uncommonmommy

Inspired Life – Conscious Parenting

Surprise Visitor

Spring crept in while I was sleeping,
She does this every year.
For weeks I dream of her arrival,
Then suddenly she’s here.

In the nodding heads of flowers,
On the pine sap scented breeze,
The voices of a thousand birds
Singing in the trees.

She’s the moodiest of seasons,
Always going to extremes,
But every time she visits,
I’m sad to see her leave.

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Revel in Your Victory

Sit down tonight and ask yourself these questions:

– When did you successfully parent the way you wanted to today?

– When did you stay calm and react the way you wanted,  or refrain from reacting?

– What moments can you take pride in?

Instead of focusing on all the times you really screwed up today,  do something good for yourself and revel in your victories, no matter how few or how small.

Write them down. 
Be proud of yourself.
And keep your eyes open for more opportunities to succeed
In your interactions tomorrow.

Well done parent. Well done.

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Sleepless Night

Midnight porch sitting,
Rain so delicate
It clings to my eyelashes
On its silent descent,
Finding gratitude
In all the things
Beyond my control.

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Image by : Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

Owning the painful truth that I will not succeed (in 30 days)

My most recent posts were on staying true to  the self, discovering and embracing our likes and dislikes, and playing up our strengths over our weaknesses.

I know I do NOT perform well under pressure real or imagined. If I feel rushed in any way I shut down.

I know I am NOT competitive.  I don’t see the point in stressing out just so I can say I did something faster or better than someone else.  Honestly, in my case, completion in itself is worth cheering. Lots of cheering.

I know that I can’t stand spending much time in front of a screen, particularly if I feel it’s taking precious time from other activities that I deem more important.

YET, knowing all of this, I still deigned it neccessary to take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I’m 9 days in, and here’s what I’ve learned so far.

1)  I already have a strong writing habit.  Between my journal and my blog I write at least 400 words a day.  Every day.

2)  During my daughter’s nap, I can usually bust out about 700 words on my novel.

3)  When I feel the pressure of a specified word count and looming deadline it makes me irritable and resentful of something that usually brings joy.  I should be celebrating the fact that I sat down and worked on my novel or blog that day at all.

4)  I always thought before bed was my best writing time.  That’s only partially correct.  The quiet hour before bed is awesome for journaling or writing poetry by candlelight, but absolutely terrible for novel writing and ramping up creative energies. That dark quiet time before bed is my SACRED time, my holy relaxation time, my visit with my husband, or commune with myself, or get an extra hour of sleep time.  By cramming a few hundred more words of work into that space, I only succeeded in taking away the part of the day I love most.

5) Writing a novel on a computer or a tablet is not for me.  That being said, writing one by hand only to have to go back later and type it up on a computer doesn’t sound all that glamorous either.  So, I’m opening door number 3 and testing out a cheap handheld Alphasmart NEO wordprocessor.  It has a comfortable (they say) full keyboard, a memory that holds about 50,000 words, connects via USB to any computer to upload your document for editing or printing, and the added beauty of a screen that shows only four sentences, does not allow editing, and has no internet, games or other distractions. Plus, it’s ridiculously portable.

So, will I continue with the book I started 9 days ago?  Yes!  It’s incredibly gratifying to see the words add up and run all over the paper.  I’m enjoying the antics of my characters and discovering what it’s like to FINALLY make it beyond the first chapter of a fictional endeavor.

BUT…

I can only realistically hold myself to about 700 words a day, and really only 5 days a week.  And there’s no novel writing after dark anymore.   I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone by writing a book.  And a huge word tally certainly isn’t worth a tired mom and grumpy children.

I suppose my goal could be restated as this:

“To write a 50,000 word novel in 4 months, while simultaneously posting on my blog regularly, journaling as needed, allowing myself time to read books I’m interested in, nourishing myself, my husband and my children both spiritually and physically, and still squeezing in the occasional shower.”

I may not be a NANOWRIMO winner, but I know and love myself enough to know that I can still be a successful writer and mother by embracing my limitations and preferences and celebrating what it is I am capapble of doing.

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Image: My proud writing professor and I after teaching a creative writing course at the Mississippi State Pen. in 2007.

Reflection of Self

Between the needs of all three wee littles, the animals,  the house,  our stomachs, friends,  errands,  jobs, etc., it becomes very easy to feel overwhelmed, and to cut myself from the to-do list.

Really,  how much time can I spare for myself,  for my own needs,  passions and joys, without taking it from my already dwindling sleep allotment?

Then I read this quote,

Tonight, as I was getting ready for bed, I paused and looked in the mirror.  “Love Looks,” I thought, “God, I could use some Love Looks, too.” Little doses of pausing and looking at myself with compassion.   Little moments of being kind to myself, looking at myself, and seeing the holy right here within me, too.
Lisa A. McCrohan

And I realized, just like with all the big goals in life,  we only get there one step at a time.

I may not have hours to pamper myself or uninterrupted blocks of creative time, but I do have the ability to look at myself in the mirror and acknowledge a job well done, a strong woman doing her best, and that I’m an integral part of the human experience deserving of love and kindness from those around me,  but most especially from myself.

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Nurturing Self

As we begin to unravel the mystery of who we truly are,  we may find the things that bring us the most joy,  or are a soothing balm to our souls,  may not be what we expected,  and almost certainly not what we wish they were.

There are a number of ways to discover these hidden gems.

Some people experiment with a wide range of new activities,  leaving their comfort zone in search of something that clicks.

Some people reflect on the activities they loved as a child.   In fact,  that’s a pretty good starting point.

You may ponder the question,  what do I do for fun, when no one is looking?  Or, what would I do if money were no object?

