Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Camden's First Birthday Letter

Let me first preface this post with an acknowledgement that I am acutely aware that it is Camden's SECOND birthday today. When I wrote his birthday letter last year, I was in a strange place emotionally and for some reason couldn't bring myself to post it.  So here it is! This year's post is in progress.

Dear Camden,
Today  at 8:31pm it is your very first birthday and I look down at you as I lay you in bed, I cant help but fall more in love with you.  I remember, so clearly, meeting you for the first time. Daddy and I gripped each other, as he comforted me for just a few more pushes. I told him that you had arrived. I don't think anyone could have believed that you joined our family so quickly after a 42 week wait. 

Do you remember what life looked like a year ago? Well, yesterday you forgot that you like bread even though the day before you couldn’t shovel it into your face fast enough, so if your memory is a little fuzzy, that’s okay. That’s why I’m here. Because I remember it all.

A year ago, we were cuddling in the delivery room, and everything was white and sterile but oh so quiet.  Sweet little man... the moment you were born everything stopped. It was as if the universe took notice. Everyone left the room, the lights were turned off and you and I laid there in silence and in awe for the most precious 25 minutes of my entire existence.  You were so healthy and content that they allowed daddy and I to take it all in. The peaceful silence you created for me will stay with me forever. 

Though you were a big, 9-pound-4-ounce ball of heavenly chub, in my arms you felt fragile and tiny. The most precious thing I’ve ever seen. And I couldn’t believe that you were mine.

Bringing you home just 3 short hours after you were born was glorious. There was no fear. There was no trepidation. We walked in, Blue greeted us and smelled his new baby brother and we all snuggled in for the first time as a family of 4 +1. You fit in so perfectly. You belong here. When you step into the world I want you to always remember that this, here with your mom and dad and brother,  is where you belong. Forever and always. 

That first night at home was an exhausting one for me, and probably you, too. While your daddy slept, you and I (after sixteen hours of labor) stayed awake getting to know each others' smell. I instinctively knew that you needed me to hold you close.  You slept best those first few nights snuggled close as if you weren't quite ready to give up mommy-camden time. Your brother came home in the morning and was so quiet and so gentle. He treated you like you were the most precious thing he had seen. By the way, he loved the car you brought him he night you arrived. He still proudly holds that yellow Mader truck and pronounces that his "baby bruder got dis truck for him. He is a good widdle bruder". 

As a newborn, you were so happy. You would coo and smile and charm everyone. They warned us in those first few weeks that the key to your heart would be milk. They warned that I would have to take good care of myself in order to keep up with you. I did my best and you were happy. At 2 weeks old you got your first cold. I think it bothered mommy more than it bothered you.  

The next 8 months are an absolute blur. You helped say goodbye to Blue. Truth be told, if  it wasn't for your snuggles (and demands for more milk) I think I may have fallen apart.  Blue knew that you completed us and he could go. You sprouted 6 teeth without us even noticing. You welcomed Cash.  You rolled. You army crawled. You scream a high-pitched "eeeeeeee" when you need a little attention. You said "mama". You gave kisses. You played with your brother. You rolled with punches when we asked you travel across Ontario at a moments notice to spend long days in the cancer centre. 

You came into this world, 9lbs and 4oz… so pink and soft, so innocent and dependent and absolutely perfect in every way. And now, you are a little boy…over 20 lbs, laughing, talking, waving…charming every person who is lucky enough to meet you. You are standing with little help and learning your first steps.  You are one today, beginning a journey—A journey that will take you in many different directions and teach you many things. As I sit here and watch you cautiously take your first of many steps in life, I think of the man I hope you’ll become and that I will go to infinity and beyond to be a good mommy to you and help guide you in your journey through childhood and into adulthood. 

You have developed into such an amazing little person already. You are the sweetest, most joyful child I’ve ever met. You are kind and curious. You sometimes get so excited that you can't help but scream and flail your arms. You are also sensitive. One stern look in your direction or a "mommy's not happy with you" and your bottom lip comes out and sorrowful tears start flowing.  There are big things ahead for you.  You have already made this world a better place for being in it and I feel so honoured to have been chosen to be your mother. 

