Monday, April 2, 2012

Sharing Shapes Reality



Since Lent began, I have felt this almost spiritual urgency to write. To write about life. To write about truth. To share. To write in such a way that would enable understanding. For myself, of myself. And for others.
And yet, I haven’t.
There are a million different reasons why I haven’t. Time. Fear. Guilt over the mixed motivations I have for blogging (for myself? for affirmation? to be heard?)
Its not for lack of material. Oftentimes, I have thoughts come to mind where I say, “oh yes..I could write about that.” And yet. And yet. I do not. I’ve been afraid that my motivations for writing are not pure enough…that the mixed-up-ness of my motivations taints what I have to write. And thus, I hesitate, I wait. I freeze.
Blogging/facebook…all of it…its such an odd thing to me. Motivations are so mixed. I do it for myself- to express myself, to share my story. And yet if I were writing for that alone, I would write in a journal. So then I spiral to guilt– do I really have to share to feel like my thoughts are valid? Is the very act of a blog/a facebook post…frankly…much of communication in general, does it all come down to a selfish and fear-driven desire for affirmation?
But that thought doesn’t settle well with me. Seems too simple. Too shame-induced (that is my mode of operation, of course).
Certainly, I write for affirmation. I write for understanding. But as I’ve been thinking about all of this, I’ve begun to think about how my reality becomes different when I share it. How vastly distinct it feels to have a thought siloed in my brain versus to share a thought. Ultimately, we share our thoughts not simply because we feel we have something worthwhile to say, but rather, because we want to connect. We desire to be known.
Our lives become real when they are shared.
Something happens to our sense of being when what we have thought and felt, be it explicitly or implicitly (sensed within ourselves) is articulated and received- and even more than simply received, understood.
When I share, I share because I am hoping that in sharing, I will be “gotten”…that my experience…that me, myself…would be understood and received as I intended it.
Sometimes when I share out of anger, when I rage and yell…blame and hurt those around me (hurt people hurt people, isn’t that the phrase? Certainly is true in my experience)..I do it because ultimately, I want someone to see the threads of myself that are quickly unraveling and I want them to care enough to catch them and help me sew them back into myself…or rip them out and help me start anew.
Other times, when I share out of joy, when I overflow with glee…when I glow over a sweet LO moment (for instance, her constant singing of “My favorite things”-my favorite verse to hear her sing is “doorbells and sleigh-bells, and schnitzel with noodles” she says schnitzel so hilariously!), I do it because it spills out of  me…it feels natural and right to share–as if the act of sharing such joy is a gift to myself and to others (what…you don’t want to hear about my two year old all the time?! Seriously? : )
But there is something that feels transformative in the act of sharing.  Without me knowing it, I think I often share because it feels right to invite someone into the goodness that exists.
And if I’m really honest with myself, the things I don’t share? The information I control…the things about myself that I don’t let others in on…I don’t share because of shame. Because of fear. Because I, more than anyone else, don’t want to see those parts of me open in the light because I, more than anyone else, don’t want to see them.
Because to share it would be to invite others into the dark places of myself and that voice of shame tells me that if others were to see, my hidden stuff would disgust them (shame again!) and they would leave. That if I acknowledged the extent of my brokeness…if I shared my broken self truly, and not just bits and pieces, my darkness would overwhelm. I don’t want to see those places…why would I want anyone else to as well?
But here’s the thing…ironically, just as those  places of lightness multiply with attention, these places of darkness multiply with inattention. If I don’t invite others in, those pockets of shame…those areas of struggle that I have…the ritualistic actions I take and hope no one will ever really notice because if they did, they would see them as the coping mechanisms they truly are…they don’t get better when I don’t pay attention to them. They get worst. They procreate and proliferate in darkness.They aren’t like a plant…they don’t go away or even die simply because they are not given light. Instead, they are like mold. They thrive in the dark and the damp crevices of ourselves. They grow and grow until in some way, they spill out into our lives, disrupting us in ways that are far more out of our control than our lack of transparency ever intended.
And so it seems, perhaps even more than or at least, just as much as we *need to connect* in areas of light and joy…we also need to intentionally take steps to connect and relate in our struggles, our dark parts– because inevitably, that which we hide, from ourselves and from others, shadows us from others…it blocks our ability to connect– not just with those around us, but ultimately, with ourselves.
In sharing ourselves, truly, we can receive the gift of freedom– freedom from fear of being found out, freedom from shame, freedom from our many layers of self-protection…and find freedom in how we view ourselves and others.
Because it is in the act of sharing that our realities are shaped. About ourselves. About others.
For light to spread through those cracks of ourselves and spill out onto the other.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mindful Parenting

I've been thinking a lot about mindfulness the last few weeks...about how, perhaps above all else as a mother, i want to mother lily in a mindful way...a way that takes a broad look at what is going on in her life, her little world-- and the ways in which what has occurred in my life-both now and in the past, affects the space between she and I. Because the truth is, that space right there? That is our relationship. Its made up of her stuff and my stuff and together, we make our own mother-daughter "stuff" (alright, it needs a more formal name...how about dynamic? : )

I guess that dynamic is why they say no two siblings have the same set of parents...because even if you're related by blood to your sister or brother, the reality is, your makeup and your parents' individual makeups, make up its own dynamic that is entirely different, based on the inherent traits (genes) and circumstances (environmental influences) affecting each person in that relationship at that very moment. Hence why once sibling can fully subscribe to a particular narrative about a parent...while the other sibling, even one close in age, has a totally different take on that parent, or a family story.

