Mostly we pretend
That underneath our clothes we are
Yet here you sit
The preparations made
The people invited
And now here we all sit
From the audience
I watch you begin
To get naked
At first I’mRead More
There is a fallacy in our capitalist-driven society that if something is not ‘impressive’ it’s not really worth much – and if it’s not impressive, it should at least be very useful to make up for it.
So for example, if I ask you to think of a woman in her forties or fifties, unmarried and without children, in her kitchen in an old dressing gown what sort of automatic thoughts do you have about her?
Without trying to ‘correct’ your thoughts just see what happens in you. Stop reading for a moment now and observe your thoughts and preconceptions about her there in her kitchen. Do you automatically jump to any conclusions about her happiness? Do you have any unconscious value judgements on her worth and contribution to society? Is she important in your societally-trained assessment?
How do you feel about these thoughts and preconceptions you have?
I find it quite upsetting that a part of me does immediately leap to question her real worth and importance because I deeply KNOW that this is not true or relevant – yet there it is in me.
What if I told you this lady was Shirley Valentine? Would it change how you saw her?
What if I told you it was Oprah?
What if you pictured a man instead?
We are terribly hampered by these skewed views our capitalist society imbues in us. We are trained out of appreciating daily beauty and the direct result of this isRead More
After my talk on using parenting for your own individual growth this weekend someone asked this question:
“What is the role of the parent / hero in the world of the child?”
Don’t you love it when you’re dealing with something and suddenly you find the topic seems to crop up everywhere? Because as you know, I just asked in my last post if, as a psychologist, I’m allowed to admit to being a normal flawed human or if I must maintain a façade of perfection. I decided to just be flawed and see what happens. So far the results are good. But what about having someone to look up to?
It helps us in life, especially when we’re children – or regressed to child state – if we haveRead More
Last week I got this comment: “I also find myself wondering when exactly we can not be perfect if it’s not at home? Being in the world and holding it together all the time is really, really hard and our kids most of all know instinctively the buttons to press to test whether we are still a safe harbour. Sometimes I just can’t be. And whilst I hate that, I think it’s unfair to expect myself to be. Striving to be better is absolutely my goal and I want to try and model to my kids that we can manage our emotions without turning into a psycho…but also I think sometimes it’s ok to let your guard down and be all parts of yourself, even the dark and ugly ones. Because we all have them.”
Thank you Laura. So glad you wrote that because you made me sit and really think about it.
Striving to be nice at home can be another thing to ‘get right’. Right? So besides being assertive, ball-busting, confident powerhouses at work, we also have to be all-loving, peaceful, nurturing beings with our sometimes whining, demanding, unreasonable children. Be balanced no matter what.
That balanced thing sounds lovely – if you are Bhudda or Jesus. I don’t know about you but I’m not in that league just yet. I am often balanced, but like Laura says, we all have those darker parts of us – in other words, the parts of us that are still lost in pain and not yet reclaimed into the love and light. I’m on the healing journey; which to me means learning to love myself fully – cellulite, psycho moments and all.
The more I think about it, the more I realise that for me wanting to be nice at home is a call to myself to stay connected to Love. I want to love myself even better. This actually IS about being willing to see all of me and love me as I am because it is at home that I am faced with the truth of where I don’t fully love myself yet. I see it in my psycho moments – and those come out at home; like the cellulite.
The thing is, I want to be an inspiration to MYSELF. I try not to think I have to be perfect in order to do that. I think what inspires me most isRead More
“There’s nothing very serious going on here” I heard someone say – and she was talking about LIFE!
The more I think about it, the more I like it. Because we really do think it’s all very serious, don’t we?
For example you know how when you’re doing your final year at high school (if you get there) ‘They’ go on and on about how important it is to get good marks so you can get a job or get into a tertiary institution? ‘They’ literally tell you that your WHOLE LIFE depends on this one set of exams, this one piece of paper. At the time what do we know? We believe ‘Them’. We believe that without good marks our life will be over. It’s so stressful. Later on you realise ‘They’ were talking nonsense.
They still do it you know? You can see the stress those poor final years are under. I can’t believe they’re allowed to teach that to kids. Looking back it’s easy to see that those final year exams, those marks, are just one experience in life. They mean very little later on – except for whatever meaning we attribute to having achieved them or not. People can get excellent marks and not get the life they dreamed of and others get poor marks and go on to great things. It means very little on its own.
What if the same is true for life, and even for parenting? We are all very serious about ‘getting it right’ but what will ‘getting it right’ give us? Well if you think what ‘getting it wrong’ will bring, you’ll probably think of things likeRead More
I went to a dinner gathering last week to welcome in the Jewish new year and wish everyone a sweet new year cycle. I must say if that was the start, we are in for a good one.
