Exhausted Introvert

I was on an end-of-year all-school field trip with Zachary’s class today. Zachary spent the better part of the trip in a very difficult third circle and the highlight, or should I say lowlight, was when he and another (third circle) boy in my group were wrestling over a Yop drink. Zachary managed to wrench it from the other boys’ hands while standing right behind me.

YOPSo guess where it ended up? You got it…all up my back.

Wet jeans, wet underwear, wet t-shirt. Wet, cold, thick and disgustingly sticky yogurt drink!

Oh…did Zachary get an earful from his mother!

Fortunately, the field trip venue was attached to a mall so I left my group of insane children with the teacher and slipped into Vans to buy a new t-shirt. No time for new undies and jeans so I just got to enjoy my soggy rear end for the rest of the afternoon.

I am now home in my quiet backyard in fresh clothes. My tea is quietly steaming beside me and the introvert in me is just completely and utterly done.

Shutting down…

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A Radical Act of Love

As this year is slowly winding down, I am gently taking stock of my life. I have had an abundant, productive and prosperous year. I am absolutely delighted with the way my business is building and with my fulfilling and rewarding professional life. I am also deeply thankful for the resources and opportunity to care for my health in a brand new way. And I find myself standing in appreciative awe of the balance in my dynamic family system.

Life is good.Life is Good

This ‘state of the union’ has finally given me the opportunity to care for my health in a whole new way and to decide how I want to live for the next sixty years or so. Simon, as always, is deeply supportive of my new self-care initiative and I feel the freedom to do what I need to do when I need to do it (this past week’s retreat is a perfect example).

Energetically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally I am learning to care for myself in a way that feels deeply resonant.

To exemplify this new self-care initiative, I mindfully planned this past week of retreat, rest and detoxification. My plan was to kick it off with a visit to my Naturopath, Dr. Carissa Doherty. From there I was heading up north for a six-day retreat. Feeling rested, rejuvenated and detoxified, I was booked to go back to my Naturopath for a 45-minute IV treatment which would take my recovering health to the next level. And finally, today, a visit to my energy practitioner in Kitchener to tie a big red bow around the whole week.

Well…the week hasn’t exactly gone according to plan.

I cut my time up north short because I was so utterly exhausted from not sleeping, my IV was cancelled yesterday and the appointment that I drove 90 minutes through very slippery and wintery weather this morning for was also a no-go. We got our wires crossed somehow and I was at the wrong location.

ClosedAs I stood in the hallway outside the office in Kitchener I started to cry. I felt alone. I felt disappointed. I felt vulnerable and I wondered why these doors of self-care and nurturing were closed in my face.

Yesterday was a pity-party that I worked hard to pull myself out of. Today, standing outside a locked door after a long and tiring drive, was heart-breaking and I just didn’t have the resource to do anything but surrender. Well…surrender had me weeping right there in the non-descript hallway of a 1970s office building in downtown Kitchener.

And, wouldn’t you know it, all I had in my pocket was one balled-up old Kleenex from God-knows-when.

It only took me a few minutes to realize that blubbering in the hallway was not getting me anywhere and it was time to face the return journey. As I dried my eyes with my one ridiculous Kleenex, I decided that I would find a washroom, a cup of Starbucks tea and a bookstore for my sister’s birthday present on the way home.

And, what is the one place I can do all those things, you ask? The friendly neighbourhood Chapters bookstore.

A little segue here…if you have not had a chance to read my blog post entitled, The Wonder of Second Circle, this next bit might not make perfect sense but please bear with me and hopefully you’ll get the gist.

I checked in my car mirror before heading into Chapters and decided that, with my glasses on, I didn’t look like I had been recently weeping in the hallway of a local office building. After using the washroom, I enjoyed browsing the copious cookbook section for my sister’s gift. And, as I browsed, I stayed in a very comfortable First Circle, remaining closed-off from everyone around me and not inviting connection from salespeople, fellow shoppers or even the blaring Christmas music in the background.Christmas Frenzy

I found the gift that I wanted and headed up to the counter to pay. I was met by a delightfully friendly and enormously Third Circle sales clerk who bellowed at me from behind her 100-watt smile; ‘ho, ho, ho, and all the best of the season to you! Did you find everything you were looking for this morning? And, don’t you just love Bruce Springsteen’s version of this song?’

Now…I know that under different circumstances I may have jumped up into Third Circle and joined the vivacious sales clerk in her holiday spirit. But today, I just felt like I had been hit by a truck. I fumbled my way through the transaction and bid a hasty retreat. I felt so completely closed-off in my First Circle that I wasn’t sure I could brave another interaction at the Starbucks counter for my tea.

I decided that the comfort of a hot drink for the snowy drive home was a necessity, so I dug deep and braced myself. As I approached the Starbucks counter, I hesitantly passed over my travel mug and quietly asked for a Refresh tea. And, to my great relief, from an absolutely connected Second Circle, the Barista looked deeply into my eyes, smiled gently and said; ‘sure’.

And while his voice only said ‘sure’, his Second Circle said; ‘are you okay?’ And it said, ‘you are not alone’. And as he passed my tea across the counter it said; ‘you are loved’.

That young man will never, ever know the impact he had on me today. He will never know that I desperately needed that deep Second Circle connection at that moment. And he will never know that he got me home safely and with a heart quietly soothed from the love he offered so tenderly.

