Your Book

I love you and I’m proud of you.          

I try to show you how special you are to me whenever I can and slip little I love you’s into everything. But some days the other stuff is louder. The “come here”, “listen”, “we have to”, “stop” or “just a minute”.  It’s part of growing up, along with climbing trees and silly jokes and those times when you’re scared of the dark… but the I love you’s should always feel bigger. Bigger than the reminders, the trips and falls, and far bigger than the meltdowns or tears that sometimes find you along the way.

So this is your book, little one. And every night, once your eyes finally close, Daddy and I will write in it for you. We’ll write a different thing each night that we have loved about you that day, a different thing that we’re proud of. There are so many, I doubt we’ll ever run out. When we fall asleep we’ll have that memory on the tips of our minds, ready to dream about.

In the morning when you wake you’ll find this book beside your bed and every day the story of you will slowly fill these lucky pages.

Growing up is one of the most amazing adventures you will ever have. There are twists and turns and ups and downs and moments of laughter and tears. But this is your adventure, and it’s you that makes it special. I hope that opening this book every morning reminds you just how special you are and that nothing is more important than the good bits.

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Jellybeans

There are many “wow” moments in parenthood. Sometimes they’re big ones, other times they’re beautiful bits of daily life that make you fall in love with your family just that little bit more. I had one the other day, and it was all over a packet of jellybeans.

Bodhi had been obsessed with jellybeans for a while. Obsessed in a way that a five year old does so well, with every supermarket trip spent running to the candy aisle and gazing at these mysterious sweets that he had never tasted but frequently imagined. He wanted those jellybeans with every fibre of his little being. 

Sweets are something we do very rarely, so I tried – and failed – to distract him. He asked about jellybeans several times a week, even telling me that he was dreaming about them and imagining holding them in his hand. 

Last week I found some vegan jellybeans – unhealthy enough to be sweet and colourful, but healthy enough to be free of anything artificial. He jumped up and down and cheered when I bought them, but waited patiently until a ‘junk food day’ before he could have them. 

On Monday, my wide-eyed little boy got his jellybeans. He flung himself into my arms bubbling with professions of love and clutched that packet with everything he had. His hands practically shook as he tasted the first one. His eyes closed and he sighed – they were “perfect”.

Then my boy gave me one of those wow moments.

In between savoring his jelly beans he came over to pop a few in my hand, then ran to the other side of the house to give some to daddy. Sebastian had been given four or five, and Bodhi the rest of the pile, but instead of eating his long awaited stash he looked at his brothers high chair tray with those few colourful beans and then at his own pile.

“No, that’s not fair, is it?” he said, then gathered up a handful of his precious sweets, placed them in front of his brother, and sat stroking Sebastian’s hair while he excitedly ate, saying “Here you go brother. You deserve good things.”

 After all his giving, Bodhi ended up with around a quarter of his jellybeans left. And he didn’t care. Not one bit.

After their treat Bodhi sat in the doorway to his room with Sebastian curled up on his lap, head over his heart, chubby toddler arms wrapped around his big brother.

This was my wow. Because it’s in these little moments that he shows me ‘him’. In these moments, while I still have the privilege of knowing him better than the world does I get to see who he is, and I love him all the more. 

I am blessed to have so many wows. Some are like this. Some happen at the dining room table when he announces “Every woman in the world is beautiful when she has heart love.”, or when my husband and I are grumpy at eachother and he walks up to his Dad with the courage of a lion and sticks up for his mum (even when I was probably at fault ;). Some are wows because we help eachother come back to the best of us at the times when we’re frustrated or angry or upset. Some are wows of beauty, others of rawness and trust.

Some push me, some catch me: all humble me.

Thank you jellybeans, you brought sweetness with you.

 

cuddles

 

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

 

Seeing the same things differently

Yesterday I was flat. Flat for a whole number of reasons that I couldn’t quite place. I had to think about what was missing even as its absence gnawed at me.

Connection was missing, between myself and my husband, which came down to busyness and tiredness rather than lack of love.

Variety was missing, or at least I couldn’t find it under the piles of mess I was sure I’d cleaned up yesterday.

Exercise was missing, in amongst all that needed to be done, I felt sluggish, and that sluggishness kept propelling me towards chocolate.

Chocolate was, sadly, not missing.

I felt, when it really came down to it, that I was missing. Like I had misplaced myself somewhere amongst the “to do” list of every day, and the nightly preparation for it to start again.

