©2020 Erin Newton, www.thewellnessgarden.ca, All rights reserved
I don’t enjoy doing things that challenge me. There. I said it. Doing things I know I like and have been good at is far more my jam. I’m not lazy, far from it. It’s just that if I am interested in something, I will pursue it with gusto. I’m willing to work very hard, but I much prefer it when the predictable outcome is success. Pursuing something that challenges me? Well, that requires a certain level of risk taking and vulnerability that kinda makes me want to run in the opposite direction.
For example, working with technology is a challenge for me, so I avoid it like the plague. In particular, anything having to do with setting up electronics or learning new software has been known to send me into a rage. I would much prefer to step back and allow someone else to do it for me. It feels so good to just have other people fix things for you, install things for you, build things for you. I mean, it’s a win-win situation where a techie person gets to do what they enjoy and are good at, and you get to your goal without having to break a sweat.
Playing it safe can feel fantastic at times. The big HOWEVER, though, (and you probably saw this coming) is that this type of avoidance provides us with only a fleeting sense of satisfaction. Someone else fixed my problem so now everything is okay. Well, until the next time and the time after that when I still don’t know how to do it. Do you recall the ancient proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”? That’s kind of what I’m getting at.
I am not suggesting that you need to learn how to fix your own car. You don’t have to become omnipotent and utterly self-reliant. I mean, nobody’s going to perform their own surgery or take a pleasure trip to the moon on their own handmade rocket. Instead, I am suggesting that regularly challenging yourself to move beyond your comfort zone can help you grow in ways that are far more important.
Trying new things is challenging and we don’t usually enjoy things that challenge us. It requires a willingness to move beyond our everyday patterns and paradigms, and that takes courage. Taking risks and being vulnerable is uncomfortable and scary. But in the long run, it’s the only way to grow. The lesson: sometimes it’s important to catch your own fish.
People who don’t return their supermarket carts are monsters. I’m convinced that they are the same people who put their dog poop in a bag but drop the bag on the ground. They don’t flush a public toilet after they’ve used it and they, most assuredly, leave their garbage on the table at the food court.
If this is you, I am sorry.
Actually, no. I’m not sorry.
You’re a monster and I am judging you.
We’ve all seen them. They live among us and we don’t even know who they are until we let them in our lane and they don’t say thank you. Monsters! When I hold open the door for them and they walk right through without acknowledging my existence, I think to myself, “Who hurt them?”.
I often wonder what primitive urge creates this level of entitlement. How does this happen? Is it nature or is it nurture? Universities need to conduct studies. We need to gather a team of psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists and fund a massive study. Could this ideological notion of "Someone will come along to clean up my mess", be something that we’re born with or it is created through years of conditioning?
So how do we continue to give in a world that seems intent, nay emboldened to take, take, take? I proffer that it’s all about mindset: that is, we need to stop internalizing other people’s rude behaviour. Hear me out. What I mean is that it’s not about us: it’s about them. People who are acting out in inconsiderate ways, may not be, at their essence, inconsiderate. When we separate the action from the person, we can respond with compassion instead of anger. Is the person who leaves their supermarket cart in the middle of the parking lot a monster or a single mom whose toddler is having a melt down? Could that person who walks through the door you’re holding without saying thank you, be contemplating a divorce? Might the person who leaves their garbage on the table at the food court be rushing to tend to an elderly parent?
The truth is, we don’t know why some people lack consideration for others at any given moment. It’s too simplistic to conclude that a person is inconsiderate because their current behaviour is. One small snippet does not show us the whole picture. Having a compassionate mindset helps us to believe the best in people and to become empathetic to their situation. I mean, happy people don’t normally go through life acting like douchebags. Isn’t it more productive to assume that people are doing the best they can with what they have in any given moment? I mean, after all, isn’t that what we’re all doing?
Maybe the people who don’t return their supermarket carts are monsters. But I’d rather give them the benefit of the doubt than believe that monsters shop at my local Fortinos. Maybe if we weren’t so quick to judge others and, instead, considered what they might be going through, the world would be a better place.
