Synchronicity

Do you believe in God?  Or that some being exists “up there” in the universe and is all knowing, all seeing, with your best interests at heart?  What about destiny, or fate…that everything happens for a reason and that your path has already been chosen for you. Do you believe that not-so-modern but certainly North American notion that you should go out and make your own destiny – that only you are in charge of your life and it will be what you make of it…and yet, there’s something inside you that tells you there’s more to it than that…

They say that life is a series of choices – like the movie, Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow (a definite fave of mine).  You wake up in the morning, you’re running late so you skip getting that coffee and make it to your desk and realize you’ve missed a spontaneous meeting with your boss and nothing seems to be going your way…  Or, you say, “hey, I’m going to be late anyway…I could really use a cup of coffee” and you line up, grab your tall-lactose free-nonfat latte, get into work late and discover that your boss is out of the office so no one’s the wiser and you can just ease into your day – perhaps by writing your next blog post or something…

True story.  Mine.  Was it coincidence?  Or just good luck?  Or was it, synchronicity?

So what is synchronicity?  Is it just a fancy word for when things are all seemingly going “in sync”?  Carl Jung, famous psychologist and founder of analytical psychology “scientific-ized” this concept.

Synchronicity holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.*

In other words, and to put it in more of my own, plain language, when things just seem to happen out of nowhere and somehow they all just make sense.  Like when you feel like you can’t seem to find the right dress for that special event and lo and behold, the dress was hanging in your closet the whole time – you just needed a new belt and pair of shoes to make it all come together which you ended up buying because the shoe store next to your favourite dress shop had a 40% off sale sign that drew you in.

But synchronicity is not just about the frivolity of shoes and dresses…no.  Now what if that outfit that you put together ends up being the very one that the hiring manager at the company you recently applied for a job at, really admired and wished she was wearing?  So…she couldn’t help commenting on it at the event you both find yourselves and you, not knowing who she is or her role, happen to make a comment like, “Yes.  It makes me feel like a million bucks!  So much so, that I’ve forgotten how nervous I am for my upcoming interview.  Imagine if you could go into interviews wearing your favourite stilettos and dress?”  And the hiring manager says, “I’m sure you’ll be great!  Where did you apply?”  And…as I said before, lo and behold.

Interesting?  Coincidence or synchronicity?  Another way to describe synchronicity is to say that “the universe has your back”.  That saying, “be careful what you wish for – you just may get it” that’s all part of this idea.  Is it energy?  Is it some higher being?  Is it God?


So here’s what I believe.  And what I’ve really come to notice.  It’s very hard to make sense and logic out of the idea of things happening out of nowhere and without a plan.  For someone like me, who is extremely analytical – yes, even when I’m in my imaginary, movie-like world – I need scientific reasoning.  While synchronicity was a significant part of Carl Jung’s contributions to modern day psychology – the science of psychology – the idea itself still seems, well, “paranormal.”

Thanks to my ongoing journey as a student of life, and hence, the new book I’ve been reading called The Artist’s Way, I’ve tried one exercise in synchronicity and it’s had me questioning my black and white views on cause and effect.  I’ll share it with you.  The idea is to accept (accept blindly, I might add) that the universe (or God or whatever you may believe) is actually acting in your interests.  To put in a nutshell, rather than plan for what you want, just declare what you want – the how you get there will present itself…by way of synchronicity.  Today, we refer to some of this as networking.  A friend of a friend who has a colleague who has the answer we’re looking for.  How much more interesting it would be if that chain of events was viewed as synchronicity.

The next time you’re encountered with a “coincidence” just stop for a second and think about it…did it just seem to come out of nowhere?  And yet, did it somehow answer a question that was in your head?  Hmmmm….

In the meantime, perhaps the most “synchronistic” thing that has ever happened to me – other than the time when I was so stressed out I really needed desperately to release some steam in a foreign city and lo and behold, the regular pianist at the restaurant I went to was absent and so the manager allowed me to play the piano to a round of applause and a wonderful feeling of joy and renewed reassurance in myself – has been becoming a mother.  This month, take a moment and remember yours.  The path to and of motherhood is full of challenges, chance, happenstance and wonder…and we could use a whole lot of synchronicity!

*As it appears in Tarnas, Richard (2006). Cosmos and Psyche. New York: Penguin Group. p. 50. ISBN 0-670-03292-1.

