top rack only

On this Mother’s Day, I really wanted to be honest with myself about it all. Mothering my kids has been heart-shatteringly beautiful and sometimes just plain heart-shattering, without the beauty part to soften the daily blows. 

I can’t change anything and regret is a waste of energy anyway.  If I try to tamp the regrets down, I know they will leak out in uncomfortable ways at inconvenient times. 

Recently I noticed the TOP RACK ONLY button on the dishwasher.  “Jeff and I will be a top rack only couple probably a few nights a week when the girls leave for college.”  When I said this to myself, it made me cry inconsolably.  Damn, that’s bleak.  

These episodes are getting more frequent now as our nest nears it’s emptying…clearly a time for a little extra grace. 

When Ellis, Lucy and Willa were growing up, I often did a quick review at the end of the day, asking myself one simple question: Did I love them more than I was pissed off at them?  I don’t remember ever answering, NO.  It was all the encouragement I needed to wake up and mother them another day.

Happy Mother’s Day 2018!

What is dominating your thoughts today?

What we think about grows.

So, I started asking myself this seemingly simple question.

“What is dominating my thoughts today?” 

It’s been helpful, when I’m actually willing to truly listen and then accept the answer.  Sometimes, I don’t want to accept the answer or shift my mindset…that’s the tricky part.  I’m working on it.

these images just keep coming…

I love it when an idea won’t let me go…it seems that it’s demanding more of me.  I have some travel time to sketch and write today on my way to my niece’s wedding in South Dakota and maybe some thoughts will take root.  I’m pretty sure these images are in reaction to my “shitty roommate” post from last week.  Perhaps these images represent the flip side of our lousy inner voice?  I thought of this quote as I worked on these photographs.

“Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”

—Brené Brown

Below is the link to the post I”m referencing.

https://lisalillibridge.com/2017/05/12/three-life-changing-words/

three life changing words

Lately I’ve been thinking about my “shitty roommate”.  This is my personal inner voice—she makes me doubt myself all the time.  She puts those snarky thoughts in my head that I’m “not good enough”, “not reaching my potential” or “if only you were more like…”.

Shame is the inner language of self-attack and self-blame AND shame is my shitty roommate’s jam.

Instead of trying to kick her out (which is exhausting and nearly impossible), I’ve decided to get more curious about her…even love her up a bit. Yes, she’s manipulative AND she also has pushed me.  We’re really quite competitive.  When she has my ear, she’s granted me the opportunity to self-correct behavior that doesn’t line up with my values, seek forgiveness from those I’ve wronged or offer myself a little grace.

But now, it’s time to change the rules of engagement using one short sentence. 

true

The more I say it, the more power it has for all sorts of situations in my life.

When I question her language, my shitty roommate just puts her headphones on and leaves me alone until the next time…and there will always be a next time.  She hates those three words, however, we do seem to be getting along a little better lately.

Being my own best friend…

and modeling that for my children is really important to me.  I find this concept to be really crucial in my adult development.  I didn’t really understand this until I was entering middle-age. As an introvert, I’ve always loved my time alone.  However, the concept of really being my own best friend took years to fully integrate.  Thankfully, Lisa and I finally have this all pretty well figured out now…even though she can be a total pain in the ass sometimes.  I love her in spite of her flaws.

self love definedmy own best friend lillibridge

My Positive Psychology teacher Tal Ben-Shahar frequently reiterates that we have to give ourselves “permission to be human”.  This doesn’t mean that we have to accept every one of our behaviors as—”oh well, that’s me” and not even try to self correct.  It does mean however, that when we screw up, we can take notice, mend the damage, alter our behavior, move on and try to do it a little bit differently next time.

As our own BFF we have to encourage ourselves just as we would encourage a friend who is going through some of life’s trials.

own best friend lillibridge dakota

 

I would love to cut short some of these challenging years for my three children.  The hard years when we often aren’t so kind to ourselves…teens and early twenties.  I guess some lessons are like learning to walk before we crawl though. We simply can’t shortchange the steps.

Some of our growth requires more years of life’s joys and sorrows coupled with the experience and wisdom that follows. Regardless, I believe we can start talking to our children at a very young age about being their own best friend, enjoying their own company and knocking back negative self talk.