What a Mother’s Day

There are so many types of mothers with so many different dynamics of motherhood (the same is true for fathers, but I can write about them on Father’s Day…)

Each differs with so many circumstances and such individual journeys. I could list them all for the sake of being inclusive, but I tend to write about my own personal experience as it pertains to the current events I face.

My wish is to be heard in a way that others may find some comfort, acceptance or anything that might bring some insight, understanding or peace of mind.
This Mother’s Day I didn’t expect to be pampered, catered to, or cared for. In fact, for the first time in my life this day was filled with my very own constant comparison of me in contrast to all the amazing mothers being acknowledged. Although I felt genuine joy for them, I caught myself thinking: “Well, I didn’t do that, I didn’t say that, I wasn’t that, I didn’t give that, I didn’t take that, I didn’t teach that, I wasn’t there for that, etc. . .”
I had great difficulty recognizing that I am ‘overall’ a great mom… or am I?


Clearly, I got myself stuck in seeing only the mistakes I’ve made. This only happens when my relationship to any of my children is strained. Right now, my precious daughter is seriously hurt and angry with me. And she has every right to be. I can list the Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve stories to create a clear picture, but I won’t this time.

Truth is I’ve been in her place. (She hasn’t been towards me the way I was towards my mother in many ways…I’m referring to her level of hurt and disappointment)
I was stuck in constant complaints about how I was not getting my mother to love me in ways I needed her to. I judged her harshly, stayed away from her many years, blamed her, shamed her, and rejected her. She said and did things I was in complete disagreement with. I fought her and yelled at her. We had our share of conflict and I kept her ‘guilty’ of all of my difficulties. At least until I learned to see myself and own my own struggles.

I have been on this self-discovery journey since my divorce 10+ years ago and up until just a few years ago did I begin to open myself up enough to see my mother’s innocence. Looking back, I can remember my mother loving me in her very own unique ways. Love is powerful and forgiveness is freeing, but compassionate acceptance brings a level of peace that can heal the deepest of hurts.

I’m now at a point in my life where I’m learning (the very hard way) to allow my daughter to find her own way of becoming the adult she wants to be. I pray that the right guidance finds her to help her along the way. May she one day be open enough to see how much I’ve loved her and how much I’ve cared. Especially in those moments when I gave her what I thought she needed.


Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mothers I admire, love, and appreciate.

May the rest of the moms who have made mistakes, learned some lessons, continue to make more mistakes to continue learning and growing, find comfort in remembering that we were loving enough to give birth to these children who have loved us through our abilities, disabilities, struggles, hurts, gifts, habits, and talents. May our journey lead us towards more compassionate self-acceptance.

Hello,  My name is Carmen and I’m a recovering “beat myself up-olic”.

“You are a wonderful mother. You love your kids. You care. You have done countless wonderful things. Don’t allow short-term relationship issues to cloud your entire time as a mother!” Dan S.

I choose…Again

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After a very simple paragraph (from the book The Magic Lamp by Keith  Ellis):

“Figure out what you really want – Not what you’re supposed to want, not what someone else wants for you, but what in your heart of hearts want for yourself” (the voice of mental/emotional turmoil)

After realizing in sadness how easy it was to come up with what I do NOT want (the voice of disapproval)

After allowing my ego to scare me, judge me, question me, deceive me and confuse me (the voice of self-doubt)

After feeling what can be felt when the possibility of disappointing a few or many; mostly those whose faith in me has been immeasurable (the voice shame)

After forgiving myself for saying ‘no’ to or not fully stepping into teaching amazing parenting classes that I’ve been fully capable, qualified, experienced, and prepared to teach ~ which I was driven to by deep love for the vision and intentions of the authors/directors/creators of such healing information and my wish of wanting to make a difference~ (the voice of truth)

After a battle with truths I’ve known, forgotten or ignored (the voice of denial)

After reading many books, some cover to cover, others a paragraph/chapter or two (the voice of self-knowledge)

