Let Her Lead

My husband had this brilliant idea last week.

We were planning a trip to see my family in Virginia. We live in NYC. Two motivated adults could make the trip in just over 7 hours. Add two small children, and the trip becomes anywhere from 8.5 to 10 hours. With a leave time of late afternoon or early evening, we wanted to avoid an arrival in the middle of the night, mostly because our kids like to wake up and PLAYYYYY as soon as we get to their grandparents' house. NOPE.

So when the hubs suggested we get a last-minute hotel room halfway down, I said YES. And good thing we did, because the first hour of the trip involved one kid after another throwing up, followed by approximately 143 stops for the big girl to pee. 

We finally made it to the hotel - albeit around midnight - and settled in for a great night's sleep. Because blackout curtains. We woke up refreshed, the stress of the previous evening a distant memory.  Included in our $84 was a decent hot breakfast, a toddler-height tissue dispenser (fun!), and the real reason for selecting that hotel: an indoor pool.

Our big girl has been scared of the pool ever since she stepped off the inner ledge of a friend's pool earlier this summer thinking she was in the shallow end, and ended up flailing and panicked. She's only been in kiddie pools since then. So when she said she wasn't going in, that she didn't even want to put her "babe-ing" suit on, we didn't press her. We told her she could sit on a beach chair and hang out while we took baby sister in. It only took about ten minutes before she asked Daddy to take her upstairs to put on her suit.  hen she came and sat on the very first step, watching us as we played.

My husband attempted to convince her to come further in. Each time, she drew back, a pained look on her face. I said to him, "It's okay. She'll come when she's ready. Let her lead." He listened; we enjoyed time with the baby; our big girl laughed and splashed us and got more relaxed.

And then the moment came. "Mommy, can you hold Bae Sister so Daddy can take me in the water?" Within minutes, she right there with us, her arms securely around Daddy's neck, asking periodically for a break on the steps, but really IN it - the water, her body, her self. Soon, she let me carry her around, felt comfortable enough to sit on the edge in the middle of the pool, came down several steps on her own, wanted more.

So this is all different from the beginning of the summer, when she jumped in and played and had the time of her life, without assistance. Different because she had an experience that caused her to pull back a bit, to become more cautious for a while.  And that's okay. Because our big girl, only four years old, is learning to listen to herself. And we, her parents, who want to give her all the guidance and direction we can - we are learning to step back, honor her process, and let her lead.

All too often, we DON'T let her lead. "Her" could be a growing child, a baby in the womb, a woman in labor, a mom doubting her gut. Quite often, the person we don't let lead, is our own self. On my way to the birth of a dear friend's baby recently, this doula was full of anxious thoughts. I needed a mantra. I settled on "Be what she needs."  And I believe that I was. She did a kickass job birthing her baby, and she felt supported by me. Her birth was so different from my experiences thus far. Throughout the process, I had to learn to step back and let her lead, asking her, "What do you need right now?" 

What if we let her lead?

What would our world be like, if we listened to our women and our girls - and if we taught each other to listen to ourselves?

Different.  That's what it would be.  And better.

Think about the ways in which you (man or woman) are not letting yourself lead these days.  Is there something bothering you today?  Are you feeling anxious?  Is there something big in your life that needs changing?  Do you feel fear?  Do you even know what you feel?  

Today, I invite you to take a moment to sit with YOU, and let yourself lead. This could be a quiet moment at your desk with your palms grounded on its surface. Or ten minutes with the Headspace app - one of the easiest ways to get consistent about meditation. Write in a journal. Videotape yourself talking through something that's on your mind, and play it back. See what you learn.

I'm pretty sure you'll learn something, when you listen, when you let her lead.

I'd love to hear how it goes for you.

 

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Sign up for a spot in The Fall #gomilkyourself Teacher Training before 9/9, and you'll get the early bird price!  You can find out more at www.themilkinmama.com/fallteachertraining.  

"I Don't Want to Turn Black"

The last I wrote, I was taking a stand about the fellow mama who shamed me for breastfeeding my child on an airplane.  I was angry, and I said so, and writing made me feel better.  

