I need a Change NOW

These past couple of weeks have proven to be some of my most difficult. Probably ever in my life. But through them, like icicles glimmering in the sunset, there are always nuggets of realizations and moments of discovery. This time is no different. I guess what gets me through the tough times is knowing without a doubt that there is SOMETHING for me to learn.

Something for me to deepen as a human.

Something that I may have missed before but that I am now ready to learn. 

 

So here goes.

The thing that has by far taken up most of my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy right now is BEING A STEPMOM. I know I know I’ve written about it a lot lately. I’ve done google searches and researched books that could maybe help me feel more empowered, more at peace, more in a place of joy. And yet most of what I read is pretty depressing. I mean it’s nice to see that I’m not along, but there isn’t a lot of ACTION ITEMS to try, which is what I am truly craving.

The truth is, I haven’t liked who I am lately. I’ve felt so tired and annoyed and irritated and quite honestly stuck. It’s a horrible feeling, and because there is probably nothing I dislike more than feeling like a victim, I know there is a way out.

There is always a path to empowerment, I just need to find it. 

This weekend was another one of those hard times. I spent most of it in tears, and exhausted from attempted to guide, and teach, and ask questions, and create plans, etc. etc. etc. and I’m left buzzing around from one thing to the next completely drained and unhappy. I don’t like feeling angry. I’m so sick of being upset and near tears so much of the time. This isn’t the way I want to be, and I know that my core is not.

Things need to change and I am so so so ready for it.

One thing I have learned from past experience is that the CHANGE I’m talking about needs to come from me. It doesn’t work to be waiting around for the ex wife to change, or the kids to change or the situation to change. They all have their own agenda and course to run.

The change NEEDS to come from me. 

But what is it? Hmmm…
I know I can meditate more.
I know there are a handful of things that I probably need to let go of.
I know I can’t do everything.

But how do I make these adjustments? 

Amidst all these questions running through my brain, I got this funny little realization. Perhaps it’s the title that is screwing me up the most. Since I’ve titled myself as a MOM, and the kids STEPMOM/BONUS MOM, there is instantly this pressure to do everything I can to encourage!  To shape! To question! To inspire! To lead! To guide!

Is it the word, MOM?

Though when I say it to myself I feel full, powerful, maternal, warm, and like I have a place in this world. But what comes out is burning weights of pressure.

If the kids don’t learn their manners, it’s my fault. If the kids still don’t have goals, or interests, I didn’t do something right. If the kids are horrible at time management, I must not have carved out time to teach them. If the kids are lazy, I screwed up.

I have just realized the terrible voices that run through my mind all. day. long. No wonder I’m exhausted. No wonder I have this anger hiding inside my body. No wonder I’m feeling small and yucky and not enough.

I was realizing all of this after my husband pretty much required me to go out to the garage to meditate and paint. Both of these are things that I love and center me, but usually when the kids are here, I have a difficult time doing them.

Anyway, after a good hour of Jackie time, I realized something else. Though it’s obvious I need to make ME wayyyyyyyyyyyy more important than I have been. In fact, I need to be the first one that gets attention. I also realized that I don’t need to say the word ‘MOM’ to myself. It’s fine whatever the kids see me as, but to me,… I can be just Jackie.

If I am just Jackie, then I get the FREEDOM to show up as me. NOT as someone that needs to teach them or guide them every minute. NOT every second should be a teaching moment anyway. What if we are just a couple of souls that are hanging out in this lifetime learning from each other?

What. Woa. This just took the pressure way off.

Now, I still see myself as a MOM, but what if I am more of a universal mother, NOT NECESSARILY THEIR MOM?

I walked back into the house, and noticed right away the change in the energy. I felt a desire to chat with them and laugh and it felt easy.

I was being Jackie.

I let go of the PRESSURE to do anything else. The kids and I hung out and watched Project Runway. Ah! It felt so much easier and smooth, and we were chatting and discussing the whole time. I felt myself being interested in their observations and enjoying myself the way I am with anyone else.

I know everyone has a way that works best for them, but this might actually be mine. I’m seeing that even if I had my own kid, the pressure to BE SOMEONE’S MOM, can be overwhelming. And yet, they are on their own journey just like we are. They are here for their own reasons, and maybe I’m only here to softly guide and continue along my path side by side. I don’t know, I haven’t worked all this out yet, but it definitely feels better, and I like just being Jackie.

What the HELL is my role

The biggest question of my life right now,…

What is my role????

