429 days of loving more
A horrible thunderstorm hovered over our house for what felt like hours last night waking all of us at least two to three times. At one point I was convinced lightning had hit the house it shook so hard. And while it hadn’t, my boys started this morning as if it had. Frazzled and burnt from not sleeping well, every darling son of mine was striking at each other with hands and words and loud, loud, thunderous yells. It was horrible. Absolutely, horrible.
So I demanded a re-start to the day. I sent the three boys to their rooms for some rest as I collected myself and re-gained the calm and the determination to stay calm that I started the day with. And it worked.
This morning’s re-start allowed me to re-focus and then re-connect with my boys in the loving, calm manner I know we all desired. And as I basked in the joy of my re-start, I started thinking (quiet and calm allow that, it’s amazing!) I realized that if I replaced “z” in realize with “v” I would have exactly what I want in life right now: to RE-ALIVE.
What is “re-alive?” The official Orange Rhino dictionary states it as a verb: to become alive, again.
I re-alived 400+ days ago when I started The Orange Rhino Challenge.
Yes, when I stopped yelling at my boys, I became alive again.
Parts of me that had been stuffed away for years came out. I started laughing more. I started smiling more. I started walking with a greater pep. I started sleeping better. I started finding joy in the small things, in the normal moments with my boys like bath time, dinnertime, playtime, chat time.
When I stopped yelling at my boys, I simply felt calmer because I WAS calmer. I had to be calmer in order to think clearly enough to control my temper. And this newfound calmness made me happier than I had felt in a while. This is not to say that I was not happy before. I was. But I also had a cloud of guilt and anger that followed me wherever I went preventing the happiness from lasting as long as I wished. I would have a great moment and feel happy and then I would yell and that happiness would disappear and the guilt and anger with myself would hover around for a while. Because that is the thing with guilt and anger. They are strong emotions – they are hard to lose, to overcome, to forget, to forgive.
But oh, oh those emotions didn’t have a chance to enter my world when I put everything I had into being as calm as I could be. Nope, they didn’t stand a chance. Because when I fully focused on being calm then when frustration arose I handle the situation well and afterwards I felt pride, joy, invigoration and pure utter happiness. And it felt AWESOME. Totally awesome. This happiness seeped into so many aspects of my life: my relationship with my boys, my friends, my husband, my family, my everything. This happiness and new found calmness carried me through some really trying times during the first year of The Orange Rhino Challenge: trips to the emergency room, one son being repeatedly being picked on, my father-in-law getting his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, one son needing more therapy, and more.
I know it sounds cliché to say that my happiness from not yelling made all the challenges of my life manageable but it did. That happiness made so many ugly, heavy emotions that used to come mainly from yelling smaller. So yes, life was more manageable when I focused more of my energy into being calm. And I want that back.
To be clear, I am happy today. I still feel the same pride when I don’t yell. And I am still most definitely calmer than I was a year ago, way calmer. But if I re-wind the past two months, I can honestly say that I am starting to take for granted my non-yelling attitude. I sense that I am not trying as hard to be calm and patient the first go around and instead am working harder to get calm after I’ve heard “Orange Rhino Mommy!” I know part of this new behavior is because of the stress of my life (okay a big part of it, like 97%.) And I know part of it is because I assume I won’t yell so I am subconsciously not putting as much effort in. But reasons aside, I don’t like it.
Am I yelling? No. Am I snapping more than I like? Yes. Am I grumpier more than I like? Yes. Am I letting my personal crap sneak into my relationships with my beautiful sons even though I vowed I wouldn’t let it? Yes. Is this all okay? Of course it is “okay.” I am not, never will be and never intend to be perfect. (Will I keep reminding myself of this though daily? Ha! YES. Like I said, I am not perfect but I am still working on embracing that it is okay to not be perfect!)
But all that said, even though I know it is okay to be grumpy on occasion, I also know that I want to feel calmer again, I want that happiness again. I cannot change the stress in my life. Stress will always exist. But I can change what I do to make myself feel happy and calm in order to keep that stress manageable. And for me, focusing, I mean really re-focusing on not yelling and being a calm and warm mommy, just like I did in my first year, will help combat my current stress. I know it will.
I put this thought to test today. After I re-alized I wanted a re-start to feel re-alive, I decided to pretend it was Day 1 again; that I needed to act calm, speak calm, and do anything possible to make sure that “Mommy Orange Rhino” wasn’t said. It was a fantastic day. FANTASTIC. Did it have moments I wanted to yell? Heck yeah. But because I aimed to keep myself calm, I was able to handle those moments easily and lovingly, not agitatedly with a big dose of grumpy. I felt better. WAY better. My kids responded better. And I, I had the biggest shit eating grin on my face when the last son fell asleep.
I felt again what I felt 400+ days ago: that invigorating feeling of “I DID IT!” We had a great calm yet at times frustrating day. Parts of the old me that had started to go dormant again the last two months peeked out. I think it is the perfect time for those parts of me to peek out; it is spring after all! The buds are just peeking out. The flowers are getting ready to bloom. It is just about the time where the weather pushes me to grab my son’s hands and skip down the sidewalk whistling and smiling because it is so gorgeous out. I want to be ready for that. I don’t want my grumpiness to hold me back.
So tomorrow is the perfect time for me to re-start. To re-focus. To re-set my ticker back to 0. That’s right. I am officially going for another 365 Days. I am going to keep my continuous days ticker up so I don’t lose focus of all the good, but I am also going to set a new goal of 365 days effective tomorrow, April 12, 2013. I know me. I am a goal driven person. Goals keep me focused. Sharing my goals keep me accountable and will help me not take for granted my new found non-yelling attitude and will definitely help me not let my stress push me to become a frequent grumpy and not-calm mommy.
This day wasn’t the only thing that needed a re-start, I did too and I couldn’t be more excited. Re-starts are a great opportunity. Bring it on Year 2!