Happiness Challenge Day 9

Stress is all around us. And all up in our brains. Good stress like buying a house, having a baby, or going on vacation. Bad stress like a sickness, losing your job, or a craptastic relationship. It’s all stress. And too much of it does bad things to you and your body. Life is like a rubber band. Stress is the force that pulls the rubber band tight. Too much pull. Too much stress and SNAP! That rubber band snaps. It hurts when it happens. Stress breaks people. Stress gives you brain fog, bad eating habits, heart attacks. At the least it affects your mood. The last thing anyone wants is to be that person everyone says needs to get laid.

There’s a saying: If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. This is sad and true. Stress isn’t just an individual thing. It isn’t localized to one person in a family. It spreads through the house like a vine. It’s invasive and dangerous. It’s tendrils snake underneath our skin. It starts off as a minor irritation. Before you know it, if it goes unchecked, you’re snipping and snapping at people for things that aren’t really their fault.

That’s not to say the family is responsible in keeping Mom placated and satisfied. That’s called narcissism. That is a toxic situation and no one benefits from that. I’ve said this a few times: No one is responsible for your happiness but you. You need to be in charge of that. Own that shit. And that means getting down on a self care routine.

What do you do witg that stress? You can’t smack people. Trust me. For as much as I would like to, I can not reach through the phone and smack the people that stress me out the most. Instead I hit my computer. A lot. No wonder my computer never works. You can’t just verbally vomit your rage on people. Even though, every day that happens to me and my coworkers. We get it. You’re mad. We didn’t do it; don’t blame us. I deal with it from my teenagers, too. They have a bad day so automatically they think every one needs to have a bad day. Wrong answer, kids. You can take your grumpy teen angst to your room and when it dissipates you can come out.

So how do you manage your stress? Green tea? Lavender oil? Binge watch Netflix while binge drinking wine? Voodoo dolls?

Meditation has been mentioned more than once to me. And that’s great. For other people. For me, meditation is not easy. It doesn’t come naturally to me. People assume that because I’m into crystals, herbs, and the Law of Attraction that meditation is a way of life for me. News Flash: not all hippy, trippy hippies are not the same. We are not all like that one chick you knew in college who had a thing for wearing black and burning incense. Some of us are stressed out, burned out moms who are too busy and too tired to take five minutes to seemingly sit around and do nothing.

My morning routine is pretty basic. I wake up at five in the morning. Coffee happens before all things. Then I do laundry, pick up stray socks and toys from the floor and run Robbie the Roomba. I love watching that little guy run across my living room. We glued big googly eyes on him. It looks like he’s so happy to be cleaning our filth. Whoever invented the Roomba needs a medal? After that, I write. I write in the morning so it’s out of the way. It’s done. And then I don’t have to worry about it after work when I’m usually too tired to function as an adult. I’m more like a half cooked baked potato wrapped up in blankets on my couch.

Part of my routine is waking the children for school. That alone is a huge stressor in my life. I never know how the girls are going to wake up. I often feel like Indiana Jones. I enter the Temple of Snore. Negotiating past the booby traps of socks, underwear, and ear buds, I make way to GrumblePuss Mountain. One wrong move, and the mountain will come down on me. Can I wake the Guardian of the Mountain without angering her?

I know plenty of people who meditate in the mornings. I would like to know how. If I shut my eyes for longer than a blink I am going to fall back asleep. There are no morning birds in my house. There are a few night owls. I’m not one of them. Are there any birds thst hibernate? I could be one of those. Eat, get fat, sleep. Sounds like a plan to me. I go to bed by nine. Sleep however has eluded me for years now. I used to be able to sleep. Now I am fueled by sarcasm and copious amounts of caffeine.

Meditation is supposed to be a time for calming and getting your mind ready for the day. if I shut down the outside noise then all I’m left with is a noisy brain. That’s all part and parcel of the anxiety of package. Your brain never shuts up. It’s like my brain is an eternal frat party. There a constant three ring circus going on. The clowns are scary. The monkeys are mine. And I’m walking the high wire that just caught on fire.

There are moments when I get to enjoy the silence of the outside world. I’ll leave the TV off. It’s nice while the family is asleep. It’s the one chance I get to just be. In that moment, nothing is expected of me. My attention, my focus, my body is all mine. I don’t have to share anything with anyone.

