“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”– Martin Luther King Jr
I lost this post once, I was thinking about how greatly I’ve been inspired by the writers who keep writing during this time.
I was derailed of my normal routine by a tsunami of small changes, I wasn’t ready to get myself together immediately. It’s been one day at a time for some time, but I must say every time I compared myself to my writing friends it made inspired and hopeful for the future.
I felt like their bravery shattered the illusion that I couldn’t get out of the hole I was stuck inside of…
It wasn’t immediate, I guess it’s been months, but my difficulty being hopeful that I could get back to a good place was always lightened by comparing myself to others.
It may not be for everyone, but actually it helps me a lot. I guess it matters quite a bit in the way it’s done, but I’m surprised I didn’t allow myself to do something that works for me, just because I told “not to”.
I’m starting to find the key to “nailing life” rather than “barely making it” is being unapologetic about using things that work for you rather than doing things in a prescription that doesn’t fit.
Some people use a “positive attitude” and it helps in a lot of ways quite a bit, I haven’t found that to be the case for me, but it took so many years to objectively take a look and notice the return I got wasn’t worth the input energy.
Some solutions just sound great, and they don’t work great. Or they work for someone else, but not me. I don’t know why it took me so long to give myself permission to stop trying other people’s solutions that have consistently failed to work for me.
Open minded is great, but it becomes pig-headed after long enough. Persistence is excellent, but at point it turns to stubborn resistance and it’s difficult for me to know exactly when throwing in the towel is less stupid than continuing to beat my head into a wall.
Maybe I’m afraid of being a “flake” of giving up to easy, but the opposite extreme is just as unhelpful, if more glorified.
I’ve been like a printer with paper jam lately, I can’t do what I want and it really froze my mind to doing the best I can instead.
I’ve been watching Nanny 911 for the past three days starting at season 4. It’s been really fun watching it with my two kids, not sure if it’s because there are kids in the show or not, but we all like watching it.
I think I’m hoping to find a mom just like me or a family just like us and find an easy fix, so far there isn’t an exact fit but I’m still using the tips from the nannies.
Initially my schedule was ruined by the realities of life, then I thought it would be nice for the kids to have a free summer like I used to enjoy, but having the time unscheduled became droll without a punctuation of weekend outings.
Life is so much the same now, yet it’s as if the peaks have been cut off the mountains. The very best parts of life are temporarily gone, I didn’t know why it saddened me so much at first, but cutting off the peak of a mountain removes part of the ascetic inspiration towards the awe of nature or God, cutting off the head of a statue turns it from personal to impersonal, cutting off just a little bit of a quilt makes it a broken item, cutting a corner off an ID makes it unusable, most of my life stayed the same, yet what changed was hugely significant to me.
The two things I loved about where I live were teaching martial arts Sunday and going to the science center with my kids, those are gone and nothing has filled the hole. Both those things gave me identity, satisfaction, meaning, significance.
In “How to Win Friends and Influence People” the author, Dale Carnegie, remarked that how someone gets a sense of significance is the key of knowing how to interest or engage with someone. For me, wanting to know myself more deeply, I should have allowed myself to discover what made me feel significant as a tool of self awareness. I always had trouble swallowing my truths, I have trouble owning the truth that being a mother doesn’t make me feel significant, everyone has a mother, if that is significant, everyone is pretty much significant and the same? I find it many things, but not personally significant. It totally could be and is for others, but not for me. Because it doesn’t reflect my skills and being in any way I’m aware of… it has taught me a lot about myself, life, made me more humble, yet martial arts has given me hundreds of times more significance to myself. Significance as a internal satisfaction and contentment with my achievement on this journey of life. I like nature walks, I like science museums, I like martial arts, those things remind me there is a world bigger than my house. I dislike parenting, dishes, cooking, laundry, cleaning, tutoring, diaper changing, breast feeding, though I do my best day after day after day I don’t enjoy those things, can’t honestly even imagine myself enjoying them no matter how much someone else may. To me it’s unpaid work for a good cause, it’s not magical, it’s not a candidate of something I could enjoy with a perspective shift short of a lobotomy.
