Monday, February 9, 2009

Self-focus is self love

Self-focus is self love.
It nurtures one’s Being.
It feeds the soul.


Because I am part of a younger generation. The one whose parents taught us that we could achieve anything we set our minds to; that we are unique; that all we had to do was believe in ourselves, and above all, (to quote Jann Arden) “be yourself.”

My mother married her high school sweetheart when she was nineteen.
They lived together in a small town.
They made an agreement that in five years they would start having children.
Five years came and her ‘sweetheart’ wanted to break the deal.
Determined, however, to have her family, their first child was born a year later. Brittany.
Four years later, my mom’s belly grew again…and so did my dad’s ism’s: workaholism, alcoholism, anti-socialism.
Two years passed, many angry, dark nights and one affair later, and my youngest sister –“Surprise!” – was born.

There were many bright days in between, mind you. My mom was a beacon of creativity at home. She baked our birthday cakes, sewed our Halloween costumes, taught us to paint Christmas ornaments and sold her paintings and three-dimensional artwork to a bevy of supporters.
My dad took me to sci-fi movies, taught me how to skate, introduced me to the new world of computers and tickle tortured me as we played Pac Man.

But despite my memories of a mostly happy childhood, the divide between my parents could have competed in scope with the parting of the Red Sea. My sisters and I drifted between them.

And then they divorced.

My mom, now a single parent, took on 3 jobs to support her girls.
When she had time to spend with us, she was usually exhausted, sick or stressed and attempted to ease her own emotional abandonment by feeding stray cats in the neighbourhood.
I was in my ‘tweens and spent most of my time grounded in the basement or babysitting my sisters (which usually meant I was bringing them to the mall and then walking 20 feet in front of them so no one knew we were related. Oh, puberty!)
There was not a lot of laughter during this time, and NO creativity.
We were just putting one foot in front of the other in order to survive.
Then, after dating a guy for 6 months, my mom married again.
He turned out to be a con artist and the arch nemesis of my teenage life.

Finally, when I was nineteen, my mom found Mark.
Mark Swan.
Happily, five years down the road, they mated for life.
I finished university. My mom went back to school to be a law clerk.
My sisters grew up and moved out of the house.

Then, in 2003, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I never doubted for a second that she wouldn’t conquer this like she had every other battle in her life.
She braved a lumpectomy, 6 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation with 6 months of her oldest daughter returning to the nest to help feed her spirit.

This is when she started to ‘get her groove back.’

My mother rekindled her inner spark.
She only allowed herself to watch funny movies, TV shows and read funny books. (Thank you Ellen and from ‘Pilot Guides’ – Ian Wright!)
She challenged herself to stay positive and remember the humour.
She bought 2 wigs that made her look gorgeous.
She attended Wellspring, a cancer ‘healing’ centre, and took classes and workshops that they offered.
She enjoyed Reiki and writing, support groups and above all, art therapy.
It took cancer for my mom to get back in touch with her inner artist: that poor neglected creature just shriveling in her soul over the years.
Cancer brought her Muse back.
It was the formidable catalyst that gave my mom ‘permission’ to focus, once and for all, on her Self.

Semi-retired, six years of “Cure” fundraising, 2 grandchildren born, several dear friends, her dog and her father passed on, a dedicated writer and painter, and now the Captain of her Dragon boating team, my mother understands the importance of self-focus. And so do I.
It is anything but selfish.
In its essence, it is the succulent fruit we devour; as the seeds fall instinctively, silently, and miraculously transforms the lives of those we love the most.


  1. what a beautiful story and what a beautiful person your mother is -- and becoming a dedicated writer and painter - I can only imagine how wonderful and heart-felt her work must be! thanks for sharing her with us.

  2. Britt, We all certainly learn great lessons about who we are when we look at our roots. Your mother is a beautiful lady. Your story tells of a rebirth of sorts. Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories

  3. Your mom sounds like a wonderful person. My mom, too, had some dark years while I was growing up. I don't think she knew how to self focus. And it took her many years to get her groove back, too.

    Luckily, we can learn by watching our mothers. I think they would want that for us, rather than have us struggle with what they did.

  4. Bless your mama's heart and yours for being so wise as to appreciate her so. Your description of how she and you got to where you are is rich in texture. Thanks for shaing it at such a perfect time.

  5. That was an amazing story. Your Mom is a very strong woman. What a truly wonderful role model for perseverence and hope.

  6. What a profound celebration of your mom and her journey. "Self-focus is self-love." Amen, sister.