Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Anxiety is an Overpaid Middleman

You're probably wondering what I mean by that title up there. I tell ya, Folks, the soul-searching just keeps reaping more and tastier fruit.
I had never fully come to grips with my anxiety until after giving birth to Cedar. Sure, I knew I would get anxious and stressed, but it was relatively harmless because it was self-contained and my life still trucked along in a comfortable fashion. When I was anxious/stressed, I would get wound up, frustrated, nit-picky - but for whatever reason, it didn't bother me too much. Then baby came and the anxiety hit a peak that rattled my brain and nerves, and took away my oh-so-beloved sleep. Yes. The baby didn't take away my sleep - the anxiety did. With this critical need in limbo, I was forced to take a good look at the source.
So why do I say that anxiety is a middleman? Because I've come up with this: We have the outer world (let's call it day-to-day reality), and we have the inner world (how we think, feel, process and CREATE our reality). A healthy dynamic between these two worlds would be to exist in uncomplicated actions. Like - hey, it's garbage day tomorrow - and off you go taking out the garbage. But if the middleman steps in, it's more like - shit! it's garbage day tomorrow, I'll put it out in the morning, what if I can't fit all the recycling in? Do I even have those clear bags?
(Sorry - quick analogy. Seemed easy.) What I notice is that I often get anxious instead of taking action, or for things that don't require action, have faith that things will turn out well.
So when does anxiety come knocking the loudest? When I am in the unknown. And for the record, I think we're always in the unknown. Life is completely unpredictable in its finer moments. Here is what I have been asking myself - "Why when I am in the unknown do I imagine a negative outcome?" Anxiety. Things not working out. Catastrophe. Stress. If it's bound to be unknown anyway, then why don't I imagine and intend good things happening? Well that, my friends, is because I've been paying this middleman to help me decide upon how I feel in the world.
I was reading a passage from a book called, Everyday Parenting, and in it the author was talking about developing a meditation practice. He said that meditation practice can happen during any moment of the day (taking out the garbage even!) and it's simply being mindful of our thoughts and not identifying with them. The most genius thing he said was that "we practice anxiety" every day, so why not practice something else?
We go to what we know; I had always known anxiety (passed down through the family brain tree) and hadn't questioned it too much.
I am going to fire the middleman. He's still working for me, but I'm paying him less, and slowly reducing his hours. He doesn't even do a good job - all the things he says aren't going to work out, work out really well! So he's wrong most of the time too.
You know, people often say that when you have kids you lose your freedom. I am going to challenge that by saying this: Cedar is inspiring me to find true freedom - which is found in the mind. Once the middleman has cleaned out his desk and taken his ROE form, I believe I will have found a whole new level of freedom.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. It's my first year being a mom on this day, and I didn't want to let it slide by without marking it somehow. So here I am - it's 9:44pm. I can hear the "waterfall" of white noise coming from Cedar's room (aka still sort of Bri's music room) where he is fast asleep in his crib, and I am sitting up in bed with the window open.
The thing about Mother's Day is that it applies to all mothers, no matter what "kind" of mother you are. It's not like, "Good Mother's Day", thankfully, because then we'd all be guilt-tripping ourselves. In all seriousness, this issue of being a "good mother" has been on my mind lately (yes, I like to think - so what?!). As liberated and independent as I have felt myself to be, when I became a mom I wanted to be the perfect mom. And strangely enough, the perfect mom is this woman I constructed in my psyche who:
1) Is selfless
2) Can sit for hours at a time with a baby, not feeling even a pinch of boredom because she's so blissed out
3) Bakes a lot (wearing an apron)
4) Can do it all
5) Doesn't get angry or impatient
6) Found her life's calling when she became a mom

Tall order, huh? Who is even like that? And why would I want to be that when that's not who I am? The only answer I have is that becoming a mom is no small feat. I think some women fall into it really naturally, and some of us have to find our way in a world that really wants that perfect mom. So on Mother's Day, I want to say this to Cedar:
Kid. I'm not perfect. And so you know, perfection is entirely overrated. I only learned this when I had you. What really counts in life is being real, and stepping up to the moment with the truth of who you are, right there, right then, and staying present.
I'm not a perfect mom. But I am your mom. I'm independent to the point of severe stubbornness. I like to have my way. I like to get out of the house A LOT, and I promise that you and I will be up to all kinds of great adventures once you're ready (hey, we DID go to Ikea last week...). I will bake for you, cook for you, do your laundry, and when you're old enough, teach you how to do all those things for yourself.
More importantly though, I will protect my self-ness so that I can teach you how important it is to be authentic in this world; to have your voice, your way, your truth. And with that, may you never fall into the trap of trying to be something you're not.
Most importantly, I will always do my best. Whatever that looks like. And I will always be carving deeper paths to an open heart so that I can love you more each day. Kid - this is all good stuff. You'll see. Life is not for the weak at heart.
Happy Mother's Day to all you women out there. And Happy Mother's Day to my mom, who is one of the most authentic, no excuses women I know. She was brave and creative in the face of change and taught me a heck of a lot. Thanks Mom.

And about that baking with an apron on. I never like wearing an apron. I prefer a little teatowel on my shoulder. It's sort of more hardcore than an apron.