How I started blogging – Part 4 of 4

So this is how

A few days later than I hoped for, here is my last post on the series “How I started blogging.”

In the previous posts, I told that story up to the point where I realize that I have been bored lately.  I also described how that realization surprised me, because my life is so very busy!  So busy, in fact, that I wasn’t able to find the time to write this last installment of my short series until now.  So I concluded that my boredom is not about idleness, but it is about purpose.

Boredom results from not feeling sufficiently rewarded by the activity you are engaged with.  I believe there are two basic kinds of rewards.  The most common, perhaps, is the reward that is extrinsic to the activity that produced it.  It is, for example, the paycheck at the end of the month.  That is, perhaps, the most powerful motivator in our society.  So powerful in fact, that most people are willing to work on things that don’t excite them, things they are not passionate about, perhaps even things they don’t like, only to assure that necessary monetary  reward.  Here, the job or activity is nothing but a means to an end.  This is the kind of work that most of us have to do in order to survive, and we are usually very appreciative to have such employment for our time.  The problem, though, is that because these are activities that often don’t speak to our souls, they do eventually bore us.

The other kind of reward is intrinsic to the activity at hand.  It is the feeling of fulfillment and joy created by working with things that inspire you and that you are passionate about.   Through these activities you can manifest yourself as a human being at the most essential level, because they allow meaning to be created through personal expression. These are intellectual, creative and spiritual endeavors, and while immersed in them, you can never get bored.  The pleasure and contentment generated here are a very powerful reward, but unfortunately, one that few people have access to in our society today.  That is because they are too busy trying to merely survive, or because our society has conditioned us to expect stimulation from external sources, not from our own internal world.

I started a blog because I was bored creatively.   I have received exceptional rewards from being a full time mom for the last 18 years, and wouldn’t change that for the world.  But there is a time for everything, and this is the time for me to start attending my internal self again.  It is time to welcome a new purpose.  Writing is one of my passions, and understanding human nature is another.   Blogging allows me to combine both those passions and to make a few connections with like minded people along the way.  It sounded like the perfect medicine for my tedium.


Alye – a girl without a voice

Some of you might have seen Alye Pollack in the video she posted on YouTube about being bullied.  Very sad.  Bullying is a dangerous reality for too many of our kids today, and a topic that should certainly be discussed.  Alye made a very poignant portrait of the tragic reality our kids deal with everyday.

I want to focus on something else about her video, though.  I was stricken by her choice to be silent and convey her message through hand written signs.

Alye is in pain, and her voice can’t be heard.  She is trapped.

That is true for so many adolescent girls.  They lose their selves in the process of becoming a woman.  They lose their voices, the core of who they are and believe in.

What happens to girls between the ages of 11 and 13?  The positive energy, curiosity and confidence they had as girls of 8 or 9 disappear, and a somber cloud of uncertainty and fear envelops them until their voices quiet and they spirits die.

I believe that happens because girls get confused with the mixed messages they receive during their lives about what it means to be a woman.

Infants’ concept of self is developed very early, within the parameters of their relationship with their caregivers.  Before they understand themselves as separate entities, with separate bodies, they understand themselves as part of that dynamic system.  They understand themselves in relationship, and as they grow and develop, they learn to give and take empathically, with the goal of maintaining the relationship.

In childhood, boys are encouraged to distance themselves from that interconnectedness.  Our still male dominated culture equates growth and development with separation and individuation.  We value our concept of self as a separate and autonomous entity more than most anything, because it is intertwined so closely with our concept of freedom.   So we push our boys away from interconnectedness and toward separated individuation.  This is often a difficult time for boys, that may scar and confuse them in their relationships and ability for intimacy in the future.  But because of Aley, I am focusing on girls today.

As we discourage interconnectedness for boys, we encourage it for girls.  We are proud of our young girls when they continue to care and attend to others.  Feeling related to another person, being in an active empathic interchange with another person is where a girl feels most fulfilled, is where she can develop a strong sense of self, and of worth.  For a few years she is happy and confident.  Until the messages she receives from society start to be confusing.

