Monday Musings on Writing and on Being

I have been writing since I was a child; I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a notebook next to my bed. I’d wake up in the middle of the night to record my dreams. I wrote plays and forced my friends to perform them (I was a very demanding director, I hear…). When I wanted to learn Spanish, I started writing short stories in Spanish. I learn by writing things down. I think in written words. Writing is who I am, or who I should be.

Why is it, then, that I stopped? I still have a notebook by my bed (albeit an empty one). I still think in words and revel at the sound of them, at the glorious way they are spelled: that two or three or four sounds come together in just such a way. I love imagining what different people understand as they hear words, and trying to fashion them in such a way as to create a replica of my image in their head, however difficult and futile an intention. When I meet new people, I create elaborate background stories about difficulties they might have faced or the unique lives they’ve led up until this point or imagine in depth characters and dream about the stories I could insert them into. Yet I never write them down anymore. I never go beyond the dreaming phase.

My father has always imagined me his child of action. He tells me I’m the business mind in our family, whereas my brother is the artist and the creative spirit (the latter is true). He tells me I’m strong and determined and can do anything I set my mind to. All of this may be true of my character, my real character, hidden deep inside. However, I haven’t actuated many of my true goals. I don’t commit 100% to anything that I do. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t even committed myself fully to my family and my life.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my children – and my husband – with the depth and breadth of my very being. I would (and do) live and die for them. But those are the easy things. They came out of my body, small, needing me, pure souls with eyes that could break right through me. The hard part is committing day to day to be there for them 100%. To get up in the morning the way (and at the time – meaning, early) that is best for them, to set my husband up for success in his day and to give all of them my full attention and being when we are together.

Of course in this modern world of mobile phones, iPads and constant news chatter, there are few that even think of being so mindful in their daily interactions. But this is where suffering comes from (at least, according to that Buddhist CD my mom gave me…). The days, even the small moments, I choose to give my all – to anything, even cleaning (without the TV on or the news or anything else), that’s where joy lives. That’s where I feel connected to my children, my husband, my friends, my neighbors and more importantly, to myself.

And in those moments, it flashes back to me. No matter what I’m doing, even if it has nothing to do with that moment, my soul whispers, “I want to write. I want to be a writer. I am a writer.”

Of course, that scares the crap out of my head and my heart and I instantly start to think about all the ways I’d do it wrong (as if that’s a thing – writing wrong?), all the ways I’d fail, all the ways people would judge what I wrote and all of the ways I’d be lacking, always lacking. Why is it that our consciousness believes that in order to protect our tender souls, it must push us away from being who we truly are? From what we truly desire?

It is a lie that one can fail. There is no such thing as failure, or success. There is only doing. There is only joy and fear.

I am always, constantly, daily tired of living in fear and I am always, constantly, daily afraid of letting go of my fear. Yet this too is because I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’m afraid I won’t let go of my fear properly. I’m afraid it will come back (it will) and that this will mean I can’t do it (it doesn’t). When in fact, I did do it, it just came back and I must do it again. Constantly. Every moment. I must do it again, until it too, just like living in fear is now, becomes habit.

“Yet,” my brain says, “how tiring it will be to be so vigilant, to constantly be aware and mindful of your thoughts. To have to stop yourself and reprogram your mind. Aren’t you tired already, just thinking about it?” However, I’m already doing that. My mind is so vigilant that even when I’m asleep, if I try to let go, it grasps ahold of me, sometimes even waking me up to make sure that I don’t let go of my anxiety and my fear. To ensure that I am always aware of it. That is tiring already. So, why does it matter if this would be tiring also? Exhausted with a purpose and all that jazz.

I have a home now. A beautiful home, surrounded by trees and covered in their fallen leaves. My children pick them up and excitedly show me the colors, in awe of what they’ve just created by their finding. In the morning, we wake up and gaze out the window to see deer wandering through the leaves, eating the grass underneath.

I have friends. I have kindred spirits who make my heart burst with happiness just to think of them. People that truly love me and want me in their lives because of the unique joy I bring.

I have a husband who loves me and chose to live his future with me, combining our lives into one family, one shared experience. Yet I doubt this. Constantly. I fight with him to make him prove how he loves me, as if our life isn’t daily proof. As if his going to work in a job he doesn’t like in order to support our family isn’t proof. As if his living in America and always making the best choices for our family isn’t proof. As if his care and love for his children isn’t somehow connected to me always and isn’t proof. I committed to him, yet I didn’t accept that commitment, either by him or by myself. I am still holding back in order not to get hurt. But were anything to happen to our relationship, to our family, to our love, I would be devastated. So it didn’t work; I haven’t protected myself at all.

