Sitting in judgement

Listening to some new and newish mums talking today I am feeling frustrated. Why are women so ready to sit in judgement of other women? So willing to participate in their own subjugation and of others? All three women are committed to bringing up their children with love and respect. Instead of loving kindness and support they are awash in a sea of judgement.

The judgements that fell harshly on them? One co-sleeps, one had such a difficult time and lack of support breast feeding that she changed to bottle and the other likes to still work part time.

What do I see? Three amazingly strong women juggling children; managing parents, in-laws, friends and “well”-meaning bystanders telling them how they “should” be doing things; coping with sleepless nights; meeting partners needs and wants; all while trying to keep just a little bit of sanity.

What do I think? It’ll take 25 years to know who raised their kids the “right” way. And who are we to judge or wish for a definitive. Think about it. In wanting to be right that means a child is going to grow up unable to function in society. In wanting “your” way to be the “right” way (the only correct way) you are wishing an unhappy life full of suffering on a child.

I co slept, bottle fed, and worked. I was the original party girl too. Dragged my kids from pillar to post pursuing my career. Everyone tut tutted me. My kids have turned out fine. So if you are struggling with people passing judgement on you, ask them to come back in 30 years. Inside yourself lock away the knowledge that you are being the best parent you can be. This is your journey, your path. So long as you make conscious choices, STEPUP when required and own all consequences then you will live a life with meaning and you will pass this attitude and skill on to your children. And that is the greatest gift you can give.

Happy Mother’s Day … Or grin and bear it day?

I came across this post this morning. It really challenged me and I felt disloyal to my mother even reading it. My mother and I have a great relationship that is touched with moments of awkwardness. Mostly because she doesn’t understand me and lacks the skills to understand me. Sometimes in a darker, less charitable moment, I think she doesn’t want to understand me. But I know that is only because her life would be easier for her if I fitted the mould of what a daughter should be. What I do know is that she is incredibly proud of me, and even though she can’t understand how I am “happy”, she is pleased that I feel I live a life with meaning and fulfillment.

For me, I confess that in my early 20s I really didn’t like or respect my mum very much. The whole, I should stay home and bake, 1950s housewife model never ever appealed to me. I wanted to be a trailblazing career women in a black suit. It was a very intense time of my life. I am incredibly honest and have always sought to live my life with honesty and (later) integrity. I agonised over cutting my mother out of my life and the lives of my children. I realised then that I had two choices … a life without a mother or a life with occasional (and not-so-occasional) moments of biting my tongue. Fortunately for me I chose life with the tongue biting. I decided to accept my mother for who she is. Warts and all, you could say. And how glad am I that I did. Once I stopped measuring her against my ideal, I discovered a wonderfully generous (if somewhat sexist) woman, who has turned out to be an amazing grandmother and great-grandmother.

So for all of you out there struggling with horrible and not-so-horrible mothers, perhaps see her against the backdrop of her upbringing and her own relationship with her mother. Think about how that might have impacted her and your relationship. And remember always that we aim to meet all challenging people with loving kindness and the challenges they throw at us with equanimity. Only by owning our part in the relationship can we know peace. The choice to be present in that relationship allows the little taunts and digs, and the odd public humiliation, and the sometimes complete and utter lack of their ability to understand and accept you to no longer matter.

Of course, some people are truly toxic and there may come a time in your respective meanderings where you need to wander without each other. If this is the path you feel compelled to take, try to do it without acrimony on your behalf. Own the decision and explain why you are making it. And only do it once, and be absolutely resolute about the changes you require before repairing and rebuilding the relationship. And be fair, there will be changes that your mother may request, and you need to hear those requests and consider them. Lastly, if you are a mother yourself, remember, your children will model their relationship with you on your relationship with your mother.

For those of you that have fabulous mothers, I am so happy for you. And for those of you that are missing their mothers, who are either far far away or have moved on to the next cycle, hold that love in your heart and let it be a beacon of light in your life and the lives of those around you.

**LoveAndLight**

#choices #stepup #ownit #mothers #relationships #family #meanderings #wanderings

Optimism, realism and pessism

We all know the glass half full story, or rather stories … half full is the Optimist, half empty is the Realist. I would like to introduce the Pessimist who knows the glass is half empty and full of germs. And don’t forget the Opportunist who drank it while we were working out if it was half full or half empty.

As a metaphor for life it works pretty well. There is also the Pragmatist who doesn’t care whether it’s half full or half empty but will take what is available, roll up her/his sleeves and use it to get on with the task at hand. Occasionally,  someone asks, how do I get my glass to be half full instead of half empty? And this is the person you want to be.

To be a half full person you don’t need to overdose on positivity and I’m not going to drown you in cheerleader type exhortations. I am not going to teach you to be an Optimist. We are going to embrace the Pragmatist that takes what is available to build the next step. In our case, the next step is to be a person who lives life on equal terms, meets challenges with equanimity and, through that, finds a balance between life’s demands and life’s joys. Finding contentment rather than the hypomanic happy that is euphoria.

We cannot go through life attached to a feeling as powerful as having won Tattslotto or climbing Mt Everest. This is not a natural state. Neither is sadness or depression so we shouldn’t spend too much time there either. 

What you are going to do is become your own censor. You are going to filter the messages that your brain receives from your eyes and your ears. You are going to look and listen for negative and self defeatist messages and think about how you can reframe that message. And then reframe it. This doesn’t mean sugarcoating.

Some events are disastrous. Acknowledge that something bad happened but reframe, ie, that job interview or that presentation or meeting could have gone better; or, I could have managed my staff members lateness better. Never say I blew that interview/presentation/meeting and then beat up on yourself. Don’t berate yourself for overreacting to a staff members poor performance or for letting a staff member walk all over you. .. acknowledge that it was not your best performance and …. This is not where I tell you to walk on … This is where I suggest,  most strongly, that you sit with a pen and paper and do some really thorough analysis.

What were your expectations before the event? What role did each actor play in the event? What could you control? What couldn’t you control? Then step up and own the actions that you could control. Consider whether right in that moment if you could have chosen a different path and what that path might have been. Decide that you will behave that way in the future. Then chalk up this incidence to experience. Acknowledge that you are building resilience, take your learnings and continue to wander your path with a little more knowledge and a better understanding of yourself. The next time you are in a similar situation you will view it differently because you have taken those lessons on board and you know that the outcomes will be better … glass half full … and who knows .. One day it might be a full glass!

Happy wandering!

Getting Over Procrastination – The New Yorker

http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/a-procrastination-gene?utm_content=bufferc2e90&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Hello my fellow Red Dust Wanderers. I have shared this article as I know many of you suffer from procrastination; whether occasionally or chronically.
I get crippled by procrastination. I have a 3500 word paper due tomorrow and have done nothing so far. I will cram and work without sleep to make the deadline, because that is what I am good at. The “deadline” warrior should carved on my headstone, if I was getting buried rather than scattered to the winds.
I never connected my impulsiveness with my procrastination before.  It is like a light has gone for me. I am heading for a 10 day meditation retreat in June with no idea of a focus. Now I have one self – control!  It will address both conditions that continually land me in hot water.
Owning it! Stepping up! Taking charge of the path I am walking.
I hope at least one of you has a light bulb moment reading this article and that it brings you closer to implementing mindfulness and meditation into your life.
** LoveAndLight * *