Friday, 11 November 2011

The Edge and the Cake of Challenge

I'm working it ... the edge I mean.  We all step out of our comfort zones at times, intentionally and unintentionally too.  Sometimes we are forced by the actions of others, sometimes by our own, sometimes by the mere nature of evolving and growing and sometimes we place ourselves there on purpose for an extra slice of the challenge and self improvement cake.

The edge by definition is uncomfortable - you know, like the one that you find when you get back into yoga for the first time in months and feel the pull of tight calf muscles as you challenge yourself to stay in the downward dog pose for just eight more counts, see if those heals will touch the floor, then another eight .... it's tight, it pulls, it invariably hurts, you try to convince yourself you can't do it you're going to have to give up, but the other half of you insists you can.

Well I got greedy for a a slice of that cake, again.  Two weeks into working with people who have profound learning and physical disabilities and I'm pondering on the blade one uses to cut this cake.  One side shiny and smooth - it gleams with altruism, humility, gratitude and job satisfaction - all the reasons I wanted to step onto this edge in the first place.  The other side though is quite rough and jagged, a little rusty perhaps.  This side is the background information I am gathering about the people I am supporting; how their lives are affected by their conditions and disabilities, what they can and can't do for themselves and how this makes them feel and react. It is learning the enormity of the responsibility I will shoulder and all the worst case scenarios of the job. Naturally my soul sighs in sadness somewhat.  But I put myself here, to learn. 
Much like with motherhood.  I put myself here on purpose and I well remember finding out I was pregnant both times; I felt the ecstasy and mirth bubbling over.  But in quieter moments as dusk drew near I would doubt a little to think of the vast responsibility I was also taking on.  Bringing helpless dependant beings into the world, protecting them at all costs and teaching them until eventually they would be safe to fly alone. 

Happily, at this edge and even in these early days I've found a cross over ... the skills of caring for the vulnerable are already showing me where I lack in my parenting.  For instance where I may become exasperated with my kids and outwardly show annoyance I simply cannot with those in my care at work.  This is good, for I feel like patience grows again where it had lain dormant in my heart a while. 

The basic principals of parenting are standing me in good stead for caring for the vulnerable.  I know how to care for someone who is dependant and helpless; I raised two newborns.  I know how to listen intensively for the words that are not uttered clearly; because I watched and encouraged my bairns to learn to talk.  I know how to inspire interest with the world around and pick up on an individuals specific interests; because I'm raising two individuals at home.  Ah, the hope that this symbiosis is filled with; and fills me with.

I will in a matter of weeks work, quite literally, the unknown edge of night shifts ... I shudder slightly whilst simultaneously the other half of my consciousness is convinced it'll be a doodle. It's unknown, unfamiliar but conceptually and rationally possible. I'll work it and see where it takes me.

I forge ahead, working the edge of mindfulness and this weeks homework/challenge (yes more cake!) was to move towards and sit with unwanted thoughts, feelings and mental events as they occured instead of habitually resisting them and inflaming them in so doing.  So life handed me this slice on a plate when my boy showed an adverse reaction to some new found calmness of mine.  It was agonising, heartbreaking even as he tried to create drama where for once there was none.  He did not feel secure, things weren't 'normal'.  I felt vindicated, ganged up on, stung and heartbroken in the seeming conviction of his words.  But I sat with it, through subtle tears and a burning heart, in letting it be, not trying to change it I saw it for what it was, I wrote it down, matter of factually and later I meditated on it.  It passed and he still loves me it's just part of the journey, I'm sure it will happen again because the rest of my world is on a lag.  They are so used to my isms and schisms and not as aware of my inner changings as I am, they need time to catch up and accept.

 I'm working the edge of sharing my kids education with school.  I'm supporting what they do in practicing skills at home, yet I'm questioning, challenging, seeking explanation and further information when things seem amiss. 
I'm working my creative edge; happily indulging in writing exercises never letting myself be fooled that this is my full potential.

My kids work theirs as well.  Firework making ...

and their individual interpretations fascinate me.

I'm working the edge of being a good friend.  Working out what it is I must do to help one grieving.  Charging myself to make bold decisions to offer my company and create opportunities to talk and distract rather than shying away assuming their knowing I'm here for them is enough.

And there are always things warming my heart ...

I renovated the teepee for winter with big old sheets of camo from the loft so now our garden is almost as good as Auntie Fi's ... if only Daddy would build a cool tree house den like uncle Steve did!

My boy is working his edge of growth and evolution.  He observes and shares the symmetry he finds in nature; as in the spots on a ladybirds back.  He points out repeating patterns all around him; as in the stripes on his jumper.  And he reads beautifully.  His ability to retain information is astonishing.  He draws ever more detailed and beautiful pictures.  My favourites, of course, are of me and him together - I always have this crazy hair and look slightly mad.  In his book of dreams that we are making together he drew us all on my bike under the sunshine amongst the dandelions!
My girl works her edge too.  We danced more this week ...

She peels potatoes studiously

And is convinced the cats enjoy these cuddles.  Lets just say they are very tolerant and she means so well...

Zander writes me lists (of letters in no particular order) ... today's included being safe on my bike, not forgetting to eat lunch, not forgetting to pick Gaia up, not forgetting to go to work ... do you think he thinks I'm forgetful?! 


And today's palindromic date.  The Mayans believed it a portal of new awakening and I am certain the auspiciousness of yesterdays full moon, the alignment of Jupiter by her side and the portal date today gives every single one of us yet another opportunity to try and connect with values we wish to walk forwards with.  I found this quote in the Los Angeles Times online ...

'... no matter where you are, look for the most positive, beneficial solution and take it.  Be aware of your breath, of your kindness and the gentleness of your own nature.'

So I make this the focus of my meditation today and why not every other day as well.  And whilst I'm at it perhaps it would serve well to be a mantra at the core of the values I teach to my children.  I know I must first embody it myself ... but then you know me, any excuse for a slice of that cake!

Tell me, what edges are you working?

Blessings X


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  2. The loneliness of being a stay at home Mum is forcing me onto the edge. Because as lonely as it is, its also very comfortable. After 15 years of a gap I have began life drawing again (at our art society), and I was terrified. I also stay home every single night. It may sound odd to many people but there are lots of Mums like me, who squirrel away with their family. Going out, alone, (no pushchair, felt odd I can tell you), in the dark, meeting strangers, and to exercise my partly dormant creative skills, was most certainly standing on the edge.
    Thank you for a lovely post. I may blog about my class, now you have brought it up for me.

  3. Gorgeous lady! I love how a small girl's cup is almost bigger than her head :) And a lovely kissy shot of mama and boy.

    Well, my patience is on the edge I'm afraid, and trying to stay mellow is taking lots of energy. Trying to focus on not feeling so restless and occasionally wanting to up and run is also hard!


  4. Val ... so pleased for you that you're starting Art classes again, wonderful even if tis terrifying no?
    And Miss Bliss, I'm in your good company on the patience edge then, I'm always relieved to find others there, it's easy to assume everyone else managaes just fine, so empathizing with you totally, not hit on the answer yet but I keep on keepin' on!
    Much love X