Rebel with a Cause.

This morning I awoke at 4 am to the whines of my 6 month old. We had been up multiple times through out the night already, and just as I was about to curse the heavens for another prayer unanswered (longer sleep stretch), a verse of a song started playing in my head.

“I know I can treat you better, then he can.” – Shawn Mendes “Treat You Better”

When a random song pops into my head, I know it carries a great message for me once it’s felt and understood. I don’t wake up every morning with a song stuck in my head, nor did I listen to it before bed. This is one of the ways your Angels communicate to you, and I have learned to listen. This song sent a wave of ‘ah ha’ swirling through me. It becomes clear, I have been confusing how the world treats me with what I deserve. When merely, it’s just the best the world can do. My value and what I deserve is not determined by how others treat me. How others treat me, is just their best at any given moment.

This is not what I deserve, it’s just the best he can do.

It’s my job to treat myself better then the world treats me. I’ve been letting the world tell me what I deserve and how I should feel about myself. In  e v e r y  way. Everyone calls this phenomena “taking it personally.” I have been doing so my entire life, and I have come to believe that I am not in the minority here either. The way the world responds to me, must be what I deserve. I’ve been living suspended in the ever changing whims of kindness and approval from others and the world around me. I have been told many times that I deserve to be loved, yeah by myself. There is also a part of me that knows I deserve to be loved by others, and by God.

I had been living was in total emotional flux. How I felt about myself and who I am was fluid and ever changing. It was also uncontrollable. I would allow myself to only feel good about who I am when I received a positive response. If someone liked me, if my spouse was kind to me, if I was complimented, if my children were well behaved. Everything inadvertently became about myself, and extension of me, telling me what I deserved today. When the world was coming up empty, I would plummet into depression. I would take extra shitty care of myself and my body. I would dwell over how crappy of a person I am. I took what the world gave me as my truth of who I am and what I deserve. Negative comments would destroy me. Criticism would rip me to shreds, not to mention any comment. Even my toddler could make me feel horrible. I would feel defeated every day.

I would curse God. How could you do this to me? Don’t you love me? Look at what you’re giving me? I would try to force myself to be grateful and look a the ‘bright side.’ It’s nearly impossible to enjoy a happy day when you feel like you don’t deserve to even step foot into the sunshine.

It clicked. It finally clicked that how the world treats me, is not what I deserve, it’s just the best they can do. The question is, what’s the best I can give myself? If the world isn’t showing me or telling me what I deserve, then what do I deserve?

With the lyrics swirling through my head, I’m going to treat myself better then they can.

I’m going to love the shit out of me fully, like a rebel with a cause. No longer needing anyone else’s approval or permission. I don’t need you to tell me that I’m pretty, or I’m a good writer, or I look good in my swimsuit. Because it doesn’t matter what you think, it only matters what I think. It only matters how much I love myself. It only matters what I decide I deserve today. And I know how to love. I know how to be kind, compassionate, understanding, patient. I know how to do that. I know how to be accepting and inclusive. I know how to give myself a sturdy foundation of love and acceptance.

You will give me your best. Just as I would give you. Let me tell you, if you have been getting my best from me for the last 32 years, I’m sorry. You do indeed deserve more. Because I am a totally messy human being. I say and do A LOT of shit that I am not proud of, depending on my mood and where I am at on the emotional scale. And for probably the last 20 years of my life that has been all over the map. Mostly low, some high days, but still mostly low. I have said and done a lot of hurtful things, because I have been hurting too. You got my best, which really wasn’t that great most days.

People show you what they feel on the inside, not what you deserve.

When my toddler or baby is being extra lovey, it doesn’t mean that I deserved more love today- it just means they feel lovey. When they are angry, it doesn’t mean I deserve less love – it just means they are angry. I needed desperately to learn this, for the sake of my family. Or is it that my family that taught me? I can finally detach and parent accordingly. My child’s behavior is no longer about me, its about them. Their behavior is about how they feel on the inside. It’s my job to support them and be there for them, in every state.

