Saturday, January 24, 2015

I've Never Been Good at "Living in the Moment"

I have never been good at "living in the moment". There's a magnet hanging on my refrigerator that reads, "Today is a Gift, That's Why It's Called the Present"; I try to read this every morning to remind myself how precious today is.

Even still, I often feel tethered to my past, enslaved to the future.

When I find myself in a difficult or uncertain situation, like not knowing if I will have enough money for next month's rent or I miss the comfort of having a special someone in my life, I escape to more familiar times. Even if those times weren't necessarily happy ones, they were familiar and comfortable.

On the other hand, I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about my future, especially with regards to finances. Before having my son, I never worried about money. I earned enough to live week-to-week and then some. Now, after walking away from my full-time teaching job to work from home so that I can be the influencing factor in my son's upbringing, my income isn't as consistent or abundant.

One of the only times I feel that I truly live in the moment, breaking free from my past and defying my future, is when I am caring for my plants. While watering them, I don't reminisce about times gone by, nor do I worry what the future will inevitably bring; I am simply and peacefully caring for my plants. Watching the water cascade down their leaves and petals, sometimes pooling into watery bubbles, centers me.

Tenderly clipping away dying or dead leaves, I metaphorically remove my own withered branches, releasing the shackles that bind me to past mistakes and freeing me to grow.

The other activity that anchors me to the present is reading to my son.

While he sits next to me, or perches on my lap, I am reminded of how fleeting these years can be. I don't want to wake up one morning and wonder where our time went; I want to look back on my years raising him and know that I savored every moment.

So, today I reflect on these moments of "living in the present", and I hope to capture more of these moments before they slip away.

You can share your "moments" in a slice over at Two Writing Teachers!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why do We Feel the Need to Apologize When We Cry?

Today's Slice of Life was inspired by IMANLILYSAAD's "Crying in a Green BMW" post. In my response to her post, I shared that I have been that woman crying in her green BMW. Why? Because crying in my car is safer than crying in front of people.

And this thought took me back to a conversation I had with one of my sisters, in which I questioned society's stigma over crying. Have you every wondered why we feel the need to apologize to someone when we start crying? We see it on TV when people are interviewed. We experience it firsthand when we talk to friends during an emotional time.

People try to hide their tears by wiping them, dabbing a tissue at the corners of their eyes, or shielding their faces from view, as if releasing our tears in public is a shameful act - an act of betrayal. IMANLILYSAAD touches on this in her post when she notices the woman in the green BMW was "crying without the need to wipe off her tears".

I, too, have experienced this sense of uninhibited freedom while crying in my car, not thinking anyone will notice. It feels really good to cry and not feel ashamed, to not feel the need to try to stifle it or apologize for it!

We also pass this stigma down to our children by apologizing to them when we cry. I was guilty of doing this just yesterday! I thought I had overcome this stigma when I went through my divorce. During those painful months, I used to walk my dogs around the marina, sobbing out loud, without a thought or care as to who might hear me. I didn't care if I showed my "ugly cry" in public on those walks; I was healing my insides, the tears washing away the toxicity of betrayal, failure, and guilt.

So, maybe it isn't that our tears betray us, but that they represent what, or who, has betrayed us. And, maybe that's why we try to hide them.

Pondering this stigma, I realize that I want my son to grow up being comfortable in the presence of his tears. I want him to know it's perfectly fine to cry, and that there is no shame in shedding tears. I am going to work on not apologizing for crying, whether I'm in the safety of my own home, driving in my car, or in public. I'm going to embrace my tears, just as I do my laughter, because both are healing!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Finally, My "One Little Word" for 2015

I've been seeing the acronym "OLW", the phrase "one little word", and their respective hash tags over the past few months. With the surge in references peaking this past week, I finally headed over to Ali Edwards' website to figure out, firsthand, what all the fuss was about!

One Little Word, as it appears most of the blogosphere already knows, is a self-reflective project started by Ali Edwards, in which you choose one word to focus on for the coming year. This would explain the influx of references I've been seeing in the waning weeks of 2014.

Simple, right? Not really!

I kept mulling over, considering, discarding, and reconsidering a slew of words: hope, light, service, confidence, abundance. All worthy words, but none felt right.

Then, I stumbled across a blog post, one word, that helped give me focus in my quest for my own OLW! In this post, Leigh Anne offered three questions from the book, "One Word That Will Change Your Life":

  1. What do I need?
  2. What's in my way?
  3. What needs to go?

Pondering these questions, I found my very first OLW: Imperfect!

My whole life has been about perfection: being the perfect daughter, student, sister, friend, teacher, and now, mother. I'm certainly not saying I've come even close to being the perfect version of any of these roles, but I have strived! And, it's been absolutely exhausting!

While pondering the three questions above, I realized I need to give myself a break. I need to be kinder, gentler, and more patient with myself. I need to take some of the pressure, some of the weight, off of my shoulders, because these shoulders have bore a lot in recent years! I need to accept that I am an imperfect person, and that's okay :-)

So, my focus for 2015 is to embrace, even celebrate, imperfection!