My ‘why’

I recently wrote about how I’ve been questioning and feeling in a state of uncertainty about so much in my life. I’ve been thinking about this and exploring it over the last few weeks and feel like I’ve made some headway in understanding what it’s all about.

This partly explains the reduction in my posts but now that I’m starting to form my thoughts, I’d like to share my them with you, dear friend, if that’s ok.

When I returned to work, I felt like something profound had changed in me. And, as I’ve shared in a previous post, nothing seemed to fit right. The work I was doing didn’t seem to suit me, the goals I was working to didn’t resonate anymore. It was hard to feel this way because, pre-maternity leave, I loved my role so very much and (although I was glad to step back the pace a bit before having my son) I was happy at the prospect of returning to my role six months later.

I asked myself why I felt so detached from work and I realised that it was because I wanted more. Not in a ‘I want more money/excitement/power’ way, but it suddenly was important for me to make a more profound mark on society.

To leave this world in a better state for Jenson.

I’m aware of so many things that seem to be broken in this world – our healthcare, education system, political system, the patriarchal framework of society – and I want him to grow up in a world with less inequality and more hope. I want to contribute to more.

And then I started reading a book during my morning commute to work and something shifted inside me – I started understanding what this ‘more’ might look like. The book is called ‘Presence‘ and talks about about how to bring around profound change in people, organisations and society. A topic that is so important to me. If I’m honest, reading this book has been deeply inspirational and profoundly encouraging, bringing together all that I discovered in my time at work before going on maternity leave and calling me into a new future, a new reality.

It has blown my mind and, having just finished it, I’m about to launch back in to read it for a second time and get some more wisdom and insight from its contents.

Instead of being a traditional ‘change’ book with models, frameworks, processes, talking about stakeholder engagement and communications, it talks about deepening our ability to be still to see what is truly happening, to bring about change not just using our head but also our hearts – using our full self. It goes so much further, becoming so aware of what’s going on that we can bring forward our highest Self (whether you call that God, the universe, your most wise self) to create the best possible future.

It sounds a bit ‘woo woo’ and I might have been more skeptical if not for having experienced moments with my highest Self in the past. When this has happened, I’ve sensed the right thing to do in that moment as if someone other than me was showing me the possible or I’ve just known what to say as if I’ve been tapped into the moment with acute clarity. Time has seemed to slow down in these moments. Do you know what I mean?

Since reading this book, I know that my work is all the tasks and objectives that I want to get done, but it’s so much more. It’s calling people into a place of stillness and reflection to be able to integrate the different parts of themselves. It’s about working on myself so I find a greater sense of stillness and an ability to see what is truly going on in any given situation. It’s about finding opportunities to give people a glimpse of what is possible.

And so while my work might draw me into the world of education, healthcare, feminism or something else in the future, I have found a contentment where I am. Giving myself permission to call people into stillness, finding a more regular connection with my higher Self, showing those I meet that we have such greater capacity to create the world anew if we would only stop, listen, and be truly present.

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Love is…

As I’m lying here awake next to my sleeping son, Jenson, curled around him at the most awkward angle so he can sleep soundly I’ve been thinking about love.

Pre-Jenson, loves was so simple. Well, not simple, but less complicated, less selfless, less of a daily choice. With hours of free time at my disposal and having so much more sleep, it was also more resourced. My capacity to give and show my love to others was greater. But things are different now and my love for others and myself looks different.

When I started to write about my new relationship with love, listing the attributes it holds, I noticed that it started out sounding like part of the bible that I remember from my childhood:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I suppose this is describing a perfect love. One which, being an imperfect human, I do not reach. Because I can be so easily angered these days and my patience is quite often threadbare-thin when I’ve been up since 4am with a wide-awake baby.

But it does describe the love I call upon as a parent more than the love I needed before. I have more patience, I let go of the times Jenson screams for no apparent reason, I keep on going with rocking him and singing to him even when he keeps crying, I beam at him when he wakes me up at 4:30am, I put him first.

But what about my love for Gregg, my husband? With this all encompassing motherly love, I’ve felt my love for him and for other people be squeezed out. Not enough love left to give when it’s supposed to (or at least that’s what I thought) be a never ending source. It’s not that I don’t love him, but I have less love to give.