I found myself favoring the baby lately. He is crazy joyful and easy. My toddler is entering some more challenging emotional and physical stages in life. I felt horrible for feeling this way. I was having a really hard time being kind. I mostly felt bad for myself. I wanted to rescue myself, take a break, call a sitter, distract, binge, turn on the tv and walk away. Because honestly it was all too much. It was too much that I wasn’t getting what I needed from him. I needed him to show me what I deserved, but all he can ever show me is how he feels. I needed him to show me that he loved me (that I could love me too) by being good. All he can ever do is his best, because he is two (nearly three). And honestly, that isn’t a whole hell of a lot right now.

We are all ordinary messed up people, just doing our best. All of us here learning different lessons, having different days, and interacting to the best of our abilities. How someone treats you isn’t what you deserve, it’s just the best they can give today.

We say and do horrible things to each other nearly everyday. Even to those people that we love the most. Why? My only answer is because it seems to be the human condition. We are all just here learning. Life is our teacher. The world is happening for you, to grow.

And like most days of my life, I don’t have a neat and clean way to end this blog post. Not point to circle back around to. Life is just sometimes messy, like this post and my writing most days. But even though it’s messy and imperfect it still deserves to be shared.

God speed! Xoxo chelsea

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People don’t change.

The last decade of my life has been consumed by self help books. Somewhere along the way, I developed this idea that I needed to be fixed, improved upon, or changed. That there was a better version of me just one revelation away.  And perhaps with the right combination of thoughts, practices, and force, I could become her. I had an idea of who I would become after ‘doing some work’ on myself. That I would have a before and after story (plus photo) to share with everyone. Well, lets just say those 10 years were draining and at the end of it all, I’m still doing the same shit I was at the start.

Today for some reason, I started to think about who I was as a kid. And, wait for it….. I was exactly as I am right now. Well, maybe a little more joyful and a little less weathered (aka bitter). I have always tried to make humor out of life situations to help make things easier for others (and myself). I have always been blunt and to the point. I question everything. I have been extremely interested in how people think. I can’t lie. I have a strong moral compass. I take people at their word (this has been called “gullible” and “can’t take a joke”). I like to share stories to help others feel relatable. I think fart humor is funny. I hate horror movies. I can’t stand animal cruelty, human too. I want to help sad people feel happier. I am stubborn and obsessive. I am extremely focused and determined when I set my mind to something. I am all or nothing, and commit fully. I go full steam ahead on the things I am passionate about and enjoy.  I enjoy creating something born from an idea – mind to matter. I like to work with my hands. I love to solve problems. I love naps. I love snacks. I love to laugh.

What I realized is that these are my attributes. This is the fabric of who I am. It is unshakable and important. Because when it comes to the work that is true to my heart and what I am here to do – it’s necessary.  This is my toolbox to do my job. I can’t change it, because it’s too valuable.

I spent a decade trying to change those things because they were not appealing to some. Some people didn’t like some of my God given traits. I was also given a strong empathetic bone. I care very deeply about other people, and want everyone to be happy.  I took it on as my job to help others be at peace and find joy in life. But when I was the source of their unhappiness (or at least I was told that “blank” bothered them about me, etc.), I did everything I could to change that. To appease. To bring peace, at the cost of my making. Not everyone likes a blunt answer. Not everyone likes poop jokes. What happened was I lost sight of my design and tried changing for everyone around me.

It took me a loooonnnggg time to ‘come back to self.’  It took depression cycles, prayer, and questioning why I am here. It took searching for that small voice within me, that actually has been pretty damn loud and in my face. The most ironic thing about it is that while I was searching so hard for myself – or this ‘best’ version of me – I was here all along. All I needed to do be okay with my making.

Finally seeing who I am (and always have been), I started to look at who I am as a mother. I am a pretty damn good mom. What I realized is that I am not a good mom, I am just myself as a mom. I have always been nurturing and caring of others. I have always been invested and attentive in others mental and emotional well being. I am a ‘good’ mother because I am simply in a role that fits me.  Just as I was a good hairstylist and business owner, the roles fit my personality.

