11 Simple Truths that We are Meant to Learn While Living
I’m on a 12 month maternity as I write this, and as with my previous leaves with my previous children, I started my year off by trying to come up with a list of projects and goals that I want to accomplish during this time. I felt a sense of anxiety over having this gift of time, and felt pressure to do something with it. The word hustle kept popping to mind, as in do more, get it done.
But unlike with my previous maternity leaves—a decade ago when I was a much younger and less wiser me—I now have the benefit of an inner voice that speaks up and with greater clarity. This voice keeps telling me, Let it go. Just be present. Relax. And this is the voice I find myself listening to.
I have made the decision that, if I do nothing else over these twelve months, if I can just learn to be present, it will have been a success.
This led me to ruminate on the word success, and all its various meanings. And, obviously, on my own successes (and, by default, failures). And this is what I have uncovered:
If the meaning of life is (as I believe it is) for us to each individually become the best version of ourselves that we can be–to grow into our true selves, to find our way back to our innermost home–then, success can only be measured by how near or far we are to that one purpose. Not money, not material goods, not any of the stereotypical/societal measures of success will get us there. This begged the question, How close am I (how close are you), to the one true self that’s within?
Ruminating further, I’ve come to understand that there are several levels to this process of becoming ourselves. Some of us are fast learners, and come into this world ready to deep dive through any layer or boundary that stands in our way. Others, much like myself, learn very slowly, chewing over each lesson, sometimes for years, before their value finally enters our bloodstream. Either way, I believe the lessons are the same.
These are the lessons as I understand them.
Self-Care: It’s Not What You Think It Is
My mom was not a fully present mom. Physically, she was there. She made sure we were properly clothed and properly fed. She ensured that our necessary comforts were handled and handled well. We were safe, always. However, she lacked the ability to understand our emotional needs as children. In truth, as a woman who married young, who found herself as a working wife and mother while she was still barely an adult herself, I don’t know that she had the resources to provide everything we needed. She focused on the most immediate needs; we had a roof over our heads, we always had someone looking after us, we always had proper sturdy shoes on our feet, our home was always clean.
She loved, yet she didn’t have all the soft and comforting contours one thinks of in a mom. She wasn’t prepared for the resounding emotional needs of her children, she couldn’t figure out how to manage our feelings along with her own conflicting emotions. When I look back now, I can see that she was overwhelmed, I can see that she was overworked, and I know without a doubt that she had too many balls in the air. Nobody was taking care of her. She didn’t know that she was allowed to take care of herself.
In My Fortieth Year: Life, Love and Lessons
A year ago I turned 40. As my birthday approached I heard messages such as “it’s not so bad,” “it’s just a number” and “it’ll be okay.” Perhaps because I’m stubborn, but I decided that I didn’t want 40 to be just okay. I wanted 40 to be reverent, I wanted 40 to be inspiring, I wanted 40 to be a game-changer.
Now, one year later, I can say with confidence that it was. Forty was a teacher, and 40 taught me several valuable lessons.
Forty taught me to celebrate. I celebrated my birthday, I celebrated myself, I celebrated my life.
An Intovert Is Like a Cup of Tea, Sometimes You Need to Steep Alone
My family and I were vacationing at my mother-in-law’s a few summers back. There were many people in the house — it was one of those everybody’s-home-for-the-holidays kind of gatherings that are both fun and terrifying. After a few days, I found myself feeling very overstimulated and in need of an escape.
As an introvert, I don’t do well when I’m overwhelmed; my brain stops working and my body starts buzzing. I find it difficult to process life in a competent and coherent way. Also, I get really grumpy.
For The Child I Never Had: After Miscarriage and Moving On
I had two beautiful babies fairly close together. It was chaotic, but because I tend to fill my life with chaos, I decided that it was a good idea to add a third into the mix while they were both still young. My husband and I got pregnant as we had planned. However, I was completely and utterly floored when, twelve weeks later, the technician couldn’t find a heartbeat during my scheduled ultrasound. I didn’t get it. That wasn’t supposed to be a part of my story. It took some time, but I eventually allowed myself to accept that I was a part of the one in four club. It helped to know that I wasn’t alone.
Honest Complaining is Better than Fake Positivity
Normally I try to build up to a particular “moral of the story” when I’m writing a piece, but this time, I think I’m just going to get right to it: Honest complaining is preferable to false positivity. Make sense? I hope so, but if not, come along with me as I explain.
There is a particular mentality that exists out there in the world that we should all just walk around being positive all the time.
Remembering How to be Bien Dans Ma Peau
The French have an expression, Je suis bien dans ma peau. It means, “I am comfortable in my own skin.”
It speaks to confidence, but not only confidence. It speaks to comfort, especially. How comfortable a person is being alone with themselves, sitting with themselves, hearing their own thoughts, or, not hearing any thoughts at all; how comfortable a person is sitting in their own silence.
Because Moms are People, Too
I had a teacher back in high school, an ex-nun who liked to stir the pot with her line of thinking. Nothing else about her seemed extraordinary—she was rigid, lacked femininity, and was extremely uncharismatic. But every once in a while, she would drop a thought bomb, and it was usually something to give my teenage-self pause.
This one day she was speaking about Mary…
Closed Doors and Open Windows: Moving on After Miscarriage
I watched a bird busy in the gutter of my home. After a while I realized that it was building a nest. My father was with me and said, in typical fashion, “Just wait until the rain comes.”
I asked, naively, “What happens when the rain comes?” He replied matter of factly, “No more nest.”
The Day I Found Freedom in Motherhood … AND LEARNED TO EMBRACE IT
I’m sitting here, on the eve of my firstborn’s 6th birthday, tucked comfortably into a camping chair, the fire pit burning away. The kids are in the tent with their dad, colouring before bed, relaxing after a long and active day. For the moment, I have perfect peace and a wonderful bit of alone time.
Thyroid Chronicles: Things I’ve Learned After Twenty Years of Struggle
I have been living with thyroid disease since I was seventeen. At seventeen I’d never even heard of the thyroid, but here I found myself possessing one that was diseased.
Leading up to that diagnosis was an overall sense that I had become a shell of a person.