Tag: self growth

Parenting, anxiety, and smudged nail polish

Parenting, anxiety, and smudged nail polish

It happened. There’s no going back. There are certain moments and events that change your life. Irretrievably.

No matter what happens from now on, I have been forever changed.

Exactly five weeks ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. We’re parents. To be honest, it’s still a surreal experience for me. I still catch myself staring at my son in a state of disbelief. In a good way. A great way.

They say that nothing can prepare you for parenthood. And yet, we still attend antenatal classes, download the apps, follow the blogs, etc. Does it prepare you? I think that selecting the correct classes etc for you can help to prepare you to a certain extent.

The thing that best prepared me for being a mommy? My journey through depression.

And no, I’m not talking about postnatal depression here: on the contrary, I have found the first five weeks of motherhood to be incredibly fulfilling.

So just how on earth did the most trying and devastatingly dark periods of my life prepare me for the most overwhelmingly poignant experience?

Ironically, my journey through depression (“through” implying that you can in fact reach the surface and gasp the fresh air) has taught me many invaluable lessons. Not only have I gained insight into my own psyche, for want of a better word, but I have also come to understand what kind of life I want to lead, and the best mindset and approach to realise this.

The goal-oriented, perfectionist, compulsive nature of my anxiety just doesn’t wash with the daily reality of being a mom. I sat down last week to write a blog post. I got as far as switching on my laptop. That’s it; no further. There is nothing perfect about parenthood. Nothing. I decorated the nursery exactly as I had imagined: a perfect replica of my vision. Two days ago I found myself moving furniture into the centre of the room so that I could wash off projectile pee from a large section of wall and nearby furniture. As for being compulsive, it’s simply not an option. Especially when you have a newborn who has a finely tuned sixth sense that wakens him as soon you step into the shower, pour a cup of tea, or apply a fresh coat of nail polish.

My resultant level of anxiety? Nada. Why?

Before becoming a parent I decided that I would try to be as mindful as possible. I decided that I would not set goals. That I would not entertain ideas about being a supermom. That I would adapt my days to my child’s routine to the best of my ability. That I would not read a single pregnancy or parenting magazine. That I would take each day as it came. That I would trust Mother Nature to give me sufficient maternal instinct to ‘wing it’ for the most part.

So far, I’m managing. Of course, it’s only been five weeks. I might be singing a very different tune next week. Or at three o’clock tomorrow morning. Regardless, my point is that depression and anxiety have provided me with countless opportunities for growth. Sure, I did not grasp all those opportunities. But I did take advantage of some.

It is this ongoing process of reflection and growth that I hope will stand me in good stead in this new stage of my life – smudged nail polish, tepid cups of tea, and all.

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Are you disappearing? I think I want to.

Are you disappearing? I think I want to.

What on earth is this man saying??? Have you ever read something that really made you stop and think? That made you question ‘deeper’ issues? That stayed in your thoughts, lingering for several days? Where the meaning evaded you? That’s exactly what happened to me when I came across this quote on Impromptu Promptlings (the original source can be found here)…

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability,

how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate

through our intimacy with disappearance. 

David Whyte

The first thing that struck me was the fact that it’s taken for granted that we are all vulnerable. And sure, that rings true when you think about it. We all have our insecurities, our vulnerabilities, and they affect us in different ways. But, as this quote says, we have a choice in how we deal with these feelings. Personally, I feel that in all our interactions – with ourselves and with others – we would do well to remember that everyone is vulnerable in some way. We need to tread carefully, with empathy and sensitivity and loving-kindness, with others and with ourselves. And, I feel, we also have a duty towards ourselves and those around us to learn how to process these unsettling emotions so that they do not damage or even wreck our relationships.

The second thing  that stood out to me – and the word that really made me pause and think – was the notion of ‘disappearance’. Just what exactly does this guy mean? To be honest, I was stumped at first. Maybe I still am! For what it’s worth, this is what I think is going on…

The act of inhabiting your vulnerability implies accepting it without judgement, without fighting against it. In other words: mindfulness. And that is definitely a practise that encourages compassion. I also feel more confident when I am mindful – perhaps this is what the author is referring to when he speaks of courage. As for growing ‘larger’, this definitely seems to tie in with the sense of an extended consciousness and connecting to the energy that surrounds us.

And that, dear readers, is where we disappear. Through the practice of mindfulness, we lose the egocentric and often selfish mindset that seems to pervade our modern individualistic society. The notion of ‘self’ as a separate entity wanes in light of an expanded consciousness. And again, we have a choice regarding how (and if) we embrace this.

At first, it struck me as ironic that focusing less on the self leads to an empowered sense of identity, courage, compassion, and confidence. But then again, you have to have experienced and practised mindfulness in order to truly understand the value of surrendering what you regard as your ‘self’ in order to reach a more actualized state of being.

I choose to embrace this disappearance. Do you?