Yesterday, the day after Alton Sterling's death, and the day of Philando Castile's death, I realized how incredibly privileged I am to have such things to take a stand about.  Someone makes me feel some kind of way about feeding my kid with my white breast, where and when and how I want?  I am important, but really, my problems are SMALL.

This morning, I heard my four-year-old wake up in the room next to me. She called "Mommy" a few times.  I went in and we both beamed to see each other for the first time, all over again.  I lay on her bed and she cuddled against me.  We sat in quiet comfort for a bit.  And then I remembered.  And I thought, "I will not lie to my child."

I told her that black men are being killed by police.  (I should have said "men and women.")  

She asked the following questions.  Some of them I answered, always simply and insufficiently.  Some of them I couldn't even try. 

"Why?" (many times)

"What are their names?"
Alton and Phil.  (I didn't want to mispronounce "Philando."  And today, I will learn to say his name correctly.)

"What are the police officers' names?"
I don't know. (I need to learn their names, too. Today.)

"What are their children's names?"
I don't know. (See above.)

"The girl who was four, like me.  What is her name?"

"But did they run really fast?"
They never got the chance to run.  They were either sitting in their cars, or completely pinned down by police. 

"But did the good police officers kill the bad guys?"
<blank stare>  and then They weren't bad guys. 

"So did the bad police kill them?"

"So we're safe because we're inside?"
We're safe because we're not black.

In a moment of "let's make it all better," I said to her, "No one's going to kill Daddy.  Because your daddy's not black."  (To be fair, her daddy, my amazing husband, is also not white.  He's Latino.  I think his chances of being treated the way our black brothers and sisters have been, are slim.  But I could be wrong.  I also hope that I'm not.  There's my privilege again.  I get to hope not, rather than fear for my partner's life on the daily.)

Eventually she asked if she could get out of bed.  She sat up.  I thought, "I need her to know this doesn't end here.  I need her to see that we must carry this reality with us, today and every day.  That, at least, is part of the something we can do."

I said, "Babygirl, we need to remember that we're lucky. We're lucky because our family is safe." 

She looked right at me and said, "So when we turn black, are people going to kill us?"  I didn't even have time to respond before she said

"I don't want to turn black."

I'm stopping there. Today. 

 

A Bit Much

 

See this picture?  It was taken on my walk from the gate to baggage claim at LAX the other day.  I'd just taken my first cross-country trip alone with my two kids - an unexpected and rather fortuitous business trip - and I totally rocked it.  So I was feeling proud - like a badass.  I knew that as soon as my big girl saw her grandparents, she'd be off and running, and this moment would be gone.  So, since our little crew was a bit too big for a selfie, I looked around for someone to take a picture.  The person in front of me had his hands full.  I turned around, where I knew a mom was walking with her daughter.  Turns out, she'd already approached me from behind.  So I asked her, and she snapped a few photos.  She was kind and attentive, taking the time to ensure that my big girl's dress covered her underwear in the stroller.  After she handed me back my phone, we walked and chatted.  I told her that I felt a sense of pride that we'd done so well; that I was excited to have some help from my in-laws; that everyone had been so helpful to us the whole time.  I then listened to her.  I complimented her on her daughter's gymnastics accomplishments, which were the reason for their trip; I turned to her daughter and gave her a big smile, telling her how amazing it was that she was doing so well.  I felt like we were doing that thing that moms and women should do - connecting, supporting each other.  And then.

And then she shamed me.

She described seeing me nursing my toddler while she and her family were boarding the plane.  She said it was "a bit much" for her 9- and 11-year-olds.  She said I'd done it "without discretion."  She claimed that "back in New York, you'd at least see someone using a cover."  (I live in New York.  I told her that.)  She said that they "didn't have a choice" but to see me nursing my child - and let's just say it - my breast.  