It was so wonderful it wouldn’t have been out of place in a Mary Poppins book.
My children were included on the guest list and were the only children at the table but rather than that being a problem, everyone treated them with loving wonder and enjoyment so they felt included and content. Come to think of it, everyone treated EVERYONE with loving wonder and enjoyment.
We talked comfortably, we joked, we teased and for some reason it was just ok to be yourself in that space of 13 people, some of whom had just met.
We had a number of musicians at the table and after we had overindulged on delicious food we began to sing songs. We were collected from three different countries but found all sorts of common songs and laughed and clapped and sang to our hearts content. Different people made suggestions as to what next, we learned new songs from each other and sang and sang…see what I mean about Mary Poppins?
We got home very late and the kids crashed into bed at 10pm on a school night but we all woke up happy the next day.
I was simply going to write a marvellous thank you letter to my dear friend who hosted – with the intention to spend connected quality time with us all I might add – but then I realised I want to share it with you too because…
One of the men at the table is a composer, musician and overall cool guy. My older boy loves to play piano and the morning after I wished I had thought to get them talking a bit so that my child hears from someone who has made music his livelihood – just to open his world. I like to let my children know there are options out there for them.
Then I began thinking about the collection of people there and that’s when I knew I wanted to share this. At the table we alsoRead More
Yesterday I told Sam in our session that I think our task in life is to become a full expression of ourselves.
He looked at me quizzically. “What do you mean?”
“Each one of us has to learn to allow ourselves to be whoever we are, fully and unashamedly. That’s when we can all shine. That’s when the world will be better.”
He thought a while and then said, “So you mean live to our edge?”
“Our edge?” I asked. It sounded good and the energy with which he said it felt liberating and exciting.
“Yes. Right now there’s a gap between me and my edge” he explained showing me with his hand where heRead More
There is no better way to be happy and content than making sure you do what you love. That’s what I think. I don’t just mean work-wise. I am learning more and more deeply that I’ve gotta do what I love the way I love it in every way. I have to parent the way it makes most sense to me. I have to love in the way that is most meaningful to me. The work I do in the world has to give me a sense of purpose in some way… I think we all have to do what we love. Cue in Burt Bacharach crooning “What the world needs now, is love sweet love…” Can you hear it? (Click on his name here if you want to)
As I see it most of the time we are nudged along by two kinds of motivation – fear and desire. Now forget for a moment about how all those wonderful Eastern philosophies tell us we are supposed to let go of desire and not let it drive us – because quite frankly they say the very same thing about fear. So bracket that, as is said in academic parlance, and lets focus on the fact that in order to actually get your butt moving in some direction or another you need to be motivated to do so. Right? With me so far? Or did I lose you in the Eastern philosophy section and now your mind has meandered to unearthly matters? Come back now, ground those feet.
Ok so, motivation. I don’t know about you but most of my life I’ve been either drawn forward to something or chased from behind. So there is something ahead of you that you look at and go, “Ooh I want that” and you walk towards it or alternatively, you look behind you at some beasty snapping at your heels and know that if you don’t do This, then That Thing will get you. For example, “I want to be connected to the love that is me so I choose to speak gently to my whining, irritating, clingy totally irrational child” (desire) or “If I don’t speak nicely to my whining, irritating, clingy totally irrational child I will be a bad parent” (fear). Get it?
I always thought desire was a good way to go. At least you are driving the cart and it’s a joyful ride. However, following recent events in my life I’m finding out – as those darn Eastern philosophies suggest – that there’s also a third and purest kind of motivation which simply bubbles up from the very center of who you are and guides your motion and direction without your full conscious agreement or even awareness. It kind of just happens, seems a good idea at the time, actually it seems like the only real idea at the time so you do it and if anyone asks you what the hell you are doing, are you crazy, do you know where this might lead you – more politely phrased as, “Wow, you are so brave”, the only answer that makes sense is, “It just is.”
Motivated from the center, whatever you do is effortless – even if you are putting a lot of energy into it. The motivation just sort of taRead More
I have the kind of profession that inspires some kind of reaction from others. Like sometimes when I tell someone I’m a psychologist they pale and find a way to get away from me fast.
Or they ask if I’m analysing them. Normally I say, “Yes”, just to mess with them. It usually breaks the ice. And, after some bad experiences, I’ve learned to lie about my profession on airplanes otherwise my seat neighbours start to tell me inappropriately intimate stuff and I’m trapped in a long-haul therapy session.
My partner used to tell me not to psychologise him (so I do my best not to) but he will sometimes, in moments of frustration with me throw out, “And you’re a psychologist!” (in other words I really should know better). When I meet people who have a psychologist parent I tend to say, “My condolences” which they find so funny I know it’s hitting some truth.
