Here we are, at beginning of August and I’m just now sitting down to finish writing up my Feel 2018 May Observations and Reflections post – even though I started this post in the middle of June. That’s just how summer goes. It’s been jam packed.
Sharing these personal tidbits from my real life, here on my blog, isn’t always easy. It can be scary to be so vulnerable and share pieces of my heart – the good, the bad, the ugly. But this is a personal growth blog, so it’s gonna get personal. I just hope that the things that I share are able to help someone else.
Here are some highlights from May, mostly straight from my journal…
Feeling more connections to my ancestors
May 2, 2018
This morning I woke up to milk, eggs, and orange juice on the front porch (well technically they were inside by then because Jershon brought them in when he left for work.) It was only 6 am. 🙂
I have heard about Winder Farms for a while now but finally decided that it would be fun to try them out. I just ordered a few things this time.
As I was putting the food away in the fridge, I started thinking about my grandpa Marchant – Evan. He was a milkman. I’d like to think that he helped to deliver the bottles of milk to me this morning. Maybe he went along for the ride. 🙂
What I didn’t anticipate from this tiny little thing (getting milk delivered to my door) was the instant connection that I would feel to my Grandpa.
I never met him. He died before I was born. I don’t even know much about him. My dad didn’t talk about him much (although my dad doesn’t talk about any of that kind of stuff very much.)
I wanted to see if I could find anything in the Marchant family history book about Evan’s job as a milkman so I read about him. There isn’t much recorded, but there are some excerpts from Evan’s mom’s journal.
He sounds like he was a really sweet boy. He some hard health challenges though. He got appendicitis when he was 9 and he had to be in the hospital for 5 1/2 days. When he was 16 he got scarlet fever and it took quite a while to recover – in fact he had to be quarantined and live in the garage with his mom for almost a month.
When he was 47 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and lived with that for 16 years until he died in 1982, at the age of 63.
When I read about that and realized how young he was when he died (and how young he was when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease), I just started crying. And I’ve been sitting here crying for a good 15 minutes or so.
I started thinking about my dad and how he was only 31 when his dad died. 31! That’s young. That’s only a little over a year older than I am right now.
I don’t know what kind of a relationship my dad had with his dad but I’m sure that it was very hard to lose his dad when he himself was still so young. I haven’t ever really considered before now how my dad has potentially been affected by his dad’s death (and him having Parkinson’s disease for so long.)
Anyway, it’s interesting how this tiny little milk delivery sparked all of these feelings and I now have a greater desire to learn more about my Grandpa and what he was like. I am also curious to ask my dad about his dad and see if I can discover anything about how my grandpa’s death has affected him.
Feel before facts
May 3, 2018
Roxanne had a rough day. She threw up 5 times today and also had diarrhea. 🙁 This is the first time that she has ever thrown up (besides regular baby spit up) before. She learned the word “puke” today and every time she would throw up she would get this sad tone of voice and say “i poook.” 🙁
I really hope that she feels better tomorrow. She’s hardly eaten anything all day and everything that she has eaten, she’s thrown up. She’s been drinking some water, but not a ton. Just little sips here and there.
Tonight, Jershon gave her a blessing. He blessed her body to be able to fight off what ever is attacking it. He also blessed her to recover and feel better tomorrow.
Something else that he said really stood out to me. He blessed Roxanne to feel safe and comforted and happy. And that got me thinking. I had mostly been thinking about the facts all day. Roxanne threw up.
But I hadn’t taken the time to think much about her feelings. I hadn’t really taken the time to feel and reflect on how she might be feeling – and not just physically. Like I said, this was the first time that she has ever thrown up before. And I’m sure that feels kind of scary, unnerving, and uncomfortable.
I’ve thrown up tons of times throughout my lifetime and it still catches me off guard every time. I hate throwing up. Now imagine what that must feel like when it’s never happened to you before?
Those words that Jershon said during the blessing made me pause and think. After the blessing I just laid on our bed and cuddled with Roxanne for a while. I thought about how she might be feeling, physically and emotionally and mentally. I tried to feel with her.
This also makes me think of something that I was talking to Jershon about last night. I was telling him about the little experience I had had yesterday morning about my Grandpa Marchant.
And then I was telling him that whenever I’ve thought about my Grandpa Marchant before, I’ve always only thought about the facts. “I never knew him.” “He died before I was born.” “He died of a heart attack on my parent’s anniversary.” The end.
But until yesterday morning, I had never felt. I had never really thought much before about how my dad might have felt to have his dad die so young. Just always thought about the facts and never really considered the feelings.
Taking the time to feel instead of just know the facts really makes a difference. It’s the feelings that really connect me to my Grandpa, and also help me to have compassion and understanding for my dad. The facts don’t do much for relationships. It’s the feelings that count.
I’ve been really drawn to learn more about love
Recently, I have been really interested in learning more about love. In May, I listened to a podcast episode with Oprah and Marianne Williamson about love and it was really interesting and gave me a lot to ponder on. I have continued to think back on the things that I learned from this episode.
Practicing positive parenting
I’m still working on practicing positive parenting. I’ve been learning a lot from Glenn Latham’s book, Parenting With Love: Making a Difference in a Day. In May, I was specifically focused on smiling and laughing more.
May 8, 2018
Forcing myself to laugh when the kids are laughing often turns into real laughter because the kids look so confused about my laughing. So I laugh at their reaction to my forced laughing.