As her words sank in - as I understood her true purpose for approaching me in that hallway - a totally new feeling came over me.  In my head, I was in shock, but I was also trying to sort through my complex thoughts quickly and mindfully.  I felt so many things, and I wanted to make sure that my words were, more than anything, authentic.  I pursed my lips.  I looked away from her, down, and then back up at her.  I recognized this feeling creeping over me as SHAME.  But I looked right at her.  She could tell I was NOT happy.  She said, "Just another point of view" and dashed away toward her family.  I then passed her a few feet down the hall, and I said, carefully and firmly, "I really don't think I needed to hear that right now."  She said, "Well, you know, we all have different points of view, and I think it's important that we hear each other's."

And you know - she's right.  We all have different points of view.  It's important to hear each other's.  

SO. Here's mine.

1. Women should NOT shame each other.

2. Women should empower each other.  It is what we are meant to do.  When we do this, the entire world is a better place for EVERYONE to live in.

3. A 15-month-old who's nursing CANNOT be covered.  It's not possible.  Had I even attempted such a thing, it would have become a game of "let's throw the cover on the floor and giggle uncontrollably each time Mommy has to lean down to get it."  Which, let me tell you, would have slowed down the boarding process and created an even bigger scene than my boob, which was mostly covered up by her head, would. 

4a. I chose to nurse my kid during boarding for everyone's sake (Part 1).  My other options were for her to walk up and down the aisle (which I think would be "a bit much" for everyone trying to board), or for her to scream and flail and cry.  Nonstop.   

4b.  I chose to nurse my kid during boarding for everyone's sake (Part 2). I knew that if she nursed first, had a bit of time to engage with the people and things in her new environment, chilled in my lap during take-off, and then got all cozy in our best carrier with the cover, she'd sleep.  Which, for anyone who's encountered a fussy toddler, is The Goal.  For babe, for mom, for everyone around them.

5. A mama traveling by herself - hell, a human being going anywhere, ever - needs support.  Not shame.  This particular mama needed a cab driver who would manage our luggage in and out on the cab so that I could focus on the kids. I needed a staff member at curbside check-in to ignore the fact that my suitcase weighed slightly more than the 50-pound limit.  I needed an airline that would allow me to preboard so that I could get us all settled before the masses arrived.  I needed a flight attendant who would come by and ask what we needed, who'd take my kids' water bottles to the back and fill them with water, who'd check on us periodically throughout the flight.  I needed a woman in the bathroom to hop out quickly so that my 4-year-old didn't have an accident when she suddenly announced her urgent need to pee.  I needed a mama to offer to hold my baby so I could get said 4-year-old on the toilet in time to prevent her *own* shame.  I needed people sitting around us who were compassionate and patient.  I needed the only other person in our aisle to pack up all our toys and supplies, without even asking, before it was time to deplane.  I needed the flight crew to be AWESOME.  And guess what? I GOT all of those things - thank you Delta; thank you amazing individuals who showed up for us, before and during our flight.  

And I also got you. 

You, mama from New York (my own City!), who worried about how your kids were affected by my uncovered nursing breast.  (Was this *really* about your kids?) You, who felt it was important to share your point of view with me.  You, who thought I lacked discretion, lacked compassion. You brought me down, when I was up.  Did I let it get to me?  If I hadn't, I wouldn't be writing this.  I did.  Because my point of view is, unless you have the same conversation with every person showing too much cleavage, and you reach out directly to every single company, in this country and others, that uses women's bodies to market their products, you should have kept your point of view to yourself.  What you said was hurtful, and that's not what we're here to do.  

I'm mindful about when, where, and how I nurse my kids.  Always have been.  I nursed my kid while you were boarding, and you didn't like it, and you didn't have to say so. If your hope was that I'd use a cover next time, you did not succeed.  If your hope was to make change in the world, I'd like to suggest you direct your energy elsewhere.  And if your hope was to make me feel bad - well, you did. And now I don't.  Now I feel empowered - that's what happens when we allow ourselves to fully dig through our feelings about tough experiences.  I know that the work I'm doing in this world will bring other women more power, more freedom, and less stress.  I can only hope the same for you, and your children.  We all deserve that. 

