Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Got My "Mindset" On New

Dealing with my son's colic for over 8 months almost broke me, until I changed my mindset.
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The lump in my throat grew as I searched the list for a 3rd time, but my name was nowhere to be found. My friend, Ryan, could see the heartbreak on my face. “Oh, that sucks, Sheevani, sorry.” We walked to the cafeteria together; me in a daze and Ryan in an uncomfortable panic, no doubt searching for a way to escape our lunch. We didn’t even go ten feet when my ugly cry pushed forth with immense vigor. I wasn’t going to be in Hello, Dolly!, the Kimball High School Spring Musical of 1993, and I was devastated. 

Later that day, I had an after-school meeting for the student environmental club. I walked into the library with my Rudolph-red nose and swollen eyes from crying on and off all afternoon. A fellow club member, Mona, looked over at me. “Oh my god, Sheevani, what’s wrong?” I choked up and barely got the words out. “Ohhhhh noooo!” Mona said as she stood to give me a huge hug, “We’ve all been there, trust me!! Ohhh, you poor thing.” She hugged me even tighter. “Just volunteer for stage crew! That way you’ll be a part of the show, just behind the scenes! It’s SO fun!” Later that night, lying on my twin bed lamenting about my thespian misfortune, I thought about what Mona said and had one of those moments where you just know the next step. As soon as I could, I signed up for stage crew and ended up having a blast making props, sets and helping with costumes. The whole experience exposed me to another side of theater that I knew very little about and gave me an appreciation for all the work that goes into a show. If it weren’t for Mona, I would have just stewed in my bitterness until it overtook any hope for me to flip the situation. Mona changed my mindset.

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My version of wearing embroidered holiday sweaters from Kohl's is looking up inspirational quotes on Pinterest. Look, I’m not proud nor am I promoting this behavior, but dammit if they don’t help. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more reflective about my life. Those journeys into the depths of my past and doubts about my future can be incredibly scary, so if reading words in those little Pinterest boxes lifts me out of a funk, I’m gonna lean into that shit. 

At last count, about 100% of my friends have been annoyed by my workout posts. Yes, I’m that asshole who snaps a pic on my yoga mat, stationary bike or with barbell equipment to post on social media. Hey, as a former couch potato, I’m very proud of the fact that the gym employees recognize me! An unexpected discovery from being so active is the ability to change my mindset. I NEVER used to be that, “If I put my mind to it, I can do it,” type person. Quite the opposite, in fact. When I finally chose to surround myself with friends from the gym who inspired me to keep going, I saw the potential I held within myself, not only for fitness, but in many areas of my life.  

There have been a few major shifts in mindset that have stuck with me, from my high school musical heartbreak to a major transition last year. I look back on these points in my life to remind myself that I can’t outsource my own personal fulfillment. If I do, it’s a one-way ticket to disappointment and resentment. Holy shit, I’m posting that one on Pinterest! Gotta find that perfect swirly font…

This Baby Hates Everything
“Emerson fussy, Mama?” my little Faye said with her big, curious eyes. She was a little over 2.5 years old and was used to seeing me bounce her little brother all the live long day. “It’s okay, I go play by myself.” What was that, heart? Oh, you’ve just exploded with guilt… sounds about right. My little bundle of rage was 9 weeks old, our house was still full of unpacked boxes and my tolerance for it all was at an all-time low. Since about week 2, I could not figure this kid out. I adjusted my diet in every way in case it was my breast milk, I swaddled, I let him cry, I wore him, I tried a swing, I did the four S’s until the point of passing out; nothing worked. My son was just pissed. 

So many of my friends who dealt with their own colicky babies said that at 12 weeks everything changed. The crying stopped, and life was beautiful again. My mental alarm was set to July 12th to awaken from the colic nightmare. Nope, didn’t happen. “For my baby, it was close to 14 weeks,” one friend told me. Oh, just a couple more weeks and I’ll be smooth sailing into the land of fuss-free bliss! Nope. “Sometimes it can be 4 months of colic,” I read in a friend’s message. Given the stamina of my son’s hatred for the world, I knew better than to put any more end-dates on his ire.  I was at the point where my body could no longer take the constant baby-wearing, my heart couldn’t take hearing him cry and fuss all day and my brain couldn’t stop telling me I was a horrible mother.

Finally, my dear friend, Jenna, recommended a Facebook page called, “Wait it Out.” It was created for a community of women who were dealing with colicky babies. THIS PAGE SAVED ME. It was full of posts by women who were going through the same situation and many times, a lot worse than what I was experiencing. Just spending a few minutes on this page completely flipped my mindset. I was no longer alone, and I knew it was going to get better. 