She starts to notice what boys were forced into a few years back.  That our culture does not value that most fundamental part of her being, her relational self.  Her ability to thrive as an individual in the context of a relationship is viewed as a weakness and undesirable trait.   She starts to notice the inherent hierarchy in most relationships, particularly those between men and women, where one’s development doesn’t foster the other’s as it had been her experience thus far, but halts it.   So all of a sudden, she is lost.  All she knew and thrived in now makes her feel inadequate, inferior and powerless.   She can’t be who she is anymore.   She silences herself knowing that the spirited girl she was and loved needs to die, so she can become what our society expects her to be.

That’s what I heard in Alye’s silence.

How I started blogging – Part 3 of 4

Boring: one that is wearingly dull, repetitive or tedious

When my boys were younger, I practically banned the word “bored” from our house.  I think that when someone – particularly children – shouts out an “I’m bored!”, they are inadvertently admitting to be mentally lazy and to possess a sense of entitlement, as if it is someone else’s duty to entertain them.  I have always told my kids that they are ingenious and resourceful enough to find distractions or employment for their time on their own.  So, to be congruent with my own opinions, I should never feel bored, because I should always be able to occupy my time with something, be it fun or productive.

My time is occupied.  That is true about my life even now, as the job of mothering is being phased out:  I am still busy with chores, still full of responsibilities, and I do try to have plenty of exercise and fun.  Yet, I did unexpectedly tell my friend that I was bored, and our unconscious doesn’t lie.

So the boredom I am feeling must be of a different kind, on a different level. It is not about business.

It is about purpose.

How I started blogging – Part 2 of 4

Am I bored?

Like my friend at the market, I have been a stay at home mom for the last 18 years, when my first son was born.  I have always wanted to be a full time mother, and feel very lucky that I was able to do that.  Being a parent is a challenging job, that demands utmost flexibility and adaptability.  The role of a parent changes constantly as children grow, but never as dramatically as when the children approach adulthood.  As much as we knew that from the start, though, parents often get caught by surprise when it actually happens.  We never seem to be ready for that change in our job description that must occur when our children are ready for us to let them go.  Their new developed autonomy and self-reliance force us into retirement from the role of CEO into that of their advisor or counselor.

That is actually a natural and positive change, one that we as parents should feel proud of because it shows that we did our job well preparing our children to be independent people.  But perhaps because 18 years is not quite enough time to let go of that overwhelming protective instinct we instantly developed when we held them in our arms the very first time, this transition is seldom an easy one.

Suddenly our kids are grown and we have more time in our hands. We no longer need to frantically run around every day, with each moment of each day filled with children related chores.  Our new and very challenging responsibilities of parenting adolescents and young adults are stressful and often emotionally draining, and they occupy our minds constantly, but take less time off our day.  True.

So we have more time.  Free time.  So we are bored.  Is that how it works?

How I started blogging – Part 1 of 4

Saw an old friend at the market

A few days ago I saw an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years at the local farmers market. We first met when my son and her daughter started preschool, about 15 years ago. We excitedly went right into sharing some quick words about what had changed in our lives since we had last seen each other. We were having a lively little chat, but I wanted to go beyond the news report and engage in more significant conversation. I had missed her in the last couple of years, and wanted to know how she was doing personally.  So I asked ” but so how are you?” a second time, this time a bit more emphatically, hoping that would elicit a more meaningful answer than the automatic “fine”, or “great” , or “ok” that it usually produces the first time around. I have found that to often be the case, and indeed, her answer this time was simple and to the point. She smiled and said: “I am bored.”

She didn’t mean bored with the market or with our conversation. She meant bored with her life. I was surprised by her openness, and admired her courage to admit that so naturally. Her answer made me feel very gratified as a friend. Her candor made me believe that the elapsed time had not significantly lessened the closeness we once shared. I felt an immediate re-connection, and that sudden sense of comfort in our re-discovered friendship must have lowered my consciousness defenses, because before I knew it, I blurted out words that surprised me as soon as I heard them out of my own mouth. I said I was bored too.

I had never thought that way about my life before.