This blog is a stream of conciousness from my head to the keyboard to the screen. There will be talk of random subjects. If you have delicate eyes, proceed with caution. I like to talk about controversial subjects and sex a lot. So, take heed my friends. This is not a blog for debate, but for love and sharing. If your views do not match my own, love to you, but don't bring the rest of us down. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Solitary Peace

As I sit here, I can hear ice pelt the tin awnings of my bedroom windows. It is a peaceful and amazing sound. The sound woke me this morning and I immediately said a prayer of thanks for my warm house and the fact that my husband, children and cats are safe and warm with me.

We are very lucky.

Shortly after getting out of bed, and having my coffee, the girls and I decided to take a bath. We were a bit squished, but we managed. While in the tub we discussed how we would most likely be stuck in the house together over the next few days, no one able to come in or go out. The girls are used to daily running about the neighborhood with friends. We also spoke of what we would like to do to amuse ourselves during these days together. We continued talking, while getting prunier, and ended up discussing where we would like to live, travel and work when we grow up. I was part of that discussion as well because I don't have the answers to these questions for myself.

Sometimes I get worried, no scared, no intimidated about the future. It seems so daunting. What do I want to do? Where do I want to be? Who and how do I want to be?

I caught glimpses of some possibilities, that at lest stretched my mind and got it moving, this weekend. I was on an amazing women's retreat that I am very proud to say I had a hand in creating and running. The speakers were amazing and really helped me start to think about how I think about things, including the future. A little metacognition is always good for soul searching.

Do you know there is a small part of our brain, about the size of a peanut, that sits on or by our brainstem, I forget the particulars, and its sole purpose is to make sure we are afraid. Of everything. It's called the amygdala and it was a very powerful and useful part of our brain in the days of the caveman. It made us afraid to be alone and worried about our every move in order that we would not be eaten by tigers. I learned this on the retreat.

In modern time this part of our brain is a little less needed, and a little more hindering, of our daily living and functioning. Our being afraid to be alone, to not fit in can overshadow the reality of what is happening around us. How often do we assume that people are thinking negatively of us and then live/react to that false information? They think I'm too fat, not smart enough, not a capable homemaker/worker, not a good mom/dad, etc., etc., etc. We are afraid to not be liked and fit in. We don't want to be left alone to be eaten by tigers.

What if these thoughts were false. Just consider the possibilities. What if this peanut sized part of our brain is wrong. Let that sink in. What if we quit listening to it's false signals of danger because they are not true. The "tribe" is not thinking these things. We are safe. We are in a group. We are competent, smart, a good size and shape and loving parents, spouses, family members and friends. What if you stood up to you amygdala?

I'll tell you what brain scientists have found. They have found that just by acknowledging that those negative thoughts might not be true, you actually shift your brain chemistry. That's right, the amygdala no longer is the only part of the brain firing. You free yourself just by considering the possibility that you are safe. There is no hungry tiger.

So, now as I sit here and listen to the ice pelt my house, knowing that I am blessed and safe and warm, I am able to enjoy our solitude as a family. I know when we do finally get to leave this house there is a tribe of people, family, friends, co-workers, to welcome me back into those worlds. I will remember that they are not judging me. They respect and love me. And just by acknowledging these facts, I am free to live for now and the future without fear and the intimidation that I sometimes have about not doing things in the right way, in the right time and with the right people's blessing.

I am able to dream, like my children do, without reservations or hang ups, about what I want to be when I grow up. I had some big thoughts come to mind at the retreat this weekend. I will let them stir around without judgement, concern for what others might be thinking, and without my pesky amygdala telling me the lie that there are tigers right around the corner, just waiting to pounce and disturb my solitude.

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