Tag Archives: single parenting

Day 14 Be Present: Habits, Trust, Surrender

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Day 14 Be Present: Habits, Trust, Surrender

A word on habits again- we are trying to find and keep inner peace amidst a very busy and often (usually?) unpeaceful world. It is hard work to stay peaceful inside with all of the outer world beeping and ringing and driving for attention. When we add our inner world (that voice that gives unsolicited commentary on unmet expectations and unmet goals) to the outer beeping world, the push and pull makes it difficult to finish a task.

“Should I answer the email flashing from my sister or feed the crying cat? The dryer is beeping at me, should I put more in, or unload the dishwasher? I need to pay that medical bill online, but there is a work report that hasn’t been read yet, and I could bill that time. Oh my God, the teenager is still out with my car on slippery roads and didn’t text that she arrived yet.”

Then add in the inner (voice? heart? or zombie monotony?) beeping of missing my aging parents this holiday, weird feeling that my out of town out of touch sister in law is upset with me, and how the Hell did it get to be 2015 already? I thought this graduation year for my teen was a loooooong ways away.

It makes it hard to walk a straight line. Sometimes, this monkey voice makes me loop around in my own house, or office (sometimes I even drive in circles, confused about what my errand priorities are). Anne Lamotte calls them drunken monkeys in our minds. I like that analogy- who needs to listen to a chimpanzee hopped up on vodka? Michael Singer says “If you watch carefully, it’s just trying to find a comfortable place to rest.” Ahhh, it is ok to rest, little voice.

We can only do one thing at a time.
We can only listen to one voice at a time.
We can only walk one direction at a time.
We can only focus on one habit at a time.

One.

We take one concept at a time. Eat this elephant one bite at a time.

This voyage to inner peace is a deep sea voyage- we just go down one step at a time: one step, one habit at a time. The rest has to be ok waiting.

So we take one big breath and choose one topic to deal with and find peace with. We surrender the others. Surrendering the unworked/handing it up to God/blessing it in place is equally as important as the work we do. As we take that one step deeper into the ocean, we let the other stuff wait.

Take it one wave at a time, sweet fishy.

Affirmation: Ahhhh, rest little voice. One wave at a time, sweet fishy.

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Day 1 Be Present: Habits and Rewards

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Day 1 Be Present: Habits and Rewards

This is Day 1! Let’s take a quick second to congratulate ourselves for moving forward, for deciding to move off of our comfort zone. This is exciting! Our affirmation today is :

“I am in charge of my life. I am making changes every day towards more peace and harmony”. Say it as often as we can (10 times three or five times a day?), write it down on a scrap of paper, write it on our mirror, journal about it, visualize it, whatever it takes to ingrain it.

I am lazy. I am more comfortable laying in bed than running in the dark and cold. I would rather eat pop tarts than make healthy meals. A night without kids means I can have cookies for dinner in my PJ pants on the couch. I could be a female version of Jim Gaffigan who has a love/hate relationship with Hot Pockets and sweatpants (youtube him next time you are grumpy, he is a funny clean comic). Many Mondays, if I think about work before I get out of bed, it is extremely difficult to overcome the anxiety and get to the tea cabinet. Left to my own brain, I am a slug (minus the slime).

I think I am not alone. Who wouldn’t rather eat junk food all day (preferably delivered by a faceless person as I lay on the couch). If not for the firm rewards-based consciousness, we would out-weigh our couches and have credit card debt past our earlobes.

In order to make new habits, we must have reward-focused thoughts (Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg). This is a great book- I highly recommend it.

So, I think about the conversations and the laughs I will have with my girlfriends when I get out of bed at 4:45 am to train (or the sunrise, or the shower gel, or maybe even a doughnut). I think about the quiet space I will have if I leave early for work and arrive at my office at 7:30. I think about how much more energy and easier digestion I will have if I eat more vegetables than carbs.

As humans, we have a need for immediate gratification; in this fast-paced lifestyle, unspecific goals with delayed rewards just don’t work as well (Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg).

Just generically today, think over:
-What immediate rewards will you enjoy if you make an effort towards peace of mind?
-What will it feel like to worry a little less about the things outside our control?
-Will it allow us to add levity to our day?
-Will more daily presence allow us to be more creative? Less critical of our kids? More accepting of others’ faults?
-Will it make breathing easier? (some days, this is a big one for me!)
(Tomorrow we will get more specific, because Charles Duhigg says immediate specific rewards work even better. Today is the beginning baby steps though, so just hang on).

