when Hillary visits my dreams

imageAs a mother of three, I don’t sleep much. I also *should* be using a CPAP machine but that is a confession for another post. Few hours of sleep means dreams are few and far between.

I have only in the last 2 years begun analyzing my dreams with my therapists. Freud’s theories on dream were enlightening and have helped me greatly in understanding the inner workings of my unconscious.

Most of the winter, I dreamt of Canada Geese. Broken ones. Angry ones. Dirty ones. I somehow began reading Mary Oliver again. Then, through On Being with Krista Tippett’s Poetry Project, I spent an hour long commute with Oliver and Tippett. And she read Wild Geese.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver

These geese in my dreams, I am them. Broken. Angry. Dirty.

Since the disaster of last U.S. presidential election, Ms Rodham Clinton has made a few appearances in my dreams. She speaks softly. She wipes away my tears. She is all done up as she was at campaign rallies. Crisp pant suit, hair sprayed to a halt and perfect make up. Often time she is still Secretary of State. Other times she is president. And I am there with her. And she loves me. I gather this has little to do with Hillary Clinton. Aside from the admiration I still hold for her determination, her intelligence and her great support for intersectionality. Aside from the slight ressemblance to one of my profs. I know this is about me. I am HRC! She is me.

The strong female spirit I see in Ms Clinton is one I wish to unleash for myself. Let the geese fly away and migrate out of the unconscious; into the conscious. Take hold of the tissue and wipe away my own tears. Use a soft voice to care and address myself instead of the harsh critical superego. She is an amalgamation of the geese flying alongside me through this journey. My school mates and my professors. The ones that have no doubt in my abilities. The ones who have buoyed me through the last few years, wings spread wide, keeping a safe space under them. Those who have helped me believe I could because I am.

The power of women allies is stronger than ever. The role I play in other’s lives is a privilege I may take for granted. At times, we must move aside so the light can shine on another sister. It is a very bright light and changing position will not take it away. The greater light and awareness is shed on all female is a step toward a brighter future for our daughters and sons.

Along Hillary and Mary I listen to the geese, announce my and your place in the family of things. I vow to listen to your despairs, yours, and I will tell you mine. I will fly high and head home again! The future IS female.

 

 

 

 

keeping count

IMG_3511I was too skinny and my mental health was suffering. I had just turned 18 years old. I knew little. I did know there were feelings I had never felt before and I sort of knew they were not what I wanted to be feeling. There were some major transitions coming in the summer of 2000. Two of my best friends were heading West to better their English skills, others were off to cool adventures with family or boyfriends. I was so lost.

When I loaded my life in a few luggage and embarked on that bus, I took 3 or 4 Gravol. I wanted to sleep the entire way to Toronto. Perhaps I did not want to wake up. But I did. I woke up. At Union Station with the content of my life spread around my legs and those of my mind spread across thousands of kilometres.

My children are nowhere near the age where they want to pick up and go on an adventure. In fact one of them claims he will never marry and live with us forever. At this point, I’m ok with that. I however understand how my parents must have felt. I was to be gone only a few months; a year maybe. Today marks my 16th year as an Ontarian.

It is nearly impossible to remember the first feelings. The first few months living in Orangeville with my aunt and trying to figure myself out. I learned the language and was hired by an airline. I worked, made money and began travelling. As time passed, the world opened itself to me and my views broadened with each experience.

I have found it helpful and encouraging to count each additional year since my big move. However, this time around, it doesn’t bring me as much joy. I am not sad or angry, simply indifferent. I am counting the 5 more years before I graduate, which will mean my eldest son will be 13… a teenager. I am counting 2 more years, where I will have lived here as long as I lived in my home town.

The thing is, those year are passing much too fast. The months, weeks, days, hours, minutes… There is always so much to do and not enough time. I want to hug my kids and play in the creek with them. I want to sit outside with my man and talk about our lives and our dreams. I want to spend time with my beloved friends and all the love they share with us. I want to read all the knowledge I can absorb. I want to make space for all the feelings I am digging up working so hard at becoming a psychotherapist and be able to help people some day. I want to write all I feel and think and one day, look back at this amazing life we made for ourselves and let my mind travel through the beautiful memories. All because I did wake up.