You melt my heart every time you smile, and when you lay your head on my shoulder after a long day…it helps make the world right again. Never in my life have I been so excited to wake up…it’s because I get to wake up and be your mommy again. My angel, it is such a profound gift. 

Tomorrow we both have to start a new chapter in our lives. I know this year being at home with daddy has been the greatest gift we could have ever asked for, even if I cried in my car at recess because I just missed you so much. This last year has been an amazing journey. It has been the most rewarding, incredible, special time in my whole life. I will cherish the experience of your first year of life in a special way, and treasure it always in my heart. 

Cam, a year ago, you turned my whole world upside down. You took what I knew about life and love and motherhood and you shook it all up and rebuilt it into something beautiful; something I don’t fully understand. 

Words cannot express how much I love you, my prince, my precious boy. You are my sunshine, my heart, my purpose for being—my everything. I’m so very proud of you and grateful to be your mommy. 
Happy First Birthday Special Little Man!

Friday, August 1, 2014

On Trusting Your Instincts

I was talking to a friend of mine a last week. I was telling her how I usually know when it’s time for me to move. It seems to many that things have always fallen in place for me; in career, in love, in life. But, "falling into place" isn't exactly the right way to describe my circumstances.  I go out on a limb here to say, that I am on a carefully thought of path.  I listen when the path tells me it is time to change directions.  My friend asked me, “How do you know? What makes you aware that you ‘know’ this?”
It was a reasonable question: What is the actual sign that indicates that you “know” to do anything?

“You just know,” I told her.

“But how?” she asked, curiously.

I didn’t really have a good answer for her at the time, but it stuck with me.
After thinking about it for awhile, I realized it’s not in the “knowing” that we get stuck. We always know. It’s in how well we trust what we know, and whether we’re willing to trust it enough to act upon it.

So, how do you know that you “know” something?

Well, let me ask you this: How did you know that you were going to marry the person you married, or take the job you were offered, or go see the new doctor you read about?
What made you decide that this was the right decision for you? What made you “know” that the house you bought was the right one for you or the apartment you chose to rent was the perfect spot for you?

It’s intangible, isn’t it? It’s a feeling. You know, and then you “know” that you know.

Or, how do you know when it’s time to end a relationship? Or when it’s time to move on from a friendship that is no longer serving you? Even if it’s been one you’ve been with for a long time?

I’m going to say it: usually, you know. Most often, it’s not the “knowing” that is the case. It’s the trusting. As I was reflecting on instincts and taking leaps and changing paths, something jumped out at me.  Literally!  My youngest leapt into my lap off the couch.  He jumped knowing that I would catch him.  He does such things often.  He runs at me full tilt, lunging himself at me trusting that I will be there to catch him.  How does he know? Is it a feeling? A look? Instinctual? Trust?

Trusting that our assessment is accurate, that our feelings are valid, that our observations are not all in our head. Trusting that we know what is true for us. And then trusting that we have enough courage to take action on what we know.

We often doubt ourselves. We wonder “What if I’m wrong? What if something better doesn’t come along? What if it’s not the right time? What if…?”

So, what to do?

My feeling about it is this: We always know what is going on with us, but fear has the opportunity to creep in when we second guess ourselves. So, when I get stuck in a particular situation, I always ask myself this question:
“I know what I don’t know. But what is it that I do know?”

Then I usually go into a litany of what I actually know, either because circumstances have proven it in the past or because of a logical conclusion: I know that I can never make a wrong decision because I can always “right” my decision down the line. I know that this is an opportunity that is presenting itself now, which means on some level I am ready for it.

I know that I can try it out for awhile and see what it’s like. I know that I can always change my mind if I want to. I know that in making a decision, I will propel movement, either way, and change is good. I know that things always work out for me, regardless of what happens. The list goes on and on.
There are a few things we know. Always. And we can stand by them. 

So, what is it that stops us, really, from trusting ourselves?
That we’ve made wrong decisions in the past? That some of our decisions have caused us pain or misfortune and we are afraid of our judgment? That we don’t know what the outcome will be and so if we can’t predict it, why risk it?