The Radical Act of love, kindness and gentle compassion that I experienced this morning is exactly why I was inspired to write this blog. Each and every day we touch each other’s lives in ways that we will never really know. We have the capacity to love each other, to touch each other and to heal each other simply by being open to vulnerability and to connection.

Thank you for reading and for being a part of my journey.

You Are Loved

 

The Wonder of Second Circle

(This is a piece I wrote, and performed, at a memoir writer’s event last April. There is not a day that goes by that I do not lean into the Radical Parenting that the Second Circle has taught me…enjoy!)

I am a mom.

Growing up, the one thing I knew for certain was that I wanted to be a mom. Even as a little girl I would dream of the beautiful, healthy brood of kids I would someday have. I would dream of skiing, bike rides, family trips, weeks at the cottage and baking cookies.

I would dream of joy, love, laughter and fun.

My dreams have come true. I have three beautiful, healthy sons who have far exceeded even my wildest imaginings.

Nine years ago, on April 2, 2004 I gave birth to my third (and I am happy to say, final) son.

Zachary Jeff Geoghegan came into this world with an energy that I had never before experienced. It was as if he leaped out of the confines of my body, threw his arms out wide and declared; ‘watch out world, here I come!’  At three months of age Zach used to entertain us all with his antics from the high chair. And by six months he could play a room like the most seasoned stand up comedian. It was as if he was saying; ‘I may be the third son in this crazy family but there is no way I’ll be getting lost in the shuffle!’

I call Zach my ‘Tender Lion’ because he has the biggest roar of any human being I have ever encountered. And a capacity for gentleness, affection and love that melts me like butter. The tricky thing is, in the uber extroverted Alpha male environment in which he has been growing, there has been more call for the lion and less for the tender.

I am an introvert. Left to my own devices I would happily forego most parties and large gatherings. I would do a tremendous amount of reading, writing and meditating quietly by myself. I am not, however, left to my own devices. I live with the four largest male energies that I have ever encountered. I live in a swirling vortex of noise, laughter, conflict, crude humour and fun.

I live in a three ring circus…and Zachary is the ringmaster!

Two years ago we moved into a tiny little house we lovingly dubbed ‘the sailboat’. We, as a family, wanted to try living small and I would say that our experiment has been wildly successful…except for one thing. I have found it increasingly stressful to live in close quarters with Zachary. By early January of this year I felt as if I was on the brink of madness; his voice never stopped and he only had one volume…extremely loud.

I have a library of parenting books. I have spent hours reading, researching, writing, and tearing my heart out. I have been looking for answers as to why it is so hard to live with my youngest child.

On a cold afternoon in late January, those answers arrived in a package wrapped in nondescript brown paper. Inside was a book entitled ‘The Second Circle’, written by a British voice coach named Patsy Rodenburg. I got sucked into Rodenburg’s book as if it were a page-turning thriller that I couldn’t put down.

And by the end of Chapter Two I could feel a stunning epiphany lifting off to take flight!

Rodenburg describes three circles of energy. First Circle is the Circle of Self and Withdrawal. In First Circle, the energy is all moving inward (no energy, no connection). Third Circle is the Circle of Bluff and Force. In Third Circle the energy is all moving out- a fire hose of energy being sprayed outwards (all energy, no connection). Second Circle is the Circle of Connection where energy is moving inward and outward in a miraculously easy and resonant exchange.

The epiphany of Rodenburg’s Second Circle on that cold afternoon was the understanding of the angst in my relationship with Zachary. What I realized as I read was that Zachary was living, almost exclusively, in the Third Circle. And when I stepped back to look at our relationship I saw that my response to his relentless fire hose of energy was either to meet him there with my own fire hose or to retreat into a defeated and protective First Circle- neither of which were serving him, me or our faltering relationship.

I was so excited about my Second Circle epiphany I described it to Zachary and Michael (his older brother) over breakfast the following morning. They understood Second Circle so quickly that I could feel the quantum shift as if it was happening right under my feet. When I asked Zach what circle he spends most of his time in he identified instantly with the Third Circle. The resulting conversation we had about the impact of Third Circle could not have been more magical if I had scripted it myself. It was as if, for the first time, Zachary was being handed the opportunity to look objectively at the way he makes his way in the world.

And it was never about making him wrong. It was only about awareness.

In the wake of our Second Circle epiphany, Zachary and I have established a new and effortless dance together. We have a new way of being in relationship. We have language that instantly grounds us together in the Second Circle. And if I feel Zach slipping up into Third, all I have to do is ask; “Zach, what circle are you in?” – and with no judgement and no anger I feel him ease back down into Second Circle. And when Zach feels me going up into a roaring Third Circle, he will slip behind me, rub my back gently and coach me back down into the circle from which I want to parent.

The beauty of this new awareness is that neither of us has been forced to give up anything or to change aspects of ourselves that are so precious. We have simply removed the white noise from our relationship and can now meet, even in conflict, within The Second Circle.

My heart soars with joy and with hope. And it’s not just that I have fallen head over heels in love with my youngest son all over again. It is that I am now parenting from a place that feels resonant with love, with patience and with deep connection. It is that my three boys have the opportunity to evolve into men who have an awareness of the circle in which they choose to live.

And it is that the long-ago dream of these miraculous children is just that much sweeter deep within the arms of The Second Circle!