What’s going on with that?! I mean, I know I love him and I love other people but I feel so drained and empty from all the love I give Jenson. As I’ve shared before, sometimes even reaching out to give my husband a cuddle or a kiss seems too much because I’m so worn down from pouring all my love onto a little human who doesn’t like to be put down by himself, doesn’t want to sleep away from my arms and loves to be sung to, treasured and interacted with for a large proportion of the day…

The old Amy would have said that I just needed time to replenish myself. Space to blog instead of snatching moments when my husband has him at the weekend or he’s asleep in my arms. Time to process and be kind to myself. A nice long bath by myself with a good book. But that’s not practical at the moment.

And if we lived closer to our families or close friends, it would be possible to get some time just as a couple. It’s the price we pay for living in a city we love, far away from family.

We could ask friends in Brighton but Jenson is so demanding (sorry Jenson if you read this when you’re older – it’s true! You are a demanding little pickle!) that it doesn’t seem easy to ask that of others. An hour looking after Jenson is an hour of actively bouncing him, singing, stopping him cry…although it could be an hour of him playing calmly under his activity gym – it’s so unpredictable.

I know this is a phase in early parenthood which will pass. Too soon I’ll be thinking back to and missing the moments when Jenson would sleep in my arms. And along with the tiredness and strain, it is true that I’ve found a very new and beautiful love that I never knew I had inside me.

It’s just more complicated, that’s all.

Why now, what for, what else?

I’ve been continuing to read my book ‘how to break up with your phone‘ (I wrote about it in another blog here) and enjoying the day-by-day activities to reduce the amount of time I mindlessly spend staring at social media apps.

It’s been straight forward, albeit a bit scary as I deleted all the apps from my phone that I go to automatically in moments of boredom – Instagram and Facebook being the main culprits (yes, Facebook had snuck back onto my phone after being deleted a few weeks ago) and I found the following activity in the book particularly helpful – when you reach for your phone, ask yourself:

Why now? What’s prompted me to pick up my phone right now?

What for? Is there a particular reason for doing so?

What else? What could I do to better respond to the reason why I was reaching for my phone in the first place?

What I’ve discovered in following the exercise is that I pick up my phone quite a lot out of boredom or when there’s any space in my life (like when I’m breastfeeding). It’s like a second reflex.

I also pick it up when I’m feeling a bit socially awkward – with no one to speak to or not sure where I fit in, I reach for my phone.

And I also pick it up out of FOMO – wondering what I’ve missed online.

This awareness is really helpful to reduce my time online. And what I’m discovering is that the exercise is also brilliant for any other areas of my life that have a tendency to get out of balance

  • The cake I reach for when I’m feeling anxious
  • The things I buy to fill a void in my life
  • The TV I watch out of tiredness/boredom

Not that these things control my life or are particularly dysfunctional but asking myself ‘why now, what for, what else’ gives me the option to truly respond to what is going on underneath.

And that’s always a good thing!

Axis shifting

It’s been almost four weeks since my son came into this world and everything has been dominated by him pretty much. Blogs awkwardly typed in as he napped on my chest, conversations with half my brain focused on him, hours spent staring in amazement at what I created, endless conversations about what he’s been up to (“I think he’s making eye contact with me now” “he discovered his fingers today” “he sat by himself for a whole 30 minutes!”). 

I was writing a thank you card to a family friend for the kind present they had given Jenson last night and in it I wrote “parenthood is going well – it’s very different though and it feels like our whole universe has been shifted on it’s axis”.

I wasn’t really thinking that hard about the words that I was writing, but when I re-read the letter, I think that the axis shifting sums up these past four weeks. My life axis has shifted.

The same universe exists, with a small new planet orbiting around – planet Jenson – but instead of me being at the centre of the solar system, he is there. It doesn’t mean to say that any of the other planets, moons and suns stop spinning around (apart from those which may drop out of orbit for a while – ‘planet full night of sleep’ ‘planet full day spent lying on the sofa watching netflix when poorly or feeling very lazy’ 😉 ) or that they are any less important to me and my life.

But something has changed and I’m just starting to realise the magnitude of it.

My life has changed for good. My axis has shifted.

And sometimes I might need a moment to just acknowledge that. Especially on days like today when I am feeling a little under the weather. Or on days where I have slept less than usual. Or just on day that feel harder than usual.

Everything has changed for the immeasurable good and sometimes what seems like the impossibly difficult.

My axis has shifted.

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