After so many courses, workshops, classes, interactions, mentorship, and connections; (the voices of guidance, compassion, and insight)

After many experiences, mistakes, lessons learned (or not), have lead me to this point (the voice of life’s journey)

After so many other questions that gave me plenty of opportunities to practice breathing into my heart some more; (the voice of fear)

After asking myself the blessed question above and adding a plea for divine guidance as to what step to take next; (the voice of movement)

After consulting in silence, my heart, my Soul/Spirit; quieting the noise and allowing God to speak to me; (the voice of Divinity)

   

  Something begins to surface. Among other phrases surrounding my integrity and staying open to “be true to yourself”, or “tell the truth”, one soft, gentle, persistent, two-word phrase became clear:“Sing more”

After I’ve resisted plenty, excused it more, diminished it enough, questioned it some more, denied it many times. And in the pacing back and forth of my rational thinking, the consulting with those I trust, the taking it apart and putting it back together, the feeling the fear of what it would take for me to actually listen to it, and the memory of how I feel when I do sing…

“Sing more” continues to come to me.

Truth is I haven’t read the next chapters of the book I mentioned. I confess I feel scared to flip the pages because those chapters include insights about facing habits in taking action, managing progress, discipline, persistence, etc… Most of which I’m sure I’ve heard before and I could’ve learned/practiced more of in my past endeavors. Especially the parenting classes I’ve loved so much.

Now, or (again), I take one step at a time and make more room for faith in the unknown and the illogical.

So what ever happened to God’s dream for me? I’m still listening to it…

Am I staying on purpose? As long as I intend to live a wholehearted life, yes, I am.

Am I following my ‘passion’? I most certainly am; One of many.

Am I making a difference? If I’m willing to see myself in others and connect through love,   I am. I am after all, work in progress…

“Sing more” Hmmm, How can that be a valuable contribution to the world? I haven’t figured that one out yet. What I do know is that love songs and I connect in unexplainable ways. If the voice of love wants to come through me, I’m willing.

I have no clue where this choice is taking me. Is it definite, temporary, or just curiosity to see where it goes? Or am I just looking to fill a void/heal other hurts that will then lead me to create something else? Again, I don’t know. Life has taught me to keep choosing, keep breathing, and keep moving.

I’ve experienced enough to know that certainty has been more overrated that most of us care to admit. Life brings many opportunities to feel fear, hurt, sadness, anger, and much joy. And since life is filled with possibilities, everything and anything is possible; especially when love is at the core of the choice.

  
I choose…again.

I am here now. And for someone like me ~ with tendencies of self-doubt, please others, self-sabotage, diminish efforts, be hard on myself ~, that’s quite an accomplishment! and I didn’t get here by myself. My connection to other magnificent Souls sustains me. I am clear that who I am and what I do affects others. I’m just one small ripple effect of others like me. Divinity is having its way with me and I’m ok with that.

Maybe it’s the full moon, or the energy from the lunar eclipse;

Maybe I’m just more open to allow divine guidance to soften the rough edges that have hurt those I love most along the way;

Maybe I’m just ready to show up in the world in a new phase of my life with a deeper understanding of true love even knowing that fear will always show up to confuse me or test me.

Maybe I’m just more willing to see and treat myself with more kindness, compassion, understanding, and acceptance;

Maybe in that awareness, I allow myself to see others with more kindness, compassion, understanding, and acceptance.

Or

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m looking deeply in the eyes of my 50th birthday…

Or maybe, just maybe,

I just want to sing more…

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It’s time to clean up. again…


So, the plan was that on my extra time off I would ‘take advantage’ and clean house. My idea was to get rid of stagnant energy that feels as if life is being sucked out of me. My vision was to take one item at a time and find a way to love it and save it, or dispose of it at the first sign of discomfort. The truth is that I didn’t really want to clean house. I just wanted to clear out my daughter’s room. The room assigned to her when we first moved in two years ago.So much has happened since…

It’s gone to be her room to her brother’s room, then to her brother and wife, and then back to her and her boyfriend (who was our visiting guest from Canada), to an empty room awaiting its next assignee.