Choosing to smile and laugh and make my requests for obedience with respect and a touch of lightness doesn’t always change the kids’ behavior and choices, but it does change ME. I feel better.
And that makes my experience of the moment better. And my experience rubs off on everyone. I am the thermostat of the home.
Hitting my weaknesses head on
It’s been interesting what this focus on feeling has brought up for me so far this year. There are several of my personal weaknesses/ “wounds” (if you want to call them that) that have surfaced.
It’s not like this is the first time that they have surfaced before – they have bobbed up and down in my consciousness and been painful off and on for several years – but this time it has been different. I have been more willing (and even excited?) to hit them head on, because I am intentionally trying to feel this year.
And it’s interesting how really facing these things, and being open to learning from them, has softened their hold on me.
I’ve already written entire blog posts, here and here, about a couple of these things that I addressed, head on, in May – and I’m sure this will continue to be a learning and growing process as I move forward.
Another topic/weakness that I broached in May was being more open with my family (siblings/parents) about wanting to improve how I interact with them.
Something that I have dealt with for years and years is feeling like I can’t express myself (especially in a positive way) around my family. I’m not always negative, but my best is usually just neutral. I have a hard time just letting lose and smiling and laughing and being carefree around my family. I tend to only show my more serious side.
And physical affection, like hugs, is definitely not my forte with my family (to be fair, it’s just not a normal way of interacting among any of my family members).
This is one of those things that I don’t like about myself. Even when there is something positive, upbeat, uplifting, etc. that I want to say, I just can’t make it come out of my mouth.
And the times that I have been successful in actually getting the words out (and managing to have positive expressions/intonations, etc.), or giving someone a hug, I feel completely awkward and uncomfortable. I know, it’s kind of strange.
I have been like this around my family for so long that I just feel trapped in this identity. And I am realizing more and more that I just keep digging this belief deeper and deeper into my psyche.
Something that I have discovered as I’ve gotten older is that I think I have a fear of exposure. It’s kind of weird, but I have this fear that if I, all of a sudden, start acting differently (even if its a positive change) around/towards everyone then everyone will notice.
It also goes against our family culture (we’re not exactly a lovey dovey, super affectionate family) so I feel like I would stand out a lot more and I kind of feel figuratively naked and exposed.
And as much as I like attention…not referring to being naked. haha… and it’s flattering, it’s also really uncomfortable for me. Maybe because I’ve spent the majority of my life in the background.
So I have this fear that if I am all of a sudden more happy, upbeat, excited, positive, expressive, etc, then everyone will notice and it will feel uncomfortable and awkward.
My higher brain knows that I’m not gonna die. But my lower brain is afraid of the feelings. So instead, I fall into the “family curse” and I revert back into my childhood (mostly older childhood) self in my interactions with everyone – which is either being negative and overly serious, or just retreating and not expressing myself at all.
Anyway, I was tired of dealing with this so I went out on a limb and just told my family about my issues and how I want to be different and better.
Was this easy? No. Was I an emotional wreck for a few days, feeling really awkward and embarrassed? Yes.
But it ended up being ok. Everyone was really nice to me about it. And it started a conversation (especially between the women in the family) of how we can all improve our family culture and become more connected.
As the fog has started to clear, I’ve also been realizing that things aren’t as bad as I thought. My family seems to have closer and healthier relationships than I realized before.
And even though its still going to take some time and effort in practicing new thoughts about myself until they completely replace my old beliefs, I have felt the stronghold of this, decades long weakness, softening and losing its grip on me.
This weakness of mine definitely plays into my relationship with my dad. I’ve written about that before here.
Here is an entry from my journal about an experience that I had in May that gives more insight into this…
May 26, 2018
A week or so ago when I was talking to my mom on the phone about our “secret mission sisterhood,” she was telling me some ideas that she has had about strengthening our family. One that she mentioned was “I would like us to start giving better hugs. Real hugs, not half arm hugs. I remember one time that I was visiting Grandma and I gave her a “hug”. She “scolded” me and told me that she didn’t want a half arm hug. She wanted a real hug.”
Well… my parents came to Utah today. They are here because Eric is getting married in a few days. We saw them tonight when we met up with them to get some dinner.
As we were getting ready to walk into the restaurant (where I knew I would be seeing them for the first time in person…since last month), I was mentally prepping myself to greet them with more intention and love.
Remember, I’m working on improving my relationship with them… particularly my dad, and to up-level our family culture (and now that that’s out in the open I feel even more obligation to follow through). I even started forcing my face into a smile, (as I was walking) just to practice and warm up my facial muscles. haha.
When we got into the restaurant, we were standing in line, waiting to order. My parents and Ann-Marie got there a few minutes after us. When they came in, I went up to my mom and gave her a hug.
I jokingly (and to lighten the awkwardness) said something like “see! I gave you a full hug!” 🙂 Then I walked up to my dad and gave him a hug too. He gave me a half or maybe 3/4 hug back so I jokingly said “dad didn’t give a full hug back.” So I gave him another hug and this time he gave me a full hug back.
Honestly, I felt really happy and super proud of myself. I actually took the initiative and I was intentional and I followed through even though stuff like this is really awkward and uncomfortable for me. I felt a little bit more of the weight of my discomfort with my family/dad especially lift off my shoulders.
So that’s May for you! I plan to get caught up soon with June and July’s observations and and reflections posts.