From what I understand, meditation can be more than just sitting in Lotus position, listening to Tibetan bowls, and chanting OM for hours. Meditation is just a time to listen. The best explanation of meditation I’ve heard explained it as listening for God to answer you. If prayer is speaking to God, meditation is listening to God. I really like that. It’s simple and not intimidating at all. I find it amusing there are so many people who “talk to God” on a regular basis. But, the instant you start saying God is talking back people are lining up to wrap you in a white jacket and throw you in a padded room.

Why does it seem like the most spiritual people are considered crazy? What is it about our society that accepts the stress and busyness of daily life and even talking to invisible beings? But when those invisible being start talking back we bring out the pitchforks and torches? Why is it that we accept socially approved spirituality like going to church but sitting in silence Is laughed at? Why Is meditation the red headed step child of spirtuality and religion? Is it really better to be stressed out to the point your hair falls out than to take a moment out of the day to sit in stillness and quiet?

I’d have to say no. It’s not good for you or those around you. If you’re a parent or caregiver it is so important for you to get that time to yourself. And I’m not talking about time in the bathroom, shower, or taking a nap. I mean sitting in a place where you can just melt into the surroundings. Every time a thought enters your mind, sweep it away. We’re moms. Use the broom and dust pan in your head and sweep away the thoughts.

There’s a minimalist movement floating around on Pinterest. Some of the rules state if you don’t love it, throw it out. If you don’t use it, throw it out. If you don’t want it, throw it out. This is dangerous when it comes to physical things. I have clothes I only have because I may need to go somewhere nice one day. I have pictures and mementos that I don’t keep out all the time. I am still going to keep them. Because I can’t get rid of things like that.

My brain tends to be the same way. There are tons of things I wish I could forget. There’s about thirteen years of my life that are patchy and blurry. I remember things I wish I could forget. I can’t remember other parts I wish I could. That’s all the fun of anxiety. And that’s why meditation is hard for me. The moment I shut down the outside noise, the inside noise gets louder. I don’t know if this is the case for everyone but it is truth for me.

When I’m quiet, I’m thinking. I’m always thinking. Even if I’m not quiet. My brain clicks and ticks away. It doesn’t shut up. If you ask me what I’m thinking and I say, “Nothing,” you know I’m lying. I’m usually too embarrassed to tell you what I’m thinking. Most of the time it’s nothing important. Those random fleeting thoughts that have no weight to them. They’re in and out faster than my ex at the buffet. Some of the thoughts are random and the reason why Google monitors my searches. I have looked up how Lenin was preserved, how long it takes an eyeball to dry out, and at what point during blood loss would a person lose consciousness. Most of the time I’m trying to remember that guy from that movie. You know, the one with the car chases and the fire? Yeah. That guy.

I see the memes on Facebook attempting to make light of anxiety induced insomnia. My brain does not keep me up singing “Macarena.” My brain travels back in time to the day I had tampons tied to my clothes. I revisit fights with my mom. I think about every time I yelled at my kids for something tey really didn’t deserve to get in trouble for. My brain is full of evil ferrets. Those ferrets chew on my confidence and composure. With just a nibble those little rodents can bring me from a strong, intelligent woman to a crying child hiding under the covers. The monsters are in the bed with me. They go where I go. Mainly because the monsters are part of me. I’ll admit it; I’m my own worst enemy. There’s not a whole lot someone can say to me that I haven’t already thought or said about myself.

Maybe that’s the reason meditation is a good thing. Maybe because it helps you clear your brain of the evil ferrets and monsters. It gets rid of the gross thoughts to make room for new, clean, happy thoughts. Sometimes, sweeping away the cobwebs of negative thinking with just a broom. That’s when you have to pull out the big guns. Meditation is brain bleach.

It’s not going to get rid of the bad memories. But meditating might help you deal with those memories a little better. It’s like putting the bad parts of your brain in a time out. It’s a chance for you to tell your brain, “Enough! Sit down. Shut up. And when you’re better behaved you can come out. Until then, shut the fuck up!” Your kids are better after a time out; your brain will be too.

So even though it’s hard I will try to meditate. I will schedule a time like I do with writing. Meditation is a form of self care. Self care makes for happier people. Happier people makes for a happier world. So why aren’t we all doing this?

I will sit in silence. I will quiet my brain. And I will restore peace and order to my inner well being. I will listen for the answers. Because in the end, I am worth five minutes of peace and quiet. I am worth a moment to get back to right. Because as Mom goes, goes the family.

Today, I will meditate.


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