Thanks Mom…Just for being YOU.

Being a mom is part of my identity, but although I carry that invisible mom pass in my wallet (right next to the Costco card, the Gap Cash and every other points card under the planet), I sometimes struggle with my club membership. Is that all I am? Is that the most important part of me – being somebody’s mom? Does that membership card take precedence over my hard earned travel miles, gold card and driver’s license? True, I birthed two young boys, but sometimes it feels like the moment you become a mom, it becomes your whole identity…

The stakes are high when you’re a mom. So too are society’s standards…sometimes so high that they’re virtually impossible to achieve. I must keep a clean house that is totally “de rigueur”, be able to produce gourmet meals, my children must have manners, like to eat sushi, get A+ on all subjects and must excel in at least three extra-curricular activities, one of which must be “elite” or “extraordinary” like sailing, downhill racing or equestrian, and all of these are my responsibility – plus I have to look and act the part and in some instances hold down a full time job!

Well…I’m at a slight handicap here because I’m struggling to define myself beyond my “mom-borders”.  And I love it when the universe reminds me that my own definition of mom is allowed to be different.

Be trueBeing a mom is a raison d’être but certainly not my seule raison d’être, if you will.

I’m a wearer of many hats and among my many roles, my latest is that of construction project manager…ME! This is one challenge that I’ve readily accepted particularly this past month when my home renovation project really kicked into high gear. I have ignored family, friends, my children and Mr. Niceguy while I’ve poured over drawings and various engineering calculations, learned about air velocity and balancing, insulation and grading, and the list goes on. I’ve appreciated (virtually) every stressful second of it.

Despite the fact that we are temporarily being housed by my gracious parents (thank you, thank you, thank you!  They are readers and perhaps my only fans despite my many ramblings about them and I could use all the brownie points to make up for my constant outbursts, fits of rage and bouts of tears) I am still the primary caregiver of my children. It’s my job to make sure they eat their dinners, do their homework and not let their brains go to MUSH because they’d prefer to spend the entire day holed up in my parents’ basement in front of the big screen playing video games.

Vow Mr NiceguyI’d like to report that while I’ve assumed the role of project manager, my children’s brains have officially liquefied. I’m not entirely certain what’s making their guts move and I’m quite certain that it will only be by the grace of the Almighty that they will pass grade 4 and graduate kindergarten. Thank goodness Mr. Niceguy made a vow to love me for better or for worse…

All this because for the past month (or so…if I’m being honest), I put something other than being mom first. Go ahead and judge. But I won’t be blamed. And I refuse to take it on because I’ve already beat myself up about it enough, thank you very much, and I’m done. I’m a modern day renaissance woman and that means I’m a renaissance mom too after all, my teacher is one too…

My primary role model in the world of motherhood has been my mother. She grew up in a household filled mostly with boys. Not willing to be left behind, she would run alongside them – and oftentimes, ahead of them. She displayed as much grit, courage and bravery than any one of the others and while most girls her age would mind their chores and preserve their dresses, she was jumping from rooftop to rooftop along the buildings in Lebanon, sporting blue jeans and running off to the beach.

She is my non-traditional, traditional mom. And while she always makes sure that we are well clothed, fed and taken care of, she has a life of her own and I absolutely refuse to pigeon hole her into one role. Her life is a full adventure – and I hope mine will be nearly as full as hers.

It follows that I believe motherhood has to be the greatest adventure of all. There is no real, set, tried and true course – despite the fact that I’ve poured over dozens of popular baby books and scientific articles on child rearing. I could never have imagined the incredible joy that my children would bring before I became a mother…at the same time, I would never have imagined the feelings of tremendous guilt, frustration, and exasperation over little things like an unfinished plate of dinner or settling a child down to do homework and especially getting them to finally go to bed so that I could enjoy a moment’s peace after the never ending tidying, cooking, cleaning, monitoring and answering one hundred plus questions about the locations of any one of the following: “Mom, did you see my video game controller / the iPad / my book / my pencil / the red bouncy ball with the blue stripe – not the blue bouncy ball with the red stripe / my socks / my gym clothes / my special Pokemon card…blah, blah, blah!

I appreciate my role and the blessings (and heartaches) that come with it so I won’t feel guilty for the moments I yearn for the days of yore when dinner would be brought to me, when I could ask for my favourite dish, or when I take more than just a moment to pretend I’m something other than a mom. No. This month, when you write your mother a card, or bring her flowers, or just sit and think about her, take a moment to think about who she is (or was) as a person and thank her for just being her.