Years ago, after I was hospitalized for an overdose, I made the tentative decision to choose life. I asked for help. I “got better”. Now, and ever since, I grow. I change. I better myself. I strive. I take my medication. I want to live. Yet, I never committed fully to that choice either. I chose to live, but I didn’t choose to live in joy. I didn’t chose to let go of everything that was holding me back. I’m striving and seeking to better myself blind, with my hands tied behind my back. Of course it feels hard. Of course it’s a daily struggle. If I just release my binds, my life would soar, I would soar.

A therapist I came to trust once told me it was like flipping a switch. I didn’t believe him at the time because if it were that easy, why wasn’t I already doing it? Why wasn’t everyone doing it? I don’t really know how to continue the metaphor, but I believe there is some truth to it being that easy in theory, it just must be done over and over again in every moment until it’s habit. Because my thinking now, my deliberately turning the switch off the moment any glimmer of hope creeps in, is a habit. One that is harder to break than the drugs, harder to quit than cigarettes.

“Live mindfully” has become as common an expression as any (at least in the circles I run in), but it’s rarely talked about what that actually means. Or how hard it actually is to start. Imagine how hard it is to quiet your mind the first time you try to meditate? That’s what living mindfully is like, except every second of the day. Every second you must silence the chatter that your brain is feeding you and calling your own voice. Yet you must do it without a struggle, or else it is just your brain fighting with itself, and that is not actually being mindful at all.

So, here I am. Sitting by my window with a cup of coffee on this cold, dreary, rainy Monday morning and I’m writing. I’m not thinking. I’m just writing. So, that’s a start.

Advertisements

My Happy Place

I went to Bikram today for the first time in ages. In fact, I think I’ve been a total of twice since I became pregnant with the boy (in 2011). However, even though it’s been about four years since I’ve been and even another year or so before then since I’ve been regularly, it still felt just like coming home.

I was so nervous before – worried about everything from the way I look in my yoga pants to passing out or throwing up in class. The latter didn’t happen and though I didn’t look the way I did the last time I went to class, right when I entered that room and looked at myself in the mirror, all the judgement escaped. I realized that those are the only times I ever feel that way. I’m always so hard on myself, constantly critical. Until, that is, I’m standing in front of a huge mirror with myriad other people in various levels of undress. It’s a bit odd, but I seriously just found my people.

Now, however, I have a headache and I’m really sore.

I can’t wait to keep going and I can’t wait to start feeling that sense of peace within myself outside of the yoga studio and for longer amounts of time. I desperately long for it. Though I feel slightly trepidatious, I also feel pretty excited.

New Year, New Me?

So, it’s been awhile. What’s new, you ask? Well, we moved to the US. Finally! I’ve now been through all the stages that a move like that brings with it, starting with absolute joy, spiraling through rage and depression (mostly surrounding health care frustrations and costs) and ending up with a bit of reality: confused, trepidatious and mostly, content.

We are here, in New Jersey and I’ve actually had to turn in my California drivers license to get a New Jersey one, which I think may be where most of the anger has come from.

We’ve been through quite a bit, actually. I wouldn’t really recommend moving across the world with a one year old and a three year old. It’s pretty stressful. I think my husband and I have taken the brunt of that stress, both individually but mainly as a couple. I’m not quite sure how that will play out, but I imagine it will take some work on our part.

But all that aside, like everyone else, I’m really just posting here to write out my resolutions. I think that not only do I need to focus on myself, but really, it just might be the best way to help my relationship with my husband as well.

So, here we go:

  1. Go to yoga at least twice a week (thanks to my mother, who is paying for Bikram as a Christmas present)
  2. Hit my step goal at least four days a week (10,000 steps a day)
  3. Kiss my husband intentionally at least once a day
  4. Blog once a week – hopefully with more care and attention than right now (I’m watching Notting Hill – it’s been a long holiday and an even longer weekend).

I shall write again next week – or hey, maybe sooner – and update on my progress. I’m starting yoga tomorrow and am very excited about that.

The Battery Saga Continues

IMG_1147
After all was fine and he was waking up from the anesthesia

When my son was nine months old, he swallowed a disc battery. I had seen it the day before, sitting menacingly towards the back of the cabinet under the bathroom sink and thought to myself, “I must remember to get that”. Of course, we had child locks on the cabinet, but my son was some sort of super baby and could open them (He could also open the baby gate that was guaranteed until two years old…). That morning, having completely forgotten about the battery, I was washing my face and turned for about two seconds to dry my face on the towel hanging on the back of the door. I turned around and slow motion ensued: I could hear myself shouting “no” for far too long and it felt like it took a year to take the two steps necessary to get to where he sat, happily staring me straight in the eye as the battery slipped into his mouth.

