Tuesday, May 19

it is what it is

I used to be so angry. I was like a bomb, ready to go off at any sign of life not fulfilling my innate sense of entitlement and when I went off - oh man, I can only imagine what it would have felt like to be on the other end.

That was 10 years ago, since then I have quieted my anger with compassion and perspective. I still get riled up over things, but now they tend to be the things a person should get angry about - world hunger, the systematic poisoning of our planet, green-washing - as opposed to the occasional tomato on my sandwich when I am 100% positive that I requested none.

My life is better. It is nicer, calmer, happier when I stop keeping score and make the sometimes difficult decision to drop the rope and let people worry about themselves. I still prefer to be right, but as my wise old man put it, the trick is to realise that being right doesn't make everyone else wrong.

This isn't how I grew up. My parents were angry for most of my childhood. They'll deny it, but I remember the tantrums, the snide remarks and most of all the feeling that there was no way I could ever be right enough or do well enough. I spent my twenties working through that and will likely spend a lot more time convincing myself that I am capable of more than I feel I am.

I went to the mall the other day to renew my license. I took the opportunity to window-shop, checking out trends in both fashion and marketing, because evil or not, it is a huge part of who I am. Something I also checked out, though somewhat involuntarily, were current trend in public parenting. Basically, I witnessed a whole lot of grown-ups treating a whole lot of kids like shit. I didn't witness any overt abuse, instead I saw parents treating their kids like disobeying puppies. Kicking them with words and looks and loud sighs. As I broadened my scope I saw people all over doing this to others, to partners, to staff, to strangers. And I went one step further and though of my own recent behaviour, came up with a few examples of my being cunty to my kids, to Drew and to the world at large - where did it stem from?

Believe it or not, I am not judging any of the parents I saw - I am a firm believer that it is rare that we can get the whole picture from witnessing an isolated interaction - I reserve judgment for myself. Do I generally treat people well and where could I stand to improve?

Generally, yes, I am a nice person. A little narcissistic and impatient, for sure, but I am a benefit-of-the-doubt type and a see-a-need-fill-a-need type. So where can I improve? It almost always comes down to compassion. Compassion for the person who makes an ignorant remark, compassion for the person shooting me an angry glare, and compassion for myself, a woman who is trying very hard to do right by her kids and who is mothering without a map.

With that compassion I can cut everyone else slack and truly let things go. This gives me the mind-space to look at what I am feeling that is manifesting itself as this bitchiness and what I can I change? Often, reflecting is hard. So hard that I have done as little of it as possible this past year. I do the easy stuff, like ensuring I get enough sleep, eat well, de-clutter, get a little exercise and drink my water - and then I stop. It has been a band-aid solution, but it worked while it worked.

And here I am today. Full of compassion and optimism like I haven't felt in ages. It will take some work and time to train my brain away from negative thinking, but I am ready for the challenge.

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