Gotta Love Larry
I once heard a presentation that opened with ‘Who is Larry? And why is he so darned happy?”
We’ve all heard the notion that what we believe we create; what we focus on grows; what we ask for we get. I choose to remember this to varying degrees depending on my emotional state at the time. I am not the Dalia Lama after all. And of course hindsight is a wonderfully forgiving tool, allowing us to look back and take ownership and full responsibility for the crap we endure when all has worked out well in the end. Much different kettle of fish when we are knee deep, negative as all hell and the queen of blame. Why I don’t cast forward and realize that this too shall all end well, escapes me. I do it on occasion and the occasions are growing but not enough that I can sit in my puddle of poo and laugh, in the moment.
“In the moment.” Such a thrown around term these days (thankyou Eckart), but what does it really mean? I had a dear friend who would always be happy. I secretly called her my ‘purple pant wearing happy hippie’. She was all rose quartz and daisies in the hair, peace signs and everything is beautiful, man. Hmmmmmm. Grated on me no end. Why? Because it wasn’t authentic. I think there is a fine line between seeing the positive and being in denial. I read once that the soul needs times of darkness. Being in THOSE moments is the challenge. Being in the darkness, in the frustration, allowing the tears, the depression, the anger, without making them wrong. Babies are brilliant at being in the moment. They can go from happy as our proverbial Larry to screaming in sadness in an instant and back again. No filters, no lingering, no ego or pride. Just feel it, express it, feel it, express it. Bless them…they can get away with it. We, on the other hand are shrouded in should’s and should not’s and social etiquette, however stifling. But I digress…
As I said at the start, I believe we do create our experience – happy or otherwise and this month I have experienced it in the most unusual way, and as clearly as listening to an audio book of Eckart himself. You see…it all began when Faith was born. Suddenly, my other ‘children’, Gus, Tia and Bob, the 2 dogs and cat I had loved to pieces, gotten babysitters for during the day, hand-fed home-cooked food to, let sleep under the quilt with me, walked daily, sometimes twice daily, kissed and cuddled and took with me everywhere, didn’t rate. I should add that I said to my friend when I was 8 months pregnant “I wonder if Ill love my baby as much as I love Gus?” Are you starting to get a feel for the pre-baby lovefest I had with my furry kids?
So all of a sudden, Faith is born. The walks become every second day, the hand feeding comes to a grinding halt, the yelling and pushing and pulling steps up a notch or 2 or even 8 if Faith has just fallen to sleep and someone comes to the door.
“SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!!!!!!”
Fast forward one year and I realize I barely touch them. I don’t allow them anywhere near the bed, I don’t worry if we will be home late, I don’t leave them an array of treats when I go out for the afternoon, I don’t greet them with smiles and over-happy chatter to match their excitement. It’s a ‘shut up, move, get out of there, come, sit, go, stay, hurry up, get down, out, no, out! Are you freaken serious?! Go!’ kind of relationship. One of my dogs in particular is very hard work, even pre-baby. She has had a rough life and we are her 5th family. She is neurotic, clingy, loud, and disobedient. On a good day. But she is loving, loyal, gentle and in desperate need of lots of love. During her time with us, 4 years now, she has certainly tested our patience. Add baby, and well…you can imagine.
Over the past month I have noticed that I have remained in a constant state of stress when at home; gut wrenchingly so. Of course I blamed Tia. Faith, who speaks only 4 words, ‘mum’, ‘dad’, and ‘Tate’, walks around yelling “out!” finger pointing at the dogs. This is not cool. What’s worse…it was spreading. My disdain for them was creeping into Craig’s attitude to them too, and the neighbors. I lay in bed one night as I listened to Craig get ready to join me. Lights off, computer off, blinds down. Then he did something odd. He tied Tia up in the lounge room, on her own, told her in no uncertain terms to shut up and stay. He came to bed and said to me, “I don’t even like her anymore.” This was the lowest point. My heart sank and I felt for her. I just wanted to hug her, defend her and say I was sorry. This was my doing, I know that. I knew it in the pit of my stomach, as I lay awake for the next 2 hours feeling sick. It is one thing to be in an occasional dark moment, it’s another thing to let them bleed into every other moment, staining everything black. This does nothing for the soul. Something had to change and that something was me. My negativity and stress had sent a ripple out and changed everything. I needed to change it back.
Isnt it amazing our power as women? I have often noticed that my mood sets the tone of the house and either lifts or dampens the mood of everyone in it. This is true for many women I speak to. We set the tone – which is quite a responsibility. But used well, this magical power is truly a gift. So I lay in bed and pondered. We had both considered finding her a new home. But that’s what everyone has done – palmed her off as too hard, too annoying, too loud. I didn’t want Tia to go through that again and what’s more, I didn’t want to be that person. I remembered a chapter in a book I had read as part of my studies, by Stephen Covey. I have never forgotten this story and I often recall it when domestic bliss turns a little sour. It goes something like this…
A man approaches Stephen, the author, and shares with him that he and his wife of many years have been drifting apart for some time and he feels the marriage is over. He loves her as a person and has fond memories of their life together but he isn’t “in love” with her anymore. Not only has the spark gone, the small flame is dwindling and all but out. What should he do? Stephen responded, “love your wife”. The man was confused and repeated himself. Stephen responded again, “love your wife”. You see love is a verb. Real love. Is a verb. It’s a choice. It can grow or die based on our choice. Stephen said to the man, “do all the things for and with your wife that you used to do when you did love her. Ask her about her day, listen, hold her and kiss her, and you will love your wife.”
Hmmmmmmm. Right. Time for action. I decided then and there that I would ‘love Tia’. Of course I love her…I feed her, provide for her, walk her and care for her but this was different. I needed to love her with pre-baby love. I needed to love the ‘over-happy to see me when I get home’ Tia, the ‘over happy to see me when I come in from being outside for 30 seconds’ Tia, the ‘barking like a wild dog at people she knows really well’ Tia, the ‘always under my feet’ Tia, the ‘hovering under Faith’s highchair’ Tia. All the things that drive me crazy…I needed to love. Now this is where it gets tricky. I need to be authentic, right? Not like my purple pant wearing happy hippie friend. The thing is, I need to love Tia inclusive of the bad behaviour. Not pretend I love the bad behaviour. So I reminded myself that I will love Tia from here on in, hell I even let her back on the bed. The end of the bed, but she is happy. I declared ‘love Tia Month’. I shared this with Craig over dinner the next night and saw his face. Basically he thought a) I couldn’t do it, b) he couldn’t do it and c) why would we want to. But he agreed.
What happened next surprised me. In an instant I loved her. I felt the weight of stress and hate and victimhood lift off my shoulders. The huge knot in my stomach undid and love began to flow. My brow ‘unfrowned’. My heart opened. From that instant when I took control of my state of mind, everything changed. Its been 2 weeks now…half way through ‘love Tia month’ and not once have I yelled, not once have I even wanted to, needed to, thought to, stopped myself. I’ve kissed her goodnight each night, Ive pat her, hugged her, given her treats, praised her. Faith has stopped yelling and pointing at her. We all play together and the cherry atop this sundae of love was Craig last night, saying to me “its easy for me to love her when you do.” Yes! Success! Change begins with us; when instead of re-acting, we respond with choice, when we focus on the positive we make life work for us. It all begins within us and as women we hold immense power to influence the energy around us – lets use that superpower for good.
So, why is Larry so darned happy? I believe with all my heart, that’s its probably because he chooses to be.