Before you throw up/roll your eyes/gag yourself with a wooden spoon jus’ listen for a second.
Don’t listen to me - no no - listen to yourself.
How many times a day do you mentally say things to yourself that are negative? Don’t pay attention to the negative things you say about OTHER people. Don’t even count the annoying lady in front of you in the 15 limit express check-out lane with 22 items, (because that’s probably me - you can count ‘same’ items as one, yah!?) or the Starbucks girl who puts REAL milk instead of soy milk, AGAIN. Stupid lactose intolerance.
Instead, just tune in for a day - not even - eight hours while you’re awake and interacting with the world and see how many times a day you put yourself down.
You. will. be. amazed.
I first started paying attention to this about ten years ago when I heard my friend’s two kids talking about how ‘stupid’ they are when they forget something. ‘I’m so STUPID.’ Grin. Run upstairs to grab the homework book/bookbag/clarinet/bristol board project that’s worth 95% of their grade. So I started telling them ‘no negative self-talk’. Period.
And then…I forgot my thermos of tea. “Arg, I’m so stupid…” Came right out of me like I was someone else. WHOOPS.
We think it doesn’t affect us because we ‘don’t really mean it’. Well, then why do we say it?
Words are powerful. They have the power to encourage or strip down. To bolster confidence or destroy it. I know I’m not alone in remembering (even though I try to forget) my eight grade teacher who once told me I was stupid in front of the whole class. I’m sure most of you have similar experiences, maybe not with a teacher but from someone else in a position of authority.
Maybe they said you needed to lose weight, or focus more, or to forget about being (whatever it is you wanted to be - rocket scientist) because you’re too (dumb, scatterbrained, clumsy, etc etc).
I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers the hurt that comes with a careless word either from an authority figure or a spouse, or maybe even a parent themselves.
Words can hurt.
So, doesn’t it make sense that words have the power to heal? To build up, shore-in, to make new?
After a few days of listening to your own negative thoughts, try replacing the negative mantra (because that’s what it is, something you say over and over again that becomes a part of who you are) with a positive one. Replace ‘I’m so stupid’ with ‘I am brilliant and beautiful’, or something else that resonates with you.
Forget ‘I’m so fat’, that just perpetuates the problem. Try replacing it with ‘I make healthy choices for myself’. Or ‘I am a healthy eater’. It really doesn’t matter if you are. Your intention is to change your negative self-talk. Eventually, after telling yourself you are a healthy eater over and over again you know what happens? No kidding but you start to eat healthier. Why?
Because you’re a healthy eater!
It’s like this weird backwards bio-feedback loop. Like smiling when you’re sad makes you feel happier. Your brain is like, oh, I’m smiling so I must be happy. This is true, I can’t make this up. Just google ‘Smile makes you happy’ - there are loads of articles about it.
It’s easy to make light of the dialogue we have with ourselves, but words have power. Take a dive off the deep end with me and try replacing the negative or neutral self-talk with uplifting phrases that make us feel good. Try it for a week and see how you feel. If you don’t like it or don’t notice a difference, chuck it and let me know.
Here are a few of mine if you aren’t sure what to say. Try different variations and play around with the words until it feels strong to you.
I am healthy, healed and whole.
I am finding my life’s purpose easily and effortlessly.
I am protected, shielded and guided.
I am free to imagine my best life.
I am joyful.
I am sincere.
it does feel a little wonky at first. Like, I’m not being realistic. Or, I shouldn’t be happy because there are things happening in my life right now that are upsetting. But when is it a good time to start trying to live a happier, more fulfilled life?
How will you see the opportunities to this happier life if you're stuck in the mire of negativity?
GET UNSTUCK. GO FORTH and be positive. And in the words of the great W. Churchill:
“I am an optimist. It doesn’t seem too much use to be anything else.
“If you have your attention on what is, you will see the fullness in every moment. You will discover the dance of the divine in every leaf, in every petal, in every blade of grass, in every rainbow, in every rushing stream, and in every breath of every living being.” Deepak Chopra
I practiced a little ‘mindfulness’ today while taking Ellie to the park. We walked on the rocks beside the water, we sat on the bench and ate watermelon and watched the birds flit around looking for crumbs. It was one of those perfect moments you aren’t expecting to have.
