Sunday, March 20, 2016

3 months later.... Be mindful

It has taken me 3 months to pick up writing again. Writing has helped me in the past to structure my thoughts. Just that the last 3 months has been such a roller coaster ride that I just did not have enough space in between to take a breath and put my thoughts down.

We moved to our new house just before Christmas with illnesses hanging around in the air in the family. My husband sold his house, so we were practically moving two houses into one. And yes, my house still have plenty of unpacked boxes, and we run into plenty of occasions that I just have to say "I don't know where it is now. It must be in one of the boxes or closets." I still consider it being an achievement now that I can sit in the living room feeling like home. We have plenty of things that still need to be taken care of. Visitors mention often about the holes we have to hang our TV up and even though we have what we need to hang it up, we still have not done so. After having been in relationships, I know there is not much point to chase our men down the throat to get things done around the house and especially when we ourselves cannot do them.

Lately I have been very busy with digging into mindfulness. In the past, if someone were to mention it to me, not only did it sound so abstract and alternative, it seemed to be something that people who have plenty of time to themselves would do. Now that I am older, my life being more hectic, stress level being higher, I notice I am more open-minded to things that can help me. I start with small breathing exercises. I take time to read more about mindfulness. I try not to be behind my smartphone to give myself time in appreciating other things including my children.

Over the years, I have got programmed to auto-piloting. I rush to work after having kissed my love ones goodbye for the day, and then I try my best to concentrate and focus at work. Work has been more stressful than ever with all kinds of craziness. Being a manger means you're stuck between the upper management level and your team's level. There are expectations from others that you have to learn saying no to, because you have to rush to pick your kids from the daycare. At home, I rush to get dinner ready, to get my hungry kids fed, then get them cleaned after they have some 15-30 minutes of play time at home. Then hubby comes home from having been stuck in traffic, and we kiss our kids goodnight and send them to bed. If I am lucky, at 8 pm, I finally can clean up a little bit and relax with a cup of tea and some telly/ social media/ relaxation.

I have started asking myself how I can fit more peace into my life, how to be more gentle to myself. I have programmed myself over the years in such a way that being gentle to myself is not something that is natural to me. It seemed and sometimes still seems to be a selfish thing to do. I have always kept rushing in my life, from one place to another. There is hardly any 5 minutes break in between. I'm always functioning for different purposes, including as a full-time employee, as a mother of two children, as a wife, etc. I do not dare to say I am stressed because if comparing to lives people lead in Asia, where I came from, they have even much more stressful lives than I have. Taking my mother as an example, she practically raised me and my brother alone with a full-time job as my father worked abroad. So I have always had the feeling that I am not entitled to think about my stress because that is part of life.

Now I am learning to give myself some breaks in between, including setting a five minutes time block to myself in my outlook, to remind myself doing some breathing exercise which really does reset my busy head. I learn to slow down by giving myself five minutes when I get home from work, whether it is having a cup of coffee, a cup of tea, or sitting down with a book to read. Yes, a book and not behind Facebook. It is not easy to do this every day, because I am someone who keep pushing myself to do better each day.

Furthermore, I try to bring this into my parenting skills. I give compliments to my love ones. I told my son the other day how much I love seeing his love towards me, towards his little sister, and I would like him to be loving to himself too, not having to proof himself to other kids as he has good things in him. I know this is hard, as I have been there too. It is a phase that every one has to go through.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Soul Caring

When reading some professional blogs, I see they are more focused on one single topic, whether it is related to parenting or something else.