And if I see you again, I will show you my birth photo.  The one that's been seen around the world.  The one that's been "a bit much" for some.  I will show you what we women can do.  And I hope THAT will render you speechless.

Open. Up.

Check out this gem from Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass, one of the books that has MOST influenced my life lately:

"You are loved.
massively
ferociously
unconditionally
The Universe is totally freaking out about how awesome you are."

I, for one, am totally freaking out about how awesome THAT is.  And knowing it as truth, really *living* it - well, that's where The Awesome really starts to shake things up.

In a matter of days, my life will change significantly.  I'm making a career move, the boldest one of my life so far.  After thirteen years as a middle school teacher - my first calling, a role I've loved with every fiber of my being - I'm moving on.  I'm going to work for the biggest badass I know - my own damn self.  It's exciting stuff.  And, at times, I've felt fear creeping in.  Being a teacher, and being an adult with a steady paycheck that comes from A School, reporting to A Boss (or two), having benefits and a human resources department, going to a place outside my home for work each day - this is all I know.  I'm definitely following one of my favorite pieces of advice - "Leap, and the net will appear."

But I woke up this morning with some fear in my head.  As Elizabeth Gilbert would say, my thoughts were doing their little show-off dance.  I picked up the baby, who was grinning at me at 6 AM, plopped her in front of a new YouTube channel, and snuggled back in my bed, ready to sleep some more.  And then came The Fear.  I wondered how my family could afford to make this change.  I worried that it was going to take a long time to realize my dreams.  I felt out of control, and downright lost.  My eyelids popped open - I clearly wasn't sleeping, but I also wasn't okay with giving so much space to fear.  I got on my feet.  After first scrolling Facebook (which didn't help my state) and then chowing down on my Thai takeout leftovers (which always taste so good but never make me feel great), I did A Really Big Thing: I rolled out my yoga mat, folded down to a forward bend, and started swinging my arms from side to side, relaxing into the stretch, getting back to ME.  I moved into poses that I knew would help my full belly - some good twists, pigeon, bridge, the like.  And just a few minutes in, I noticed a shift - my left ear was opening up, as if the canal had actually grown in size.  Then one child or the other asked for something; I got it for her, and then I got back on the mat.  Soon, my right shoulder socket opened, too.  As I moved around, getting more into my body, I felt it - more things opening up.  My left ear; my right shoulder socket; my front ribs; my calves.  Even as I was interrupted by a request for applesauce or to click "Continue" on Netflix or yet another urgent need for a bandaid, I felt the opening.  And I knew what a beautiful mentor of mine once said to me:

SOMETHING WONDERFUL IS HAPPENING IN THERE.

 

My friends, when we find ourselves closed off to something, unable to receive the love we already have and the blessings we deserve, the next step is simple - we need to OPEN.  Open our bodies, open our hearts, open our minds.  We ARE loved - "massively, ferociously, unconditionally" - and if we open up to that love, we will be able to feel The Universe freaking out about our Awesome - to trust that there is A Plan for us - to believe that we are enough.  And opening up to these things that are already true, will help turn "enough" into "plenty."  And when we have plenty, we can give even more.

What does this mean for me, right now?  

I'm about to open up BIG TIME.  In addition to my schedule completely opening up, now that I'll be the owner of my own time, I'm beginning a new era of TheMilkinMama.  In under a month, The Inaugural #gomilkyourself Training will take place. I'm opening up my brain and my heart, sharing what I know with a very select group.  Over the course of two weekends, ten badass women will learn my method of teaching hand expression.  We will focus on methodology, sure, but more important, we will become steeped in the most important philosophies of TheMilkinMama, particularly the ideas that 1. We Are Enough; and 2. It's our responsibility as women, to teach other women, that We Are Enough. These ten incredible ladies, my first trainees - Crystal, Jessie, Sarah, Liz, Angela, Alli, Diana, Holley, Tammy, Lisa - Oh, how I love seeing their NAMES! - will then take what they learn into the world, teaching hand expression to women in their areas, supporting mamas as they strive to find freedom and power in their lives, becoming teachers of online classes and workshops on TheMilkinMama.com, growing this small business into an empire.  As we work together, millions of women all over the world will know the #gomilkyourself method.  Lives will be changed; hearts and minds will be opened - and heck, I guess boobs will too!  And that opening will create even more change.