After finding that page, I approached every day so differently. I expected the fussiness so that when it did happen, I didn’t crumble into a ball of frustration. The most profound change was that my new mindset emitted an energy that had a calming effect on my son. For so many weeks, he was feeding off my negative emotions. While there was still a good amount of fussiness until month 8, it became less and less, and I knew how to handle it through a new set of eyes. Today, that little guy more than makes up for that hellish beginning. I’m spoiled with so much love from him every day.

Rocky Mountain Cry
“I think we need to talk about Denver,” my husband said. My stomach flipped, and my heart started beating in my ears because I knew what was coming. “Oh yeah?” I tried to say in a breezy tone. Paul proceeded to tell me how this latest consulting project that had taken him to Denver for the last few months had convinced him that we should move there. It had been awhile since I had heard my husband speak about something with such thirst and emotion. I never imagined staying in Michigan for the rest of my life, in fact, I was eager to start an adventure somewhere else since childhood. But Colorado? That had never occurred to me.

In an effort to make this post shorter than War and Peace, I’ll save my thoughts on my tendency to over-compromise due to an imbalance of power in my marriage for another post (JUICY TEASER ALERT!), but suffice it to say, even though I had my reservations about such a big move, I knew almost immediately that I’d give in to my husband’s wish. After all, he had supported me through my career woes, improv ventures, post-partum hell (twice), insecurities about my worth, etc. And to be blunt, he’s making the cash in this family. 

After we made the decision and put the deposit down on our new home, the emotional rollercoaster I rode rivaled anything Cedar Point (or insert your favorite amusement park here) has to offer. There were days where the resentment of this huge undertaking bubbled over and well, keeping my emotions in check has never been my forte. Conversely, sometimes I would get excited about the adventure of it all; new places to explore, learning to ski, seeing mountains every day, 300 days of sunshine per year. Then, I’d remember my family I’d be leaving and all the friends I wouldn’t be able to see so regularly. There were so many ups and downs, it was like I was painting the Miyagi fence in my head and heart. 

On August 1st of 2017, we arrived in Colorado. I’d made my peace with leaving Michigan and thought I was on a healthy path to make a smooth transition. I wasn’t quite prepared for the extra-sensitive antennae that sprouted out of my head the first few weeks. Something as minor as long red-lights could set me off. “What the hell is wrong with the traffic lights in Colorado?!” At my first venture to our local supermarket, I kept getting electric shocks while pushing the cart and I angrily blamed it on the dry climate. “Am I going to have to wear gloves all the time here like a mental patient?!!” I could even find fault in the yoga studio at my new Lifetime location. “Oh, the cubbies are on that wall?”

“I want the old you back,” Paul said to me one afternoon with a look of concern. We’d been in Colorado less than a month and he could tell I wasn’t adjusting very well. His request was made with love, but I couldn’t help but feel a little attacked in that moment. “You know what? I want the same, Paul. But this is a huge change for all of us and I need you to be a little patient with me.” I had to be honest; I did need some latitude because, unlike him, I still had the huge task of finding my purpose in this new life. His look of concern only deepened, he nodded and walked away. 

It was that short exchange in our new master bathroom that forced me to wake up and CHANGE MY MINDSET. Over the years of marriage and being a parent, so many of my ugly tendencies have been exposed, like bugs on an over-turned rock. One of those tendencies was my expectation that someone else is supposed to make my life complete and if I feel incomplete, it is his fault. I had put the onus of my happiness completely on Paul’s shoulders, which was a mistake I had made before. I mean, I’m a grown-ass woman who knows what she wants and I’m certainly capable of designing a life that will keep me fulfilled. Perspective helps as well. For instance, my mother moved to a completely foreign country where she barely spoke the language, left everything and everyone she knew in India and all for a man she married 2 weeks after meeting him. Yeah, stop whining about the damn red-lights, idiot.

I will stress that my emotions weren’t wrong or unreasonable; I needed to go through them to arrive at the reality that it was up to me to change how I approached this change. I’m sure Paul would have preferred another route that didn’t go straight through multiple Meltdown Forests, but he knew what he signed up for when he married me! After changing my mindset, I was able to dissolve so many of the bitter emotions that were clogging up my view of a gorgeous future. 

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These examples have helped me learn a lot about myself and my own capabilities. However, I’m not sitting around patting myself on the back for being so evolved considering there are still a few stubborn areas where I cannot seem to flip my mind toward a healthier track. To be continued...






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