Visualize it:
Is the peace of mind a golden haze surrounding you? Or maybe a warm ocean enveloping you? A warm fire within? See it and feel it.

Take just 4-5 minutes and write down the rewards YOU can enjoy if you change a few “worry” habits into peaceful habits? Can you think of 5 rewards? How will it feel to live with more peace of mind? How valuable is that? What would it mean to you?

Now go back and read/write/draw the affirmation. And start your day!

Optimism is True Moral Courage

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Optimism is true moral courage.
-Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE FRGS (/ˈʃækəltən/; 15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration…Upon his death, he was lauded in the press, but was thereafter largely forgotten, while the heroic reputation of his rival Scott was sustained for many decades. Later in the 20th century, Shackleton was “rediscovered”, and rapidly became a cult figure, a role model for leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described by polar historian Stephanie Barczewski as “incredible” (Wikipedia 2/23/14).

“…Leadership as one who, in extreme circumstances, kept his team together in a survival story described… as incredible.”

There you have it. A gold star for you for getting out of bed each morning believing that this day you can do it, again, yet, more. You are leading and keeping your team together. Today you will keep on doing it, making your and your children’s lives better than before. And, you will do it with optimism.

Sir Ernest is correct. Sometimes it is tough to be optimistic. But we do it anyway.

PS- Alanon has a slogan “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

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Single Mom of Teenager Blues: My Fix-it Steps

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“If one thinks that one is happy, that is enough to be happy.”
Madame de la Fayette

I had a bout of SMTB (Single Mom of Teenager Blues) this week.  Crying jags, going to bed early, out and out sobbing while driving, afraid to talk to coworkers because I might cry in front of them, sitting in my car, wondering if I could put mascara on yet in the morning, and eating lots of chocolate chip cookies (oh wait, I do that every week).

The reason? I had to have some strong natural consequences for my son and he HATED them.  So he argued, blamed, struggled, stomped, told me I loved his siter more than him, etc.  He really worked at making me feel like the Wicked Mom of the West.  I was tired, weak, feeling unloved and underappreciated, and consequently, I felt awful about it all.  I missed the concept of a partner to step up next to me.  I missed my sweet 5-year old boy who would hold my hand and beg for me to read him more books. I missed that sweet boy who would hug me spontaneously.  I missed a husband helping to fix us dinner.  I missed sleep.  I even missed MY Mom!

Here are my feel-better steps:

1-I texted my single mom friend Sandy, asked for prayers, and she commiserated with me. 

2-I told my sister with no children that raising teenagers is wearing, and I wasn’t feeling that great.  And my sweet sister emailed me that I am doing a fantastic job, and making it look easy (I am pretty sure my kids would disagree with that!).

3-A friend at work gave me hugs and told me that I was right on track. 

4-I went on strike and did not cook or clean or ask my kids about any chore or homework or bedtime or soggy pizza box they left on the kitchen counter.

5- I went to bed with a picnic dinner and my book at 7:30.

6- I woke up this morning and ran 4 miles.  I prayed big time through it all, and decided that I have a guardian angel- I must if we have made it this far!!! She is watching over us and making sure it will all work out just right, just perfectly.  I decided to be happy and let my son be mad. 

He woke up today talking to me again, and I breathed deeply.  We are all doing the very best we can.  So let’s rest tonight, knowing all is well and will be well.

Welcome to the Dark Side: Stingers, Snarls and Bikes for a Single Mom of Teens

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Welcome to the Dark Side          

I think that a “Welcome to the dark side” kitchen banner should accompany a coupon for 2 year’s worth of massages and alcohol for all mothers on their daughter’s 14th birthday.  My golden-hearted sweet child of heart, love, prayers, consideration for others, and all-around awesome Christian pre-teen has turned into a blood-thirsty wasp.Image

Yes, I said that.  I don’t include pictures of her here, because she is beautiful and I am super-protective of her online.  However, there have been moments when I wondered if I would be the one to take her out before her 16th birthday.   She will be 15 in December, and I know it will get worse before it gets better…

She can sting me with the sharpest barbs…  Saturday, I asked her if she wanted help putting her Homecoming dress on, and she said “No, that is the last thing I would want or need right now”.  Ouch.  I asked if she slept well the other morning.  Her reply was “Yes, no thanks to you. You left my door open in the middle of the night”.  I didn’t touch her door and it was all I could do not to get in an argument that would have looked like a 4th grade spitathon. 