If you have been reading mine, you will see it is related to almost every thing that goes on in my life, which includes parenting, being a wife, being a daughter, etc. I do not care too much about my blog not being popular, because I am writing more for myself, and sharing my experiences, my views, my success, my failure, etc with others, in the hope that this would help others too.
It has taken me 40 years to realize the importance of SOUL CARE. We tend to be overwhelmed by our daily commitments, responsibilities and lives we think we should be leading, that we sometimes forget to give space for our feelings, give ourselves time to sit down and think.
I am lucky enough to have found the right path by reaching out, to find ways on putting some closures to the past, giving some love and peace to presence, and embrace the presence.
I am not saying it is not important to talk about the past, and it sure is important sometimes, when handling some pain, anger, disappointment, regrets, etc. The healing process can be a long journey, and we do not have to set deadlines to ourselves. We can take it in a gentle way, by taking a step at a time.
Lately, I am learning some techniques which I would like to share with you all.
Breathing exercise
Yes, it sounds sometimes a bit old but it does work wonders. When feeling sad or overwhelmed, put your hands onto your belly if you can, and breath in deeply by counting 1-10, then breath out slowly by counting another 1-10. After doing so a couple times, try counting from 10-1 too. This does calm ourselves down. It's like our bodies learn to reboot by doing so.
I have imagined myself (with closed eyes if possible), taking a walk, then walking through the forest, hearing the sound of my feet stepping onto the fallen leaves. Then there is a warm fireplace, so I started walking towards it gradually. I see a wise person sitting there. The wise person waved at me gesturing me to sit down next to the person. I can see how he/ she looks like. It is quiet, and I'm told that I can only ask this wise person one question. I ask, "how do I know I'm doing good enough?" This wise person would then tell me the answer. The answer is, "Just believe in you and God, you will have the strength to handle it all."After that, I slowly get up, hug this wise person, and leave.
Another imagination I have done is by closing my eyes, I think about being in a safe warm place. This is a place where I know I am always safe. Slowly I open my eyes. I notice myself sitting in a church in Hong Kong. There are candles lit, and a nice warm scent of candles that make me feel safe. It is like I am back home, God's home. Then I see there are nuns there whom I know and trust. They are nuns who have been in my life from my high school. There are also a few teachers from my high school. They are there to comfort me and hug me. They take me as who I am without expecting me to be someone else. They are proud of whom I am.
Remembering, listening to or reading about spiritual or inspiring quotes or articles
After having met some very inspiring people lately, reading their blogs or reading articles out there, digesting those inspiring quotes help me to calm down, and put things into perspective. I come up with quotes with my own words.

Doing something relaxing
Having kids and having a full-time job gives me not much room to do much on the relaxation part. I have to be creative to find ways to relax. Taking a long shower on a Saturday or Sunday morning is like the best gift my husband can give me at times. Just that I need to remember locking the door, or else I can never be alone as my son is still comfortable in coming in to talk to me about anything just when I am under the shower.
If possible, I try to find an hour or two time off somewhere to just be alone. My son goes to a Chinese private tutor class, so that is a good time for me just being alone. I like to shop around, do groceries, meet up with someone or just glancing through some books. One of my hobbies had been hanging around in bookstores in Hong Kong as a child, just that unfortunately book stores are not that popular anymore as they used to be.
One thing in the moment
I try to focus my attention on just what I am doing. Or just on myself. Put my mind in the present.
Having said this, it may look simple, but it is not when often I find myself juggling around with different tasks at the same time.

There are different ways doing it. You can tell yourself the following:
"You go girl"
"I will make it out of this."
"I am doing the best I can."
"I can stand it."
"This soon shall pass."
"I will be OK."
"It won't last forever."
"I can do this."
There is this Chinese novel, named "The True Story of Ah Q". published in 1921 and 1922. The story embraces the adventures of "Ah Q", a man from the rural peasant class with little education and no definite occupation. Ah Q is famous for "spiritual victories", for self-talk and self-deception even when facing extreme defeat or humiliation. He persuades himself mentally that he is spiritually superior to his oppressors even as he succumbs to their tyranny and suppression. He believes he is the victor every time he loses a fight.
Sometimes we all have to be "Ah Q", to tell ourselves that even though we failed, we actually have won because we have become stronger.
I do not always manage to do these all or any of it. I get overwhelmed at times so much that I cannot think clearly. I make mistakes but I am OK with that too. I would like to teach my children that it is OK to make mistakes just as long as you make them quick enough to learn from it, and move on, also dare to admit you are wrong! Making mistakes is not the privilege of children but adults as well. Sure enough mistakes made by adults can have a bigger consequences.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Acceptance towards ourselves and our children

This year's school talk at my son's school was slightly different. Instead of just going through the scores, we focused more on his emotional state.