What is it? Even these argument we can dispel. We are a result of all we have lived. Every experience we’ve had contributes to the people we are today. And this is not all bad. We stand at the precipice of new beginnings, right now. Life is full of second chances.

So, the question is not if we’ve made poor decisions in the past. Undoubtedly, all of us have!
The question is: How willing we are to get up to the plate and swing again? Make a new decision, have a new experience, try something new?

Trusting yourself is a practice, but you can’t get the practice if you don’t start somewhere. How is it that you gain trust of anyone in your life?  Time. Watching whether they do what they say they’re going to do. Consistency. Faith.

So, start with yourself. Build the kind of trust in yourself that you would want in a good friend. Make a decision, stick to it. See what happens.

Someone once pointed it out to me that choices are “strategies.” They’re not right or wrong, good or bad. They simply either work or don’t for the time being. And when they don’t, you can always choose a new “strategy.”

In either case, it starts with us. Are we willing to take the bet on ourselves that we “know”—that it’s time, or that it’s ours, or that we need to take the risk and just go for it?

That’s what it takes.

Trust in our truth. Faith in ourselves. And a little bit of surrender.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On Letting Go

Letting Go

The hardest part of life for me has been learning to let go. I often give generously of my heart, feelings and spirit. Please pardon the cheesy cliche, but I wear my heart on my sleeve.  When I feel that the most valuable parts of me have been thrown away or disrespected, I have a hard time moving past it.  
I have come to learn that sometimes not doing anything does more to heal a situation than over-reacting or demanding a resolution. You just have to drop the rock.

Letting go may be more of a selfish act than you would think. It is an act of forgiveness — or a decision to not become the judge and juror — and to let people off the the hook. In forgiving we free ourselves to work on and experience what matters, the people in front of us that really matter. 
Of course, the alternative is walking around holding grudges and/or worrying and essentially drinking poison expecting the other person to feel the pain. It’s the equivalent of renting space in your head to things you can’t control.  This type of mental energy is really unproductive, and something that I think impedes your ability to move forward and really let go of what that person meant in your life.  

The Big 3!

In my life there have been 3 big things that have begged for me to let go.  Interestingly enough they are all different in nature.  One was a relationship that left me feeling little, used and thrown away. The next was the loss of a circumstance or opportunity that had meant .  The last was a result of a death.  All 3 have a common theme; I was left feeling hurt, angry and resentful.  

My pattern of dealing with this type of grief is to push it away and harbour the negative associations internally.  Typically, I will end all attachment, tidy up all the positive memories in a neat little box in my head and never look back.  I have come to realize in the past few weeks how toxic this can be. In the end, the other parties are not hurting, it is just me left grieving. And thus, began my journey of letting go.  

As part of the challenge to myself, I wrote out my grievances, and then tried to look at it from the other persons’ perspectives. While I may not agree with their actions, I could see they were simply acting in self interest, rationalizations and justifications. No one thinks they are actually doing wrong, usually.
This is important. If someone doesn’t think they have done wrong, they won’t apologize or rectify a situation. Part of letting go, is truly being content with never getting the apology you think you deserve. See most people hold grudges because they are waiting for the other party to acknowledge and correct a wrong. The expectation of an amends is likely to remain unfulfilled, creating an ongoing pattern of negative resentment. I become a prisoner of my own angst.

The low probability of receiving an amends makes it critical to let go of small and big issues alike. Letting go has allowed me to be free. In the case of “The Big 3”, I was able to see why these people acted, and why the situation occurred and I decided to let them off the hook. That doesn’t mean I endorse their actions, it just means that their negative projections no longer have a place in my head nor heart. By letting go, I was able to free myself of resentment. I could focus on what mattered; the people and opportunities in my life today. The long and short of it is to cut the bullshit.   

The most profound thing that has happened as a result of forgiving and letting go has been the space that has been freed up in my head and heart.  It was as if a huge burden had been lifted.  I can now clearly see the beauty that exists in my life.  My heart is not consumed by grief and hurt.  It.  Is.  Liberating!