This post is about the act of remembering. Remembering that you are a good human being regardless of mistakes that are being made on a daily basis. It’s about remembering this – even though you got up this morning after you drank too many whiskeys, argued with your husband about the lack of male genitalia shown on TV, and stormed off to bed in a fit of self-righteousness while throwing insults down the stairs like you lived with someone who was a psychopath and needed to be reminded.
It’s about when you sleep with shame, and wake up to find out that you and shame are now one. (By the way this is only one tiny act in the crimes committed by myself that my mind seems to relish dwelling on).
This year I had decided to commit myself to being kind – to myself. And I have fallen off the path – big time. It’s hard to remember how to find your way back to that world of kindness when shame is eating away at your stomach lining.
As selfish as it sounds, if I’m not insanely kind to myself and making myself feel good, I am not really able to spread kindness and love to all those around me (who I love more than life itself.) But being kind to yourself is the right thing regardless – because we are all pretty lovely and special people. What’s the point of striving for a good life when you can’t enjoy it because you are beating yourself up all the time?
So today I wanted to share the mistakes I’ve been making (again, and again, and again) – and what I’m doing to kick them out of my life, sometimes on a moment by moment basis.
- Don’t start with the hard stuff
Ideally I would become a rapidly better and more well-adjusted person within the next thirteen minutes. Like I would suddenly become stronger and fitter, my bank account would get seriously padded out, my mood would be totally zen, I would start sewing in the evenings by the hearth with sweet little children at my feet who would look up to me with glowing love, my husband would want to tear my clothes off when he next saw me rather than, I suspect, tell me that I need to get my act together and put away the clothes that are making a serious floordrobe in our bedroom.
But this is all big stuff (especially the floordrobe, that’s going to take several weeks at least to sort out). I get so tangled up in expectation sometimes that I forget that the really simple stuff is what makes a difference to the moment right now.
If you want to feel the special beautiful energy of the universe right now – go out and be insanely and sincerely extra nice to everyone you encounter. The surly coffee maker, the board bank clerk, the distracted friend. Pretend that you are sparkling shades of rainbow and you are here to make everyone feel good.
You know what – people really respond and are often both surprised and grateful that someone is being super nice to them. And there you’ve sent a ripple of beauty out into the world, making someone feel good. Sometimes you even get some super lovely energy back, but that’s a bonus.
There is possibly no greater high than giving and feeling that sensation of having lifted someone’s mood. And that’s a good start in the direction of feeling good about your very own self.
- Complaining brings more shit into my life to complain about
One thing I’m doing a special amount of is trying to not complain, especially throwing complaints at those people who live in my house.
When we complain – or generally think negativity – we are generating a special kind of toxicness that starts from a specific thing we are complaining about – the husband saying something very annoying, the sales agent being rude – but then actually starts to infect other thoughts and parts of your life. I know that once I have a negative spin on a couple of things, it can all of sudden swing out of control and infect everything else I’m thinking about.
And so I am kicking complaining out of my life, again. I mean I really have nothing to complain about. I am healthy, I just ate food with mayonnaise on it and my daughter squealed with joy when she saw me just now – what more could a woman want in life?
- Expectations can lead to insane progress, or…. mental insanity
I am on a bit of a trip to make insane progress with our business this year. I’ve done a tonne of studying, taken a pricey course, made some amazing plans and I have some super high expectations that I want to meet. In previous years of our little lovely business I was so focused on the kids that our business really took a back seat. But now I have worked out how to grow our business – wow my expectations have gone through the roof. But I have to do it lightly and with joy otherwise it won’t work.
If I’m not being seriously intimate with joy, there’s no point doing what I’m doing
I’ve written that all you need as a parent (or a human) is joy – I stand by this – but it’s hard to remember this day in and day out, and to enact it. And so I need to be reminded. And the best way to remind myself is to do things that make me feel deep nourishing joy, as often as I can fit them in to my life.
It’s that joy that gives me the energy to take those moments when joy isn’t abundant and not fall apart – like when the kids are fighting with each other or me, someone’s tired, someone’s hungry, someone is playing with the other ones best friend causing an explosion of jealousy.
So I am committing – again! – to things like this – sitting under trees in the rain, talking long walks by myself, staring out the window at beautiful clouds and asking the kids to fix their own snacks.
This is a step by step process. If you aren’t someone who is naturally skipping with joy then you have to keep bringing yourself back onto the path. So really the whole point of this point – is remember to remember. Once you know it’s something you want then it’s easier to remember.
“Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.” Anne Lamott (via the beautiful Cara Solomon)
- Progress has it’s own weird timeline
I think progress operates how me driving a car would – because I don’t know how to drive. Way back when though I had a couple of lessons and I reckon I could get a car started but I would vere between speeding accelerations, abrupt violent stops, some sluggish chugging along, and more than a few reversals into other people’s cars. That’s how I think progress is going on my business. It’s bloody amazing at times. There have been weeks where I have felt unstoppable. And then something happens and my spokes (do cars have spokes?) pick up some tough sticks or big rocks, and speeds start to decelerate (what a cool word).
But what is entirely awesome is once you have done something once – you can do it again. OK maybe I’m not this uber productive amazing spectacular person who has 98% top productively every day – but I ain’t doing nothing. And to quote my very favourite friend in the world (again Cara Solomon!)- ‘progress is jagged.’
- Forgetting that fear makes my life very small
I want my life to be like the sky – endless, beautiful, wild, full of interesting weather systems and possibility. I do not want it to be like staring at this small patch of grass that my cat loves to crap on. And I know that when I allow fear to both infect me and stay infecting me, my life becomes so very small. I make choices based on what I don’t want, not what I do want.
So I am saying now – loudly so that fear can hear me – fuck off fear. You are not wanted here.
This is why I end up staring out the window at the sky – a lot – it makes me remember that life is not a small thing, it’s vast and endless and beautiful. It can be anything that we want. It can be filled with love – love for ourselves, for our nearest people, for the strangers we walk past in the street, the people we imagine living in a city over there, thousands of miles away, making tea as we make tea. We are capable of finding love and beauty and joy everywhere – we just have to remember to start with finding it all within ourselves first.