For a split second, I was relieved. “Phew,” I thought, “He didn’t choke. He swallowed it”. Then, realization. He swallowed a battery. That can’t be good. Then I did the worst thing a mother can do in any situation ever: I Googled it. If you are reading this and you are a new mother, please, take this advice: Never. Google. Anything. Ever. Seriously, get someone else to do it. I’ve since had my mom look things up for me, or my husband even. It’s not worth the stress. Within two entries, I was sobbing on the floor and holding him, imagining the battery turning on and electrocuting him from the inside (which, apparently is a real thing) or it having gotten stuck on its way down and burning a hole in his esophagus (also, real).

IMG_1143
Baby boy drugged after procedure

In the end, neither of those things happened. But we did have to go to the hospital, where they drugged him, gave him an endoscopy and we had to stay the night. Looking back on it, it was the best possible way to end that scenario. The top endoscopist in the country even happened to be at the hospital that day, so he was able to perform the procedure. At the time, however, it seemed the scariest thing in the entire world. My husband and I clung to each other sobbing the entire day. I will never in my life forget the X-ray that showed us just how pressing of a procedure it was: the battery took up most of his stomach and looked monstrous in there.

So we obviously have gotten completely overly-protective and paranoid about batteries, right?

Ha.

IMG_1145
As he starts to get loopy from drugs

Fast forward two and a half years (more or less) to yesterday. I decide that it’s okay to go to the bathroom and leave my eight month old and three year old (the battery survivor) in their room just up the hall. I leave the door open and instruct the boy to come get me if she was bothering him, etc, thinking the worst thing that could happen would be the little one would grab his trains, he would scream and cry, possibly push her and they would both be crying upon my return. I was half right. He was playing trains and she did try to grab them.

The boy comes running into the bathroom saying, “Look! Thomas is broken!” and sure enough, his motorized Thomas the Tank Engine was broken. Not surprising, as the day before he had a few friends over and they discovered this lovely game of running up and down the hall shrieking as loudly as possible and throwing his trains. Then I noticed the battery was missing. “Oh no! Thomas IS broken,” I say, calmly, “But where is the battery?”. “Izzy’s eating it!” he exclaims, obviously finding it funny.

Panic. “Go get it from her!” I scream, “Go get the battery!”. The little genius runs to the kitchen and attempts to open the cupboard where we keep the new batteries (one of the last cupboards with a working child lock, thankfully). So I jump up (pants around my ankles, of course, because everything has to happen while mom is in the bathroom, right?!) and run to her. She’s happily crawling around at the end of the hall with no battery in sight. I search all around: nothing.

“Impossible”, I think to myself. After all, this isn’t a disc battery. This is a AA battery. She can’t have swallowed it. Especially without making any noise or gagging and throwing up. “Impossible”, I think again.

After repeatedly quizzing my son about what actually happened (who had lost all interest and was not even answering my questions in any coherent way), I promptly forget all about it until my husband comes home and I double check with him. “Impossible”, he says. I text my mom. “Impossible”, she says.

I relax on the sofa and forget about it. Until about 10:00 PM when she suddenly wakes up screaming, obviously uncomfortable. She is straightening her legs, kicking them out, screaming in pain and not nursing. All I can hear, besides her screams, is my little boy’s voice: “Izzy’s eating it!”.

And of course, I lose it. My husband is asking me what we should do and what I think, still declaring it impossible, and all I can think of is never seeing this little girl again. So I find out exactly how I handle a worst-case-scenario: horribly.

Still thinking it impossible, we call an ambulance (which seemed a bit much, but as we don’t have a car and taking the train seemed a bit too relaxed, it was our only option). At this point, of course, she stops screaming. And from the moment we call, through the entire ambulance ride, the check-up, the X-ray, and the taxi back home, she is happy as a clam, chatting away with the “hunky” EMTs (my husband’s word, though they truly were) and “dadada”ing her way around the hospital, waving to all and sundry. I’m pretty sure they all thought I was mental.

But I could still hear my son’s voice and so I just had to know for sure.

In the end, of course, it was nothing. We still cannot find this battery, but it isn’t inside her. At one point, though, when I told the doctor that my son had swallowed a battery before, I immediately regretted it, thinking he would instantly initiate an investigation with the German CPS and they would take my children from me because I was inept, incompetent – who has TWO children swallow batteries?

Well, thankfully, not me.

Like she just don't care...
Like she just don’t care…

Today is Just as Good as Tomorrow and Tomorrow is Just as Good as Monday 

 

This is not me. Nor is it a realistic portrayal of anyone actually meditating.
 
Read that title again. Bam. Mind blown, right? You’re welcome. And yes, you can quote me. 