This has been the best year of my life, but not the easiest. I’ve enjoyed it the most, because I’ve never had more love and inspiration. My son was born last year, this year he had been with me all year and that was life changing because I have an ikagai, a reason to jump out of bed in the morning.
I’ve always found a reason to live, a reason to get out of bed, but I can’t remember ever having a reason to jump out of bed. There is a difference.
I’ve wanted to find an ikagai since reading about it in “The Blue Zone Project,” I never realized I was missing anything in my life as a student when all of life seemed to be about registering for classes that were overly full, trying to get a higher GPA than I was able to, saving money, working, and fantasizing about earning enough money to pay my student debt and buy a house before having kids (didn’t happen for me yet). I thought the dream job would be my reason to live and my kids would be the cherry on the ice cream, but it didn’t work that way.
I love both my children, but my younger one fills a huge hole in my soul in a way that’s almost inexplicable. It’s not just a preference for the younger one, but he adds to our family in a way that makes it harmonious, he really “completes me”… it isn’t that he is “like me” but he honestly eases the pain of being alive. He does it for everyone around him, family, family friends, it’s not just me, he has the same effect on his dad. It’s a really difficult thing to express without making it seem like my eldest is “less”, she isn’t less in any way, but she is different. My son makes me feel like no matter what I can go on, my daughter makes me feel like it’s impossible for me to fulfill her and it’s okay to get and accept as much help as I can. Those are two very different feelings. It’s not simple favoritism between children, but it’s favoritism among people, I’ve never found a human being I like nearly as much as my son. It’s very hard to define it in a way that tells my deep truth to myself and isn’t said in a way that would hurt my eldest. I feel like I can’t even think it sometimes, as if she would hear me somehow… I know my grandmother felt the same way about my father and only him, I suspect my husband’s mother felt that way about him, I think it’s something that happens all over the world commonly. I wonder how to live honestly with my daughter if I have to be lying or how to be honest with her without hurting her? I prefer a path of honesty, but maybe someday I will find a way to frame it that it doesn’t come off as more horrible than it really is…
So about three days ago the truth that I would live better with a schedule became impossible to keep ignoring. Yesterday I did something I’ve never done before, I just wrote down my actual schedule in it’s horror of imperfection and didn’t change it. It was late by the time I did that, I didn’t want to give up on making a schedule for today, yet didn’t have time left to invent a new day, so writing the actual chaotic, unwanted day that nonetheless kept happening again and again was a way forward. Today I lived on a loose schedule and it was so much better. I had a 10 AM “failed discipline” scheduled, which I forgot about, after having 4 time outs and a horrible 9 AM hour I took a deep breath, checked my google keep note schedule and noticed that I was actually ahead of schedule. Usually my daughter and I fight at 10 AM until I boarder-line verbally abuse her at 11 AM. Today I got the ineffective discipline done at 9:30 and felt strangely “on top of things” silly as that is, I also had a good laugh, the first in too long. At 11 instead of verbally abusing her I started a ballet lesson she really likes (Daniella Ballerina on Youtube) I don’t enjoy it at all, but actually my son and daughter both do, so at least they were both happy, exercising, and living their best lives for at least an hour. The day wasn’t perfect, we had 8 time outs, I got hit twice, my daughter threatened to hit my son once, my son played in the toilet which I hate, yet today was much better than yesterday.
One thing I did was to break my day up into “two” hour periods: Early Morning 6,7,8 Morning 9, 10, Day 11, 12, Afternoon 1, 2, Late Afternoon 3, 4, Evening 5, 6, 7, Night 8, 9. In the early morning we often sleep through the 6 O Clock Hour and in the evening my husband comes home so I escape parenting for an hour somewhere in those three hours… I wish it was more, but he wants to “shower” and “eat dinner” so… I guess I can’t argue either of those things any way I know of… Lately I don’t feel like I can get through the “whole day,” kind of sad, yet true. So knowing I have my time diced up I just mentally try to get through the “morning” or “late afternoon” or whatever I’m currently in. Also I try to let go of anger at my daughter in each time change, it seems to work surprisingly, today she was only well behaved for the early morning, but I did give her a reward and some positive recognition after that time was over and it felt nice to feel that she had achieved some “goodness” even if she was fairly horrible throughout the day. I took notes on myself and all her time outs as the day went on, I really hate to get into it, but knowing I am likely to expect a bit too much I really believe 90% of parents would be with me in not wanting to allow violence ext, I at least upon calming down and re-reading why my daughter in time out find it completely valid why she was in time out. I don’t know if time out will work, but it was actually my daughter’s request of how I discipline her and I’m trying it out of respect, I want her to help me troubleshoot our family issues and work as a team member (subordinate yet still a team member) and I feel like trying her way for a week will help her try mine next week if it comes to that.
