Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sing Out Loud (Even If You Don't Know the Words)

Confession: I have not been looking forward to blogging this week because for once, I am speechless (you might want to record this moment as it may never happen again).  Like the rest of America, I feel like everything I take for granted, everything I thought was safe, is now uncertain and scary.  I have felt this way only a couple of times in my life (9/11 was one) and I find myself leering up at God, thinking, "So, you really know what you're doing, huh?  Got this under control too?"  

And of course, He does.  As Americans, we have this hefty sense of entitlement that leads us to believe (falsely) that this life should be smooth sailing, if only we try hard enough to do the right things. The whole "what goes around comes around" bit. He never promised it would be easy or safe or fair...only that He would be with us to the ends of the earth.  

So where does that leave us?  I can only speak for myself.  This week's tragedy has reminded me that my children don't really belong to me.  They have just been loaned out to me for safe keeping.  I don't know what their futures will hold, or what tomorrow may hold for that matter.  The only thing that I have control over is their reality right here, right now.  

This week, the little people have been unleashed upon me for Winter Break.  Hooray!! (Sounded pretty sincere, right?)  Seriously though, as I listen to Lilah beg for gum (we are looking for a PreK twelve step program) for the 500th time that day, Savannah clinging to my leg, whimpering desperately each time I try to walk the dog (late onset separation anxiety??), I find myself breathing a little deeper.  Relaxing the tiny muscles in my forehead.  And speaking softly with compassion.  As I walk by them with laundry spilling out of my arms, I spontaneously smell and kiss the tops of their little heads.  They still smell like babies to me. I think to myself, "You are so precious to me with your loud voices, grimy fingers, and ridiculous fashion choices (flip flops paired with a wool coat)." 

We all do that after the unspeakable happens, don't we?  Talk a little sweeter and softer...take a minute to notice the blessings that are in front of us.  

Here was my blessing for the four year old singing a song that makes her sound like a cougar trying to reel in fresh meat.  Before you judge, we do NOT listen to songs in my car that frequently use the word "baby"in reference to the opposite sex, I promise.  Lilah learned this little gem at the cheer-leading camp she attended with her big sister.  They now love Ms. Carly Rae Jepsen more than the Chipettes (Alvin's Lady-friends), which is saying a lot.  This is Lilah enjoying the heck out of "Call Me Maybe" and not at all sure about the words.  Hope it puts a smile on your face! 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My s#@% is Highly Sensitive!

Yesterday, as I was enjoying a leisurely trip to the urgent care center with the Grinch, a.k.a. my youngest daughter, who was sporting a very high fever and some suspicious lesions on her throat, I did something very, very naughty.  Something strictly at odds with my moral code.  Let's just keep this tidbit of information between us.  

I ripped a page out of the November 2012 issue of "O" Magazine and shoved it in my purse.  

My oldest daughter looked at me quizzically and said, "Mama, why are you tearing that out?"  

"Because it's very, very important to me. Shhhh...."  Real nice, right?

I will not be held responsible for my actions.  Spending four days nursing a tiny, mean person and cleaning up said person's vomit is enough to push any good citizen to the edge.  If you don't believe me, just try it (come over right now.)

The reason behind my evildoing is that I was instantly so overcome with emotion while reading this article that I had to have it.   Has that ever happened to you?  You read something and it's like a lightening bolt shoots down from the heavens and you know, "That's about me!"

The article, "How Thin Is Your Skin?" is adapted from The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aron, PhD, who has been studying highly sensitive people for more than twenty years.  You may be thinking, "Great! Just what we need, another diagnosis."  And you are right.  We live in a world that is flush with psychiatric illnesses and medications.  But, HSP is not a disorder because it affects too many people.  Between 15% and 20% of the population have this highly sensitive personality trait.  Do you?

Take a peak at the questionnaire Dr. Aron has developed to indicate whether or not a person may be considered highly sensitive.   I will confess that I could absolutely identify with all but one of these indicators.  In other words, my shit is highly sensitive.

According to Dr. Aron, and many others in the field of psychiatry, HSPs are keenly aware of the world around them because they process sensory input more deeply than the rest of the population.  Imagine your brain is a sieve that has larger holes than the next guy's.  This means that HSPs need to consciously create downtime for themselves to catch a break from all the sensory overload.  

I have been unconsciously doing just this for as long as I can remember, but there is a certain amount of shame that accompanies being that person.  Don't pull out your violins; I am happier with myself than I have ever been and honestly wouldn't change a thing.  But, at a young age I knew that my desire for peace and quiet was not the norm for other kids.  Certain sounds and textures set my teeth on edge.  Too many people talking loudly or at the same time makes me crazy.  I even quit Jazzercise because all those "party screams" and count downs made me want to shimmy my ass out the door.  When my sweet children bombard me with questions, I feel like a cornered rat. Just try taking away my alone time and I will choke somebody. And house guests?  Just the thought of one makes my blood pressure rise (but you know I love you). 

For a long time, I believed that this made me selfish, lazy, or weak minded.  At the age of 34, I really do know that none of these describe me.  You see, it's actually really smart to figure out what you need to live happy and do it.  When I take care of my kooky brain, I am able to appreciate and love the people around me to the best of my ability; especially my HSP child, who needs a whole lot of patience and compassion. Taking care of me makes me the best possible mom, friend, and wife.  

My husband knows and accepts all of my quirks and God love him for it.  He is a talker. He is loud.  He needs very little sleep or downtime to live.  We could not be more different, yet he loves me just as I am and only teases me about it a little.  And he does not snap at me when I ask him to turn down "Around the Horn" for the umpteenth time.  Thanks for the patience, Babe, and for not trying to change me. 

Are you an HSP?  Do you know one?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!