Falling and grounding

The leaves are settling on our deck and in our yard, as they slowly fall from the trees of our fairy forest. We have had a couple of windstorms, forcing leaves that maybe weren’t quite ready to leave their humble branch home, to move along their way; forcing them to stop clinging to what they now and to release into something new.

Some may think the leaves are falling to their death. I see them falling to their new life. Watching them sit and decompose in our yard, blending into the grass and mud, finding their new purpose, being one again with the ground.

I am seeing the amazing circle of women I am working with this fall in Being & Becoming are much like these leaves in some ways. Life has brought them to this moment in time, where they may not quite be ready to release what they think they know, yet they are letting go to become more grounded and centered; to discover who they are and want to be. I am honored that they chose me to be a part of this journey with them. I am grateful and awed by the work they do, the vulnerability that is coming forth. And I am learning my own lessons from them; releasing some of what I thought I knew, shedding another layer, becoming more grounded in who I am now, who I am becoming.

My 43rd birthday has passed. I quietly celebrated the day with my husband and then later with the him and the kids. It felt right to allow the day to softly pass with those who matter most to me in the world. I had quietly anticipated the day’s arrival, feeling calm in this new age, this new being I was becoming. Knowing that in one day I won’t be a different person, regardless of the anniversary that is marked by the passage of time, knowing that the passage of time will only reveal who I am.

I have been in a state of “pinch me” with my work, with the women I am guiding, with the families I hold space for at my internship, with my children and husband, with my friends. I have felt lucky and blessed and privileged to be doing this work and play also knowing the tears and frustration and near mental collapse that preceded this iteration of my life. It’s been almost four years since the metaphorical windstorm that formed me to let go of the life and career I was so desperately clinging to. When a layoff happens, in those early moments we aren’t able to see the rightness of it, the doors that have been flung open, the opportunity to explore and play and heal that has been granted to us. And yet, those things are all there in those early moments, we merely need to become aware of them.

Looking back seven years to the woman I was, right before and after the birth of my daughter. Knowing how she changed me, how I allowed the transformation, is a touch overwhelming. If people had told me then the woman I would be today I may have laughed at them and thought certainly they were in need of some medication. And yet here I am. The woman I never even thought of dreaming to become.

We make plans. And life has doesn’t care about those plans. When we are open to the shifting, the releasing, the grounding, our plans matter less and the being and becoming transforms into the ebb and flow of the breath of the universe. Sometimes our own breath is in rhythm with this ebb and flow and sometimes it is in discord. That is another piece of the ebb and flow of life.

As our son starts to figure out crawling and eating solid foods; as our daughter masters reading and writing and discovering her own passions and ways of being in the world; as my second to last semester of graduate school flows into the second half; I am seeing my own ebb and flow into being the woman I am now, the woman I dream of becoming. Part warrior becoming a super-heroine, part princess becoming a queen, part sage, part artist, part jester, part mother, part wife; filled with love and gratitude for those in and around my life; knowing that as I release from this branch, I will fall into my center and ground and grow into the next me who is meant to be.

stop clinging

Posted in Mindfulness | Leave a comment

Coming home to myself, again

Time is ebbing and flowing and weaving as fall settles into our lives. The leaves on the trees in our fairy forest are falling before they change color, leaving me feeling a bit melancholy. The speed at which everything in my life seems to be changing is leaving a bit disjointed and wistful.

And yet through this I am finding and nourishing deeper connections with those in my life. I find myself connecting more with those in my life, both in and out of our home; in person and on line. I have deliberately started to reach out to people I miss or want to get to know better. I’m creating time to connect with those I love and focusing on being present with them as I do.

I’m finding as I journey closer and closer to my 43rd birthday my own need to slow down and deeply connect with those in my life. While I am wistful and melancholy  over the passing of time, I am also grateful for the time I have left to explore, to create, to live.

D.H. Lawrence wrote, “A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.” I spent my 20s living my life, and my 30s worrying about life and trying to “build a future.” I find myself coming not exactly full circle back to my 20s, but rather spiraled up to a place of wanting to live this life given to me. Some days that means being in the car as I drive the kids to this field trip or that play date and others it means being at home and having an impromptu dance party.

I have neglected my writing as I have filled our time with connection, building relationships with those in my local circles and online. School, my internship and my business have also each given me so much opportunity to connect with even more people; more people to learn and grow from as I allow them all to affect me, allow myself to feel.

