tomo. Su comodidad y su bienestar es mi prioridad siempre.

Así que, cuando me niego a compartir la cena con él, es mi manera de guardar algo para mí. De recordárdme a mí misma que yo soy importante. Esta es una lección que la maternidad me ha enseñado muy claramente – pero eso es otro post para otro día.

Creo que cada madre guarda algo para sí misma – algo para recordarle que ella también es importante. Y, no me refiero a las cosas grandes – como el tiempo para hacer ejercicio, pasar tiempo con las amigas, dejar los hijos una hora extra en la guardería para tener “tiempo para mí”, incluso tomar vacaciones por separado. Me refiero a las pequeñas cosas en la rutina diaria, como no compartir alimentos, mantener un alijo de chocolate secreto o alargar el tiempo para ellos ver television, mientras que un libro bueno se lee.

Después de todo, una mamá feliz mantiene a un niño feliz y un hogar feliz.

¿Cuáles son las pequeñas cosas que te hacen contenta (y cuerda) todos los días para recordar que eres importante?