Time and movement sort of stopped for a week.

I had in my mind a picture of pure love as I went through ‘the room’. The space my daughter left behind, felt empty. Again.

Only this time it feels as if so much sadness, resentment and blame are just sitting there waiting to be dealt with. That and a small dead rodent left to die in her cage. I didn’t expect to hurt for that one, but I did. I felt deep sadness as it represented my view of how much my daughter did not care. Of course, I’m aware that my view is far from being true. It’s just an easy judgment based on the effect of the current circumstances. She left, with her boyfriend, after I told her to leave shortly after our big fight. The details are irrelevant now.

Truth is, I was not happy looking for ways to turn myself inside out to accommodate her and alleviate her many discomforts. I was setting strong boundaries, I lost my temper, she lost hers and everything exploded, again. Her complaints about me seemed endless. My efforts to stay connected to her didn’t seemed good enough; being on the same page felt harder than ever. My guiding skills were not wise enough. Our communication or lack of it was ever so clear. Our disconnection from one another started long before I realized it.

I made many mistakes that seriously affected her. At times I was ignorant. At times I knew better, but was dealing with my own struggles. I can’t fix those mistakes and I’m not sure I have learned everything from them. That uncertainty tells me that I can potentially make the same mistakes again and again; at least until I heal the parts of me that keep me blinded or stuck.

That uncomfortable sensation of feeling unworthy is what all of us humans struggle with; so I’ve heard. Self-acceptance is a task that requires continuous practice. The steps to take vary from person to person. It’s no secret that’s a battle I struggle with it. And I am certain my daughter battles it, like everyone does. It’s such a devastating trick for me to differentiate between her battles and mine; to recognize which ones to take on and which ones to let her fight for herself.

Beating myself up is a nasty habit I’m slowly learning to do without. Feeling guilty seems to burden or paralyze any possibility for repair. Repairing my relationship with her is possible if both our hearts are open to it. I am committed to loving her through her own life’s choices. My love for her is strong and solid. So are the limits and boundaries I set for myself. A healthy way of enforcing limits continues to be a challenge for me. I am, after all, human. It is not an excuse for my behavior. I just know it to be the simple truth.

I’ve not reached a level of enlightenment that makes me immune to emotional or mental distress. I do have the tools the help me cope, how to keep my cool, how to respond, how to keep a sense of self-control, how to leave a difficult situation and return later to resolve it. There are plenty of how to’s. Yet, it’s pretty crazy to see how all that knowledge and wisdom can disappear in just one second.

 

The most common thing to do is to judge me, shame me, punish me, or justify me by blaming her. Point out all the areas where I could’ve done things differently or where she could’ve avoided my reaction. I don’t know if any of that is called learning anymore. If in this journey I get to choose self-acceptance and learn to recognize my own self-worth, then I’m on the right path. I’m beginning to discover that as I will fall hard (again and again), I also get to feel the effect of my very own actions. And I have the freedom to choose to get up again. And do it again, and again, and again. Whether I learn, forget the lessons learned, or not. I want to stay curious, open, and willing. I want to notice my behavior, my shortcomings, my struggles, and growth.
I am not a perfect mother. (She once asked me to stop trying so hard to be one). That was a relief until now. Truth is I’m just her mother. I welcomed her into my world. I gave her the best I had, the best I was, and the best I could. She needed more or she needed different. Everything I gave or not, affected her. She needed things I could not give her. She wanted things I chose not to give her. And then, I love her deeply, still. And I know she loves me too.

 

I face the fact that I am not a perfect anything! I’m not great at so many things. I don’t need to be. I don’t have to be. I’m not interested in leaving some memorable legacy behind. My need to prove myself, to get attention or gain acceptance, to not be judged or avoid being shamed, is slowly diminishing.