Me and Haig

Role reversal…?

Originally written for Mother’s Day…

About 7 years ago, I was standing just outside “flower row” on Avenue Road.  It was a very special Sunday, Mother’s day, and people were buying flowers for their mothers/sisters/grandmothers/aunts/wives.  Meanwhile, for me it was just a typical downtown Sunday, where I had just come from having a very satisfying meal at one of my favourite brunch places, looking every bit the rotund mother-to-be…43 pounds more heavy, 6 weeks pre-baked, prego lady…the perfect subject for a feel-good TV interview piece about Mother’s Day.

A reporter got one look at me and ran right over, practically salivating!  She prepped her cameraman (who also looked really excited but I think more because he could finally get his shot and get out of the madness) smoothed down her perfectly coiffed hair, and then turned to me.  After a quick, three…two…one…the mic was in my face and… “Hi!  We’re here in downtown Toronto on this very special day.  It’s Mother’s Day!  Miss, I mean, ma’am, tell me, how special is this day for you?”  I stood there totally frozen.  Why was this woman waiting for MY answer?  I shrugged and said, “Well, it’s kind of not a day for me, is it?  I mean, I’m just pregnant – I don’t have any kids yet, so I don’t really think of this day as anything especially meaningful.”  At this point she looked at me like I was from outer space…and like she was about ready to tear my head off…so I added, “Umm…I mean, until I have this baby, I think this is still a day for my mom, not me.  But I’m excited???”  Cameraman and reporter both looked at me, mouths agape, shocked…incidentally, I didn’t make it on the 6 o’clock news…

Was she waiting for me to gush:  “Awww…this is the best day.  So amazing!  I can’t wait to be a mother!  I can’t wait to meet this little baby!  I’m experiencing the miracle of life and it’s going to be the best thing EVER!”  Well, that’s just not me…I never heard the birds chirping or saw the clouds part – I had no idea of what I was getting into…and how much I would change as a result…

Seven years later…it’s 11:15 pm.  I just got home from work.  I’ve had one of those days…in fact, more like one of those weeks!  Up at the crack of dawn, drop one kid off at school, while my husband stayed at home and took care of the other (a big ball of ooze thanks to spring allergies and a cold), followed by a 15.5 hour stretch at work.

And the first thing I thought of when I came home?  “Where’s my dinner?”

For anyone that’s seen the movie Pleasantville, there’s a scene in it where the father, a stereotypical 1950’s man that goes to work, while his “little woman” takes care of the house, makes marshmallow salads, and cares for the children, comes home and gets all snappy because things have been turned upside down, his wife has “seen the light” and hadn’t prepared dinner. I felt very much like this man – like everything I knew had been turned upside down.

Here I was clinging onto the middle rungs of the corporate ladder and during this latest stretch of work insanity, my husband’s the one making lunches, wiping noses, overseeing homework and having chats with the other moms in the parking lot!  He’s the one who has become the centre of our home.  He’s the one who knows where things are and what’s happened on Lego Ninjago.  He’s the one they look for…

Don’t I want to be the one to take my kids to school, chat with the other moms in the parking lot and still have time to watch Bold and the Beautiful and do homework?  But also, don’t I want to achieve something that’s just mine…leave my own mark?

Like the pendulum of the clock, I keep swinging back and forth and at close to 1:30 am in the early morning, I decide I’m done.

And I’m strangely satisfied.  I remember that as a mom, I have the gift of continuously witnessing breaks in the time-space continuum – something I never saw before; moments, where I see myself in my kids’ laughter, tantrums, and surprise.  I can almost feel them experiencing life as my heart quickens when I see their absolute joy or total devastation and I’m forever perplexed and amazed at how quickly the world becomes a better place after a simple hug, a high-five and a smile.

I wish I could go back and answer the question I was asked seven years ago, all over again.  I would say to that reporter, here’s what Mother’s Day means to me:  That although I still think this is still more of a day for my mom… that it would apply to me soon.  That although I have no idea what I am getting into, I hope to do a good job and make sure that my kids will laugh loud, genuine laughs every day.  But being a mom would not define me completely and I hope that my kids would also get to know me.  After having said all of that, we’re just going to take things as they come, and figure things out as we go.