“Through out life, we simply take on new roles, and we ‘succeed’ at the ones we were made for.”

Tweet that shit. You’re welcome.

People don’t change. I have not changed. I am the same little passionate girl who won’t give up talking about something I want or something I want to do, until it’s done. Persistent AF. I am still the same girl who falls for “gullible is written on the celling,’ because dammit I take people at their word!

I have noticed that with each season of life I amadjusted. Becoming a mother, I have adjusted, to say the least. Kids are basically a giant windfall of change. My adjustment post children was not easy – I love to fight the current. So I floundered around for awhile until I eventually let life take me and teach me. Right now, this season has adjusted my priorities (less is more) and my pace (slow and steady wins the race marathon).  I have adapted to a slower ‘smolder’ pace when it comes to my plans and dreams for my life. This causes less ‘burn out’ too, which is helpful! (I have literally only 1-2 hours per day to commit to things outside of kids.) I also have simplified and prioritized; my home, my plans, and my projects. I reduced my focus down to 4 things that take up my energy. I think of my energy as a stove top with 4 burners. I have enough fire to keep 4 things simmering warm. My four are; my kids, my spouse, my writing, and my artwork.

I have also decided to have faith in God’s plan for my life. I’m kind of starting to see that my children really are unique and have their own quirks. Just as I did, from the beginning. I see some personality similarities to my self and my husband because that would make sense. That would make sense that God put these children with us.  We can relate and support someone who thinks similar to ourselves. And we have an understanding of what it’s like to be in their shoes, and perhaps know how to nurture them. I have faith that all of my attributes are what they need from a mother. I have faith that my kids also are made in a likeness that supports who I am (a nap lover!).

I have always felt very passionate about people being supported in who they are. I plan to do so with my children.  To help them focus on what they are good at. Teach them how important their attributes are to this world and what that are here to do. With hopes that they love and accept their making, despite what ‘some people’ may say. Because like every parent hopes for their kids, to save them from the hurts we have endured. My hurt was self hatred, and I pray they never have to endure that pain. And I pray that you don’t either.

xoxo Chelsea

Press Play. 

I have been going through this phase lately where I’ve been looking forward to crossing another day off on the calendar. This season of life is pretty challenging. Having a toddler and an infant is emotionally, mentally, and physically draining. Somedays it feels really good just to cross off day having survived it. And somedays my Facebook scrolling goes on a little too long and I find myself yearning for a different time of life.

On the eve of Mother’s Day, I got a speeding ticket. While waiting at a stoplight, my two year old started whining for his pacifier (yes, he still has one, and I don’t care) that he couldn’t reach, and the infant was crying because he was sleepy and needed more motion to drift off to sleep. The light turned green, I started cruising off speedily to our destination (Lowe’s to get plants like every other family that weekend). Well, it was a 25 mph zone. I was not looking at my speed, but my crying baby and whining toddler in my rear view mirror. Praying that we would have some peace in the car shortly. Needless to say, I was pulled over, I got a ticket, and I cried. I cursed God, and said “Gee thanks for the Mother’s Day gift.” Meanwhile, my husband was 2 minutes behind me (driving separate to meet us at Lowe’s to haul some wood home in his car) and saw us pulled over by the police officer. This prompted him to call my cell phone. Which woke up the baby and he started crying again. Great, crying baby again and now I would also have to explain myself to my husband. When we finally made it to the store, my husband didn’t lecture me. He asked what happened, saw my tears, and let it go. He knew that I had already beat myself up for it, and didn’t add to the emotional torture.

Yesterday I got another speeding ticket, from the same officer. In a different 25 mph zone while I had my kids in the car. Seriously, who the hell actually drives 25 mph anymore.  Of course, my reaction was to cry. Of course, I was speeding and did it to myself. Of course, I felt horrible for not being a more responsible driver with my children in the car. Here’s the thing, I haven’t had a ticket in 10 years, and I got 2 within two weeks. I don’t believe in coincidence. I’ve been speeding for the last 10 years, just never “got caught.”  So why was life catching up to me? What’s the message? I’ve noticed that when things happen in 3’s, life is really trying to get my attention! So I usually tune in when I hit the second time. And, I definitely don’t want a third ticket.

