Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jumping hurdles the path to bliss?

I haven’t posted anything in a couple of weeks because I have been undecided about what to write about. Miss Mouse’s birthday passed at the end of May with much fanfare and feelings of wonderment. Gone is the little baby, now is a busy little girl, making me a very busy Mommy. Or perhaps I have just been savouring this time, letting it digest. It is a milestone for me and my little family.

The Year of the Mouse, as I have coined this past year, has been unequivocally the best one of my life yet it has also been the most challenging. In fact, from the time I found out I was pregnant my whole being has gone through upheaval, inside out and top to bottom. From my expanding waistline to the expansion of my own mind; once you witness the unlimited potential of the body your thinking cannot help but follow suit.

The main epiphany I have had this past year is that:

When you are doing what you love, challenges become joys.

Yes people, I have finally experienced what others have referred to as BLISS and by George it feels good. Sure I’ve had moments of it. While painting, reading a great novel or perhaps falling in love I have felt like I have lost track of time and been completely and wonderfully absorbed in what I was doing, but nothing like this. My experience has taught me that bliss comes when you feel fantastic not from strife.

So imagine my shock then the most interesting thing I’ve learnt is that the greatest bliss comes when you get over the hurdles. Who knew? True bliss comes from labouring of love.

I ruminate often of the story of the Russian math genius, Grigori Perelman, who locked himself in a room in his St. Petersburg apartment for five years working everyday determinately to solve the Poincaré Conjuncture theorem. He did and then posted it on line. Citing no desire for fame and fortune he refused a prestigious medal and million dollar price, he just wanted to post it on the Internet. Perelman just wanted everyone to acknowledge that the proof was correct and that was enough for him.

After hearing his story, I had often wondered if I would ever feel the deep desire to do something just for the sake it like Perelman did. Could I ever struggle hard and dedicate my life everyday to something where the only joy and recognition you get is from doing the thing you love? After a year I know I have and it is truly something to marvel at.

When you are pregnant the level of physiological changes that assault can be daunting. You don’t know whether to lie down, throw up, eat strange things, argue with everyone, and clean your entire house from top to bottom or just cry. Some women get glowing skin, high sex drives and luxuriously shiny hair. I got bad acne, heartburn and cankles. Some days it just plain sucked. But many moments were beautiful; a shared secret between you and the blossoming creature inside; to feel my little one growing in my stomach and to sit in amazement wondering just how big my skin could stretch.

Before I could truly wrap my head around the idea of giving birth, there I was five weeks early, in the hospital giving birth. I was petrified for my unborn baby's health, praying all would be well and I was petrified for myself, how could I do this when my whole goal that day was to lie down as soon as I got home from work. I just had to get her out but was there no other way!

After eleven hours of induced labour with the epidural wearing off and in front of about fifteen people watching, she came into this world screaming and I breathed a sigh of relief. The power of the body is humbling, it knows exactly what to do and it guides you. (Side note: once you go through that experience you never quite feel the same anxiety about public –ahem-performances)

And just when I was trying to reconcile the most challenging day in my life with the fact that it was also the most wonderful day of my life, all while trying to reorient my body back to daily functioning, I was told you can go home but your baby has to stay here.


I will never forget the feeling of the floor falling out from under me taking my heart with it.

But, we both not only survived but also gained unexpected benefits: the Mouse got the best darn care and attention she needed to become the healthiest one year old I know and I literally got hands on breastfeeding help every single time I went to nurse. You can’t pay for that type of lactation education (well actually you probably can but it would wager it would be pretty pricey).

My husband and I also really bonded during those first two weeks of becoming new parents. We discovered that we could make it through some trying times together. We had some scares and some tense times going back and forth to the hospital, but we did it and that made bringing the Mouse home that much more special.

Then the real work began.

We were on our own and we had to figure it all out as we went. As a new bleary-eyed and battle-worn parent you really have to tap into new creative juices to get that newborn to sleep, to eat, and to change the seemingly endless diapers and outfits. We had to figure out why she is mewling in the middle of the night, we had to clean up thousands of spit ups and spills and wash what felt like a billion loads of laundry. I won’t lie, its hell while you are going through it, when you come out the other side, the confidence you feel and the pride of your accomplishments is magnificent.

Despite all this I have felt excited to start every day even when I have barely slept the night before or when I knew I might face all the same struggles as the day before. I have been invigorated to meet all the challenges I would face and I feel like I have grown as an individual, the joy has come out of the struggle.

Of course, now I want more. Yes, I am saying I want more struggle. The kind that enlightens and the kind that can transform because that is exactly where bliss is found and it changes everything. Why fill my finite time on earth with things that bring me little to no bliss? Why not actively seek it out and add it wherever I possibly can and in whatever fashion I can?

And hey, if someone wants to give me a medal and a million dollars for following my bliss, I think I may just have to politely decline.


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