Often what we wish we loved,  we simply don’t.

I for one am enamored with the idea of being an ultramarathon runner.  I love the idea of camping outside year round with no belongings.   I want to hike the Appalachian Trail,  take up boxing,  be a yogini, do cross fit 5 days a week, play harp, piano and drums and speak multiple languages.

But here’s the thing,  I hate running.  I’ve tried and we do not make happy companions.   I also do not do well in group exercise classes.  I’m not competitive or violent,  and I no longer travel to foreign lands.  And,  need I mention I have 3 children? 

My truth,  my spiritual balm,  my peace comes from much more mundane activities.   I love to walk through nature with no goal in sight and sit by rivers and in random patches of sunlight.  

I love to take pictures of nature and am finding I’m pretty good at painting them, as well.  In 30 years I’ve never lost interest in words.   I love to read,  journal,  blog,  write stories, pay scrabble, and day dream.

My celebration of music does not involve hours spent practicing an instrument.  It does, however,  express itself in song throughout every day,  dancing at home,  in grocery stores and in the car (much to the embarrassment of my children) and in listening to classic rock on vinyl.

As far as yoga and exercise go,  I bought an aerial yoga trapeze for the house.   It’s cheaper than classes,  there’s no one to impress or compete with,  my kids can use it,  and when I was of playground age,  hanging upside down and flipping around on the monkey bars was my favorite activity.

When we accept our limitations and embrace what we truly love,  we not only come to know ourself better,  but we begin to nurture ourself and fill our lives with meaningful,  honest work.  We begin to walk in joy.

Self, let me mother you.
Let me take time to read the pages of this riveting book.
Let me visit this blog where I find hope and understanding.
Let me cry—I don’t have to be strong all the time.
Let me encourage myself: Who I am becoming matters more than who I once was. Today matters more than yesterday.
-Rachel Macy Stafford

 

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Lucy on Self

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.   You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
-Lucille Ball

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Reinvention of Self

How often have you had the longing to escape the doldrums of your current circumstance?  The wish to reinvent yourself? To start over?

The magic of reinvention doesn’t lie in moving to another state,  leaving your family or significant other,  or changing jobs.  Those things might be catalysts to motivate you,  or even by-products in the long run,  but they alone do not change you.

Reinvention comes when we forgive ourselves,  accept our past,  relinquish its power over us,  and start making choices based solely  on what is right for us. 

Reinvention seems easier when you’re surrounded by strangers and have yet to have been cast a role in their play.

But, reinvention starting from where you are today,  that’s courageous. What’s more,  it’s authentic.  And, if we’re being honest,  at that point, it’s really less about adopting a new personality and much more about allowing your true self to grow and mature.

Growth is not easy.  It is not a quick fix.  It is messy and heart wrenching and ultimately beautiful.

We do not grow absolutely,  chronologically.   We grow sometimes in one dimension,  and not in another;  unevenly.    We grow partially.  We are relative.  We are mature in one realm,  childish in another.  The past,  present,  and future mingle and pull us backward,  forward,  or fix us in the present.  We are made up of layers,  cells,  constellations.
– Anais Nin

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Integration of Self

I have a close friend who has dissociative identity disorder.  She often talks about the other people who share her body and how difficult it can be to have so many contesting viewpoints,  opinions,  and preferences and only one body with which to express them.

Imagine the confusion she experiences, the scatteredness, the incredible lack of focus.

You may not have to imagine very much.   For so many of us, mentally sound or otherwise,  this is our reality as well.

Who were you as a child?  As a teenager?  As a college student?  In your 20s, 30s, 40s, and so on?   As a mother or father or spouse?

Each of these people is a separate entity complete with their own “story.”  When we were these people we did silly,  offensive,  hurtful things.  Perhaps we were funny or popular or downright abusive.

As long as those stories are kept alive,  whether through reminiscence and longing for the good old days, or through guilt and distaste over who we were and what we did,  all of those entities reside inside of us and weigh in on our daily activities.

How then do we integrate them?  How do we become authentically who we are right now and let the others go? 

We must acknowledge that each of them existed for a reason.  Who we were at different stages of our life got us through said stage.  We couldn’t possibly be where we are now without the choices we made in our past.   It could not have played out any other way.

Acknowledge this service. Thank that part of yourself.  Let them know you’re safe now.  Their job is done.  Allow them to rest. Love them for their contribution to your growth.

In so doing, you can bring all the little children back into the fold and begin the journey to a peaceful completeness of self.

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Learning Self Love

Let’s say you’re walking through the grocery store when someone catches your eye.   They look vaguely familiar,  but you can’t remember the first thing about them.   Perhaps you were introduced once through a friend,  or sat next to them at your kid’s game,  either way, they are heading your way with the same spark of recognition and a really nice smile.

Do you:
A) greet them kindly, strike up a conversation and end up exchanging facebook handles or phone numbers
B) immediately jump into a relationship and expect a perfect marriage
C) look really concerned with finding the right can of tomatoes and hope they don’t talk to you?

So it is with self love.

It starts with the realization that we may not actually know ourselves all that well,  particularly if you’re new to this journey.

You can continue to ignore who you truly are and hope everything works itself out.

You can decide this is a no-brainer and obviously you love yourself,  in fact,  why bother asking questions,  just get married already.

Or,  you can begin the slow beautiful unraveling of who you truly are. Find out your interests,  beliefs, and passions outside of social influences, cultural obligations,  the role you’ve been playing,  your job,  and the expectations of others.

Only through getting to know your genuine self can you begin to like yourself and allow that to blossom into love for your self. 

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
-Anna Quindlen

Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.
-Aberjhani

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