You see, every day, mothers and fathers do something quite remarkable… they care about someone else more than themselves. They find themselves noticing things that their kids would like, preparing things to make them smile, finding things that will help them feel fulfilled. They hide wonder in every day and help their child find it.

There is so much joy in caring for others. SO MUCH. There is a gift of perspective in it, of patience, of belonging. It’s a role without comparison and it gives me immeasurable happiness. But sometimes, just sometimes, I miss the days when I was only looking after me.

When I would wake early to run on the beach and swim even in the winter, when I would have a clean house and car free of popcorn and stray socks, when I could safely pee without a toddler dismantling something in the next room, when my nights would be spent laughing with friends, lost in books or dancing the tango. When I had enough spare time to read textbooks just because, or to write endless emails in languages I didn’t quite understand.

I missed that me yesterday, because from where I was in my flatness the grass back then seemed so much greener.

Then late at night, with my babies in bed, I watched a clip called “This is Water”. It was about perspective. And I needed it. Because it reminded me that the ‘me’ I was missing that day, used to ache for everything I have now.

It reminded me how much I wanted this gorgeous family, this wonderful husband, this beautiful house. How much I wanted these messy, smelly dogs and the couches now piled with the washing of the people I love. It reminded me how much I wanted to grow and learn, and how I had learned more from these past five years of motherhood than I ever learned in a book or a yoga class.

The frustration at my son’s cranky mood faded, when I remembered how I had always thought I wasn’t a patient person. And here I was, being one, even when I’d rather not be.

I woke up this morning with the pile of washing still to fold, and the dishes still in the sink. My husband and I were still busy and my kids still did their best to push my buttons.

But I wasn’t missing anymore. I was back here in the thick of it. Frustrated and happy and inspired and wanting more. I’d made a decision to make more time for the things that mattered, but also not to worry so much about all the stuff that didn’t.

Because we’re like chameleons, all of us. We might not look the same as we did a week ago, or a year ago, or as we will in the future. We might not have the same things to say or the same group of friends, but that’s kind of the point. Because we change to fit in with where we are, without ever really changing at all. We are us, vibrant and whole, and able to take this day before us on with gusto.

It cannot make us less.

And every bit of ourselves we have given our children, every ounce of patience we have earned, every mess we have cleaned up as though this time it will actually STAY clean, has given us more perspective, more richness to the colours we can wear whenever the situation calls for them.

There is a story in every day, and every one has a moral, every one has a challenge, every one has humour and every single one has a happy ending hidden in there somewhere. Sometimes it’s easy to see, and sometimes you need to try a little harder… but you can. The days that have come before it have taught you how.tomorrow

Maintaining the Mind

We are where we are, for the most part, due to choices, and for the rest often due to energy and intention. That’s not to say that experiences don’t come into our lives for a reason, that there isn’t learning to be found in them, but it is ultimately our own perception that unwraps the present.

My focus at the moment is maintaining my mind, but like most of us my attempts at sabotage are impressive.  Perhaps at our core we are both order and chaos. It is the order that encourages meditation, reflection and peace, and the chaos that seeks to sustain itself, so convinces us otherwise, with tiredness, procrastination, and all the ‘busy’ we surround ourselves with.

Things have been hectic lately. Possibly more so than usual or possibly the same, I might just be unwrapping it differently. Ultimately I am only ever in this moment, and more often than not this moment feels good. It’s all the other moments I keep jumping to that trip me up and stop me noticing the present before me.

I realize that the solution to this is meditation – it’s training my mind to drown out the noise of all the ‘stuff’ and focus. That focus can be on what I want, on the idea of the greater good, or even just on the fullness of the moment.

When I do this I find clarity, joy and an immense amount of perspective. It’s not that the puzzle falls into place so much as I realize that it was never out of place to begin with. It doesn’t have to take long, five or ten minutes once or twice a day even. It’s pretty impressive that such a tiny investment of time can have such great returns, proven returns even, with numerous studies and even quantum physics affirming that our thoughts and intentions shape our reality.

But how many of us actually do it?

More often than not we externalize. We maintain our houses, our cars, our finances, our jobs, our families, our pets, our bodies – but how many of us honestly can say that we invest the time to maintain our minds and spirits – the greatest influencers of our experience?

I read an analogy once about teaching children give and take. It suggested having two jars half filled with marbles. When you did something kind for them, you would place one of your marbles in their jar, and when they did something kind for you they would do the opposite. If either jar became empty there was no more to give. I like that. It’s a visual way of showing that we need to take care of each other.