When we open up, in big and small ways, we change things for ourselves, and for everyone around us.  If you *know* how "massively, ferociously, and unconditionally" loved you are, why *wouldn't* you open your heart and yourSELF to others?! This, my friends, is when we are our most awesome.  The Universe SHOULD be totally freaking out.  We deserve that - and so does everyone.

#gomilkyourself
#beabadass

 

Judgy McJudgerself

Saturday mornings are a bit crazy at our house.  Both of our kids go to swim lessons.  Anyone who's ever played a role in the schlepping of children to activities knows this ain't for sissies.  There's so much to remember - suits for both kids plus Daddy, one adult and two child swim caps, a swim diaper, changes of clothes for all, a plastic bag, the usual diaper bag paraphernalia- you get the picture.  

On a recent Saturday morning, my husband ran a race about 30 minutes from our home.  We agreed that he would meet us at the Y, so I was charged with gathering our little humans and all their things on my own.  I've done this before - two kids by myself - like, many times.  But on that particular day, it felt extraordinarily stressful.  The baby took a nice nap, and I let her sleep a little too long so that I could take a nice shower while our big girl was on the iPad (#parentsoftheyear).  So, as it sometimes does, The Waking of the Baby To Go Somewhere coincided with The Toddler Tantrum Because Said Toddler Feels Rushed To Go Somewhere.  We were already a bit late, so I called for a car on my app.  Over the next few minutes, I strapped baby into carrier, got toddler into stroller, grabbed our stuff, and walked out the door.  It was then that I noticed that I'd never clicked "Confirm" on the final screen of the app, so the car that I thought was on the way, wasn't.  I called another one and rushed downstairs, only to realized I had no swimsuit for the baby, and her big sis didn't want to come back up to our apartment with me, so I asked her if she wanted to stay in the lobby without Mommy, and she said yes, but I had been joking, and my neighbor heard us and may have thought I wasn't, and so I got back on the elevator and schlepped them both back upstairs to grab the suit and rush back downstairs and hope and pray the car would come faster and then I noticed

that I had a LOT of noise in my head.

It sounded something like this, "You're late.  Again.  How could you be late?  You had plenty of time.  You totally suck.  This is your fault.  AGAIN.  Now your big girl won't get in the pool because she'll be anxious about being the last one in, and your husband will ask you what took so long, and your baby will miss half her lesson, and your mama-friends will judge you, and -"

- at this point the voice in my head screamed at me - aka I screamed at mySELF . . . 

"WHO

CARES?

No, but seriously - who cares?  The only one who's judging you right now, is your own damn SELF."

And then I relaxed. Let my thinking shift.  Chilled. The eff. Out.  Because it just didn't matter - it doesn't matter.  If our big girl refused to go into the water this one time, I could decide to support her and encourage her to try again next time.  If our baby got in the pool at 10:12 instead of 10:00, she wouldn't even notice.  My mom always says, "Will it matter in ten years?"  This wouldn't even matter in ten SECONDS.  And so I realized that the biggest problem in this whole situation, was in fact, inside ME.  I was telling myself a story - an old, practiced story, passed down through generations of badass women who sometimes swam in self-doubt.  My Judgy McJudgerself was, as Elizabeth Gilbert would say, "doing her little showoff dance."  And I could get all wrapped up in her noise, but I could also choose not to.

So the next time you hear your own Judgy voice getting all loud, take a moment.  Pause.  Breathe.  Ask yourself the question my favorite yoga teacher Erich Shiffmann encourages us to ask: 

"What is happening in this moment?"  

You may find that the answer is, "I'm okay.  We're all okay."  And, if you're lucky, your inner badass will remind you who you really are - YOU.  Which is, my friends, enough. 