I was displeased that the school did not reach out to me earlier than my taking the initiative to get help from a children's psychologist. As from there, I had a questionnaire given to the school teachers to fill in.

The response from the teachers was their not knowing how to bring it out to me without worrying me. I honestly think it is a poor excuse, but I do understand that there are parents who have difficulties in accepting their children having difficulties or issues. Many would go into a denial stage.
Without accepting our children having difficulties, we cannot be there for them to get the right help they need. As an adult, we also learn to accept ourselves for whom we are, and realizing that we are not perfect. So for our children, we must do the same.
Sure enough, it is music to our ears if we hear only compliments on how well behaving our children are. At the same time, I am glad I have less difficulties than others accepting criticisms over my son. As his mother, often I know what the issues are, and how he behaves in general.
My job as his mother is to tell him what is acceptable and what is not, but to still let him know I am here for him, and that I will keep loving him not matter what. Each day I will forgive and forget what he has done wrong, move on, and this is what as parents should do. As parents, you will never give up.
There are plenty of occasions that he has made my hair standing up in the air with anger. Those are the moments that I try hard and sometimes I fail to remain calm and loving. I remind myself that I am an adult, with well-developed emotional intelligence. I accept also the fact that I am imperfect.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

2nd round marriage

When I first met my current husband, I realized then that love could be so much different than what I was used to. I could not believe I actually deserve being loved in such way. I in return give him all the love I have, as I realize he is my MR RIGHT.

So for me, getting re-married is not difficult, although I had been confronted by people's criticisms on my jumping into a new relationship. Often for some Chinese, it seems to be a disgraceful thing to do. I have lost friendships because of this, but I tell myself to focus on the people who love me and accept me the way I am.

Nevertheless, in round-two marriage with my husband being the stepfather, my son being the stepson, it is no easy gig. The greatest challenge is conflict over the parenting of the stepson/ son, especially when my husband applies more traditional parenting style, and I apply more the gentle approach. Okay, I will admit it too that I feel guilty too for what my son has to be put through. I made the decision together with my husband to enter this marriage with a sincere desire to create a loving, functional, blended family. My son didn't have the choice. Mixing a family is like mixing oil and vinegar, it is really not as easy as it looks.

Ever since my pregnancy, my husband has been putting his focus on me and our little daughter, that the relationship between him and my son has just not been well-invested and well-maintained. With my son's hitting the pre-puberty age, the number of fights we have at home really tells us how obvious this is beginning to affect our lives.

I try understanding my husband's feeling. I know the tension-filled situation we have got ourselves into often can cause a once-hopeful family to start falling apart, and that is the last thing I want to see happening. I understand that for my husband to survive from the over-boiling frustrations, he may end up disconnecting from me and disengaging from parenting my son.

I do not want to lose hope in this. I have always been a fighter in my life. I have stayed strong all these years to survive, and I will stay strong if I have to. I definitely am committed to make this marriage work by all means. The question is how!

How do we blend traditional parenting with gentle parenting style?

I feel we don't do enough as a family together. In the weekend, my son goes to football, and then we just do our weekly groceries shopping followed by hanging around in the house. And on Sunday, we don't often go out either. Bi-weekly I bring my son to his Chinese private lessons, and when we get around to, we then can spend some mother-and-son time together. I strongly feel there is a need to spend more family time together, so that we have some fun and laughter again in this household.

For those who read this, please enlighten me with your ideas too! I have learned that parenting is not easy but you also don't have to walk alone in this.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Outbalancing the negativity with the positivity as a mother