Maybe we need to do it for ourselves too.

Giving doesn’t need to take away from us, doing something for another doesn’t need to drain us, and intense times in our lives don’t need to stress us. But they often do – because if we’re not putting anything back we’re prone to losing our marbles ;)

We are physical beings, and that’s good, but we’re more than that too.

Today, I’m going to nurture the ‘more’. I’m going to maintain my mind.

Today I’m going to take that ten minutes twice a day for me. I’m going to take it back from the internet, the television or the hamster wheel of thoughts that might otherwise be in its place.

I’m not going to let tiredness be an excuse, because rest is so much more restorative when I’m at peace.

I’m going to remember that there are many ways to give, and that my joy, like other’s, is infectious. I can give more to those around me when my jar is full – and I have the ability to fill it.

In doing this I will be more aware of this mind that I’m maintaining. I will naturally use words that are kind, and unwrap the world before me with the perspective of the present.

I don’t need to do anything fancy to make this happen. I don’t need to lose myself in techniques and how-to’s, I just need to reclaim that little bit of time and be aware of my breath, be aware of the now, and hold onto a positive feeing. My only goal in that time is to silence the ‘stuff’ and connect to that ‘something greater’. Some call it God, some call it their higher selves, and some just call it their subconscious. It doesn’t matter what I call it and it doesn’t even matter if some of the ‘stuff’ gets through the silence. It matters that I’m there. It matters that I’m choosing my highest good in that moment.

I deserve this today, and tomorrow too. But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I’m going to do it a bit at a time, because that’s the way that things usually get done.

I might try to talk myself out of it again, to sabotage it with tiredness or busyness or ‘stuff’, but that’s ok, because I’m going to come back to this.

 Today I’m going to remember not to lose my marbles.

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The problem with positivity

I have a problem with positivity, or rather, I have a problem with the positivity cult.

You know the one.

The one where a person finds ‘something’ – God, religion, themselves, a guru, the new age, and all of a sudden they’re so fucking happy. Happy is good. Happy is amazing. I love happy. But this kind of happy only looks that way until you get close enough, then you realize it’s all a bit too one dimensional.  It’s forced. A joy Band-Aid if you will.

A Band-Aid covers something that’s wounded and allows it to heal. If one dimensional happy does that then it’s wonderful.

But at some point the Band-Aid has to come off.

Life is constantly in a state of flux. From the tides to our breaths there are highs and lows.

Even a heartbeat has ups and downs.

Sometimes we forget that it’s natural. If your car gets a flat tyre, your child has a tantrum at the shops, you bark your shin on the coffee table or you’ve just had bad news I’m sure you’re not smiling. I hope you’re not. Not then.

I’m not encouraging negativity – far from it. Optimism and positivity are essential parts of a happy life, but sometimes we get so focused on how we should be we lose the integrity of our own feelings. We get into the band-aid state of happiness, or flail to avoid the natural lows and in doing so throw ourselves out of rhythm and wind up feeling worse. We get stuck.

As a mother especially I need to remind myself this. I need to remember that it doesn’t matter how much love I have in my heart, or how insanely grateful I am for my family – some moments just stink. Some days are exhausting, sometimes the kids are just excruciatingly loud, sometimes the mess breeds faster than horny rabbits and it doesn’t take away from all the wonderful in my life to admit that. And BE tired, or BE pissed off, or BE angry or sad.  BE authentic.

Then just let it go.

We get caught up sometimes in the fact that we should know better. We’ve read books that tell us our thoughts create our words, our words create our actions, our actions create our habits and our habits create our destiny. Or something like that. But we are emotional beings. It’s not a design flaw – we’re meant to be.

The more at peace we are with those moments of madness the less intensity we need to give them.  Aristotle said “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” It is the same for emotions. Let them come, play witness to them, own them, then let them go just as freely.

When you swim at the beach you get to know the waves. You know the ones that push you down and the ones that lift you up. You know that, for the most part, if you just relax, if you just go with it, the lows are followed by highs. You don’t need to fight for them, they’re yours.

At some point we have to learn to trust happiness. We need to trust that it’s ours and go with the flux. Laugh when you feel it, smile because you want to, see all the wonder around you and celebrate it but don’t be afraid of those lows. They don’t make you less. They don’t make you flawed.

They just make you honest.