I woke up and the sun rose again. Some days are a little darker but one thing for certain, the sun will shine again.

From here on, I’d like to quit counting and revel in the days, bright and dark. Because I know now, after all the diapers and colic and sore nipples and scratched knees and tantrums and soccer  practice and piano and swimming lessons, I am fully and blissfully awake.

Love,

Maman M.

i am fat

You see, I am fat. There are no other way to say it. I am not exactly curvy as standards would have it. I am not voluptuous

fat-catunless my husband is concerned. I am simply FAT. The scale says it. My BMI says it. Everyone one on my Facebook feed says it.

You see, I am studying to become a psychotherapist. Some of my work is a VERY intense training group which makes be dig up all the hidden ghosts in my imaginary closet. The thing about being a psychotherapist is having little to no judgement. AT ALL. Toward others AND toward yourself. FAT CHANCE! Thankfully, I have 3 more years of this work to do.

Let’s get back to the fat. I have been wired to feel that, the fat cells on my body, the ones people see and judge, are like penalty cards to my intelligence. My place in the world and my entitlement. Entitlement to opinions, feelings, bravery, etc. I am FAT therefore, I have less of an impact on others and the world.

In the last few years, I have had a few “free” passes. The last 8 years, I have been either pregnant or nursing. I suffer from a thyroid problem that makes it that much more difficult to lose the baby weight. I am on an anti anxiety/anti depression med that makes me gain weight. WHAT-eh-VER. I AM JUST FAT.

For my body to become smaller, I must starve, have emotional ups and downs, work out until I throw up and live like I am a different person. All because I need to be a certain way so I am seen a certain way!

My weigh and my appearance are a constant reminder that I am worth less than the common human being. People who bullied me had a right. People who didn’t like me were justified. People who looked at me differently were allowed.

My boys are 8 and 6. They know. They know that my stomach, which isn’t quite like the flat stomach of this other mom with 3 kids, isn’t “normal”. HOW. How do my children know and feel like my stomach should be flat and not protrude from the seam of my yoga pants?

Will my little girl know what it feels like to be FAT? Feeling fat is a complete other topic and please visit this article my friend Dawn posted which is brilliant and she is totally freaking gorgeous, inside and out.

Will my girl OR my boys get my genes? Will they feel what it feels like to be FAT. Will I have ingrained enough power and self awareness into them so they know they are magnificent, regardless of size, color, race, gender, etc.

You see, we are not wealthy. We are not wealthy because my main focus is to ensure they know who they are inside. We are not wealthy because I spend, or my guy is willing to invest, 8 plus thousand dollars a year in my self discovery so I can help people one day  love that they are FAT and smart and compassionate and generous and aware.  That the size of their asses has absolutely nothing to do with who they are as people of this world. And we, can do anything and everything. We are worthy or everything and anything: Friends, husbands, children, no children, families, friends, network, communities, faith, God, love. LOVE. LOVE. We are WORTHY of LOVE. ALL THE LOVE. Your size is utterly unrelated to the level of love you’re able to give or entitled to receive. LOVE WITH ALL YOUR HEART. AND LET US BE LOVED.

LOVE,

Maman M.

 

 

 

 

 

learning to land

Scan 10There are so many elements of my training in becoming a psychotherapist. I attend lectures weekly and lecture seminars monthly. There are the odd days when graduates share their most recent papers on the Oedipal Complex or Winnicott’s concepts. A very important part of this program, which few people understand, is a very intense, 4-year, 440-hour Group Therapy session.

In order to be a therapist and manage to support patients on a daily basis, a clear and profound awareness of self is necessary. Not only to help others, but to maintain sanity and survival. As a first year student, I am learning the ropes. Sharing my trials and tribulations and being able to sit and hold myself while reaching places within I would rather not attend to. Often, others’ sharing is the most enlightening.

Other than Freud’s Psychoanalysis Lexicon’s MANY terms and definitions, psychotherapists employ a jargon of their own. Much like educators or administrators, we develop a language of our own. For the actions of our work carry such meaning, they need terms or expressions. I am quickly learning my way around them. Although cerebrally processing words like “coming in” or “taking it in” and “holding” isn’t too difficult in the context of daily life or group, applying them is another challenge in itself.