Its fascinating, really. The fact that our genes, while the same or at least similar, are so affected by circumstances and by that "dynamic" that it shifts our relationships entirely.

But the thing that I keep coming back to (differences in sibling narratives aside...as that is basically an aside!) is the power in being fully aware of my stuff...my baggage...my wounded areas...my strengths...the words or even subtle body language that can trigger some of my old hurts...and how that can so easily play out in an exchange without me being aware at the time that that's whats happening.

 This happens all the time in our marriage-- I'll feel hurt by something Sean has said or done-- and while sometimes it makes sense that I feel hurt- to a degree-- my reaction to him is totally disproportionate to what he has done. While I know enough about the brain to, in my better, colder moments (striking when the iron is cold...) to know that this is a reflection of much needed connection between different parts of my brain (I'll get into all of that at another time), more and more, I'm realizing those same parts of me that need attending to in order for me to develop a healthy relationship with my husband, need attention in order for me to craft the dynamic (and relationship) I want with my daughter.

As Dan Siegel ( one of my favorite authors on this topic-- and one of the leader neurobiologists on interpersonal neurobiology and mindfulness) says, "Mindfulness is at the heart of nurturing relationships. When we are mindful, we live in the present moment and are aware of our own thoughts and feelings and also are open to those of our children. The ability to stay present with clarity within ourselves allows us to be full present with others and to respect each person's individual experience" (from his book, Parenting from the Inside Out)

I love this idea because it demonstrates how paying attention to ourselves and our own experiences--actually processing them--doesn't slow us down (an "oh I'll just deal with this later" moment--or simply just dismissing emotions that a situation elicits) or inhibit us, but instead actually *frees* us to feel more connected to others. That if I pay attention to my present (my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences) I will actually *be* more present to those around me.

So, one of my calls for the new year, is to be more mindful. To set into place, spaces and time for me to attend to my stuff, past and present, to be more fully aware and present for the little peanut that needs me. Needs me to love her, needs me to hold her, needs me to sort out the world for her...needs me to pay enough attention to my stuff...in order to fully pay attention to her's.



Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Year...

So I'm not exactly sure how I feel about New Year's Resolutions...if I'm honest, I'm daunted by them because I'm afraid I won't be able to achieve them. If I'm also honest, I'm daunted by them before I even have gotten to their creation...what if I don't think of the right one? what if I think of one that's too hard? do I actually have to tell people? How do I create the perfect blend of achievable yet challenging...if life ultimately isn't about striving, do I really need to create a list of resolutions at all?

Then I think about the theme of this past year--doing the fearless thing. Scorning fear of "getting it right"...of not making mistakes...of overthinking...and feeling the freedom to just choose an option-- knowing there are hundreds of other options I *could* choose, but none of them will actually be perfect- and trying to be at peace with that reality. Choosing to decide and act simply because those actions alone challenge me to move more confidently in the world. To live as the beloved child that I am. Hmmm...I think I'm onto to something here...maybe 2012 will just have a repeat theme...maybe that's a resolution for life? That's a thought...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Thought

Since becoming a mother, so many aspects of my faith have shifted. Now that I have my own child...gosh, everything is different. To experience bearing a child...loving a child...failing my own flesh and blood by my own brokeness...sharing an intimacy and tenderness with this little one that I never knew possible...my world and my heart are forever changed.

By looking at my own child, I am often struck by what it means to be a child myself...a child of God. And as Christmas approaches, and Jesus' birth is near, I am amazed-and frankly, baffled at times, at God's boldness in sending His Son in the form of a child. This is the Lord of Heaven and Earth...He had to know what He was getting Himself into...and yet-- if He did, how could He have still chosen to do it? To send the Son of Man in the flesh of a little, tiny, helpless baby?!

So often I think I've sidestepped the reality of Jesus as a baby-- I've chosen to ignore His humanity and focus instead on the man that Jesus became--the Jesus of thirty-three years--Jesus on the cross. Jesus as a man-- yes, still God, but old enough to take care of Himself. Its so hard to believe that God sent Him in the form of a vulnerable, needy baby....that Mary, like any mother, felt her baby's flutters and then kicks...that Jesus, was always the Son of God, even as baby who perhaps wailed, just like my own child, to be fed, cleaned or simply to be held. Those cries, those needs, are not reflections of our broken world, but instead are simply the means by which children, even God, communicate.

When I think about this Father's choice to send His Son, I am baffled...humbled...perplexed...and in awe. How courageous. How trusting. How...divine. He sent His perfect creation into a world of imperfection-- of parents and friends and neighbors who He knew, without a doubt, would fail and hurt this child and then the man by the reality of their (and creation's brokenness (Jesus being left at the temple, anyone?)

How vastly different God must be to be able to operate in this way...to trust that all would not be lost with this Gift. And how much He must love us to make it all worth it.




Merry Christmas.