My last blog ended positively when sharing my joy of celebrating my son's 10th birthday. Just that life is with ups and downs. The following day, he was vomiting and sitting on the toilet from a stomach flu. He was saying how hard a lesson he has learned, not to pick food off the floor and eat it, not eating so many candies in one-go, not wearing only one layer of t-shirt in the cooler days, etc. Anyway, I don't think he had been that sick for as long as he could remember (of course, he had been there before, just that he doesn't remember it anymore.) He did shape up after a day and life went on as usual. He went to school on Friday, and on Saturday he went for his football match. On Sunday, he got another bag of candies from his Chinese teacher who doesn't seem to understand that I dislike bribing children to learn by candies or junk food, so there we went with the so-called lessons he learned. He was sick again.
Meanwhile, at the daycare where Sami's goes to, stomach flu is going on too. Sure enough, it didn't take long for her to join the club. I have not seen so much mess in my life within a short-time frame. Loads of laundry and lots of toilet and puke bucket cleaning, in the hope to stop bacteria/ virus spreading any further in the household.
Because of the stomach flu, we have slowed down the reflux medicine weaning. Unfortunately, after having been to 3 hospitals for Sami, we just don't have answers on Sami's frequent cough, snot, poor eating, and all. At times, I end up being the doctor, as doctors have asked me what I wanted instead.
It's awfully frustrating to someone like me who is crazily solution-orientated when there is just no solution! At work, when I am confronted by challenges, I often manage to find ways to handle it, to solve it, and feel satisfied by that. Now with a child who is often sick, and who is a toddler with a strong sense of what she wants and doesn't want, I am in need of an infuse-load of patience.

My hubby then reminded me when I said I hope she will feel better soon, that it is just the beginning. I felt so depressed when hearing that, while his point is to tell me "get used to it, that's life about having kids."
Am I not ready for kids? Sometimes it sure feels like so, because of the amount of failure I feel having as being a mother. I love my children and I won't trade them in for anything else.
At the same time, undoubtedly, I miss my pre-mother life too. I wish I realized back then that I actually had loads of free "ME" time. What did I do with that?!

After my second-round pregnancy, my body betrayed me. I have gained weight. That hurts my self-esteem. I do want to look good and feel sexy again. Luckily, there are people out there who are willing to tell the world that it's OK to show your motherly figure. It is what comes along being a mother, having a baby inside you for 9 months each time, and for those who have breastfed, realizing that your breasts can actually do so much!
My tiredness took over my sex life. Sleep is more important than sex to me now. When we do have sex, it's often a quick one. My less-sexy body makes me at times uncertain about my atrractiveness even though I know my hubby understands and does not complain. I know good marriage needs often good sex in the formula. It's an investment in our relationship.
I remember seeing someone posting on a mother support Facebook group, wondering why there is so much negativity about motherhood. I ask myself the same thing. I guess it's a natural thing to do, thinking about the negativity more than the positivity.
So I ask myself then what about pleasant events? Are there any pleasant events that I can do to outbalance it? Something that I can really do, and not wish to do.

Jogging/ walking
Yes, I do that from time to time after lunch break at work. Or when I'm up for it, going for a run after kids have gone to bed.

Thinking, "I've done a full-day of work, and I've done my best."
It's the latter part of the sentence that is most important. It's like a pat on the shoulder, but to myself.

Having lunch with my colleagues
We laugh over silly things and talk about serious stuff.

I was never crazy about shopping until I started my career, since I didn't have money to in the past. And my loving shopping tells me I'm just like any other ladies who enjoy that.
Helping others
Even my schedule is busy, and maybe I sometimes overdo it, I love the idea of being able to help others. Maybe it's because I know how life sometimes can be when you feel helpless and when someone comes around the corner, it's like bringing you warmth during an ice-cold winter. Last week, I brought some food over for a friend who is ill and has kids. Her smile was such a gift to me when she welcomed me to her house.
Blogging & Writing
Writing helps to structure my thinking, and put my life back in perspective again. Sometimes it does bring out some sad emotions back onto the surface, but maybe they are not meant to be hidden at all times.
Expressing my love to someone
When noticing my hubby being in a grumpy mood, I try to cheer him up by being silly, tickling him, and telling him I love him.
Reading inspiring articles and talking to inspiring people
Thanks to the world of Internet, I have access to a world of inspiring articles as well as getting to know a few inspiring people. They have brought me joy and encouragement in my life. They think of me, and send messages from time to time, which helps. They don't tell me what to do in life, but tell me that I am doing also a good job.
Reflecting on how I have improved
Thinking back how I did things and how I have improved helps. It's not easy to sit for a moment and tell myself that. Also, generally I am not the type glorifying myself, but I think sometimes it is good to look ourselves back in the mirror, and seeing how we have grown.
Getting a massage
This has not been something I have done for awhile. My hubby is the first who brought to my first massage, and I am very pleased that he did! Making the time for it is often the key, but it does relax myself so much that I sleep better at night.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Highlights of the week....