 

As I learn to focus on how much I love and how deeply I care, I feel my own resistance. I have awareness around how great my capacity to love is. I also feel scared to death as I feel the effects of: the greater the love, the deeper the hurt.

 

What does any of this have to do with ‘cleaning house’?

 

Well, as I contemplated where to start, I felt my heart ache. My chest hurt and my breathing was agitated. I chose to just sit, breathe, and feel. ‘Cleaning house’ was my attempt to avoid feeling. Getting busy was an easy escape from the turmoil of emotions that show up at my continuous thoughts of my daughter. In the past, I would’ve taken all the discomfort and turned into energy. This place would’ve been cleaned in less than 2 hours. And I would’ve also turned into an impatient bitch not allowing my son to rest from his night shift job and creating chaos by complaining about how messy this place was.

 

I did something different today. I recognized my sadness and chose to feel it. I still don’t like it, I’m still resisting, and I’m writing about it. The room will get cleaned, eventually. For now, with this experience and my wanting to clean up I’m able to see how we can make a mess in life and then we have an opportunity to clean it up, or not.

As for me, this is progress in self-acceptance. This is a step in the direction of kindness, love, compassion, and forgiveness for me and my daughter, even if and especially when I make choices that create distance and hurt between us.

As for my daughter, well, let’s just say that we do mirror each other. We are so different and so much alike. My intention is that in whatever life she chooses and wherever life takes her, that she knows that I love her deeply and my heart remains open for her ALWAYS.

The Work I Do and Who I Am. . .


The thought “the work I do and who I am” came to me during a meditation. Ideas come and go flowing in and out of my own curiosity. The work I do…Is that who I really am?

Truth is, I’d been feeling conflicted with what I call my day job, the way I find myself expanding towards what I believe to be the work I was born to do, and the stories in my head about time, space, and obstacles/challenges I so easily share with others, as if looking for acceptance, reassurance or reminders that I am on the right track. As if wishing for someone to just give me the magic phrase that would make it all seem less scary and motivate me in moving forward confidently.

It’s interesting how job titles can so invisibly identify a person as if that’s really who they are. In my case, I’m known as the front office clerk for an elementary school. The job description uses ‘professionally vague’ words that detail my job duties, responsibilities, and expectations of the position. It also includes an open phrase often used by many employers: “other duties as needed”. Which for me, it means that I’m required to do other work not clearly listed. Most of my 8 hr day is spent doing plenty of the non-disclosed ‘other duties’. Depending on what I’m working on, I can be seen as the ‘wonderful front office lady’ or ‘the mean attendance lady’. Of course, the minimal part of my day is spent doing cool things, like greeting little ones as they walk in the school, helping them with lunch money, comforting them when they’re in trouble or when they go to the health office (because we all know that they’d rather be there than the classroom!), and appreciating their pure love that in spite of their apparent mischievous look brought out by their stressful daily routines, I manage to feel and see.

I’ve resented the fact that I put myself in a position to serve a system so inconsistent with the values I’m learning to live by. I have felt powerless too many times. I have spoken up many times. I have been shut down, ignored, and reprimanded for not being willing to go with ‘the norm’. I’ve been a rebel and I have paid the price through rejection, judgment, or exclusion. I’ve been sent to my desk to “focus on my work” as I attempted to stand up for or comfort a child. Maybe in those moments, my tone, my rage, or the mama bear in me can be modified; Maybe.  If I give myself a title that describes part of who I am, I dare call myself a child advocate.

As an overworked office clerk, I’ve been unhappy, resentful, and full of complaints. Complaints about ‘the system’, complaints about the pay, complaints about people I work with, complaints about the lack of support or the micro management,  complaints about the work in general and the unfairness of it all. I have found so much to complain about, I’ve put myself in overwhelm mode. I’ve kept myself limited and stuck. I have so freely chosen to be a victim of circumstances.