I’ve always lived on fast forward. I’ve been trying to get to the next step, next stage, or next day my whole life. I take after my father in this way. His motto is “Go like Hell!” Impatient is an understatement when it comes to the both of us. I’ve always wanted to be older then whatever age I am. I’ve always looked ahead to what I would do next instead of enjoy what I’m doing now. Living for tomorrow and the goals ahead, always.

When it came to getting the speeding tickets, I had to ask what was I in a hurry to get to? I wasn’t late for anything and we had no reason to rush. Being a stay at home mom nothing truly is that pressing in our daily life. Sure, we have appointments to get to occasionally, but is it really a big deal if we happen to be a little late? Why is it so hard to just slow down? Heck, why is it challenging just to live on play instead of fast forward?

Then I started thinking about the kids. Why am I trying to speed up their childhood? What am I trying to get to? Am I trying to get to the stage where they are talking? When I’m done nursing? When they can fix their own snack? What about when I go back to work or they are in school? Am I wanting to get the the stage where they are adults and moved out and I have full ‘free time’ again? How about when I become a grand-parent? What am I rushing through the day for? What is so much better about tomorrow?

All of these stages of life are coming. We keep aging as we move through time. I will get there. Does rushing through the days make the 24 hours happen faster? Nope. Does it make it less enjoyable? Yep. I have found that when I look back at my completed stages of life, I do miss them. I loved living on Grand Ave in St. Paul with my best friend Andrea getting into all sorts of 21 year old trouble. I liked seeing my friends everyday and challenging myself in high school. I enjoyed taking hair classes and learning new skills as I grew as a hairstylist. I am sure I will miss these days of baby snuggles and toddler shenanigans. So, I’ve decided to enjoy the sleepless nights and making second lunches for an overly opinionated palate. I will enjoy holding small sticky hands as we cross the street. I will enjoy every diaper change and booger wipe. I shall savor watching my two year old snuggle his blanket and my two month old coo and smile at me. This includes all the crazy awful things about raising kids too. It’s time to just play, instead of rush forward, and let this movie unfold one scene at a time.

These two children are the people I love most in the entire world, and I’m rushing through my days with them. Ultimately we are headed to stages where we are less together as a family. Stages where our interactions change as we become less involved with each other. Right now, I have all of my children. I have their snuggles, laughs, tears, and poops. Yeah I get it all, all day long. It’s time to be here enjoying it, while the time is still mine. Time to get my mind off the future, my eyes on my children, and my hands off my phone.  I’m going to get to the future regardless. So I may as well slow down and enjoy.

Happy Trails! – Chelsea

 

Funny Plans.

While rocking in the recliner and nursing my baby, I glanced over to see a stack of notes. On those notes were thoughts and ideas to expand on. Like a bunch of little nuggets that couldn’t be forgotten. You see, I have probably close to 30 notebooks bursting with “Ah Ha” moments, new concepts of thinking, and ideas worth expanding on. My mind has soo many ideas of what to write about or business adventures to start, that there isn’t enough time in my lifetime to pursue them all. I realized how cluttering it was. To live with all of these thoughts and ideas hanging around. To have so many plans for where I want to go, that it’s actually suffocating and daunting. It feels as if I can’t trust life as it unfolds. That I must store up all my ‘goodies’ and plan for the future. All of these plans and storage for the future makes it challenging to enjoy the new shiny inspirations in the moment. I feel like a squirrel hiding all of his nuts for winter, while I’m currently starving in the fall.

All this saving for the future and planning makes me feel weighted down. I’ve got so many plans for tomorrow and who I want to be that it’s hard to just be. This also leaves no room for inspired living. Ya know, when life happens (as it does) to change your desires and gives you a new life direction. Having all these plans, doesn’t leave much room for the ones that God may have for me. What is even more overwhelming, is I carry all the plans I have with me, as if I must do them all.