I am very grateful these days that I have met many inspiring people lately in my life. They have inspired me in many different ways.
I have learned to ask myself more frequently what the highlights are of my week, what the down moments may be, what tricks I have done to make things better in life, what my best characters are. All these help me to get to know myself even better, and eventually I hope to come to peace in doing some closures on my old scars.
My highlight of the week now is definitely my son's 10th birthday. 10th birthday is as special as it is for him as it is for me. I still can remember all special moments I have shared with him, especially the day he came to this world. At the same time, I did find myself feeling a moment of bitterness as when my ex sent me a message saying how he remembers holding him at that first moment, as I remember also well how he said he thanked me for giving him such a boy. When I felt that, I pushed that feeling away immediately, and focused on getting his birthday organized. I've got his treats ready, and we went to school together, with my daughter along. She loved the big kids' world, and my son's love towards his sister was just showing amazingly well without him doing it on purpose. I enjoyed that moment very well and almost wanted to freeze that.

My son then had his kiddie party, and everyone that came along had a great time. They didn't want to leave but it was a good two hours play. We as adults were glad to get out of the busy indoor playground anyway.
Though my son begged to play with other kids longer, I decided it was a good moment to cool him down with all the sugar and excitement he had, so he immediately picked up a book that he got and started reading it. I am so happy to see how much he now enjoys reading.

After picking up his sister from daycare, we went out for dinner as a family of four. It was good, though slightly stressful with my daughter not wanting to eat much. I can't wait to have the teething stage over... My son enjoyed the little treat the restaurant did, and people sang birthday song to him.
The fun of going to a restaurant with a toddler is that you have to go for the escape route when they start getting tired, impatient, and fussy. We went home, got both kids showered/ bathed. We had our little cake celebration before they went to bed. All in all, I think it was a great way to have his birthday celebrated. To me, my children's birthday makes me happier than my own birthday, because my children are my pride!

 I love this song from this cool music group, Metro. They are western folks, but have learned to sing in Cantonese amazingly well. My son loves this song too as there was this year that I got a radio DJ playing this for him on his birthday, telling him that he is my pride!
Lately, I have found myself slowly learning to find tricks to make my life easier by communicating better with people around to stop myself from stressing out. I ask myself what the triggers are that causing me exploding, and I work my way around to avoid those. Like when my daughter is fussing, throwing food onto the floor, my son's bilibala, Cantonese expression of endless talking just triggers my mind to shut down completely. Therefore, instead of letting things going out of hand, I decided one day to ask him if he would like my full attention when he talks to me. He of course said yes, so I said, "my dear, I am not coping well at the moment with your little sister fussing while it's something she cannot help as she cannot express herself. So can you wait till I have more time, then mommy can have her full attention to what you have to say?" Wow, I did it, that was what I realized after having said that. I felt good when seeing my son's reaction. He didn't keep on going, and he understood.
Because of whom I have grown into, always in the high-speed mode and doing a lot of things independently, I get myself all stressed out. And maybe because people around me are used to my functioning as such, so when I slow down, I find myself getting more stressed as work isn't done as I wish. I don't know how to do things differently yet to give myself more breathing space. That's something I still yet have to learn.
I am amazed by how much I have come to realization lately after being more conscious of what have happened with me in the past, and instead of just keep on going, I have found myself actually been on a survival mode. My being strong, being highly efficient, being forgiving, being loyal and being caring are all strong characters from me, things I have heard of others saying about me. Yet, these all are often linked to my having to survive, having to move on, so I have trained myself for being so.
A lot of the things I have not told people about are things which I don't want people to feel I am making a big deal of them. Now after having revealed them more and more, people are telling me that they are matters that shouldn't be taken lightly.
I still have a lot of homework to do on myself. One of them is being passionate not only to others, but also to myself. I don't know how to get that done just yet, and I will find out more soon.

Monday, October 26, 2015

About myself.....