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Why not just quit?! You may ask…
Well, I certainly have many stories to justify that too, but the truth is that I’ve gotten comfortable blaming everything and everyone else. It’s just the easiest thing to do! Is it helpful? not at all. It has given me however, the opportunity to see how I’ve been misusing my own power. I have been fighting against a system that hasn’t worked for a very long time instead of fighting for a wholehearted offering in my contribution of who I really am.
Something about quitting a job feeling like a victim does not feel right at the very core of me. I’m not ok walking away feeling powerless and weak. I’m not ok leaving without the experience of joy and gratitude for knowing that my efforts made a difference in someone’s life. I’m not ok leaving without first considering appreciating myself and my own efforts in any position, place, or environment I find myself in. I’m not ok running away feeling ungrateful, bitter, or disconnected. I know that the truth is that my tendency to blame and complain will follow me wherever I go (God knows it’s been with me this far). I’m not ok going anywhere with an unhelpful belief system. I am staying where I am.
My position has a purpose. I am willing to stay for as long as I have a daily opportunity to look into a child’s eyes. That, to me is purpose enough (at least until I get really good at creating stories in my head that help).

What about the parenting classes I signed myself up to teach? Those continue to wait for me. They know that where I am right now is clearly part of my ‘preparation’. How long will it take? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am learning to pace myself nice and steady. I have one foot in my day job and one foot in the direction of God’s work for me. I am willing to stay that way until Divine force moves me towards where I must go.

As I tend to pray for miracles, I remember that shifting my perception is an actual miracle.

The work I do and who I am are innately connected to my own self-awareness. Looking back at my job history, I can see how I’ve expanded my ability to be different. My way of being has shifted through the years and with it changed the line of work. I remain open and still because I know that something bigger than my own comprehension is actively happening. I take small action steps in the direction my heart leads. I’m looking deeper in areas where I can be of real contribution regardless of the job description. If only to remember that I am so much more than the work I do.

and I think of you…still

your heart and my heart
How can I not?
My experience of your kiss
And the texture of you touch
Left an implanted memory of
How I felt with us.

And still I think of you…
Reminiscing your breath
And exhaling your embrace
Caressing moments gone
Embracing what remained
Your love is still in me
My love fills your pretends

used to

And still I think of you…
Remembering I want you
Connect me in your distance
Because we know you want to
Assure me of our existence
We are energy infused
By so much more than memories
Dreams we did not unfold

And still I think of you…
Just because it’s so
We’re meant to not let go
The feelings with no words
The words best left alone
So freely understood
The space of you in me
The me in you belongs

in all the wrold

And still I think of you…
Because our time did pass
This love remains untouched
Our journeys matter not
Our actions set the course
Both paths keep staring back
Because the ‘we’ we wanted
Enjoys the ‘we’ we had

And still I think of you…

Vulnerability…a deeper truth?

  
“VULNERABILITY is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for…”
I don’t remember where I heard that. Was it Oprah?

I woke up hearing those words one day. Maybe I read them somewhere? Divine guidance or answered prayer?

I suppose it’s time I seek the truth in them. After looking up “vulnerable”in the dictionary, I thought: “OH HELL NO!!”(I won’t even include its definition here. You’ll have to look it up)And the only synonym that is more aligned with what I think the phrase is referring to, is “openness”. Every other description leaves me with a horrendous feeling about it. 

If that definition were true, How can it be ‘the birthplace of everything we are hungry for?!’ I don’t know…

What I do know is that we tend to stay away from vulnerability. The dictionary’s definition helps me see why. I think.

We appear to be more willing to miss out on the most marvelous heart/soul experiences or give into our justifiably logical stories (of the circumstances around us), than taking a stand and identifying what is really important or worth holding onto. Tending to what we’re really “hungry for”.

In relationships, my learning revolves around wanting to stay open and willing to being vulnerable. The connection…

Although we are all connected by the same needs, wants, desires and fears, we are also connected by our common ‘hunger’. Our deep longing to love and feel loved by others and our special someone.