I’ve told myself I am confused about this question because

I am a stepmom.

Right away the words STEPMOM fill the room with hazy smoke, the kind where you can’t see 2 feet in front of you, and you suddenly have no idea where you even are. Just THE WORD is full of questions. 

But then for some of us, the role gets even stickier.

I’m not ‘just a stepmom.’

In fact, I am the kids main emotional support. I am the instigator, I am the listening ear, I am the one figuring things out, communicating with teachers, connecting the dotes, finding therapists, locating new schools, discussing, giving consequences, and driving all over the place.

It’s a strange dynamic because I enjoy being a part of a family. I love being relied on and knowing that they can trust me to follow through.

But,… I’m not the mom. I’m just a stepmom.

Right?

Am I only doing these extra things because their MOM can’t? No,… that’s not entirely  true. My love for them continuously grows the more I do. The more I learn about who they are and what they need, the more I want to show up.

Because I love them.

And then again there are times when I get super annoyed that their ACTUAL mom doesn’t know even a morsel about them. I get angry, and I feel taken advantage of, and I want to step down.

But what would I be stepping down from when my ROLE was never established in the first place?

What would I do if I ‘stepped down?’

Who would fill these roles if I didn’t?

So I go back and forth between feeling obligated and then really wanting to show up. Sometimes I have lots of energy for it and I feel empowered and strong. Other times I’m seething with anger and want to scream at everyone.

My feelings go back and forth, just like the hazy, muddy, slightly skewed title of ‘stepmom.’

I was thinking about this today as I was doing yoga.

MY ROLE is all over the place and nowhere and has no definition and is yet all encompassing. I was starting to get anxious just thinking about it.

But then I realized something else.

Why am I so special?

I mean, am I the ONLY one that doesn’t have a clearly DEFINED role?

I’ve been so caught up in my STEPMOM identity and what that means or doesn’t mean, that I didn’t give myself a chance to check out everyone else.

Maybe the reason this has been so confusing for me, is that we ALL seem to have some weird idea that our ROLES, any of them, should be clearly defined and explained.

We must feel like we SHOULD know exactly what it means to be a good wife, or good friend, or great sister or daughter, or excellent employee.

We SHOULD have learned what the parameters are, what is expected, what isn’t, how we can EXCEL, etc.

The more I think about it, there isn’t one single thing in life that is surrounded by clearly created black and white boundaries and definitions, right?

What if the very concept of ROLE is just bullshit?

What if it completely depends on who the person is and their intention for how they want to show up in the world? Wow. That just took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. Seriously, I felt them just fall.

What if I don’t need to do ANYTHING to perfect my ROLE. 

What if I just get to be Jackie? I can do more or less depending on what I feel, but I don’t need to have all the answers, and I certainly don’t need to FEEL like I have to do anything. I’ve just decided while writing this that my only requirement is that I’ll do everything with lots of love. Love for the kids, and my husband, and his ex-wife, and my family, and my friends,…

But most importantly, I can have a lot of love for myself, and let myself OFF THE ROLE HOOK!

 

Microscopic

So one of the things I’m super fascinated with is microscopic photos of cells. Ahhhh!! I want to paint them!! I’ve seen some amazingly detailed pictures of flower and plant cells and have been planning on creating something that is inspired by that. Though I still may do that, I stumbled upon something sooooooooooooooooooooo freakin cool.

I loved Neuropsychology and Molecular Biology and at one time thought maybe I’d become a college professor to teach this stuff. I was so unbelievable fascinated! Well….. I happen to come across photos of oxytocin, and adrenaline under a microscope. Ahhhh!

And! Human body cells,… like heart, skin, and embryos! Oh my gosh I can barely breathe, I’m so excited. What if I created pieces based on these??? Wow. Finding similarities between the microscopic photos so they create a sort of story or message,.. like the heart cells interwoven with oxytocin… Or heart, skin and brain.

Ahhhh! I just needed to get this out there. My heart is beating so fast. ahhah!!

Okay okay I’ll post when I have something.

xo

Schedule Emotional Drains?

Wow! What a weekend! This is the first one in a long time that actually FELT like a weekend. Know what I mean?

Sometimes we have these ridiculously stressful weeks and then convince ourselves that the weekend will be the time to finally really relax, and yet it becomes just another couple of days where we are running around stressed out chasing the feeling of relief.

This has been a huge part of my life lately. My hubby and I have had some pretty stressful, exhausting things going on with the kids and his ex-wife. So we have done what any concerned, aware, loving parents would do,..

we’ve talked about it obsessively.

