Monday, March 14, 2011

ready, set, notice: where i am

Good morning!  Today we're lucky enough to learn from one of the coolest people I know.  Natalie is just making the transition into a family of FIVE kids with one little boy just weeks old.  her husband is a busy busy financial advisor, and leaving for work before the kids wake up and coming home well after the kids are in bed is not a rarity.  she just survived the dreaded school science fair, she's always working on new home makeover project, and yes, she cans her own poultry.  see the picture below if you don't believe me.  if you missed her profile, get to know her a little more by clicking here. Here's what happened when she stepped away from canning and noticed.

(picture provided, without permission, by where i am)

There’s a voice that has moved into my head.  He’s pulled up a chair, grabbed himself a snack and decided to set up camp.  Permanently.  In fact, when Remi gave me the task of ‘noticing’ he started speaking to me more loudly and clearly than he ever has before.  He’s not a voice that I like to listen to but he’s just so loud and obnoxious.  When he is yelling at me he talks with his mouth full, he burps, he farts, and if I could see him, I bet he would have moles all over his hairy back and sweat a lot when he sleeps.  All of those things would be forgivable if his intentions weren’t to be destructive to my soul.  But they are.  And in my assignment to simply notice, I came to know his intentions all too well.
When I embarked on my task of noticing I was excited to see what would show up.  What things would pop out from right under my nose that I could come to love and appreciate even deeper or possibly for the first time. I looked at nature.  Didn’t notice anything different.  Looked at people.  Didn’t notice anything different.  Looked at concepts and tried to conform them into an ‘experience’.  Nada.  Then I looked at myself and the Voice helped me notice plenty.  Plenty of things that I needed to work on.  (yikes!)  As the week progressed he helped me ‘notice’ that I wasn’t enough.  Wasn’t grateful enough.  Wasn’t proficient enough.  Wasn’t keeping up on the laundry enough.  Wasn’t meeting my children’s needs enough.  Wasn’t giving our pet chinchilla enough attention.  I wasn’t skinny enough or pretty enough.  Wasn’t being a good enough friend.  Wasn’t fun enough.  Wasn’t smart enough. Wasn’t being a good enough daughter or sister.  Wasn’t making dinner enough.  Wasn’t grocery shopping enough.  Wasn’t being kind enough to my husband.  The signs were everywhere.  I wasn’t enough.  I just wasn’t.  (enough doesn’t sound or look like a real word when you say/type it a whole bunch of times)  Well, thanks to the Voice I realized that this task of writing about the things I came to notice would be easy.  The voice would write it for me and it would go like this:  “I suck. The end.”  I didn’t have to write anything.  No editing.  No worrying about what I just revealed about myself to the cyber world.  Easy enough.  This voice takes such good care of me that way.
But then another voice started showing up.  The Opposition.  Because I do believe that there is that:  Opposition in all things.  And the opposition: the Opponent, the Challenger, started showing me some things to take note of: to challenge.  And this Voice showed me things in the gentlest of ways.  It didn’t burp at me, yell at me, or sweat in my bed.  It was beautiful, calm, piercing and I knew that what it was teaching me was true.  It didn’t hunker down in my head and stay there.  It eased into my blood and flowed through the deepest parts of Me.  Warming me until I knew that this Voice was the one that I needed to pay attention to, even if it was so much quieter than the voice I had given away my power to all week long.
I was driving to the store late one night.  It was the first time I had left my new baby and was alone.  I was exhausted from the lack of sleep combined with the new, tricky transition into life with 5 children.  I was in pajamas (from the night before), wearing a spit up stained t-shirt, and bandana on my head to cover up my greasy hair.  (You can imagine the hay-day the voice in my head was having with me.) I was listening to a talk on the radio and heard a story recounted.  My Soul Voice quietly told me to listen up because there was a message in it just for me.
It was a true story of a jumbo jet that crashed over the Everglades 36 years ago.  The interesting thing about this story is that the plane could have landed safely in Miami, just over 20 miles away.  But during the final descent of the flight, the crew noticed that a little green light failed to illuminate. The light indicated whether the nose landing gear had successfully extended.  The pilots decided to investigate the lights failure and put the plane in a holding pattern and circled above the Everglades.  All of the crew members were so distracted by the examination of the little green light that no one noticed that the plane had begun to descend until it was too late.  The plane crashed into the swamp below and over one hundred people lost their lives.  Investigators determined that the plane was in perfect mechanical condition at the time of the crash.  The nose landing gear was functioning properly that night.  The problem:  one tiny, burned out, green light bulb.  
