I sat down to write a blog post this afternoon, realizing a window of uninterrupted opportunity awaited me (while my son finished up Big Hero 6 for the 16th time) only to be struck by my inability to locate my most recent write. I was sure I wrote something of significance 2 days ago, certain I had jotted it down someplace…journal 1?…no…journal 2 perhaps?…nuh-uh…oh wait that was on my phone in the “note section” while I was listening to Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness” and making spaghetti sauce. (Oh man, so busted for lack of mindfulness while listening to an audiobook about mindfulness. My life oozes irony sometimes…like the chocolate peanut butter sauce I made for my ice cream sundae the other night, go big or go home bitches – that’s me.
My journey into imperfection continues and my organization begins to wane. Thus being unable to find the thoughts I had collected in a moment of what I thought was presence. I think it was in a way, presence, I mean…just imperfect awareness as my attention jumped from sauteing onions to concepts of connectedness, writing my own connections to connectedness and back again to adding oregano and rosemary…it was (according to husband and son – very discerning spaghetti critics btw) my best sauce yet. Days later, I was having a moment of doubt that I had hallucinated the entire writing part – as sometimes I do spontaneously write in my head and it never makes it to paper. So many muddled ideas lost and never blogged…lucky for you! I do write many things down in my many journals and use that as my editing platform, only posting what I really want to publicly put out in the world…the rest sits in between hard covers, at the very least, free from the constraints of my mind.
As the sauce simmered and Brene Brown narrated, this is was I wrote:
No vulnerability, no courage. I have been feeling courageous lately and knew it had something to do with my self-compassion work but couldn’t put my finger on it until she said, “no vulnerability, no courage” while referring to the importance of authentic connections. And this doesn’t mean thumbs up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram creeping.
My lightbulb blinked on…so this is why I have been more present and feeling an innate tug on my guts when I saw the man without socks and coat downtown yesterday. Or when I hugged the stranger with the I hate hipsters bumper sticker after his GMC Jimmy had been side-swiped in a hit and run. Or sharing a conversation and some money for groceries with the man outside Safeway in a motorized wheelchair with MS- who in turn gave me his name and offered his help if I ever needed anything? Or taking all my unused coats to the shelter instead of selling them on the local buy and sell for a pretty penny. Or why my Mom paid for the groceries of the couple in front of her the other day, when they were having trouble with their bank cards. With every conscious interaction of kindness, I distance myself further away from that old belief that I shared with my breath of bliss partner that night “I ruin peoples lives”. No I don’t. I may make mistakes but I am a good person as are all the people I have begun to notice who I bravely am drawn to connect with and they in turn, bravely accept my compassion. And many give out compassion in their own way, in this ripple effect of generosity.
My courage isn’t just reserved for strangers-which can somehow feel safer than your own family at times. I now (usually) possess the courage to be patient when my son is still awake at 8:50 pm because he saw an ominous shadow stretch across his half-lit ceiling, and then again at 9:15 pm when he heard a weird whistling noise (which in fact he did…it was the sound of Churchill having a stroke on The Crown – quite lengthy and scary for all involved – including my son). When he began scream- crying this morning in devastation, as I broke the news the winter concert was postponed a week because of the snow day and bus cancellations. I stayed with him and talked it through until he was ready to face the cruel world of meteorological injustice. This took courage to not be dismissive, angry and frustrated with a quick “get over it because life isn’t always fair” speech, but instead vulnerable and understanding in reflecting how his feelings were his truth.
Yes! He has big, giant emotions. And isn’t that great?! To feel them fully instead of shoving them back down his throat and holding his breath until they go away? Oooorrrr choking on them and allowing them to become later issues in the tissues (Thanks for that one Carla Wainright of Chinook Yoga!)
I also take peace in knowing when he is 15 he may not be scared or disappointed by these things anymore. And one day he won’t need (or want) my emotional holding and warm hugs anymore (single tear…). I am so grateful for his trust in allowing me to be there for him now. Because many times in the past I have abandoned his trust in exchange for ignoring (ignorance) and disapproval. It humbles me that he keeps trying to show me and teach me how to be compassionate – no matter how many times I forget – he’s still here, if not directly telling me with his words, indirectly with his actions. Giving me opportunities to choose kindness. Many times, in the most challenging of parenting struggles I identify a re-parenting of my own inner-child alongside my son. Realizing each time I tell him I understand, I am here for you, asking what do you need, I am also giving compassion back to the little 6-year-old girl inside of me.
With Valentines Day just around the corner, I challenge you to fill your soul or inner child, whatever you want to call it, with an act of kindness and compassion. There are unmet needs all around you and it is so easy to see, if you let yourself feel vulnerable. Be vulnerable, be courageous and make someone’s day a little better through an authentic connection. In turn, I promise, you will feel better too.