I think in my head, I felt that if we aren’t talking about the issues over and over and over again until they are SOLVED, then we must be:

Living under a rock

Hiding

Avoiding

Afraid.

So,.. I pushed it. All the time, with no break. Anytime we saw each other we would start talking about these extremely heavy, exhausting PROBLEMS, ISSUES.

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? 

But they didn’t get any better. I realized that I was so drained, emotionally, mentally and physically, but

THE ISSUES STILL REMAINED. 

I started to not feel particularly close to my hubby. I didn’t feel at all at peace. I didn’t feel full of energy, and I wasn’t noticing things I am grateful for.

Once we both discussed our feelings about all of this,

something magical happened.

We got a fuckin’ BRILLIANT idea. I think it’s the best we have had all year.

If talking about certain things is exhausting, and yet to some extent we still need to do it, why not create a schedule where it’s okay to do it in?

So here’s the deal: We decided that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5pm -6pm is our talk time about the difficult stuff.

NO MORE THAN THAT. 

Can I even tell you what this has done to our lives! We have only been doing it for 5 days, and all ready I feel like a completely different person. I am lighter and happier and more joyful and so so grateful! I feel like I have my wonderful relationship back to where it was.

And I realized something else.

Before, I felt like if I WASN’T talking about the difficult stuff 24/7, then I was avoiding. But now, since there is a PLAN, a SYSTEM, I don’t feel that way at all!

I feel in control of my life.

So this situation reminded me that I am in control. It’s MY happiness, it’s MY joy, it’s MY life. I can make choices on when and who I want to discuss personal stuff with. And so far, I must say our schedule is

LIFE CHANGING.

This weekend was unbelievably connecting and fun and playful and open and I am so in love. We gave ourselves a much needed EMOTIONAL BREAK! Yesssssssssssssss!!

Sooooo grateful for intuition!!

Happy Monday! xo

Doin’ It Yoga Style

I have this extreme love/hate relationship with this hardcore yoga class called yoga sculpt. The temperature is turned up so high your body begins dripping with sweat, and then along with some yoga moves, you are pumping iron

WITH WEIGHTS.

The first time I did it I ended up stopping in the middle, totally done, gasping for breath on the floor and thought I was going to die. Seriously. I have worked out my entire life and yet this is the absolute hardest class I have ever done.

Now this is where things get interesting. Sure the class is hard, sure it’s like a fucking nightmare, lez be honest. But it does end! The intervals end, the downward dogs end, the horrible squats, all end.

It was a habit of mine for most of the time I was in this class to STOP when it got horrible. My chest starts burning, and my limbs shake so hard I think they will fall off, and there is so much sweat on my face that my contacts are swimming. So I would stop.

I started to believe that I COULDN’T go on.

Stopping became a habit.

 

And then I realized something.

I’m stopping before the miracle even happens. I’m stopping when it gets tough, when I feel super uncomfortable,..

I was outta there.

This didn’t just happen in yoga for me, it was like my whole life was laid out on the mat.

I’VE DONE THIS BEFORE IN SO MANY AREAS OF MY LIFE.

Life gets horrible, or feels nearly impossible and I checked out.

So what if I start to do things differently in this yoga class? Maybe there’s a chance that I start to become more aware of it in my life. What I have also realized is that it’s okay to slow down. What if instead of STOPPING, I get really present and breathe in compassion and MOVE SLOWER,

BUT DON’T STOP?

I’m not always perfect about this little tweak. Sometimes I still get so mind bobblingly ill that I have to stop, and that is okay. But I would say in general I push myself more.

Isn’t this true about LIFE? All parts of LIFE? Creating art or having relationships or finding a great job or doing really anything? If we QUIT when it hurts or feels yucky, what happens? We miss out. The art won’t get looked at, we won’t get that great job, we won’t work out relationship issues,

NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

I’m focusing on slowing down if I need to, but NOT STOPPING. I can do this, I can get through life (and HORRIBLY AMAZING yoga). There is always an ebb and flow, and it always gets better. I can do this, and so can you. We can move through even when it’s hard.

 

 

Purple clouds foreva

This is a new piece I’m working on. I’m using this lovely thick watercolor paper, acrylic paint and smooth black ink from Japan. I wanted to incorporate my tiny detailed lines with luscious paint color to give it a contrasting effect. I want to create more pieces with lots of color and depth. I’ll post it again when it’s finished!

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