You are enough.  

The World in Technicolor (aka Notes on my Kid Turning One)

Tonight is the eve of my baby's first birthday.  I have MANY feelings about this, not the least of which is pure astonishment.  When her big sister turned one a few years back, I cried a lot, and I wrote about it.  I dug up those words today to help me process this new milestone.  I want to edit them; they seem now as if they're written by a clueless young girl.  But I won't.  I'll share them with you as I wrote them, straight from the heart, as a first-time mama to a one-year-old.  And I'll say more about the babe's BIRTHday as I process.

Here:

"Well, I now have a one-year-old.

I've cried a lot of tears about this.  I keep wondering why I'm crying so much, especially because it almost seems like SAD kind of crying.  I think it's mostly INTENSE kind of crying - so many emotions, and memories, all wrapped up together.

I remember when a very wise friend of mine, who's almost my parents' age, texted me the morning after P as born.  She said, "Don't you feel like the only woman who's ever given birth?"  That was precisely how I felt.  The first time I walked down the street without her a few days afterward, I remember thinking, "Do any of these people have ANY idea what has just happened? and to ME?"  As if it should be written on my forehead that I just had a baby, that I was now a MOM.  An absolutely extraordinary, momentous event had just occurred, not just in my life, but in the WORLD.  Nothing looked the same anymore - it was as if I was finally seeing in Technicolor after years of black-and-white, or maybe just less vibrant color.  

Here's the thing about being a mom - and being my kids' mom.  I thought I was lucky before; I thought I knew how to LOVE before.  But nothing compares to how I feel about this little girl.  She has really, truly rocked my world.  I would do absolutely anything for her.  I think she is the greatest thing that has happened, ever!

So maybe that's why I'm crying  I can't believe a whole year has passed since my world was changed so completely.  And I can't believe how lucky I am to have experienced this year, and to have so many more ahead of us, learning and living and loving together.

My girl is my world.  I just . . . LOVE her, you know?  I love her now, I love who she has been throughout the entire last year, and I love that I get to continue to be her mom, as she becomes exactly who she is meant to be. So maybe I cry because I know in my heart that I'm so. damn. lucky."

Happy ONE to my baby.  I'll be back with more about that, after I've honored this Big Thing, with her and our family. 

 

 

Scarcity & Carrots

Anybody else

have scarcity issues?

I mean, we're Americans, right?  Well, some of us are.  It may not be just an American thing, but it's clear that scarcity is a big part of our culture.  It shows up in the way we think about money, time, love, space - our very selves.  I, for one, somehow managed to spend the first three decades of my life steeped in the idea that there is not enough - that *I* am not enough.  

I'll tell you about the time I really understood that I had scarcity issues.  I was sitting at the table with my two-year-old, having a snack while she had her dinner (kids' dinner happens well before adults' dinner at our house).  While she ate her typical toddler fare - probably chicken and noodles with butter, not together but very much separated on her plate - I munched on baby carrots.  Suddenly, she asked for a carrot.  Since she'd been boycotting vegetables for a while, I happily handed one over.  The next thing I knew, she was reaching for another carrot.  And then another.  This kept going until the bag was almost empty.  And I noticed all the signs of anxiety in myself - I was scratching my neck, my eyes locked on the bag, surely breathing heavily.  And then I laughed.  Because you see - as I watched the carrots disappear, I had three thoughts:

1.  <very quiet voice> She's eating carrots.  Yay!  Maybe there is hope for vegetables in her diet.

2. <getting louder> I only bought one bag of carrots for this week's groceries.  I planned so carefully.  And we only needed one bag.  

3. If she keeps eating these carrots . . . there will be no more carrots.  There will not be enough.  THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH.   <cue panic mode> 

Luckily I laughed before the panic really set in.  Because guess what?  One can always buy - or grow! - more carrots.  And it really did take me panicking about something as mundane as carrots, to understand that Scarcity is a Big Issue for me.

