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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

‎It used to be important to me to appear effortless.

You’ll notice is said ‘appear’ effortless because let’s be at least a little bit honest, I know enough about myself and my life to know it will never actually be effortless so instead I attempted to strive for the appearance of it.

I think it’s always been there, in the back of my head, don’t look like you’re struggling, don’t look like you can’t handle it, and certainly don’t ask for help.

And then, when I became a mother it just multiplied to the tenth degree. ‎

Because what I was striving for was what (I thought) I could see in all of the other mothers around ‎me.

They made it seem so effortless.

They looked like they weren’t even trying. ‎

And that certainly wasn’t ‎what I looked like. So I tried and tried and tried and then slowly I began to realize that I was sick of it.

I’m not sure what changed, and it certainly didn’t happen overnight, but somewhere along the journey from new mother to not-so-new-mother, it grew exhausting to feel one way on the inside and appear another way on the outside.

And frankly, as the years went on and my struggles with motherhood, and honestly, all the other aspects of my life, continued‎, I knew I wasn’t doing a very good job at appearing effortless anyway. The input wasn’t really resulting in the output I had hoped for.

Recently my bestie turned me on to Brene Brown. I had heard of her before – if you know Oprah, you’ve at least heard of Brene – but had only gone as far as borrowing a book from the library and returning it three weeks later, still unread.

But something about now, about where my life and my head are now made me want to look a little deeper. That’s how I found myself sitting in the upstairs hallway of my house, watching the Brene Brown TedTalks on youtube, tears streaming down my face.‎

She talks (and writes) about a lot of things, a lot of really great, amazing things that have touched me and made me come to realizations about the way I am and the way I live and the way I think about things.  So many things that there’s no way I can, or would even try, to articulate them here.

What I will say though is that she has helped me realize things are a lot of work.  Life and parenting and mothering and relationships and friendships and having a job and wondering and wanting, it’s all a lot of work.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay that it is all a lot of work and it’s okay to show that you struggle with it sometimes – or all the time.

Because it’s in those struggles, and in the act of sharing those stuggles with other people, that the work becomes worth it.

So I’m done with hiding the struggles.  Done with pretending it’s not a lot of work.  Done with trying to appear effortless.

I wasn’t very good at it anyway.‎

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‎As has become something of a tradition here at the Palace, today I have put together my new year’s realizations for the year that has passed.

1) ‎There’s a time to battle and fight and push against, and there’s a time to stop fighting and let the tide take you where it will. There is a certain gentle ease to be found in letting the universe lead and simply sitting back and enjoying the ride.

2) Sometimes you just need to make a change – whether it’s good or bad is really irrelevant, it’s better just because it’s different. Different people, different places, different conversations, a different view – sometimes all of those differences can also help you to see yourself in a new light too.

3) ‎No one is as happy as they seem on Instagram, as witty as they seem on Twitter or as perfect as they seem on Facebook, so stop using these mediums as a gage of how you stack up. And also don’t use them to determine the realities of other people’s lives. You want to see what someone is doing, check out their feed, you want to see how someone is doing, give them a call, or better yet sit down across a steaming cup of tea and ask them. The reality is usually very different than it appears on the screen.

4) The things that are meant to last, will last, no matter the time or space or distance. They may take a bit of work but everything worth having is worth working for and when it’s meaningful, it doesn’t seem like work. On the other hand, the things that aren’t meant to last, the things for which the effort given greatly outweighs the rewards received, will drag you down if you let them. The biggest difficulty is looking at all of the things in your life and determining which category they fall in to.

5) You are stronger than you ‎think, and also weaker than you think. There will be times when you amaze yourself with your ability to handle difficult situations, and you will also be disappointed with your inability to deal with other situations. Be proud of yourself when you show strength, but also be gentle with yourself during the times when you huddle under the covers. You’ll do better next time, or you won’t, but either way you need to be your own biggest cheerleader.

6) The surest way to ruin any situation, activity, event or interaction is to go in with expectations. Even if you think those expectations are realistic (or even err to the side of low), they taint the way you see things from that point on. Go in with nothing. Go in with a clear head and an open mind and a willingness to take what comes and suddenly it’s infinitely easier to just participate rather than trying to mold things to fit what you thought they were going to be.
And on that note, I wish each of you a year in which you expect nothing, and are therefore pleasantly surprised by all that 2015 brings to you.

Happy New Year!

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‎I’ve been that lady.

That lady who bribes her kids with junk food.

That lady who “shushes” them when they ask questions.

The lady who lies and says “yes” when they ask “Mama, did you see that” because I actually didn’t see it because I was playing Candy Crush on the ipad.

The lady who cuts someone off in traffic and pretends it was an accident.

The lady who eats popcorn for dinner more than I’d like to admit.

The lady who pretends to be in the shower when relatives call.

The lady who wears clothes to the grocery store that toe the line between lounge wear and pajamas.

The lady who puts the kids to bed early if there’s ‎something on TV I want to watch.

The lady who looks at all I have and still wonders what might have been.

The lady ‎who used to see the things that other people did and though to myself “I’ll never be that lady.”

Until I realized I already am.