All things conspired together to completely charm the moment, Ellie feeling silly, the warm sun, cool breeze, the green grass so vibrant, the birds so tiny and animated. I looked around and thought, here I am inside this brilliant moment and here it is and it’s amazing.
All worries, all plans and all my many to do lists slid away as I narrowed down on my five senses and all they could absorb. And of course on Ellie, beautiful, silly, chattering in her own way and pointing at the birds.
Of course, not EVERY moment in life is this wonderful. I’d like to know how to find the fullness in every moment when I’m wiping poop while keeping a handle on the diaper because she has a tendency to snag it and whip it away, flinging poo everywhere. Where’s the fullness in THAT moment Deepak!? Where!?
Anyhoo. I took Ellie to the mall this week. I skipped Barnes and Nobel because I need some new clothes. Feeling kind of ratty. Even my yoga pants are fading and failing me. I have a big orange spray paint splotch on my every day go-to shoes.
So I went straight to Anthropology. A friend lent me a sweater I LOVED the night before and I almost accidentally on purpose took it home with me. She said it was from Anthropology.
So off I went to look for new clothes. Did you know they have a book section? And a section for candles and flower pots? Well, they do. And there I was. Smelling candles and trying to figure out where I could put this new flower pot and wishing I had $30 to spend on a new cook book.
Wherever I go, there I am.
So I went home in my faded yoga pants and my orange splotchy shoes hauling a new book on the medicinal uses of herbs and a small hard cover book called ‘Make the best of you.’ (170 ways to be the best you can. Patrick Lindsay). They were on sale…
That makes me happy too. Schlumpy. Ratty. But happy. So if you can’t see the fullness in this moment, stop. Deep breath. Unless you’re changing a diaper, then you should wait to stop and breathe deep. It’s up to you but…that’s just good advice. And do me a favor, next time you see a schlumpy looking mom dreamily gazing at her lovely, silly baby in her faded yoga pants with weird paint splotches on her shoes - suspend judgement for just a second. Just for one second ignore 'weird-flaky-mom' thoughts and give her a smile. And look closer. Because that crazy lady is probably me.
Monday: The book reader at the library got too close and scared Ellie.She cried (loudly) and uncontrollably for about 7 minutes.In the library.With about 30 other kids and moms and she was all we heard…book reader was duly startled. Deer started eating my bird food from the bird feeder.
Tuesday: Ellie fell on the pavement and skinned her finger. I didn’t panic this kind of thing happens to kids who aren’t overprotected all the time. Chasing deer away from bird feeder by running toward them in my slippers and banging empty watering cans together.
Wednesday: The skinned finger got really infected. I learned Bandaids and Bactine terrifies her no less than the book reader at the library. I learned a bandaid with Polysporin will fall off her finger in a matter of seconds.
Deer begin to approach me instead of leaving when I run out yelling like a maniac in my slippers. I refuse to be intimidated. I stand my ground. I make direct eye contact. I growl for good measure.
The lead deer dips his head at me once, twice, three times but refuses to move away from the feeder. Is he acknowledging my total infectiveness? Nodding to my efforts? What does that mean?
Thursday: Her first gymnastics class. Too many kids, too loud, too rough. She got pushed down. She cried most of the time. She doesn’t like stamps. Or inflatable mats. Or boys. Or anything loud. Bubbles make her smile. She's a sweet, sensitive baby and I love her. I wouldn't trade her gentle spirit for those hyped-up tornado's for anything.
Headache so bad I was sincerely worried my brain may leak out my ears. I glare at the deer from inside the house.
Friday: Unrelenting headache. Loaded up on painkillers. Learned I don’t have anything that will make a serious headache go away. Wine helps. Watched ‘The Martian’. Go Science! Bird feeder empty. Squirrels complain loudly but nothing from the birds. Are they even getting any?
Saturday: Headache is going away in stages - am grateful for the periods of pain-freeness. We see Sam Houston statue in Huntsville. I’m grateful I don’t live in Huntsville.
Ellie eats too much hummus. Tummy troubles follows. Bird feeder remains empty.
Bill finally hears the weird clanging noise the truck has been making for a month. Tells me I need to bring it in to get it fixed. Slow. Eye. Roll.
I’m asleep by 8pm.