When I started blogging here, I focused a lot on Sami's development, especially relating to her reflux journey. Recently, I talked about our journey as a family on a more harmonized family life.

Now I would like to turn the spotlight onto myself for a short moment. A lot has happened in my life, and definitely in the past five years.

After Sami's birth, my life has gotten onto a faster roller coaster, and as a mother, you will continue to fight for your little one, so you do your best to remain strong. I have gone through a period of postnatal depression, which was definitely one of the darkest moments of my life. I was lucky to have my husband to lean onto.

Often families with attention demanding children whether it is medical or due to other reasons are struggling on their own with not as much support as needed. Understanding is hard to obtain, and that's not because people around them don't want to, but it is sometimes just hard for others to know what it really involves.

For instance, reflux children often have bottle and food aversion, and the feedback you get from people around you may not always be helpful, because they don't deal with your situation daily. They have no idea the intensity of this.

Sami's aversion is luckily not as bad as some of the refluxers that I've got to know, but still it's very tricky. We are told that she is now missing certain vitamins, calcium and iron. As a mother, I don't mind her being small and short, but I do want her to be healthy. I try all sort of food, menus, different cooking style to get her eating more. Sometimes my son will get jealous of his little sister for the amount and variety of food that she gets, and when she refuses to eat them, he then finally gets them. Sure enough, I try to make as much for both but that would be way too much, and I try to explain to my son why this is happening. He tries hard to understand.

Refluxers are also known to be poor sleepers. I don't know if this is why Sami doesn't sleep through the night. She is now 19 months, and answering whether she sleeps through that night is like playing Russian roulette. 9 times out of 10, I am the one getting up for her as my husband just can't hear her crying. I don't always run to see her, but I'm awake by her crying. I struggle to fall back to sleep at times or she wakes me up again after I have fallen back to sleep. But the 19 months of broken nights do impact my life.

In general, in the current society, women face an ever-increasing demand on playing the role of multi-tasking. We are expected to work while taking care of things around the house. We are more detailed-orientated, and therefore lots of things are taken care of by us.

I am one of those women. I work full-time, and have two children to take care of. My ex, my son's biological father, has left for China for his career, so Julian is with me the whole time which I don't mind or complain. However, it does take time for my husband and Julian to find their ways to build a step-father & son relationship. It's not easy for either of them. Often I deal with guilty feelings because of this too. I also try to facilitate between them, but sometimes I feel I am stuck between them.

Last year, I have been diagnosed for the first time that I have chronic migraine, which explained a few symptoms I have had in the past years. I am now on lifetime medication, and one of the side effects is gaining weight. So baby fat plus this doesn't make it easy on me, and this puts a heavy load on my self esteem. Comments made by others are harsh but at the same time I think they are true. I have gone fat!

With my illness, my experience in depression, abuse, the usual day-to-day push and rush, and "entirely-for-others" approach, I end up feel drained, hardened and disconnected from the inner me.

In the Chinese culture, we are taught not to think too much about ourselves but others. We give and give. If we don't, then we are selfish. We are told that every one has his/ her own challenges, and our own ones should not be seen as important. We should not be under the spotlights. But is this correct? Should we keep on going?

Once in a while I do get an hour or two for myself, and I go out walking in downtown, or getting shopping for myself and the family. I find myself feeling temporarily relieved, but they are just short-term bandage over the wound within the same cycle, and eventually the same drained feeling returns.

So how do I break this cycle? How can I let go and fix this before I run out of battery? Without an energized mother, how can my kids grow up?

So I have decided to go ahead, reach out for help. At first, I wonder if I'm exaggerating things. But the more I have dug into the issues, the more I have come to realization I want to have this sorted.

My picking up on running, to be out there alone in the cold air free up my mind.

My speaking with a few inspiring people helps my finding ways to deal with scars and move on.

So I would really like to urge any of those who are dealing with all that "pushing-through" action after action, day after day, to not only take care of others, but also themselves.

Yesterday after my blogs were posted, I have received some loving complimenting feedback and a few of them are mothers with reflux children. Some are inspired by the thought of writing. I'm happy because to be inspired is great, and to inspire is even more incredible!