When I heard that story I couldn’t help but think about how I had been feeling.  I realized that by listening to the voice in my head telling me over and over that I wasn’t enough, I was focusing on my little green light bulb; my flaws.  If this pattern of thinking continued what would be my demise?  Not the swampy everglades but feeling like a wreck of a mother to my five beautiful children who need me to be happy.  Who need me to love me.  Who need me to lead them by being an example of strength, dignity, grace and joy.  If I kept listening I wouldn’t be letting the voice ruin just me, but all of them too.  The price is too high to give him any more attention.
The next day, I read a blog post written by one of my friends.  I’m sure to her it was just a quick vent to acknowledge and record her day.  But my Soul voice told me to pay attention so I did.  Her post read:
Today I was mean and grumpy and irritable and fed-up (when I wasn't being long-suffering, encouraging, patient, and attentive, because let's be honest, there was some of that, too) and I kept thinking about what Diana used to say all the time to her sister Eliza when they were growing up: "I love you, but I don't like you." Mostly directed (but not spoken aloud) to my kids. 
Here's hoping for a new week filled with liking my cheerful, non-teething, obedient, loving, neat and responsible children! 
When I read that post it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Mr. Moley-back voice said ‘you don’t like your kids either.  You were mean, grumpy, fed up and irritable too.’  But after I told him to quiet himself, I Listened and Saw what I was Supposed to see.  “…when I wasn’t being long-suffering, encouraging, patient and attentive…”  I was those things sometimes too.  When my friend acknowledged her strengths she wasn’t bragging or staking her claim on having perfection all figured out.  Nope, she was just saying ‘I’m not so bad.’  She was listening to her Soul voice, the one who tells her who she truly is.  It made me realize that there wasn’t any harm in acknowledging that in myself too.  I’m okay.  At least parts of me are enough.  
My Soul voice has gently, but pointedly, spoken to me many, many more times this week, each time teaching me to pay attention to the good in me.  Once while watching Little Women, many times while parenting my babies, many other times in being a wife and a friend and a daughter and a sister, sometimes while listening to the radio.  I’m happy to report that the obnoxious houseguest in my head has quieted himself now.  At times he stands at the window knocking and I ask him if he has anything constructive to tell me.  He usually sulks away silent.  He’s becoming more obedient when I tell him to shush.  He knows that my Soul Voice has moved in to stay and she likes to keep a clean house.  And he’s not welcome in her domain. 
So what did I ‘notice’ after all?  That I am hopelessly flawed.  I always will be.  But it is my flaws, my scars, my imperfections mixed together with my kindness, beauty, and amazing sense of humor (it’s true, ask my husband.  I’m one funny lady) that make up the whole of me.  My unique blend of imperfection always leaves room for unwanted house guests to move into my head and set up shop.  It’s my sacred job as a woman, as a human being, as a spiritual being to stop it before it taints my Soul.  You know what else I noticed?  That I am enough.  Being enough doesn’t equate to perfection or that mean that I have overcome all of my weaknesses or don’t have room to grow and improve every moment of every day.  But that my Soul Voice is right, I’m not so bad after all.

didn't I tell you she is a delight?  and I'm here to second the motion by Natalie's husband that she is indeed, one funny lady.  

thanks Natalie!


  1. Thank you for sharing your insights Natalie. I am really grateful I read that before leaving the house for the day; it will help me so much. The moley man has been telling me to give up lately and I enjoyed what you said about telling him to shush. :-) So there is hope for today, a renewed effort to Notice the good things, and a prayer that yesterday never repeats itself.

  2. What a beautiful post. I'm so grateful for the reminder that even with our flaws, we can be enough. We can still strive to become who we want to become, without looking down upon who we are right now. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your beautiful spirit.

  3. Such an important post! (And it would take someone as intuitive and thoughtful as you to make this perfect anaolgy, Nat.)

    Feeding the "negativity monster" is all too common an occurence for women. I hope everyone who is struggling to see their own beauty and purpose will have a chance to read what you have so gracefully written. Love you! xxo

  4. I love your suggestion that we "pay attention to the good in us". I get caught up all too often in paying attention to "the less than" part of myself.