My children were watching Finding Nemo. Hiding from the sticky flies and midday heat. Dreaming of snorkeling in the water with what was before them on the screen. Later we would venture outdoors for an evening swim, but for now, voyeuristic swimming would be all we could achieve. I was tidying bedrooms but could still hear the TV in the background, and little Dory's catch cry "Just Keep Swimming" seemed to have particular resonance. I stopped, sat on a newly made bed and pondered the 'Just Keep Swimming' concept.
I have been a solo parent for three and a half years. Woah, the amount of times I have had to grit my teeth and 'just keep swimming' are to numerous to recall. When the babies fight incessantly and you are the only one there to sort it all out. When they come home with homework and readers and projects and you are the one source of assistance and help and advice for all three kids - exhausting thought. When you are responsible for everything in the household, every decision rests on your shoulders, and you collapse into bed at night knowing you have been 'grumpy mummy' again that day because you are just carrying too much - a load that a human being was not created to carry. When you cry at night because you just long for tender, loving arms to hold you. That soft place to fall when its all too much. Yes. You have to be strong and trusting and 'just keep swimming'.
That said, the swimming is getting easier as the kids get older. More responsible. More mature. Or maybe the nature of the swimming is changing. I find I am swimming with deadlines, activity groups and chores instead of three sets of nappies, afternoon sleeps and kinder runs. Yet in all the swimming, somehow I am learning to love this crazy exasperating life......and that, for me is the real miracle of discovery that has been three and a half years in the making. The creation of my acceptance. My realisation of the beauty of my life.
For the past three and a half years I have, in all honesty, had strong moments of bitterness. Here I am, living in a small, kind of remote country town (which I totally love I must add), but I am here because it is reasonably close to my ex so that he has good access to the kids, and because it is close to my parents for much needed support. Living in a country town is also a far more relaxed lifestyle for raising children, and for a single mother (or anyone for that matter), ooooooodles more affordable than a quality life in the city would be. In many respects I do not feel that I have a great deal of choice about the vicinity in which I live - and for the most part, that is ok.
But for the rest of the time, there in lies the difficulty and the source of my little apple of bitterness. I have a career qualification that does not lend itself to many jobs around here, and I know I could earn three times the salary I earn here if I lived in Melbourne. In being here I forfeit climbing that particular career ladder. In being a single mother juggling part time work and motherhood I forfeit good superannuation and therefore, a financial healthy retirement. In being a single mother of three, shall we say, vivacious, children, and my being of an artistic bent in a remote country town, I find like minded men very very thin on the ground. In being here I forfeit the opportunity to date anyone, find a kindred spirit relationship, or even have sex. Sigh. I have spent three and a half years grieving over the end of my, albeit girlhood, dreams of relationship, and also lamenting the situation I now find myself in, which was certainly not a part of my original life plan !
Now, that all sounds terribly morbid and horrible doesn't it? And I am a big believer in the Law of Attraction - wont saying all this draw more negativity to me? Let me just say, facts are facts. It is bloody hard as a single mother, on so many levels.
However, I've discovered heaven or hell exists in our minds, not in our circumstances. Yes, the circumstances are 'not fair', but since when was life fair to anyone? I believe we make our own happiness through our thoughts. There has been so much research in the field of neuroplasticity in recent years, and as the title implies, it refers to the capacity of our minds to be malleable. Our thought process can be changed, and through that, our life perspective. Our happiness.
I have been angry, sad and overwhelmed with my situation at various times throughout the past three years, and it is only recently, through employing neuroplasticity techniques and associated spiritual beliefs, that I have learnt acceptance and love for my life. When one said 'acceptance' in reference to shitty circumstances, I used to think "Ugh! I will never resign myself to a horrible life like that !!" Well, I am here to say, I am not talking about resignation, I am talking about Marlin and Dory in Finding Nemo. Marlin, through past conditioning, tried to control every aspect of his life, and operated in fear. Dory taught him to let go, to accept the guidance of the Universe or God, while all the while pursuing his heart. Its a beautiful film.
That is what I am talking about. I have learnt, and continue to learn, to enjoy the moment I live in right now, while working towards the dreams of my heart. When I engage and practise mindfulness in this moment - with all the sounds, sights, feelings, relationships, tastes, smells and emotions of the moment - I find my life is richer and more beautiful. I love all things in my life more, it begets gratitude. Funny thing is, gratitude begets more engagement with the present moment too - a lovely cycle.
So I look at my life anew with a more trusting, less controlling and fearful heart. I see the brand new home where I live, all geared up for sustainable living - comfortable, economical, inviting. I see three children who are very warm, intelligent, happy and out going. I see a job where I have amazing flexibility in my work hours (so fantastic considering the juggling act I am performing these days!), and where my boss is beyond wonderful. A job in a field I actually really really love - marketing, social media and public relations.....who knows where it may lead me in years to come? I see a community that celebrates my presence (how many city communities are like that?!) and supports my family and our situation through so many random acts of kindness. And a community in which I can be actively involved and invited to contribute. I see an ever increasing circle of intelligent, insightful, loving and beautiful women friends....that aspect of my life alone truly humbles me. I have more girlfriends here in my tiny little rural town that I had when I lived with my ex-husband in a rural city four times the size! When I step back and look at those bald facts, I am overcome with how perfectly God has provided for all those needs. My worries and concerns are diminished enormously. I also know that my concerns about love, desire, career and future finances are being taken care of because I believe that the Universe only has good things for me. Now that's the Law of Attraction and the Law of Detachment. That's making room for the aspects of what is missing in my life to spontaneously emerge. That's doing the Dory thing....just swimming and trusting that its going to be ok.
So, I finally got up off the newly made bed and went out to smile at my children who promptly hugged me and told me I was "the prettiest Mummy ever". That evening our real life swim in the golden pink sunset and twilight was just perfect. It really is a beautiful life, and I know the future is bound to be very rosy indeed.
*** I will be writing more about retraining the brain to follow more positive pathways in the future, but if you would like to know more right now, I recommend researching the writings of Louise L Hay, Erkhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Dr Carolyn Leaf.