So, I’m psychologically surviving on a two hour basis right now as a parent, yet I hope to switch that to thriving soon.
It’s been invaluable comparing myself to others, really made me feel like I’m not AS horrible as I feel, parenting in my exact family is just THAT hard. I don’t think any of the moms on Nanny 911 were really bad people, I haven’t found my exact match yet, but I so deeply relate to the pain of being in a position where you want to respect and honor your child deeply, but they are forming a bad habit that doesn’t merit respect nor encouragement. It’s so hard to get it through that you love them if they hit you, but you don’t want to be hit, at least my kids see it as such a rejection of them if you don’t love everything they do. As far as I know I’ve been consistent with discipline, yet it has failed so much, either I have a blind spot for myself or my daughter is just a very very tough cookie. Which could be, one of the other interesting parts of the show is seeing how some kids are quick to turn good with the Nanny and others test the Nanny with 22 years of experience basically to the limit. In the same family, same parents, same rules some “nuts” are much harder to crack. It reminds me of the dog who bit Cesar Milan, he usually shows up and says that dog is actually not aggressive, it’s anxious, easy fix… but one dog was actually just kind of a dangerous, unstable pit bull…
The title of this article is a joke, of course I don’t mean “always” compare yourself to others, but sometimes it can be uplifting. The key I guess is to compare yourself to someone normal or someone doing worse, not Elon Musk. When I am tempted to compare myself to someone famously productive I can usually feel smug because they are divorced and I am married, I tell myself (for better or worse) if it wasn’t for the effort of being supportive to my spouse it would probably be possible for me to achieve that highly in my career/sport/domain as well. And I think it really would be “possible”. That’s not to say it would be easy or a sure thing… I have very seldom found someone who had a continuous marriage, kids happy with their parenting and a superstar sports or business career, I’m sure someone is out there. It seems more often that the cost of being a super star in one field is being a failure or scumbag in another (that’s specifically my opinion about Tiger Woods, he took a human failing far past decency as far as I’m concerned). Essentially it’s good to “compare up” constructively. And it can be fine to compare against a superior person in the right light as well, not I have to be as good as them, but how can I add a little bit of that into my situation… like Martin Luther King found just the right words to reflect feelings in a simple way, how can I find the courage to let myself try that.
I wish I had a Martin Luther King sitting on my shoulder and a Ghandi, to say the most eloquent things to my children at just the right moments, but I don’t. However tomorrow I’ll read:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”– Martin Luther King Jr
Another quirky thing I do comparing myself with greats without feeling bad is think of something I have that they don’t, usually “I’m more alive” works. It works with Martin Luther King Jr, Jesus, Gandhi, and many others. It’s kind of juvenile, but it allows me to treasure the gift of life quite a bit. It’s a morbid tool that works for me.
Another person I like to compare myself to is the fictional X-man wolverine, because sometimes I lack tact. But imagining how he would have handled my same situation is really enjoyable, it’s fun imagining the carnage and also makes me proud I was a bit more reasonable than slashing people to death with retractable metal claws.
I guess the key to comparing yourself in an uplifting way is making the contest one where you win, which is always possible when it’s your own mental contest.
One of the crazy things about our life was that night time was stressful in a very similar way to Nanny 911, and after 1 day of doing the Nanny 911 bedtime routine both kids were in bed before 9:15 0 drama. One child is bathed in the day and one at night (like the show), we brush right after dinner not before bed (unlike the show), we give a night filtered multiplication review video instead of a book at bedtime because we do books in the morning (unlike the show), yet telling our daughter 8PM is settle down time and 9PM is bed time worked in a crazy way, no more negotiating for more and more videos at night. We would just put on nature documentaries, but it’s still nicer having the kids actually asleep. I moved my son, 1 years old, to his own tiny bed a day ago (like the show’s – everyone sleeps in their own bed rule) I woke up 7 times to feed him and accidentally fell asleep on the floor yesterday night, yet I have a feeling of pride at following the Nanny 911 rules.