So now I don’t judge that lady, because I am that lady and she is me.

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‎Sometimes it’s helpful to be but one anonymous face in the sea of a big city. Sometimes there’s comfort to be found in the reality of being surrounded by hundreds of people who don’t notice, don’t realize, don’t care. Sometimes there’s relief in being able to hide, out in the open.

I was on a trip for work, my first such trip. It was exciting and new and frankly, all a little overwhelming. I was trying to be gentle with myself. I was trying to cut myself ‎a break and take the advice that I always give everyone else but seem to ignore when it comes to my own life. I was trying, but I was failing and I was feeling like it was another in a long line of failures.

I felt like I was treading water and losing the ability to keep my head above the tide. I’d gone from being the person other people went to for answers to the person who had nothing but questions. It was not a comfortable place for me to be.

I knew that this was the whole point. I knew that for too long my life had been lived firmly ensconced in my comfort zone. I knew that it was supposed to be unfamiliar and uncomfortable and awkward. But just because I knew it didn’t mean I liked it.

And it all seemed to hit me right there, in a McDonald’s at the corner of a busy city street, staring out the window with a half-eaten egg Mcmuffin (hold the meat) sitting on the table in front of me.

Dozens of people walked by the window, striding purposefully towards their destinations. They didn’t see me, didn’t even make eye contact, and for that I was grateful. It was nice to be ignored, to be left alone with my thoughts, my tears and my egg Mcmuffin.

I gave myself five minutes. Five minutes to wallow and feel sorry for myself. Five minutes to question the decisions I had made and the choice I thought had been made for me. Five minutes to wonder if I would ever again have any of the answers.

Change is hard.

I thought I knew all of the ways it would be difficult but I didn’t take into account being my own harshest critic. No one around me was expecting more of me, except me. No one around me had unrealistic expectations of me, except me. No one around me was being hard on me, except me.

It took five minutes to understand the only one making it harder than it needed to be was me.

And then I told myself to suck it up and I wiped my eyes and finished what was left of my breakfast. I headed out and joined all the other people who knew where they were going.

One day I’ll feel like I know where I’m going again. One day I won’t have to think about it and I’ll have less questions and more answers. One day I’ll have the egg Mcmuffin without the tears.

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So here we go again, something that seems to have become an annual tradition here at the Palace, my new year’s “realizations.”  While others make resolutions about what they want to see happen in the new year, I find it much more helpful to look back at the year that has passed and examine the lessons I have learned (or should have learned) from the last 12 months.

1) Tears don’t fix things, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable.  They don’t solve problems or heal wounds or right what has gone wrong but sometimes they help.  They help wash away the pain for long enough that I can get up off the floor and get back to what I’m supposed to be doing, even if just for a short period of time.  Don’t fight the tears; they come for a reason.  They come when the pain is too much to keep inside and it needs to be released.  Embrace the tears, welcome them and appreciate their purpose.  Let them come, and when they’re done, wipe away what’s left and go on.

2) I have no idea what’s going on in other people’s minds and guessing just makes things worse.  It’s hard enough to figure out my own motivation for doing things, let alone trying to guess what makes other people tick.  I assume I know you, I assume I know what you’re going through and how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.  But I don’t.  I don’t have a clue.  I don’t know any of it and trying to guess is unfair to you.  If you want me to know, you’ll tell me and then we’ll deal with it together.  In the meantime, I’ll be over here trying to figure out my own shit.

3) I’m tired of being sorry.  I’m tired of assuming that I should be sorry for things, even if I don’t specifically know what they are.  I’m tired of apologizing for things I don’t think are wrong.  So I’m not going to do it any more.  And I’m not even going to be sorry about it.

4) There is very little in the world that I can control so I need to stop thinking I can.  I have spent a lot of time in the last 12 months thinking that if only I had done things differently, they wouldn’t have turned out the way they did.  Now I finally realize that I’ve given myself way too much credit.  I can’t control the universe or fate or karma or the thoughts and opinions of others.  I can barely control my own thoughts.  It’s time to stop thinking otherwise.  Maybe that will stop me from feeling like a failure most of the time.

5) Life is tough and it takes work, hard work, to get through it.  But at the end of the day it’s worth it.  It’s worth the hard work and the sweat and the tears and the back-breaking weight of it all.  Because there are moments that make it seem like not so much work after all, and that’s what I have to strive for; to push my way through the work to get to the reward.  And then to enjoy the reward when I get there and appreciate the work it took.  Even if it’s just for a moment, just for one breath or one giggle or one hug.  I will let those things fill me back up and give me the strength to get to the next one.  That’s what it’s about.

Now let’s just hope I can remember these lessons going forward, so that I don’t have to keep learning them over and over and over again.  Because I’m sure 2014 will have its share of things to teach me, whether I want to learn them or not!

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If only I could have 15 more minutes of sleep. Just 15 more minutes and I would be ready to face the day, and all the moments it holds. If I had those 15 more minutes I could be happy.

If only you didn’t say those words, in that tone, with that look on your face. If you would just take back those words and replace that look with a smile, then I could be happy.