People have asked me if knowing so much theory about childhood and personality development has been helpful as a parent. In some ways I think it makes it more tricky – my children learn ‘feeling words’ quite early and use them on me (“Mama the way you said that made me feel unimportant and like I was bad in some way” – from my 8 year old son), also I am frighteningly aware of the many ways my own issues might warp my children – but sometimes, like the other day, I am ever so grateful for it.
It was the video games conversation that brought it up. I was trying to explain to my Ninjago-loving child why I do not allow him to play fighting video games. You know the dush-dush-thwack-AAAAH! ones. We went back and forth a while with the usual, but-everyone-else-plays-them and the every-family-is-different-and-in-our-family-we-don’t conversation. You know, the one that comes in your standard pack parenting kit.
He pushed me though, he wanted to know WHY in our family we don’t. I needed to explain myself. So I thought and then said, “There are games thatRead More
Wind in the leaves of trees
soothing my soul
bringing me back
Grasses waving in the wind
silencing my noise
Birds, many birds singing
all is well
rich, holding, being
part of it
part of it all
a creature on earth
a soul from heaven
opening into the silenceRead More
I had an interesting little ponder the other day about the design of children and childhood. Why is it, I wondered, that we think only adults have a purpose? We go around trying to figure out our purpose, fulfill our purpose, decide whether there is a purpose… but our children are allowed to just Be.
I mean, what is childhood? From this perspective it’s a kind of waiting around to get big enough and learn enough to be able to do your purpose – as an adult.
So what’s the point of childhood then? Why this design? Why make humans small and knowledgeless first and wait all those years before they start to Live Their Lives? It all seems a bit pointless. Does it mean all these little people are just hanging around purposelessly waiting to be big?
If you ask someone, ‘What is that child doing’ they might answer, ‘She is playing’ and that’s considered a valid response – ‘cos that’s what children do, right? We’re ok with that. It seems fine. In fact there are many serious studies looking at the benefits of play on physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. The research tells us that when children are playing they are actually VERY busy growing and developing. It’s their work, their purpose. In actuality, their purposeless, random activities – that they will have forgotten by next week – are VERY important to their development.
But we don’t really respect the Purpose of Play. What children do, what and how they play, all seems a bit random from the outside and we adults leave them to get on with it. They’re playing. It’s ok. It’s only when they’re grown up that they’ll have to be Adults With Purpose. For now they can Be.
If you think about it though, how purposeful are any of the things we adults do? I don’t mean to depress you here, I’m getting to a good place, I promiseRead More
I’m grappling with this idea that everything I do has to be for ME.
I know it, I write it, I live it as much as I can, yet it is so different to what society normally teaches that I keep hitting snags as I strive to live it. Basically I keep bumping into some version of “It’s selfish to live just for me.”
Recently my brain is using the privilege card to argue against the selfishness case. It goes like this:
“I am only engaging with this concept of living in the way that suits me because I am privileged. It is my white, westernised, middle-class upbringing and status that allow me to consider that I am worthy of choosing to do the things that make me happy, walking away from things that bring me down and turning towards things that lift my spirit and bring me joy. Others who are less privileged don’t have the luxury of walking away from what ‘brings their spirit down’. They are thinking of survival. They have to somehow maintain a sense of self in the face of the white dominant Anglo-Saxon capitalist culture that subtly and insidiously negates their worth. Even if education and socio-economic levels are equal, someone who has a darker skin than mine has to face constant elusive derisions of their value and ability simply because they don’t fit into the mould set by western norms. I don’t have to deal with that daily onslaught. Despite the fact that internally I very much do not fit into the regular mould, I am given the benefit of the doubt because I look the way I do and speak the way I do. Even within my own grouping I happen to have many of the things that our society deems more worthy in terms of height, body type, looks, intellect… none of which I did anything specific to earn. So of COURSE I can spend my time on decadent thoughts and activities such as ‘what brings me joy’. But in fact, who the hell am I to tell others they should do that? And shouldn’t I rather be spending my time at a grass roots level uplifting others who not as lucky as me?”
Now try and argue back to THAT! Bloody hell.
I’ve lived according to that creed and it didn’t make me happy. I see others all around me living according to that angry and fear-based creed and it isn’t making them happy either.
Dr Phil likes to say, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Isn’t that so true? When you are low on patience doesn’t your whole family start acting out and falling apart? Mine does.
If the boss isn’t happy at work, is anyone else able to really shine when she’s around? If a teacher is unhappy and dissatisfied in his life, what happens in his classroom? If a politician compromises herself, how does it affect her leadership? If a child is forced to do things he doesn’t enjoy, how does that play out?
Is anyone happy around someone who is UNhappy?
You KNOW the answer is no.
So what am I doing for the world around me if I choose to live by a creed that makes me unhappy? If we allRead More