Tag Archives: laughter

Permission

What’s the one thing we don’t give ourselves enough of?

Permission.

We don’t give ourselves permission to grieve, to hurt, to cry, to take the day off from things we need to – to take time for ourselves. So when we do try to unwind, this lack of “permission” to relax interferes with our ability to fully unwind.

Instead of unwinding, our minds race with what we should be doing or how we will get everything we need to get accomplished once we’re done unwinding.

We don’t give ourselves permission to grieve how WE need to grieve. It’s a process, an impossibly intimate and personal one at that. No grief is like the next. So instead, we “buck up” and move on, judged by those who think we haven’t done so quickly enough.

Then there are expectations, levels of impossible perfection. Yes, we should strive to be the best we can be at all times but you know what? Sometimes the best you can be is just that – the best YOU can be. Not the best she can be, or the best he can be, but the best YOU can be. It may not measure up to what you see in your head as the best you, but at the end of the day, as long as you’ve given it your all, that’s what matters.

The other thing we don’t do often enough is give ourselves permission to love ourselves or love those around us with wild abandon. We hold back a little piece of ourselves too often because we fear vulnerability. The act of blooming fully scares many of us because we have known pain and refuse to let ourselves get wounded again.

But here’s the thing about that – we don’t live if we hold ourselves back or if we let others change our sense of selves. Permission for truly being yourself is something only you can give. Realizing this is a huge leap forward toward healing any pain which may have frozen you in the past. As a popular Disney song commands us – let it go.

I’ve been growing into permission to be me. There have been days where I’ve been a wonderfully glorious blossom and others where I’ve been a wilted flower. But it’s okay because each day, I’ve been the best damn blossom and wilted flower I can be, which is what matters when the sun sets.

Then, in the evening sky, the moon rises. It waxes, it wanes, form changing with the twilight of every evening until it grows full then fades away completely.

My favourite is when the moon hangs low and grins down at us, like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat. Sometimes, I imagine there is a devious cat just behind the inky darkness, waiting to pounce on us.

Moments like these are what help me hold onto whimsy in the face of the craziness of daily living.

Focus on the little things.

Give yourself permission to be the best YOU that you can be.

Love with wild abandon. Laugh with your belly. Sing with joy.

Above all else, grin back at the Cheshire cat and never forget to hold onto the whimsical.

Finding Life at the End of the Comfort Zone

On our refrigerator, there is a simple black square magnet with white words in English sprawled across it. This magnet blends in with our refrigerator, making the words even more noticeable as it rests at the top of the freezer door, right in the center. What are these words?

They say this:

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ~Neale Donald Walsch~

J purchased it for me on a dreary Sunday last winter during a visit to a local art museum. Of all the colorful things in the gift shop, the simplest thing, devoid of any true colour, caught my eye.

Why?

Because the words spoke to me. They challenged me to push myself further than I was comfortable. For the first time in weeks, I felt hope. When we bought the magnet, it was not too long after Sandy roared through our area, leaving me more traumatized than I wanted to admit.

Over the past year, I have pushed myself past my comfort zone. I auditioned in NYC for Listen to Your Mother (and am auditioning again this year, only for Northern New Jersey), I joined an in-person mom’s group, and I am back to pushing myself again after a setback with former neighbors which left me afraid to set foot outside by myself, even after we moved.

Within the past month, I started going back to the gym, I’ve ventured to various places by myself, and I plan to start walking around the neighborhood once it’s not covered under a ton of snow and the temperature won’t turn me into an instant popsicle. Oh, and I am learning how to drive in the snow. Slowly. Don’t laugh, most of my driving years were spent in the deep south where it does not snow often. Yes, I am a Jersey girl and perfectly capable of tolerating the cold but that doesn’t mean I know how to drive in the snow. It’s not that difficult to do, I’m realizing.

I owe this diving out of myself to the courage in asking for help.

I made a phone call back in December to our nurse practitioner to follow up with her about the situation with the neighbors. I saw her back in August due to extreme anxiety because of the situation – anxiety which left me afraid to open the blinds, turn on lights, or do anything beyond sit on the couch and watch TV for nearly 5 days straight. My sleep even suffered and my appetite vanished. I refused to leave the condo, in fact, unless J was with me. I needed help. In August, she prescribed something for anxiety. It worked and got me through the remainder of our time there as well as through our move.

But my prescription ran out.