I have goals from high school and my 20’s that still reside in my mind, as if I must accomplish them as well. I may be the only person who tries to become all the things she had hopes of becoming, and if I am good, because damn it’s exhausting! I still need to become the girl who can wear a bikini to pierce my belly button. (That one is a high school goal/plan obviously, I would never pierce my belly button now that’s so 2000’s).  I want to have a collection of my art be on display in a gallery. I want to backpack across Europe. I want to be a published author. I want to write and illustrate a children’s book. I want to own a salon and spa. I want to be a life coach. I want to be a photographer. I want to be an interior decorator. I want…. I want… I want….

All of these ideas and plans for who I am supposed to be is totally robbing me of enjoying my life. It feels impossible to be and do all of these things. It may not be impossible, and perhaps I will accomplish them at some point, but I need the freedom to choose them again. Right now, in my season of life as a stay at home mother, I wake up feeling like a failure. It feels like I am failing myself and my dreams. Every day. Keeping all of these plans and ideas that I had for myself and my life at one point in time as ‘must do’ in my mind, doesn’t allow me to evolve and just be the person I am now. It doesn’t allow for new dreams and new plans. It doesn’t allow for me to be the person that life has shaped me to become. All of these rigid plans for myself, while originally constructed in love, are now hurtful. Those plans and dreams used to feel exciting. Now they feel like promises that I couldn’t keep to a girl who had big big dreams.

I am still that girl. That girl with big dreams and big plans, only life has shaped me in unplanned ways. By letting go of who I thought I needed to become, and allowing myself to be and do what I have chosen now, I can be happy. Life feels lighter, and less cluttered. It’s as if I am free to wake up tomorrow and live a day unplanned. To let life inspire my direction and let myself choose where I am going in the moment. I feel like I have faith again in myself and God’s direction for me.  Living without a pre-routed trip could allow for some really fun detours on my destination to nowhere.

As a recovering perfectionist and control freak the idea of living without a plan seems irresponsible. When I ask myself, have long-term plans been good for me? The answer is, No. I can plan ahead, wayyyy ahead all day long, but when I get there it’s never how I planned it. Reflecting on the evolution of my career as a hairstylist, nothing I did ever aligned with my long term plans. Yet, I ended up having a very enjoyable career and loved having my own business. My plans were to become an educator and travel with a company to teach other stylists new techniques. Those plans never panned out. When I moved from MN to ND, I never planned on booth renting and starting my own business. I ended up being (not so gently) guided to doing so as a ‘last resort’ option. It became a journey that I truly loved and enjoyed. It ignited a love for web design, branding, marketing, and business while I also learned many new skills. If you were to ask me what my plans are now, it would be to go back to styling hair when my children are older. But I know better now. Perhaps it is true, God laughs at our plans.

So, is it actually irresponsible to live without a plan? I feel more responsible to choose to live in a way that is good for me and brings me joy. And that is to let go of my long-term plans and live inspired. I have no idea how the next 2 years will shape me and what I will feel inspired to do, let alone the next month. All I know is in the moment it feels good to write this and share it with you.

Happy trails! – Chelsea

 

Quality or Quantity.

When I came home from the hospital after giving birth to my second son, I immediately felt horrible for my first born. For two years he had every minute of me. He was my universe. He still is, but my world has expanded. I felt guilty for how much his life had changed. I wondered if two children was the right thing to do. I mourned our old life of just him and I. All the play dates and trips to the park got out on hold. Our new normal became lots of television while I nurse the baby and afternoons spent hanging out in the backyard instead out and about in town at play dates or music classes. Gone was the complete one on one attention. I felt like I was failing him. All. The. Time.


It’s bizarre that at this time I didn’t even think about my second child. I was overly concerned about my eldest and his “lack of love” by way of full attention. My newborn would never ever know full one-on-one attention. His one-on-one moments with just me are fleeting and far between. My youngest may get an hour or two a day of just us when his brother is sleeping or when he is at the grocery store with Dad. After realizing this I then felt horrible for him. I felt guilty for his lack of full mom attention and all the times I had to lay him in the rock-and-sleep to tend to his brother.