I think both men and women continually and equally long for that special connection. We tend to find ourselves in the excitement of the beginnings, the learning and the discovering of the likes and dislikes of one another.  Staying away from words like ‘love’ in order to protect some part of our heart that doesn’t want to risk feeling pain. Maybe to also avoid being held accountable for some level of commitment or integrity in the relationship.  Or, using the same word to mask some attachment that has more to do with fear than anything remotely close to love.

Then, the disappointment of an ending, when either one or both choose to walk away. Followed by grieving the loss of some illusionary idea of how so many possibilities are no longer options.  

We attract people that give us opportunities to learn if we want to remain open and feel genuine joy as we face parts of ourselves we are not fully accepting or aware of, or remain protected, guarded, and safe, allowing for a relationship that has no growth and goes nowhere. 

How vulnerable am I willing to be? I don’t think this can be measured. I either open my heart or keep it closed. I used to be really good at controlling how much of my heart I’d expose, but I found very little joy in that, and I was mostly disconnected from those closest to me. 
The more I learned to allow my heart to speak and express the truth of who I am, the bigger the risks I started taking. 
I’ve certainly set myself up for plenty of mistakes (what I now call opportunities for learning), and found that the more love I get to express or experience, the deeper the pain I expose myself to.

It’s so discouraging & uplifting, clear & contradicting, safe & dangerous! I can’t have one without the other.
I especially cannot express my true Self if I remain closed and guarded from hurt. I’d have to come up with fake or superficial ways of being that would help me get by with some simple survival skills. That would lead me to minimal connection or fulfillment. 

I know! I’ve been there many times!!

  
It’s ever so tempting to say “the Hell With Love” who would want to expose themselves to ANY level of pain?

Well, if vulnerability truly is the birthplace of all we hunger for, then I want to be courageous enough to remain vulnerable. Especially in the face of sadness, disappointment, or any other emotional discomfort.     

I hunger for the experience of going deeper into my being.  I hunger for certainty as I express my heart with truth and clarity; when I speak, when I sing, when I write, when I interact with others.  I hunger for my focus and commitment to take action steps for opportunities where I make a difference. I hunger for the moment when I get to fall in love deeply with the right man for me. I hunger to hold on to those who reciprocate what I give of myself in equal measure. I hunger for the strength and courage it takes to choose to love those who can still diminish my dreams, my vision and my passions.   I hunger to get really good at being present in accepting that every experience is helping me remain true, real, vulnerable. 

What encourages you to be Vulnerable? What do you hunger for?  

You Arrived…You Are Here, a true daydream

You arrived…In a moment when endings were being blessed with new beginnings. And the birth of time and distance coincided. In the bliss of all surprises we connected…you are here.

You arrived…Just as my peace of mind settled into acceptance of many what if’s. When my letting go and faith came to terms with the unknown. As if the strength of the ground we stand on is now ready to sustain what we’ve both been longing for…you are here.

You arrived…Just as I breathe in my dreams to have you and breathe out my open arms to receive you. As if every second counted because the waiting of the moment to finally touch you was indescribably long… you are here.

You arrived…And the memories of  eyes meeting once or twice made it clear that we were headed here. As if the exhaustion prepared us for the restful moments we are meant to enjoy together… you are here.

You arrived…Filling many hearts with joy because your presence was patiently awaited for. When open arms ached for your embrace and the freedom of the cool breeze was also ready to touch you…you are here.

You arrived…If only to awaken the truths we put to rest for the right moment in our sharing to come alive. Or was it so that I could easily identify the certainty of who you are? you are here.

You arrived…And found me in the middle of my very own work in progress. When my self-doubt still shows up and my determined dreams comfort me. When the passion of your soul is the energy that draws me to you…you are here.

You arrived…Affirming that my wishful thinking and my biggest fears have nothing to do with what is true for us. Confirming that the path I’ve been walking on was in agreement with yours… you are here.

You arrived