Coloring Inside the Lines

Sometimes I think I seek out the frustrating parts of the world because those are the problems I want to help the most- those are the issues that I feel passionate about. I want to understand how to fight hate and violence and replace it with peace and love, but often I approach it with a frustrated judgemental heart. And that helps nobody. It’s born of that feeling of being out of control, unable to protect those that get hurt by the words and actions of others. But hate (or frustrated words of impatience and judgment) cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that, as said the great Martin Luther King Jr.

Peace and patience start at home. Every day I am trying to remind myself to give love and patience and let the big issues wait. Better to work on my own humility and my own glass house than to be a slave to angst, and hurt others with my impatience.

I’m trying so hard right now to store up my reserves of patience, as Alina rounds second and begins to run for third. She is on a roller coaster of emotion and I can either throw gasoline on the flames or sit and hold her calmly through it. Every day she seeks out all boundaries like she is stumbling through a minefield, cursing each explosion and insisting on her way. It’s a sudden descent into confusion and sadness for her. At the same time she is making such enormous leaps of learning. This morning she was coloring, beautifully, and sketched in a circle, and then a square, pointing out the shapes to me and then counted only the squares and told me how many there were. We have been trying to air out a really bad diaper rash and she has been amazing at going on the potty by herself. I’m making it rain M&Ms (or as she calls them- nummy nums) and she’s been enjoying it.

Last night I sat down to dinner with the kids and we talked about our favorite animals- Alina immediately said hers was a tiger (RAWRRRAWR) and Ben said his was a lion. They both really liked the roaring and apparently that is the only qualifier needed to become ones favorite animal.

After dinner I let them color all over this cardboard with markers and it ended up everywhere on their bodies (I had to strip Ben down to be fair). This led to an important conversation about body parts we don’t color on, ahem. Due to the possibility of infection and marker contamination. Kids will try anything.

I hope you have a great day comrades. Don’t color on anything sensitive.

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My Own Hula Hoop

Being a parent has introduced me to a state of generalized anxiety. They are everything to me and there they go wandering around trying to touch sharp things and fall off high places.

Ben is voicing a strong fear of the dark. There was a break under the door and a pair of socks was casting a shadow and he thought someone was standing there. I was alarmed at his sense of fear of the unknown intruder- where did he even get that? Why does he think that’s possible?

But of course ┬áit’s technically possible and I have so many fears that are just as unlikely. But also I want to communicate to him that in this moment he is safe and make that feel like a blanket over him. Do you trust mama and daddy? You are safe. Leave it to us. And yet if we could protect him from everything I wouldn’t be waking up in a cold sweat every morning around four. Alina has been sleeping badly, and so we all sleep badly, and when I get in the habit of sleeping badly, anxiety and general craziness becomes The Thing.

 

I went to my awesome Al-Anon meeting yesterday (friends and family of alcoholics) and found that the same message was trying to find its way to me. I am safe. Not from everything but from far more than my list of worst case scenarios that I like to visit.

And at any rate, most of life is not in my control. It’s not in my hula hoop and I need to put it out of my mind. In order to shut down the thoughts of fear and anxiety that come with no sleep and having your heart walk around outside of your body, I have to put different thoughts in. I try to focus on the next thing. I try to tell myself that I am safe. I ask myself if this problem is mine to solve. I ask myself if that person has asked for my help or advice. I try to stay in my hula hoop.

One of the members said yesterday “just being in the presence of women is powerful”. There were no men there that day but I find their presence powerful, too. It’s an unbelievable force, a quiet gathering of strangers for the singular purpose of collective support. The fact that we feel the safest there, with these strangers that already understand so much of our deepest fears, is astounding.

How do you find your peace? Not just a bubble bath or a quick walk but your sustainable practice?

Share it here!

It’s always helpful to hear new paths to achieving that sense of deeper calm. Especially after kids…

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