This week, I had an epiphany on the word “Land”; to land or landing. Obviously, landing could mean arriving somewhere or at something. In this case, landing grabbed my attention in a way I have always wanted to understand and reach.

I detest conflict. I have difficulty facing a situation which may result in anger toward me. I rather walk away when I notice others heading to an argument, heated or not. I immediately reach flight reaction and fear danger. When faced with adversity, I have a tendency to hide. It is more comfortable to take the blame or pretend than having a needed conversation with someone. My fear of rejection wins. This week’s session shone a very bright, concert worth, light on my issues facing negative feelings and conflicts.

Landing. Making space for emotions, conflicts, etc. Allowing all these to land somewhere allows one to take ownership; to hold these situations in the basket with all the other parts of us.

I have noticed myself become increasingly assertive. The fears associated with speaking on uncomfortable topics or situation are slowly, very slowly dissipating. I have even been able to say “no” at times.

Amazingly, making space for all these things to land some place safe, instead of keeping them in, deeply nestled in my super critical self, has allowed the better parts of me to take more space. Clearer, neater and safer mind.

This is going to be a journey. A winding road I am learning to face. Small steps toward feeling worthy and entitled to those ugly and terrifying confrontations. Because, most times, the outcome is made so much scarier in my mind, than it actually is.

I want to make space for a smooth and bump-less landing of self. To grow to the best and most wholesome self I can offer my future clients. Much work; much work.

With love and hope.

Maman M.

 

 

 

The Lists of Lists

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 2.00.12 PMLast summer, I read Crystal Paine‘s book “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode“. Paine is a blogger, a mom who homeschools her three young children, a Christian and frugal-living expert. There are very few books I would read over and over again or recommend to everyone. I have to say this has made the top 3. Number one is still The Road Less Traveled by M.Scott Peck, M.D. and it would take a lot to dislodge that gem.

Paine’s book was recommended by Michael Hyatt, a writer and Platform Coach whom I enjoy reading, and many other mom bloggers whom I follow. I ordered it and intended to read it but, I was in great denial. I didn’t feel I was surviving! I felt I had my life under control and was managing pretty well. It took me about about two days to read and have to face, head on, how wrong and delusional I had been. This book, like no other, truly changed my life. I certainly had been searching for ways to make more sense of the chaos and blaming my lack of everything-I-lack for the failure I experienced daily as a mom, wife and woman. The major lifestyles we have made in the last year definitely had roots in Paine’s words. The wish for a meaningful life did live within us but she gave me my wings.

I am not writing a book review but, if you are a mother or not , if you are married or single, if you are 18 or 68, if you are religious, spiritual or non of the above, this is a book you should consider.

Paine’s concept is simple. To make the most of our lives, we need to set goals. Realistic goals. Becoming a millionaire in 2015 if you are currently unemployed may be aiming too high.  Over aiming is discouraging as the results are more difficult to see. For example, some of my personal goals were to be more intentional as a mother, be a better friend and give back. From these main and large goals, she instructs division into “bite-sized” goals. Things that can be accomplished on a weekly basis. Not scary or overwhelming, right? I do admit that the first exercises are time consuming and sitting down while supper in on the stove and kids are running around may not be the best time to intentionally create goals.

With a handful of goals, divide again. There are 168 hours per week and 24 hours a day. If sleep and exercise is a priority in the goal list, more hours have to be allocated.

After reading this book and actually spending a few hours setting goals, dividing them and allocating time slots for my priorities, I dove in and created lists. List after list of tasks and activities I would do during my day. For example, I love to read and make it a priority. In my daily schedule, I have 1 hour allotment for reading. Because it is in the schedule, I actually do it. Like budgeting, there is room is my daily hours’ budget for me to read. I am not feeling guilty for taking away time with my kids or time I should be folding laundry because it’s in the SCHEDULE!!!

If I were looking at my life from the outside, I may be thinking I was crazy and perhaps a little obsessive. But, I am very much inside it and living it daily and it has been a saving Grace.

Following my cleaning schedule was wonderful because the house was always orderly. I did one area each day and only spent the allocated time for cleaning. It worked well until we decided to move and my daily schedule didn’t make sense anymore. I tried for a few months in the new house to keep on top of things “on my own” until I became exhausted and in survival mode again. I didn’t like that place.

