Monthly Archives: October 2013

Monthly Mantra October

In this beautiful fall month, I find myself focused on “fall cleaning.” It’s the same concept as spring cleaning: making space for what we need, ridding ourselves of what we don’t need. I think it comes from my Minnesota roots, feeling the impending winter coming and that it means being inside with all my stuff for six months.

In the yoga teachings, we find the niyamas which are the guiding principles of things to do. The niyamas are something we work towards in our yoga journey. The first of the niyamas is saucha. Saucha is the cleansing, purifying principle. We take care of ourselves through physical cleansing and purifying. We take care of ourselves emotionally and mentally by cleansing our thoughts and letting go.

Through several twist variations on traditional poses, we create warmth in our bodies, tighten our muscles, sweat a bit, smile a lot. We let go of the extra hindrances we feel in our mental and emotional space by making room for gratitude. I also mixed in heart openers to expand through the chest muscles, relax the pectorals, and literally open the heart space a little more.

If anyone else practices “fall cleaning” in their life, I would be happy to hear about it! Namaste.

~ jibean

Forgiving Friends

It’s all about forgiving friends and having forgiving friends. Confused by that? I’ll explain.

One my best girl friends since Junior High (twenty some years ago) and I have worked to keep as close a friendship as we can going with marriages, young kids, jobs, and a distance of 3000 miles. She’s one of those friends that I can not talk to for months, then pick up the phone and it’s like we hung out yesterday. She’s one of the good ones.

On a random weekday I called after work, great for me on my commute home sans kids, yet right in the middle of her dinner time. She answered anyway. Again, she’s one of the good ones. Aside from the awesomeness of getting to talk to her because I love her humor; I enjoy her view on the world and her way of saying things from husband antics, to politics, to potty training. It felt so good to talk about what it means to be a working mom and what it means to be a mom in terms of impact on being a wife.

But, at one point in the conversation, she apologized. She apologized for having not called sooner, not checked in recently, and that a few months had gone by since she stayed in touch. I was stunned. Stunned because, in my mind, she had nothing to apologize for in our friendship. Neither of us had called, emailed, or texted recently. She has a toddler under two years old, works full-time, and a really cool husband that she enjoys spending time with; plus, I live far away with a two-hour different time zone.

I realized and told her she was suffering from mom guilt because friendships change after kids. We change as people, priorities changes, and even if the first two didn’t change, the amount of free/personal time we have changes. We’re doing our best, the very best we can, and that we can say we’ll do better, and mean it, and still not call/email/text more. That’s okay too.

So all I can say to her, to myself, and to all mamas out there: forgive yourself, friend. I have nothing to forgive. Let’s not be hard on ourselves. Let’s forgive our friends and cherish our forgiving friends.

~ jibean

Boundaries

I recently watched the movie Drop Dead Fred, an early 90’s movie, that was a key film in my childhood. It’s a hilarious movie, with some gross potty humor, and deeper meaning about believing in yourself, standing up for yourself, and being you even when loved ones don’t see the greatness in you.

Drop Dead Fred poster courtesy of IMDb.

Drop Dead Fred poster courtesy of IMDb.

Two things I realized about this movie after watching it 20+ years later as an adult: 1. It was made in Minnesota. I don’t know how I didn’t know that, I’m from there, but within the first fifteen minutes I saw locations from my childhood thru college. It made me homesick. 2. This movie, Drop Dead Fred, was very influential on me in terms of learning about boundaries.

In the movie, the mother is terrible and sometimes cruel to her daughter, Lizzie, in a controlling, manipulative way that you see in a series of back and forth flashback comparisons to her adult life. While some of the things that Drop Dead Fred says about the Mega B!tch are mean, throughout the film you begin to see that without him pointing out the awful treatment Lizzie is getting, she would have no one to contrast the emotional abuse. Though his attempts to elevate her self-worth and self-esteem are occasionally mean pranks; by the end of the film Drop Dead Fred has provided enough of a counter to her insecurities that she breaks free from two controlling, one-sided relationships and sets boundaries for herself on how she is willing to be treated in her life.

It was this movie that the first seeds were planted in my mind to hold true to myself, to trust deeply in who I am, and to protect that self-worth from those who would try to control, manipulate, or unconsciously challenge and change me. It is at a young age that I began establishing and believing in boundaries. It is up to each one of us to determine what we are okay with in relationships: romantic, parent, sibling, friendship, coworker. It is imperative that we firmly, yet kindly set the parameters for what we will and will not accept in our lives.

This becomes even more crucial as a parent. As a mom, I’ve had to face very hard, deeply painful confrontations with a father whose emotional intelligence is low and his self-focused-needs are high. My father choses to live in a way that I can tolerate individually, but cannot put my kids around. It’s not worth the risk. He also has a hurtful approach to relationships: holds a grudge, avoids conflict, and is unwilling to do anything he simply doesn’t want to do. I say this as someone who has been working to address our relationship for over ten years, attempted counseling, and had our last argument in 2011 when he decided I have too many rules (not to call after ten p.m., to be sober when visiting my kids, to not bring over friends to my house when we aren’t home, etc.)

Why am I writing about this today? Because I’ve had to make the really difficult decision that on our next visit home to Minnesota, we won’t see him. He hasn’t made an attempt to contact us since the last time we spoke at Thanksgiving 2012, at my aunt’s house, when he arrived at the last minute. No contact before the visit and nothing after. No birthday cards to my kids, postcards to see how they are, emails to wish them happy holidays. It’s one thing for he and I to have a challenging father-daughter relationship; however, not being a grandfather to two marvelous children is an active decision.

It became a question of how much do I have to cost myself emotionally. He is my father; because of him, I am alive, had a great childhood, was well taken care of and close to until I went away to college.

So, at what point am I doing myself more harm than any resulting good?

This year, I made the heartbreaking decision that I cannot work to fix the relationship any longer. It hurts to write this and it’s a grief that may never go away. But, I realized, the hurt it was causing me wasn’t getting me any closer to a semblance of the father I knew as a child. And that my boundaries needed to protect me from that. And I don’t want my kids to feel this hurt.

And, sometimes protecting yourself is really about protecting your children.

~ jibean

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