Posts tagged #new

Change Your Words...Change Your World

"Will your words colour or stain?"

"Will your words colour or stain?"

When I was in year 2 my best friend’s name was Prathanna and he was the best colour-inner I’d ever met.  He’d colour the trees pink and orange and blue, and the sky purple, and the flowers green.  He’d fill in the white spaces with solid, vivid colours that danced on the page and made my imagination run wild. 

In later years I felt compelled to replicate his style in primary school art class.  Only to be shot down by the art ‘teacher’ with the words, “too child-like, too undeveloped; demonstrates no understanding of colour”.  Some memories cut deep.  At 11 years old I was taught that self-expression was an action open to judgement, and as such should be carefully monitored. 

The time was not long following my parent’s divorce.  I was at a new school.   I’d just started getting my period.  My whole world felt new and overwhelming. 

My mum had bought a new house and for the first time in our lives we were allowed to paint our rooms any colour we liked.  Colour began to represent a big part of my self-expression.  Colour was redefining who I was and where our lives were headed.  Colour made me feel happy.  Colour (and my choice and use of it) made me feel unique.  I was also bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood…is there any wonder I was reaching out to my innocence, grasping to keep hold of times passed?

Fortunately, my achiever personality usually means I come out swinging in response to statements like these.  I would go on to be awarded top student in my graduating year for TEE Art, and I’d make coloured stockings my signature addition to the school uniform.  Nonetheless, his words still impacted me (evidenced by the fact that I remember them so clearly 24 years on).  Albeit subtly, words and statements of this nature heard and felt from many people in my life, have moulded together to form internal blocks around self-expression.  Created so easily by a cumulation of seemingly insignificant phrases, yet they take years of dedicated focus and work to breakdown and unravel. 

If only my teacher had realised the impact that one disjointed sentence would have on me.  I know he would have forgotten his words no sooner had they rolled off his tongue. He wasn’t a bad person, not at all, he just didn’t take the time to stop, to think and to consider before he spoke. 

We are fragile beings.  It takes very little to divert our course in life.  My husband still talks about the teacher in primary school who told him he talked too much.  My mum, the teacher that made her stand up and read out loud in class because she had trouble pronouncing some words.

Nobody is perfect.  We will say the wrong thing at the wrong time on countless occasions throughout the duration of our lives.  But perhaps by being more aware of the impact our words can have on others, we can reduce the number of these incidences in our life time.

It’s about understanding the part you play in the lives of others.  It’s about kindness.  It’s about compassion.  It’s about really taking the time to stop and simply listen.  It’s about giving people the benefit of the doubt.  It's about asking yourself whether your words will colour or stain the souls of others. 

It’s about knowing the ripple effect our words can have.  It’s about giving careful consideration to the words before letting them roll of your tongue.  “Is it spoken at the right time? Is it spoken in truth? Is it spoken affectionately? Is it spoken beneficially? Is it spoken with a mind of good-will?” *  By giving consideration to these five questions, the flow of energy  your words will carry will be positive and empowering to all those who hear and feel them.  

 *Statement recorded in the Vaca Sutta ( AN 5.198) slightly reworded for purpose of blog.

Isolation

"Eyes of the hurricane"

"Eyes of the hurricane"

I remember how the walls closed in on me, yet staying within them felt so much safer than venturing out with my first born.  He was what you might call a ‘challenging’ infant.  Aside from the colic and reflux causing him to be extremely unsettled, from day one he was fiercely independent, extremely strong and very, very determined.  Strangely it was these very traits that made me feel both insanely proud, yet like an outcast in every social environment that I entered.

My husband has great pride in retelling the story of how our son lifted and turned his head at one day old to follow my voice and movement as a walked across the other side of the room.  He has always had a strength that defies his age – I lost count of the amount of times his daycare providers (at 9 months of age) would exclaim how he’d “give the world’s strongest toddler a run for his money”, or how they’d “never seen a child so fearless”.  Our son was the type of child that literally scaled the bars of his cot at 18 months old to venture down a flight of stairs, over two safety gates and into the kitchen to set about making himself eggs for breakfast.

The flipside to all this ‘impressiveness’ was that at only 10 months old he was running through playgrounds, attempting obstacles way too advanced for his age or size, and engaging with other children assuming that they were as strong, as fearless and as ‘rough and tumble’ as he was.   So often I found myself leaving playgrounds under the judgemental stares of new mothers, trying to explain to them that my child wasn’t trying to rugby tackle their darling, he was simply trying to hug them.  Unfortunately my boy’s ‘hugs’ could knock over a grown man.

I’d take him to friends’ houses and as an infant and up to the age of about 10 months, he’d be like a snow storm of spew and tears.  If he wasn’t throwing up on their brand new rug, he was crying hysterically ("0-100" we used to call him - there was no in between.  He didn’t just whinge, he’d go from quiet to full blown hysterics in a matter of seconds).  Once the spewing subsided, I had a 10 month old ‘runner’.  He’d go into houses like a hurricane in fast forward, climbing shelves, pulling out everything in sight…just grabbing, grabbing, grabbing.

So here’s the thing.  By 10 months old he was completely mobile, yet unaware of his own strength .  He was fiercely independent so wasn’t scared of new environments or even remotely phased whether I was within arm’s reach or not.  He was less than a year old and therefore had no real cognitive understanding of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.  Yet everywhere I went, I felt judgement.  Self-imposed or not, the feeling was still very real to me.  It was like I was somehow failing as a parent because I hadn’t ‘disciplined’ my child appropriately.  I felt like I had lost control of my life.  I got so overwhelmed that it started being easier just to stay at home and battle through it alone.  Even having friends over became too much as I was worried that the kids wouldn’t get along or that one of them would accidentally get  hurt.

I think I can honestly say that there was not a single time in that first 2-2.5 years where I was able to enjoy a cup of tea with a friend as my child sat quietly on the floor and played with toys, or chatted casually with other mothers in the park as my child explored.  I was in a constant state of high alert, always chasing, always poised ready to catch, chanting ‘be gentle, be gentle’, ‘slow down, slow down’.  Ready to diffuse situations - anticipating the next disaster zone.

I became like a prisoner in my own home feeling that nobody else understood what I was going through.  Being told to “just get out of the house for a while” I wanted to scream at them, “don’t you understand what it’s like??  I CAN’T take him out.  There’s NOWHERE I can take him.”

With the luxury of hindsight, and the benefit of having had a second (very different) child, I now realise that I shouldn’t have questioned my ability as a parent as much as I did.  I shouldn’t have assumed that I was ‘failing’.  I should have asked for more help.  I should have tried to connect with people that were dealing with similar situations.  It wasn’t anything I had done ‘wrong’…every child is born with their own unique personality, health issues and needs.  Sometimes they share these with the majority, other times they don’t.

I often wish that I had been able to meet and interact with people who felt the same isolation as me.  Whether the cause of it was real or imagined isn’t relevant - the feelings I felt were debilitating.  If any of this is ringing true to you, please feel free to                               .

If I can help, I will.  Sometimes just talking to someone who’s been there can help set you free. xo