I spent the first weekend of 2015 going over my notes from last summer and created lists, more lists and then some more lists. In fact, this time around, because our circumstances have changed and I do a lot of driving, I made a “minute-by-minute” of my day. From the time I wake to the time I turn off the lights. I must say, it is brilliant. I know where I stand each day and I have stayed on track relatively well. The house is clean and tidy but, I haven’t slaved for 5 straight hours. I am somewhat caught up on laundry, have done lots on the volunteering allotment and half way through a great book I started on Sunday!

Because of my ability to get worked up really fast and my inability to deal with stress well, or at all, I needed this to save me from self-pity and self-destruction. Most people would find my way constricting and extravagant.We each have to do what works best for us. Out of my difficulties and failure, I have found ways to feel better about myself.

You can follow Crystal Paine on her Blog at www.moneysavingmom.com and the book is here.

With prayers,

Maman M.

When you made me a mother

1910586_9508536857_8760_nIt was December 31st, 2007. My parents were spending the holidays with us and we were preparing for the traditional Chicoutimi meal, a Tourtière. I had a swollen belly full of love. My part in the feast was to make six batches of pie crust. I focused on the task at hand in spite of my swollen ankles, sore back and inability to reach the kitchen faucet.

We were to attend the annual New Year’s eve party at my in laws that evening. After my work in the kitchen was done, (I hope I had a nap) we drove 45 minutes to our destination and prepared to celebrate a new year with our family. A year we knew was to be filled with love, gratitude and a sweet smelling little head. We prayed as a family and as usual, we grabbed plates, spoons and forks and prepared to enjoy a lovely meal.

I was big, tired and swollen. I placed my plate down, sat in a chair that was not quite accommodating my very imbalanced self. I took one bite and quickly had to lean back. That is when it happened. The sensation I have yet been able to describe. A pop or an internal implosion rapidly followed by a tremendous flood, right there, at the dinner table. L’Homme was not in my vicinity. I rushed to the nearest washroom, in shock.

I was about to become a mother.

After tearful good byes and good lucks at the door, we drove 45 minutes back to our home before going to the hospital. We picked up the bags, spoke on the phone with our doctor and it became very real. Our baby boy was coming. Not only was he coming but, he was going to be born the first day of the year.

Many details later, (pain, breathing, etc) at 7.47am on January 1st, 2008, I held my first born son in my arms. He gave me a title. The one for which I had been longing. I was his Maman and I was never going to let that go.

Seven years ago, I had the best New Year’s eve party of my life. During these years I have watched my son, the most gorgeous newborn that ever came out of Jo Brant, become a beautiful human being.

I see so much of myself in him; his humour, his sensitivity, his little anxious tendencies, his love and need of others… Then, I see so much of his Papa; his reservations, his gorgeous eyes, his great big heart, his stubbornness… It is really hard to believe that in such short years, we have grown to know, love and trust each other yet, he teaches me continuously. He makes me think about my every decision and reflect on my actions. I never thought I would look at myself through these little eyes.

I make a point to spend time with him alone. His younger brother doesn’t have that urge yet. We go on “dates” together to see concerts or visit art galleries. I make it a priority to get involved in his interests. It makes him feel we have similar interests and they are our little “things”. We truly have a lot of fun. Although it can never be too fun as he claims “it isn’t fair to E (middle son).” He now loves to read to me and having stories read to him.

I watch him with his brother and sister and my heart swells at the love and respect he has for them and they share with each other. They do fight and disagree daily, but, I notice the small gestures making a difference.

I recently read The Whole Brain Child by Dr. Daniel Siegel and it gave me great insight into my seven year-old emotion-driven boy. Dr. Siegel uses simple and concrete example to help our children develop the left part of their brain. The logical and reasonable side which children don’t use initially. My son would be a perfect case study for his book as his sensitivity and emotions can change his mood and perspective within seconds. It is truly magical having a conversation with this little soul with which God entrusted me. We are working hard together. Although I see myself in him, there are parts of me I wish I hadn’t passed on. I do believe with work, love and prayer, we can do anything. I am learning and trusting.

Happy seventh birthday T! Keep your beautiful heart and kind spirit always. We are so very proud of you.

Love

Maman M.