If only I could find that library book, the one that’s due today. Why isn’t it right there on the table where I left it? If only I could keep track of the million pieces of my life, then I could be happy.

If only the kids would just do what I ask, when I ask the very first time. Put on their shoes when I ask, pick up their toys when I ask, go to sleep when I ask. If they would just listen, then I could be happy.

If only that thing that happened all those months ago didn’t happen after all. Then the memories wouldn’t run around in my head on a constant loop, over and over again, and then I could be happy.

If only I could get over it and move on like I’m supposed to. I know that’s what I should do, what I want to do, but I just don’t know how. If only someone would teach me how, then I could be happy.

If only tomorrow was Friday and not Monday. If only it was two weeks from now instead of this week. If only I could fast forward, then I’m sure I could be happy in that moment, as I can’t seem to be in this moment.

If only it were this time last year instead of this time this year. Then I could avoid all the mistakes, all the choices and decisions that led me to this spot. This spot where everything seems difficult and bumpy and foggy. If only I had avoided this spot, then I could be happy.

If only I knew where I was going, knew which path to take, which door to open, which question to answer. If I knew, then I could be happy.

If only things were different; not the things I don’t want to be different but everything else. If those things were different, then I could be happy.

If only everything that was wrong ended up being right, and the sun was shining and I was wearing the right shoes and the sunglasses that don’t rub my nose, then I could be happy.

If only I could stop letting all these little things in life get in the way, because life will always get in the way. Because I know happiness doesn’t come in place of all of those things, it comes in spite of them. I know that, but knowing and doing are two very different things.

If only I could.

If only.

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I have very few clear, distinct memories from my childhood. Some people can remember whole hours and days from when they were a kid, complete with what they were wearing and what they had for breakfast but I’ve never been like that. My memories more often take the form of snapshots, quick rememberings of a moment, a thought, a feeling, often lacking any kind of context or background. Let’s just say my memoir would be more photo album than epic novel.

That being said though, one of the things I do remember clearly is the very first time I had to wear glasses at school.

I was in Grade 6, just on the cusp of the pre-teen/teenage years. A time when I was starting to become conscious of anything and everything that made me different from those around me.

I knew I needed glasses, spent much of my time squinting my eyes so tightly that it’s a wonder I could see anything out of them at all. In a way I was happy to get them, happy to finally be able to see the board at school, the tv at home and all the other million things I was missing out on.

All of that aside though, I was terrified of actually having to put them on that first time in front of my classmates. Would they point and laugh? Would they call me names? What if I cried. Oh man, what if I cried?

I remember sitting at my desk for almost the entire day with them still tucked safely in their case. I kept psyching myself up, sliding my fingers into the case, telling myself that this time I would do it, this time I would actually take them out and put them on. And then I would chicken out.

I picked the glasses out with my mom and felt very grown up at the time. I thought they looked nice on my face and even tried to convince myself that I looked better with them on (although maybe that was just because now I could actually SEE myself). Looking back they were not the nicest of frames but, as it was the 80s, “nice” had a whole different meaning. They were round plastic frames that took up about three-quarters of my face and had a faint pink tint to them. Oh 80s, thank goodness you are gone forever.

And so I sat, hunched over my desk, face as low as it could get to the table top, sweaty hand deep inside the attached shelf, glasses sliding out of the case. I looked down, could see them sitting in my hand, now resting on my lap, just waiting. I took a deep breath, leaned down even further and put them on.

I remember it took a few minutes for anyone to notice. For a brief time I considered that maybe no one would care, maybe they would think I had always worn glasses.

Or no.

I don’t remember his name but I can see his face so clearly in my head. He looked up from his work and saw me, a smile spreading on his face. He pointed, he said my name and the words “wearing glasses” loud enough for those around him to hear. One by one everyone else in the class turned and looked at me. I wanted to crawl under my desk and hide. I wanted to take my glasses off and bury them deep in my desk where I would never have to wear them again.

My teacher quickly realized what was going on and spoke up, asking everyone to get back to their work. She passed me a quick smile. Some of my classmates continued to look up periodically, checking to see if I was still wearing them but essentially the trauma had passed. I had moved quickly from the group of people who didn’t wear glasses to the group of people who did.

When we found out last week that my daughter needed glasses, it was this scene from my childhood that went through my mind. Although we’ve known for a week, her glasses were only ready yesterday evening. Today will be her first day wearing them at school. No matter how much I wanted to protect her from it, she would have to go through that exact same moment without me. I sit here now, miles away from where she is and I imagine what she’s thinking in her head.

In my heart I know she will be fine. She’s so much more confident and outgoing than I was at her age. She’s no pushover; I know she will get through this. But I also know she’s just a little girl, trying desperately to fit in and be accepted.

I wonder if she’s hunched over her desk right now, trying to build up the courage to take the glasses out of her case and put them on. I wish I could see her; wish I could tell her it’s going to be fine. She would tell me I’m being silly, making a big deal out of nothing! but I know deep down her heart is beating a little faster.

I wish I could make it easier, but I know I can’t. She has to go through this one on her own. But tonight I will squeeze her a little tighter, hug her a little longer, because I know today will be one she’ll remember for always.

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