We were happier at our new place. It was quiet, no screaming children at 11pm, no neighbors calling us names, no trapped in a dark condo. Instead, there was peace, quiet, and a lot of sunshine as all the blinds were opened and the light poured in from every possibly window. I still found myself triggered by certain situations and sounds despite the new tranquil environment. Shell-shocked from the former residence.

Then J was suddenly let go from his job and we faced losing our brand new place. With some careful maneuvering and help from family and a few wonderful friends, as well as some well-timed freelance work,  we managed to hang on. He found a job, and has been working steadily. I am still trying to  get freelance work going but haven’t lost hope.

While he was unemployed, I was the rock. I did not panic, I held fast and trusted that he would get a job. Once he did, I unraveled – fast. I was wildly unprepared for the roller coaster exit.

J sat me down one night and quietly shared his observances – that he was worried about me, I wasn’t myself. He suggested I call our NP. I struggled with the suggestion. I made it so far without medication. So far. Through a divorce, through the struggle of job-hunting and never hearing anything back, then through Sandy. All of this by myself. I was not sure I wanted to take a pill to get by again. I couldn’t. Could I?

Finally, after realizing every possible option but taking medication had been explored yet I  was still struggling, I made that call in December. We talked about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), situational issues, and what medications had worked for me before. I talked quickly, fighting the urge to just hang up. She was wonderful and very non-threatening, telling me that she would call in the script and I could pick it up if I chose to but did not need to feel beholden to it.

I picked it up the next day.

It has been almost 6 weeks and I have picked up a refill.

The medication is helping quite a bit. I am focusing, I am laughing, and I feel more like me.

Going back on a medication felt like defeat. It felt as if I was calling it in, giving up. But I know that I tried everything I possibly could before making that call. Making that call? WAY outside my comfort zone. It is the most uncomfortable thing possible to call your doctor to tell him/her that you are not emotionally stable. Yet, if it were a broken bone, I would have rushed to the ER. Stigma is a pervasive bastard – I hate it.

Every morning now, I swallow hope, in the form of a small white pill.

One day, perhaps I will get to a point where I will simply hold hope in my heart and mind, not in my stomach or blood stream.

But for now, that is where my hope lies, intermingling with my stomach acid and my blood cells flowing through my veins.

I’m okay with that because I know it is without a doubt, what I need to be the best me I can be right now.

Making Small Moments Matter

There is no inspiration like a deadline for a writer.

I’m up against a personal one at the moment. I don’t have to sit here and write for anyone beside myself. But yet, I dragged myself out of bed because I realized I had not yet written my 500 words for the day.

Know what I did instead?

I had a great day.

I woke up at 8ish, and as the world came into focus, I noticed snow had covered the world outside just enough to turn everything white. I got up and opened the blinds all the way to savor the crisp white landscape greeting me. After crawling back into bed,  my boyfriend completely surprised me and brought coffee upstairs. We sat there, the two of us, his daughter still asleep, and talked as we stared out the windows at the snowy scape.

As we chatted, the snow began to fall again. Softly at first, then it increased to the point that the houses across the field were barely visible. A knock at the door let us know his daughter was awake and he left to go downstairs with her.

I got dressed and made myself breakfast. We would be heading to the gym soon and I did not want a full stomach when I got into the pool.

They ate shortly after I did and then we all got ready to head to the gym.

One of my favourite things about swimming is the meditative quality of the water. Sometimes, I do entire laps with my eyes shut – on purpose. I focus on the movement of the water around my body and the grace of gliding. Today was my third day in a row back at the gym. I had stopped for multiple reasons but am glad I am going back. It is a slow start, much like this writing has been.

When we got home, the girl and I made marshmallows. She read the ingredients and the directions, eagerly wanting to taste each and every ingredient. The only one she did not like was the dab of vanilla extract (which, let’s face it, isn’t delicious until it’s been added to something anyway).

As we prepared the cornstarch & powdered sugar to coat the casserole dish the marshmallows would rest in, we happened to accidentally get into a snow fight inside and somehow ended up with it all over ourselves, laughing like the happiest of fairies the entire time. Cleaning up the mess wasn’t annoying at all (the old me would have never done something like this). She was blissfully happy at tasting the marshmallow fluff and proudly took a spoonful up to her dad for him to taste.