My daughter loves all the Nanny’s, her favorite is Stella, my favorite is Deb, yet we are only five episodes into the fourth season, so I almost don’t want to commit. I really like that my daughter has a sense of wanting to have all of us thrive as a family more, be fun and supportive for her to an extent, but also bring down the fighting so it stops taking an unfair toll on my physical health and mental stamina.
I think this article is the first one I’ve written scheduled for night time, I was supposed to write from 9-10PM. Yet I went out to buy a swim suit to teach the kids to swim so my husband didn’t have them in bed on time, they went to bed at 9:15 and 9:20 instead of 8 and 9, yet that’s not so horrible. It’s better to have a mark and miss it that have no idea.
I always thought I would hate writing at night, but I don’t. It’s crazy to me how much I don’t know what I will hate until it happens. I had two motorcycles in my life, one I didn’t want at all and it was amazing for me and my life, the other my dream one, was actually not as comfortable or even better in handling, speed, or gas mileage. On the surface it looked cool, yet under the surface it was inferior in every other way. I just would never have predicted having my dream bike wouldn’t be the one I preferred.
So here I am trying to “live my best life” again, after a really ugly phase that is mostly my fault. My inability to let go of the illusion of control, desire to look for certainty in an ever changing world with no certainty or permanence and my mental inflexibility were a poor fit with the circumstances of this year, though my gratitude always provided a ray of light and my eternal optimism kept me out of any lasting depression.
Tomorrow I think I will be swimming in a swim suit, I’ve been swimming in a dress and it’s been a bit weird, much less of a problem than I imagined, yet it will feel more “legit” with a swimsuit. If I were to sum up the whole Coronovirus zeitgeist for me personally I would say it’s like swimming in street clothes, it’s awkwardly a large paradigm shift from seemingly small changes or perhaps more honestly a huge paradigm shift from seemingly large changes? I just feel like I can’t stop trying to down play my discomfort, even privately. I know others are suffering more, though some not at all, it has an uncomfortable vibe like I’m eating a cupcake in front of others who don’t have lunch… I’ll eat it, but I’ll downplay my enjoyment?
I’ve been wanting to balance the part of the day I don’t hate with my son doing what he likes, with my daughter doing what she likes for a year and a half, so hopefully this chaos and lack of a schedule turning to turmoil can be the canvas of that change which felt like such an impossible dream until I started “semi-binge watching” Nanny 911 (two episodes a day is just semi-binge watching to me).
I need to get my health straight a bit more, get my head straight a ton more, get my schedule straight somewhat more and enjoy whatever I can access instead of just hating that I can’t have what I usually love.
Sometimes “my best life” isn’t the life I want or even a happy life.
My daughter threw 7 fits today, I felt defeated by 10AM, yet I found humor in life at about 10:15 and made it through the day decently well. I replaced clearly failed discipline with possibly failing discipline, I replaced verbal abuse with an hour of ballet, I replaced disorganized school time with slightly better school time (we did thunderstorms and weather around the world, it was kind of cool actually). Life today was much better than life yesterday, it’s very easy to want more for tomorrow, yet I think it is essential to celebrate today.
Thank you so much for reading this, writing at night feels like I’m “drunk texting” I’m hoping it is as coherent as “day writing”… by reading this and not calling me a monster I take it as a sign that you are kind of on my side of the struggle to do good in the world in our ways. I never put words to that, but I kind of do, I feel we are in this life together a little bit, we are connected in a small, but real way now, our thoughts are ripples in the same pond interacting just a bit, whether it be a resonance, amplification or reduction, we are affecting one another in a subtle, complicated, yet real way. Thank you, I find you a comfort and support, I am honored by you taking your time to read this string of words in a world with so many. You are lights in the darkness that drive me to write, hope, improve and go on in the best way I can. 💞