Okay, so it didn’t really come from me and the idea isn’t completely unique, either. A friend who’s a personal trainer said it to me when we were talking about my exercise regimen. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I’ve since lied to her a few times about having accomplished said regimen, when in fact, I’ve done nothing. Though I haven’t reaped the benefits as of yet, what she said really stuck with me, and though I don’t recall her exact quote, it’s turned into what I’ve written in the title: Today is just as good as tomorrow and tomorrow is just as good as Monday. 

I’m pretty sure it has something to do with not being a perfectionist. Or not putting off things that are important. Or something. 

Like I said, this hasn’t yet inspired me to start exercising (Though, I will. I’m starting Monday. I kid, I kid.), but it has inspired me. Oddly enough, that and a post I read on Elephant Journal (I’m not going to link it today because I’ve already read my 3 free articles for the day. If I remember, I’ll come back and link it. It’s definitely better reading than this post.) has inspired me to start meditating. Now. As in, I just did. For all of 5 minutes. On a Tuesday. #winning

I’m embarking on a journey that has been long overdue and that has been on my mind for some time. My soul is not at peace. And I don’t mean the sort of peace that comes with enlightenment or anything. I mean, I am not okay. Im not okay with God, with life, or with myself. I don’t handle stress well. I’m having major physical problems and lack the will power to do anything to change what’s causing the problems. I’m impatient and out-of-control. And I’m spiraling. Furthermore, if I’m really honest, I don’t know how much more I can take. I haven’t actually thought about killing myself, as the idea of leaving my children without their mother makes me want to climb into bed with each of them right now and kiss every inch of their beautiful selves, but I know that those thoughts will come if I let this go on. I’m stuck in all the horrible traps that most people in this modern age are (according to any hippie magazine, at least): addictive behaviors, inflammatory diet, wallowing in negativity, excessive self-involvement/ego and anger. I’m angry at myself, at my husband, my son and daughter, my parents, my friends, strangers I pass on the street, but most of all, I think, I’m angry at God. 

So, I’ve been slowly working my way up to doing something about it. And I really do mean slowly. But that’s okay. Because today is also as good as yesterday, I hear. Okay, I’ve never heard that and just made it up, but I’m sure it’s also true. 

So here we go. 30 days of meditating. NO EXCUSES. No judgment, no expectations and no dogma (of my own invention). 

How did the first night go, you ask? Well, I’ve already learned one thing: the bedroom of your child who has a cold is not the best location to choose. Every sniffle and cough had me opening my eyes, no matter what I told myself about letting sleeping babies lie (Or something. I’m continuing with the cliché theme.). 

Beyond that, I felt a bit silly and yet really amazing for doing it. Just the act of sitting and straightening my back into proper posture felt like the promise of relief to come. 

I tried to delve into love. I realized, if I know what I’m missing – this joyful, unconditional true love that I can almost imagine, then that means I must have felt it before. Which means it’s real. Which maybe means God is real and perhaps He hasn’t abandoned me. 

Anyway, nothing too deep to report. I basically started writing this post in my head about 30 seconds in and kept trying to bring my attention back to my breath… But I sort of wish I hadn’t because what I wrote then is waaaay better than what I’m writing now. Regardless, I shall continue. For 29 more days. 

Not Monday, but tomorrow. 

Everything Will Be Awesome

So we recently watched The Lego Movie and I’ve pretty much had the song, “Everything Is Awesome” in my head ever since. Which, to be honest, isn’t so awesome. However, I’m feeling really pumped right now (and it’s a pretty good “feeling pumped” song) and I think it’s safe to say that while things have not changed much for the better as of yet, things are looking up up up.

We are moving. Yes, that’s right. Moving to an ENGLISH. SPEAKING. COUNTRY. Yes, I was yelling. That’s how excited I am. We’re moving to the U.S. in September; specifically, to New Jersey. I know it seems awful and cliche and like I’m setting myself up for failure, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to win at life once we move. We’re going to save money and possibly even buy a house! We’ve got quotes from lenders and everything! I’m going to exercise and everything will be fantastic.

Okay, I know it won’t be that easy, but it will be easier and right now, that’s huge. Because it’s been so hard for so long, I’m ready to give up. Except I don’t have to.

What I’m going to do, though, is start setting goals. During the week, I’m going to do one thing for myself every day. Saturday, I’m going to yoga (Starting this Saturday – Eek!!). One day (TBA), I will blog. Another, I will paint. The others will be exercise related. I will also stretch and clean every day for fifteen minutes each. No more, no less. Beyond, of course, the laundry and dishes.

What inspired this? Besides the fact that I’m “thinking” of doing this all the time? My husband said that we weren’t ready to own a house. And though he’s right, I want to prove him wrong. I want to be ready. I want to take my life back because I’m ready to have one and I finally have the opportunity.

More to come.