Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Diaries of a Mad Woman

She sat there feeling very alone and scared, frightened, not from the angry women that surrounded her or what she was about to hear. She knew the truth, she knew what had brought her to this moment.  What she was most afraid of was change, fear of the unknown, fear of once again looking in the mirror, digging deep and remembering.  Remembering the many things she witnessed, learned, became and imitated, and most of all she feared she had damaged and taught the two things in this world that meant the most to her.  What if what she learned sitting with these 15 women was that she had done irreparable damage to her children.  What if she learned she was damaged beyond repair and that change wouldn't happen.

As I sat down in the comfortable black leather couch this evening, week two of five, I looked around the room and took note of the women that surrounded me.  They did not look angry, they did not look crazed and not one foamed from the mouth.  When I heard each one of their short stories of what brought them to this place, I realized that I am far from alone and the company I keep is of moms, grandmothers, sisters, lovers, store clerks, teachers, lawyers, they are all of us, the difference is... each one of us for what ever reason is there to change. Each one of us wants to learn, we recognize a need to change.

The first week I sat with these women I was full of emotion, I was ashamed to be there, ashamed to be seen, scared to share. And now this week, a week after learning a few small skills I entered the room excited to share, to learn, to be open and willing to go deeper and further into my soul, into my being.   I am excited to change, the possibilities of learning skills to keep me from saying and doing out of anger, things I can never take back.  I want to live my life with no regrets, but I also want to live my life full of kindness and love. 

As she got in her car to drive home she reflected on the last two weeks and what she learned in these classes,  change would not be easy, if it were everyone would do it, and it would be no big deal. But by being present, being conscious of her feelings and practising QTIP she may just be able to do this.  And then she imagined a life where she never lost her cool, a life where her children heard praise ten times more than they heard her yell.  For the first time in her life she felt as though she was ready to be herself, to be person she was born to be, to act as she wants to act not as she'd been taught.    She was ready to be the Mom, wife, friend she imagined.  Not imitating her parents, but parenting as Alyson would parent. 

I am not saying my parents did not do an excellent job, they did, rather there are things I would like to change about myself.  Things I would like to re-learn as an adult, as a parent, as a wife, as a friend.

Until next time, 
(QTIP = Quit taking it personal)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On Being a Mom

On the bookshelf I glimpsed the corner of a journal I started writing the day I found out I was expecting. It had been awhile and I love reading my account of being a mom. The book has pictures, drawings, songs and on every page, various degrees of emotion expressed such as excitement, fear and love. Of course this was not the time to read it. The dishwasher needed to be loaded, I had brought home work to do and the lunches still needed to be made.  Maybe I could read just a page or two; it had been a long day. 

Right away I opened to a photo of me looking like I swallowed a watermelon whole. It always makes me smile to think I carried that 10 + pound child and there was no getting him out. I remember trying to sleep, rolling over, tossing, turning, numb from the hips down. I would walk for hours thinking this would help the process. It didn’t. My sister teased that my child would be born on her birthday which was two weeks past the due date. I vehemently swore there was no way he was staying in there that long. He did, she was ecstatic. I wasn’t.

I fast forwarded to toddler Tyler and was reminded of how busy he was – virtually into everything. I was amazed at how quickly he learned despite the fact that he was always so sick. I cannot differentiate whether the empathy I feel for the then single mother was because I could feel it through her writing or, because I lived it. Surgeries came and went and we got through it. He kept growing and learning and growing. My daughter joined our family when she was 14 and Ty was 3. I remember the connection I felt between the three of us and reflected on how important that would be in the years to come. As all 14 year olds, she had her struggles and she got through them. I watched her in the same way I watched Ty. She was always learning and growing. Ty is now eight and Tash is 19 and we have all travelled far, physically and emotionally since those early journal days.

I put the book down and smiled while doing the menial tasks I wanted to avoid in the first place. The work I brought home had lost it's urgency. I reflected; despite the uncertainty involved in being a parent, (children don’t come with manuals) the thing that never fails to amaze me is the bond and connection that is always present through every stage of their development. Becoming a parent means that a million times over you will watch your heart walk around the room and in return you silently commit to being the best parent you can be. For me, this magic is undoubtedly the most endearing benefit of being called Mom.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Community is best for all

I am a strong believer that life is better when you live in your community, and when I got an environmental reason it just got better...Here is a smidgen of my experi'mental' leanings:

A few years ago on a road trip to Vancouver Island I was listening to CBC radio while driving the beautiful coastline highway.  You'll have to excuse me as I have a terrible memory for details but do remember what interested me.  First being David Suzuki (who I adore and love to listen or watch when ever I get the chance), as soon as I heard his voice we stopped scanning for a station to listen to.  He was talking about the environment and what we are able to do to help the downward spiral that consumption has taken us.   He spoke about Walmart and how he believes that Walmart is one of the best companies going forward for environmental reasons, that they are set to a goal of being a zero waste company.  That was fascinating (I still rarely shop there as they are not there yet, and I disagree with some fundamental business practices, instead I prefer to spend my money in the smaller more local mom n pop shops or Canadian chains when I can).  But the part of the program that most peaked my interest was an environmentalist from California (I wish I could remember her name she was fantastic) that when asked if buying "environmentally friendly" products was making a difference she said no.  She said the absolute best thing the average person can do to have the largest impact on the environment is to live with in their community.

That statement got me thinking, and for the past 2 years I have been doing my best to do exactly that.
Here are a few ways that my community has helped the environment:
We have a great hand-me down program at R-Town, kids clothes, toys, sports equipment, baby furniture all get passed from home to home sometimes having 5 or 6 kids getting use from a single item. 

By getting to know our neighbours we spend more time eating together as a community, consuming less, driving less, and with less waste.

I have made a conscience effort to do  my shopping as close to home as I can when I can.  We drive much less than we did by discovering great shops closer to home, and the added bonus, most are mom and pop shops that need our support and in doing so we help create jobs with-in our community. 

As it turned out living with in our community had other great perks that go beyond the environment and consumption.   Because we got to know our neighbours we now spend a lot of time together and with that comes this peaceful feeling of security, there is always someone around to watch the kids if need be, and spending time with girlfriends has helped me more with anxiety and depression, than any councillor ever did (not hating on councillors just saying)... Which in turn did help the environment and my consumption, after all going and talking with a friend has saved me thousand of dollars in counselling bills and hundreds of tanks of gas getting there...

R-Town is about to have the Grand Opening of our much anticipated Common Room.  It is a general, multi-purpose room for residents of R-Town to use.  In my mind I saw great community events that bring neighbours together and turn them into friends, that had people coming together to do social activities to brighten their spirits, to bring that secure feeling I have to anyone willing to put themselves out there. My fear is that fear itself will not allow these things to happen.  The fear of the room getting wrecked, the fear of it costing money to run, the fear that people are evil and of course the one that no one can control, the fear of something new.
I believe if people show up, they will have fun, and given the opportunity every ones lives can be enriched by spending time with one another.  And building a stronger community is in every ones best interest.. even the environments.

- Aly