When I became a mom, a part of me disappeared. I was there one day and gone the next and it took a long time for me to find myself again. It’s like placing those beautiful babies in my arms completely replaced my identity as an individual. When my children arrived I naturally put all of my love, energy and focus into them.
From that day forward, I was Maddie’s mom and then I was Liam’s mom. Yet, I‘m not sure where Erin went for all of those years. It was as if I traded in being Erin in order to become Mom. I didn’t realize that I could be both at the same time.
What I’ve since learned is that I can be as many different things as I want to be! Yes, I am a mom but I am also Erin, wife, sister, daughter, teacher, friend, artist and so much more. On any given day, at any given moment, I can be anything I want to be and so can you! All that this requires is that we are brave, we set boundaries and that we love ourselves enough to enforce them.
You see, there is nothing more powerful than a woman who loves herself fiercely. I’m so in awe of women who know their self worth. For many years, I loved my children more than I loved myself. It doesn’t have to be that way. I used to believe that to be a good mom, my children’s wants and needs must always come before my own. Only the depleted energy I had left at the end of my day was mine to reclaim for myself and my dreams.
This is utter madness! At the end of the day, I have given so much that there isn’t any energy left. Is this the mom I want my kids to see? I need them to know who Erin is. We rob our children of the opportunity to see our greatness when all we give them is our service. I want them to see me as the wife, sister, daughter, teacher, friend and artist. I want them to see me shine.
Dreams are not finite, you are allowed to have more than one! If you are blessed enough to have been granted the dream of motherhood, there’s no need to stop there! It’s not selfish to want more. Allow your children to see your greatness in every aspect of your life. Allow them to see you struggle, perhaps fail, re-commit, and triumph. Be brave, love yourself fiercely, set boundaries and remember who you are.
Photos of the kids were taken by Kelly Elliott. Beach pic of me is a shameless selfie.
After many years of thinking my magical thoughts, writing in my colourful journals and dreaming of making a blog, I have finally taken the leap. I’ve been feverishly writing and re-writing, researching and planning. I am here now with my very first blog post, but a week ago this almost didn't happen.
Last Saturday morning, I abruptly halted the process. I don’t mean that I slowed down. I mean that I came to a screeching halt and thought, What the hell am I doing? I began to feel a familiar embarrassment grow into humiliation. It was just one week until my blog was to go live and I was convinced that I was going to fail miserably.
If you are surprised by my negativity, you shouldn’t be. I’m actually very skilled at doubting myself. My imagination is so powerful that I can be embarrassed by my own failure before I’ve even started a project. As soon as my eyes opened last Saturday, my inner voice began to scream. Who the hell do you think you are and why do you think anyone will care about what you have to say? My inner voice can be one heck of a bully sometimes.
Self-doubt is nothing new to me. My entire life I have zig-zagged between confidently speaking my mind and telling myself to sit down and be quiet. Whenever I take on a new project, it’s like my inner voice says, How dare you be so bold? Sometimes I’m able to silence those thoughts, but that Saturday morning they gave me great pause.
I decided to do what I often do when I feel anxious. I went outside and walked my dog. There’s something so soothing about feeling the sunlight on my face and being with a furry pal. Wilbur is new to our family, but he never, ever doubts my greatness! Truth be told, he thinks I’m brilliant. As I walked with Wilbur, my anxiety softened. My swirling thoughts begin to organize themselves into neat, little folders in my brain and everything just becomes clearer.
What I began to realize was that every creative thinker is subject to scrutiny and anyone who expresses a point of view might be met with opposition. Those things are both inevitable and beyond my control. I would even argue that they are necessary. I mean, how do we have meaningful conversations if there is only one perspective being presented? How will we see beyond our own social conditioning, if we don’t examine things through a variety of lenses? But, if I don’t believe that my voice is worthy, if I don’t believe that what I say is relevant to the conversation, then why should anyone else believe it?
As artists, we can’t simply wait until we feel ready to make art. If we waited until we knew that we were good enough, we would never even start. And so, I will work daily to silence my inner critic and to send my art out into the world. I won’t wait until I’m good enough, until I know enough, until I am enough. I mean, if Wilbur believes in me, then the least I can do is believe in myself.