It’s tiny moments like these which took up my entire day and are the reason that I am sitting here, in the dark, listening to When Doves Cry by Prince, typing like mad into WordPress to make my personal deadline of writing 500 words before midnight.

Like going to the gym, I need to get back into writing every day. So far, I have done just that with my words. I have also been okay with just WRITING and not organizing. Hitting publish even if I am not sure that it’s something I want out there.

A life is meant to be lived and you should do what you are called to do. For me, that’s writing. This month, all these words which have poured forth have been therapeutic. After my divorce, I stopped writing prolifically. I felt I had nothing to say or no right to say what needed to say because I was an absolute wreck. Turns out, I have a lot to say. I just had a lot of internal bullshit to wade through first. I may still be wading through it but that’s okay too. Because we are all just human and we all have our own bullshit to wade through.

What matters is that you get it out and have people to share your bullshit with – even if they just sit there and wrap an arm around you, saying nothing at all because sometimes? Sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Other times, however, exactly what you need is a snowstorm in the kitchen with a child.

That’s exactly what I needed today.

And now? Now I’m going to sleep.

G’night, y’all.

 

The Best Part of Peer Support

One of the things I adore most about what I do is getting to know PEOPLE.

I tell you, people, for the most part, are amazing, especially those who are fighting back against the hard.

Their spirits are indefatigable and their hearts are so full of love they long to let spill out. There’s a lot of laughter because laughter is honestly, one of the best medicines out there. So sometimes, we get crazy. Like last night.

Yesterday’s conversations ranged (at least the ones I was involved in) from mini-woolly mammoths to a full on Twitter-sing-a-long of “Part of Your World” with a bunch of fabulous women from the #PPDChat community. Thing is, the sing along was spontaneously inspired because I was watching a program about Mermaids (which, um.. we won’t ever mention again because yeah…).

Bottom line – there’s that tremendous sense of community and silliness.

You KNOW you’ve found your tribe when they inspire you to draw something like this:

PPDChat Woolly Mammoth

Yep. That’s a mini Woolly Mammoth smooshing Velma (intrusive/negative thoughts).

That’s love, people.

Start your day with a #listof3

Last summer, I started doing something on Twitter I’d recommended to new moms fighting battles with Postpartum Depression previously. No, I wasn’t struggling with PPD again (it’s been nearly six years since my last episode), but I was low as I struggled to make sense of the world in the vortex of divorce.

Every morning, among my first tweets, there would be one which read something like this:

“This morning, I’m grateful for: coffee, hiking, and good friends. For what are you grateful? #listof3”

It picked up steam and others in the #ppdchat community (a hashtag based community available 24/7 for support & information and a moderated chat every Monday at 1pm & 830pm ET) began to use the #listof3 tag as well. Then it spread. It’s not a huge community but on mornings when things aren’t going quite well or weeks when I’m in the dark, the #listof3 brightens my day. It also brightens my day to see others randomly using the hashtag in the morning even when I’m not.

There’s a #listof3 for the evenings too – I don’t do it as much – in the evening, list three things which made you laugh (a small smile counts if it’s really dark in your life).

The main goal of this exercise?

To re-purpose your day, point your mind on a positive path, and allow gratefulness to become an intrinsic part of your daily morning routine. As gratefulness entrenches itself in your life, it changes your outlook.

Today, I’m grateful for good food, a good swim, and a good man in my life. For what are YOU grateful? Tell me in the comments!

Writer’s Block sucks

Maybe it was my kids being sick for over a month this summer.

Maybe it was struggling to finally celebrate and enjoy my new life with my family (once they were healed).

Maybe it’s having to process the whole Otty Sanchez thing.

Regardless, I’ve been struggling lately to write about anything Postpartum related. And I mean REALLY struggling.

School started a few weeks ago, my husband started a new job, and I’ve been the family chauffeur to boot. In the middle of the day, I now have time to myself with just Cameron. We’ve been laughing, bonding, and just getting a kick out of getting to really know each other. He’s 20 months old now, walking, learning new words, and developing a really hilarious sense of humor while he’s at it. His favorite thing? To walk around in circles whilst screeching “wheeeeee!” almost at the top of his lungs. Second favorite is watching Mama make the cross-eyed and tongue stuck out funny face. His laugh instantly warms the room!

So forgive me for leaving you hanging – I’ve been enjoying the truly important things in my life – my kids, my husband, and just life in general.

I promise I haven’t forgotten about you!