Sunday: Home Depot run. Fruit tree. Pepper plants. Basketball and playing outside. Refill bird feeder. Loud, cheerful basketball playing scares deer away.
Weird bugs bump against the patio door and it sounds like rain. It isn't raining. Will I sleep tonight while I wonder what KIND of bug that is?
Anne Sexton said, Live or die, but don’t poison everything.
That’s the reason I try not to use this blog as my personal ranting forum. Let’s just spew my rants to my close friends and family the way a good ranter is supposed to, yeah? That way it only hurts/annoys those who are already doomed to be in my inner circle and therefore are already looped into my particular brand of crazy and can’t get out.
Let me tell you what happened and you’ll forgive me this one public rant. Just this ONCE I promise.
So I was invited to take part in a Spanish lesson at someone's house. So I accepted said invite. Yes! I said, learning spanish for a couple hours sounds like fun. Check and check. Oh and Ellie will be there too. So.
She said NO!
Well she didn’t say no but she said NO ONE ELSE was bringing THEIR kids and hers wouldn’t be there and really her house wasn’t baby proof and wouldn’t it be too distracting? Well. Yes.
BUT I told her Ellie isn’t IN daycare and we’re kind of a package so - have fun and toodles. I didn’t SAY toodles. I wanted to. I’m saying it now. TOODLES.
And this is why:
No one is learning Spanish in two hours.
No one is seriously going to bring paper and pen and memorize verbs. Call it what it is, an excuse to get together during the day and pretend to be doing something productive when all you’ll REALLY be doing is talking about which book you read and which TV show is THE BEST and whose teacher is an idiot and how hard it is to find a decent red wine here.
If you can afford to stay home during the day WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU PAY FOR A NANNY/PRE-SCHOOL PRIVATE COLLEGE? (Because it isn’t DAYCARE, it’s a private college for pre-schoolers.) I wish I was kidding. And you better get into the right one. I'm not sure what happens if they don't. I'm pretty sure they don't either.
What is wrong with these people? Weirdly, I DO like most of them. Even though sometimes I look at them and realize they have completely lost touch with reality. And you know how I know I’M starting to lose touch with reality when I’m with them? That I start to feel proud that I MOP MY OWN FLOORS. That’s one step away from cra-cra town.
One thing is clear, I am NEVER going to be allowed back to my book club.
I’m probably being unfair - that’s kind of what rants are all about after all. But, is Ellie better off because I choose to spend my time with her?
Is she better off than kids whose parents both HAVE to work like most normal people? No. Will I enroll her in some sort of preschool before school? Yes. She needs to be with kids her age sometimes too. Otherwise she’s going to end up as crazy as I am. But younger.
Is she better off than the kids who can afford to have one parent stay home with them and they don’t bother to take the primary responsibility for said child? Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.
Am I better PERSON than they are? Do I love Ellie more than they love their kids? No. Probably not. It’s debatable. As someone who just spent the last week eating popcorn and streaming ‘Vikings’ on Amazon Prime while Ellie napped instead of doing ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE AT ALL…I’m thinking I shouldn’t be throwing stones. And yet…
Literally millions of moms OR dads would kill to be able to afford to stay home with their kids.
Literally millions of women would dearly love to HAVE kids and they can’t. Let alone be able to afford to have them AND stay home with them. And here you are, you have EVERYTHING. Financial abundance. Health. Security. Beautiful kids and you can’t just BE with them for a few years until they go to school?
I digress. Toby is snuggled here beside me and every time I get going with the clackety clacks and the big sighs he lifts his head an inch and glares at me.
So. Maybe it is a sacrifice to stay home with Ellie and not fritter away the WHOLE DAY doing exactly what I want to do when I want to do it but…I don’t think so. It doesn’t feel like it.
She makes me laugh, she endures my constant ‘cuddle attacks’. She humors me while I try to teach her to read at 20 months. She gives me great joy, and I am SO grateful. And honored to be able to call her ‘my little girl’. And I’m humbled by the opportunity to be her teacher, her protector and her nurturer for the next 4 years until she goes to school. I wouldn't give that opportunity away to a stranger, ever. No. She’s MY gift. And my honor. And my sweet burden to bear, a burden as light as sunshine itself.
Ellie, I love you and I’m sorry in advance for all the rants you will hear. Some of them will be just. Some of them will be grossly unfair. But they’ll all be sincere.