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A Flying Pink Shoe and Creating Yourself

A Flying Pink Shoe and Creating Yourself

It’s funny how your mind can play tricks on you. Like when you get hit in the head by an unidentified flying pink shoe.

My husband and I went out for a spontaneous day trip with my bestie and her husband. Firstly, we visited a German beerfest ‘Church fete’. After failing to win the bottlestore raffle, we resorted to seeking a salve for our broken spirits. We drove to a nearby coastal city to sit on a wharf and eat deep fried ice-cream. As one does. It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for a lazy calorie-laden afternoon indulgence.

I leant back on my chair and drank in the seaside atmosphere. Comments drifted over from a nearby group of people. They were discussing the rugby match that was dominating South Africa’s attention at the time. Out of nowhere, something slammed into the side of my head. For a split second I thought it was the rugby ball from the game under discussion. Delusional? Absolutely.

There was a stunned silence for a moment as we all looked in disbelief at a bright pink shoe that was lying in the middle of our table. Not quite a rugby ball. A very embarrassed mother approached our table to apologise profusely and retrieve her daughter’s shoe.

Despite a smarting face, I returned the shoe with hysterical laughter gracious understanding. Likewise, her little girl’s apology that was ‘encouraged’ a few moments later.

It made me think of myself as a little girl. Not that I ever managed the feat of kicking my shoe and launching it several meters into someone’s head. I had neither the skill nor the talent. (Although my younger brother did once claim that I could “kickstart a Boeing”.) But had something of the ilk happened to me, I would never have had the courage to approach a table of laughing adults and apologise for assaulting one of them with my footwear. To be honest, I probably would have dissolved into tears and hidden behind my parents. (My dad specifically – my mother reaches a whopping five foot. When standing.)

Today, however, I am anything but shy. It just goes to show how we do grow and develop as we get older. Reflecting on that little girl’s apology renewed my optimism in people’s ability to take charge of their progress in life.

 

You do have the ability to be the person you want to be. It’s never too late to take charge of your life. It’s never too late to grow. It’s never too late to discover the true you.

self belief

How have you changed and developed since you were a child?

Will you please quit pouring that green goop over yourself?!

Will you please quit pouring that green goop over yourself?!

In my last post I confessed to starting to go organic and natural. It’s not an obsession by any means. Promise. It’s just about trying to eliminate physical toxins such as harsh chemicals from our home. Despite what my Pinterest boards might seem to be proclaiming, I am not trying to be a domestic goddess.

It’s really made me start to think about toxicity in general. And not just slimy green goop that’s stored in dubious barrels.

eliminating toxicity

 

You might remember that I also wrote a post on emotional toxicity. Basically what I was trying to say is that being negative towards others, being unduly critical of others, gossiping, etc all just adds to the negativity in your own life. Plus, you pass that toxicity onto others. And nobody needs green goop of any shape or form in their life.

But there’s something else to consider. In some weird slimy version of the vaguely recent ice bucket challenge, many of us seem to pour toxic goop all over ourselves. And it is also a viral sensation.

Sure, by being negative about others we are encouraging negativity in our own lives. But all too often we assume unnecessary blame, feel inappropriate guilt, wallow in self doubt, and subject ourselves to undue self-criticism. Do you pour this green toxic gunk over yourself?

You are who you are.

And who you are is enough. 

I think that it’s time to take a more zen-like approach to life. Accept life for what it is. Accept others for who they are. Accept yourself for who you are.

I’m not trying to suggest that we should never try to improve. What I do think, however, it that constantly focusing on the future and trying to improve encourages us to be negative and critical about our present circumstances. It also prevents us from being mindful of the present and accepting ourselves with loving kindness and compassion.

Let’s face it: we all need a little love, kindness and compassion in our lives. Let it start as an inner personal phenomenon because your internal world ultimately determines your external reality.

I’d love to know your thoughts about eliminating the toxicity from your life?

Go On, Get Off That Damn Treadmill!

I don’t like running on treadmills. (Truth be told, I’m not a fan of running. Period.) Sometimes as I step onto a treadmill, the thought “Do I really have to do this?” swims through my mind. Then I reluctantly hit the start button, feeling a mixture of gloom and self-righteousness for having gone through with my resolution to meet my fitness goals. It does seem a little silly: walking or running for quite some time without ever actually getting anywhere. But, then again, life is often like that.

I know I’m often guilty of living my life as though I’m on a treadmill: getting through my daily and weekly routines without actually developing or growing as a person in any way. I am a firm believer in the importance of personal development as a means to find happiness and a sense of fulfilment in life. I believe in everything that self growth has to offer us as people: far-reaching benefits in all the roles that we play throughout our lives. It all starts with adopting the appropriate mindset. Otherwise, just like running on a treadmill, going through the motions of life will get you nowhere.

So go on, get off that damn treadmill! Take steps that will give you direction, that will actually lead you somewhere in life, that will bring you joy.