Brene Brown says,

"Worrying about scarcity is our culture's version of post-traumatic stress.  It happens when we've been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we're angry and scared and at each other's throats."  

It's not really about the carrots, is it?  It's about us.  Our very selves.  Our perception of who we are and can be.  

I'll never forget the time that one of those random (aka "we've been tracking your internet activity") Facebook ads showed up on my wall.  It was a shirt, a tank top, with a very simple message, repeated three times:

"I AM ENOUGH."

I tell you, when I saw this shirt, something inside me just - softened.  Folded.  Lifted.  Opened.  I knew and believed it to be true, and to have been true since the beginning of time.  And the beginning of me.  And at the same time, it was brand new, because I'd never known it before. 

I am enough.  

Brene also says, 

"Addressing scarcity doesn't mean searching for abundance but rather choosing a mindset of sufficiency.

Sufficiency isn't an amount at all.  It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough."

 

Sit with that.  Meditate on it tomorrow morning when you wake up - or right now, after you finish reading this.  Repeat it to yourself all day long, even just for one day.

To know this . . . well, it might change everything.  First for you, and then, if you keep it up, for everyone - and for the whole world.  

I am enough.

So are YOU.

 

#gomilkyourself

When the Refrigerator Breaks

Have you ever noticed

how all the shit

goes down at once?

Like that time my college boyfriend, whom I loved and expected to spend the rest of my life with, broke up with me - just days before my mom was rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery.  Mom had a miracle recovery; the relationship didn’t.   That time was INTENSE.  So much at once.

Or that time last week when the sitter ran super late and the baby fell off the bed and clipped the nightstand on the way down, immediately bruising her face, and the ONE item that fell off the kitchen counter was the bottle of breastmilk, and the cap cracked and the milk spilled all over the floor.  All on the only day I had a meeting first thing at work.

Often, it’s just the way it goes.

My parents have six kids.  Yes, they are crazy.  They are also awesome.  One week early last summer, they hosted all six of us, along with grandbabies and assorted significant others, for a week. We’d been home just a day or two when my mom’s refrigerator broke.  Over a dozen hungry people in the house, and the machine that’s supposed to keep our food fresh and safe - its only job! - craps out.

This incident was super stressful to me.  “Really?!  This week, of all weeks?”  

I kept hearing myself say that out loud.  And then it hit me -

This is how the story goes.

The story does not go, “Everything was perfectly fine.  There were no visitors in the house; there was very little food that needed to be kept cold.  And then the fridge broke.”

The story is more likely to go, “We were already in Crazytown.  And then things got even crazier.”

Pema Chodron writes, “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again.  It’s just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen:  room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

My favorite part of that quote is the word “again.”  Because you see, these things do happen again and again.  The good stuff, the bad stuff - all the stuff.  For so much of my life, I’ve allowed those “bad” cycles to get me down.  They become part of a story I tell myself:  “Of course this is happening to me, AGAIN.  It must be my fault.  No matter how hard I try, I can never get ahead.  Can’t things just be easy?”  I get all wrapped up in this idea that I can’t have things I hope for; on a deeper level, I repeat the story that I don’t deserve them.

You know what I noticed recently?  When shit goes down, I go down the aforementioned rabbithole.  But when blessings abound, and a whole lot of great things happen at once, I don’t congratulate myself, tell myself I deserve it, dedicate part of my headspace to the idea that maybe I’m actually a positive force.  For all the energy I give to the “it’s all my fault” tale, I give very little to the “I’m awesome and deserving” one.  It’s like the good stuff is a coincidence, and the bad stuff is all my fault.

What’s up with that?

I’m not okay with continuing to do that to myself.  So I’m starting to live differently.  I’m working on “letting there be room for all this to happen,” whatever the “this” is.  

If and when the refrigerator breaks, or the milk spills, or The Really Scary Thing happens at the same time as The Other Really Scary Thing, remember:

  1. this is how the story goes, and

  2. the story will also go in the UP direction, and when it does -

BE GRATEFUL

and

GIVE YOURSELF SOME CREDIT.


You deserve it.