I started to think about what my youngest son and oldest son get from me. My oldest son got over two years of being the center of our universe. Smothered with attention. But, he was my first child and I was a complete basket case newbie mom. I was not a natural mother. I didn’t feel like I was “rocking it” as a mom until he was nearly two years old. I hit my stride when he was about 1.5 and really felt like, “hey I’m pretty good at this thing.”  That’s when I started to relax as a mother and enjoy our days.

I was a stress mess with a newborn the first time around. I had never really been around babies, so I felt completely clueless. I googled everything, obsessed about sleeping, and read/watched lots of parenting tips just to survive.  I was a worried mom. All. The. Time. Every milestone was met with worry of if he would meet it or how to help him. It was exhausting.

My second child is lucky. I’ve done this before. I now know that sleep will come and nothing lasts forever. The baby stage is actually very short, and pretty enjoyable when you let go of worrying so much. I’m a relaxed mom now. I actually enjoy this early baby stage (he is 6 weeks old right now). I snuggle and hug him all day. I ‘wear’ him when we play outside. He falls asleep easily and is really adorable. I enjoy watching him do new things, even if it’s just lifting his head and turning it from side to side during tummy time. I am fascinated that with each new thing he learns, he can enjoy the world around him that much more. I celebrate his new discoveries more. With my first born, I was too busy being worried about his neck being strong enough or if he had enough tummy time that day to enjoy those milestones. I was just too busy being worried.


My youngest son may get less of my time and attention, but he is getting my best. I am a better mom now, thanks to my eldest. My eldest son got quantity, my youngest son gets quality. What is better? Neither. They are divinely perfect in their own ways. I’ve allowed myself to let go of any guilt when it comes to my time and abilities as a mother. I know that both of my children are getting my all, at all times. Instead of comparing and judging what’s right or best, I’m going to let it be gray.

I’m a happier mom when I don’t analyze and compare myself to others, or to myself. I truly have no idea what is best. I can’t see into the future nor comprehend the complexity of life and God’s plan for us all. So in an effort to enjoy life, I’ve relaxed into just living it. Letting each phase, stage, and moment be perfect in its own way. Maybe someday I will be able to see the sun shine on my life, and comprehend the love of the bigger picture. For now, I’m good with gray.

Happy trails! -Chelsea

Trail Mix.

Years ago on the start of my inward spiritual journey, I was told by an energy worker that one of the causes of my distress (anxiety and depression) is my need to label (judge) everything as good or bad. I live very ‘black and white.’ She mentioned that it was quite funny and perhaps serendipitous that I was marrying a man with the last name of Gray. She mentioned that it could be the start of new chapter of how I view life.

Nearly 5 years after that conversation I have come to see how I need to embrace a life of living in the gray. One marriage and two kids later, I can no longer afford to judge life events as cut and dry, black and white, or good and bad. I’m learning that life is a big cluster of mixed everything. It’s a really good trail mix. Perhaps in the end it will balance out and be a great combination of sweet, fulfilling, nutty, sustainable, bitter, and enjoyable moments. And like a good trail mix, you need all the flavors to get just the right taste. Maybe that is all life is, a giant human taste test.

This journey has made me. It’s made me grow into my faith. Sometimes by force, sometimes by choice. The earth is always moving under our feet, forward will happen. Just as we can’t stop aging (as much as we try), it feels like we can’t stop evolving. It seems that all humans desire changes. Of course, we all try to avoid changes we don’t want, but actively pursue ones that we do. Why do we desire change? Personally, I get bored and honestly like a challenge. It feels like most of my desires for change (new) come from within me, almost unconscious. Perhaps the drive to evolve is unconscious. It’s some soul level stuff.

So here I stand, on the edge of choice. I have had the desire to share my perspective of life through writing for a while now, and it’s time to try it. I have plans for what I will write about, but as plans do, they often change. Join me as I embrace looking at life from a greater gray perspective. That nothing is truly good or bad, maybe it’s all perfect in the end.

Happy Trails! – Chelsea Gray