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It is taking all of my patience, prayers, and walking out of the room when she blows up at me to survive 14.5 years of age.  “This too shall pass”, “It will get better”, “She is in a tough transition”, “High school is hard”, and finally “Was I this much of a bitch to my mom?!?!” all scamper through my muddled mind like a squirrel on crack when she pops me with one.  I need to adjust to this rolling roller coaster so dang quickly!  I am told to be a pillar of comfort, hold steadfast boundaries, and be the safe secure haven my teenagers can count on.  That is hard to do when you are hyperventilating from a swarm of bees that you thought were little cupid angels until just a few months ago!

Her brother is 16.25 years old and has made great strides in maturity, accepting responsibility, having a little etiquette, a sense of vulnerability (however, he still thinks he can eat a meatball sub sandwich with his hands, while riding a bike across town), and the ability to comfort someone when they are upset.  He is surprising me… “Mom, how was your day?” actually leaves his mouth several times a week!

I do not arrange my life around my kids and their needs any more.  They do need to budget their spending money and keep track of their shoes, homework, and phones.  But lately I have started talking to each kid alone, before my bedtime (which is earlier than theirs).  I channel that sweet mom who had 4 and 5 year olds and listened to them, no matter what they were saying, without giving them direction or judgment on their lopsided opinions of the world.  That was fantastic advice from a mom of 20-somethings who are not in prison, graduated from college, and have jobs.  She seems pretty sane too, for a stressed out working mother…

I thought that when kids got bigger and able to tie their shoes, get dressed, go on dates, and get across town on their bikes to a job that they didn’t need some quiet alone time with me anymore.  It turns out that they like it quite a bit, and so do I!  I am trying to remember that she is quote possibly digressing in the most painful ways into herself and this phase is actually more painful for her than me…Image

There is hope; we will prevail in love.  And we won’t give up on them.Image

The Options and Choices of Allowance

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What would it be like if we allowed everyone in our life to care and love us the way that THEY want to?

What would it be like if we didn’t insist that there were certain “rules” and “obligations” that a friend needs to follow, or it just isn’t real?

I have some friends whom I only talk to every 6 or 9 months. I have one friend with a 2-text maximum. I am hanging out with a man who has never asked me to dinner. Do they really care about me?

I don’t hand make my children’s Halloween costumes or their lunches. Do I love them less than moms who do those things? No, of course not.

Do my friends who don’t reciprocate the dinner at my house deserve to be shunned?

Ahhh! There is that word- “deserve”. If we follow the relationship rules, do we deserve love and friendship? If we study hard in school, do we deserve an A? Do we deserve to be first string if we go to all of the practices?

Everyone has their own opinions on these, but I think the answer is No, of course not. We might earn something, but we don’t deserve it. Single parents don’t deserve to be poor and lonely. Gay people don’t deserve to get AIDS.

Life is just right out there. No deserving necessary. So step out of the self-sabotage and fill up your plate with love, caring, money, friendship, sex, new brown leather boots, a fat checking account, or whatever you have been denying yourself because you didn’t think you deserved it.

If I step up to the plate and ALLOW others to care about me in the ways they feel comfortable, then I am closer to getting rid of the expectations (and the Control Bitch goes underground too). And you know how awesome it is when we let go of expectations? Oh yeah- THEN IT IS ALL A GIFT! Woo Hoo. Party time with all the blessings we get when we step out of the rules, regulations, obligations, and expectations.

One Whole Year, Thanks Readers!

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Wow, it has been 1 year since I ventured/stumbled onto this blogging thing. What a fun year! Anyone with a love of writing should definitely try it. Go to http://www.wordpress.com; the directions are very easy.

I still do both, but have found that writing my blogs here for you is so much more motivating than journaling. I keep in mind my mission when I write for you: to share authentic thoughts, dreams and hopes for single parents, to share the honest truth in each entry so that you know you aren’t alone when you feel crazy.

I have about 15 subscribers, some of you are the sweetest dearest friends I have, and others are total strangers (whose blogs I am really enjoying reading!). I am honored that you all take time to read my blog. I hope I don’t waste too much of your time with my rants, irritate you with my character flaws, or grate on you with my spelling/grammar/punctuation mistakes. Thanks for your patience, support and excellent guidance. I love hearing topics you wish I would write about. And thanks for letting me know when I hit the button for you.

I have over 3000 hits on this site, so I want to thank whomever it is that has been punching my address in 10 times a day. Wow, you must have sore thumbs! And I apologize to those of you who came to this web site, thinking it would teach you how to build an actual 3-legged table. I am only about stabilizing the table we already have.

More soon.  Thanks for stopping by : )