I have done the work in my own Being and Becoming circle, right along with the beautiful women who have gathered together for this journey through fall. My own ah-has are highlighted by those of the other women as we each reconnect to ourselves and slowly heal and shed another layer.

I began this intentional journey of becoming 43 forty-three days before my birthday. I have dipped my toe into restarting practices I love (yoga, meditation, writing) but am finding that right now my focus is on the people in my life. I am filling up on conversations in person and online, learning more about myself and others and mostly breathing in the quiet knowing that in time I will step away for a bit and hibernate, refocusing on my “solo” practices.

Or perhaps I won’t.

Maybe instead my solo practices will naturally weave their way back into my life.

Time will tell.

For now however, connecting with those outside of me is where I am drawn. And so I am spending more time in my circles, outside of my home, and when home and not with the kids or my husband, online, learning more about the amazing people who are in my life, both peripherally and solidly in the center, and in the process learning more and more about myself. I am in the space of doing rather than reflecting, although truth be told I am always reflecting on myself, my life.

It is not a time of solitude, but rather of being in community, in circle, in my family. Seeing and being seeing, listening and being heard. My circles expand and I breathe in how gracefully and chaotically my life is evolving right now, again knowing that there are also fits and starts, the constant ebb and flow the ever being and becoming.

I feel myself coming home, again, to me as I circle and center in my community and family; as I hold the hands of my children and husband; as I hug friends both new and old. Seeing parts of myself in each of those around me, taking in what feels true to me in these moments and allowing the rest to be.

Quietly becoming 43.

coming home to myself quietly becoming 43

 

 

Posted in Becoming, becoming 43, Being, Being & Becoming Circle, Softness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here and now: Finding True North, Right Where I Am

I am sitting at my very messy dining table. It’s been over a week since I cleaned it off and it is piled high with art supplies and materials for the Being & Becoming Circle (self)care packages.  There is a stack of mail in the corner, a bottle of wine in the center and my son’s bumbo chair (yes, I know) at one end. My kitchen is close to needing to be condemned and I have dinner cooking in the slow cooker. Last night after work (!!!) I cleaned off a small corner of our counter.

I look in to our living room that has legos and wooden blocks all over the floor, right next to the baby’s floor mat (yes, I know). His jumper seat, that was his sister’s such a short time ago, takes up a large amount of space, sitting next to the cradle that he is about to outgrow. The bouncy/vibrating seat thingy is sitting in there too, taking space, but now too small for our boy, ready to be passed on to one of my best friends as she awaits the arrival of her next son. Only one of the chairs is empty to be sat in, the others filled with bags and random stuff that needs to be put away.

I breathe in this chaos, this proof of our lived life. I feel both frustration and calm as I sit here in the midst of it, writing these words, sipping my coffee. I have opened our dining room window and can hear the birds and squirrels, our creek and the quiet movement of our neighbors. As I opened the window I caught a glimpse of the abandoned kiddy pool, water now black and filled with leaves, waiting to be cleaned and put away until next year. I am reminded of the art supplies that are on our lower deck, waiting to come back inside. Reminded of how the days seems to slip by without these seemingly simple tasks being accomplished.

I am sitting with sadness that sprung up from work yesterday, my own sadness about a future that probably will, though may not, come to be. I have allowed some tears to fall for this yet to be seen future and am breathing deeply in the truth that that future is not today, not here yet. I release as much of this sadness as I can right now, being grateful for the life I have, the life my husband and I have created together, the life our beautiful children bring to us every day.

I am sitting with calm and peace and humble gratitude as I think of the women who have come forward already to do this work of being and becoming with me this fall. Some of whom started with me this past spring, others coming forward to start now. All of them trusting me and allowing me to be a part of their journey.

There are days when I can’t believe how blessed I am. Days when I think back to my younger selves and wonder how they got through, how we got to now. I smile at how 15 or 25 or even 35 year old me would have reacted to being told who she would become at almost 43. Would those past mes believe that it would all turn out so lovely? Would they believe I could find this deep peace in my life? Would they shake their heads and laugh or would they breathe a deep sigh of relief?

I wonder about the women I am yet to become. Me at 45, 55, 75, 95. What wisdom will I have earned then? How much deeper will this quiet knowing I am only beginning to feel at almost 43 run? What stories will she share? What kind of grandmother, great-aunt, long-time friend, wife will she be? And more importantly, who do I want her to be right now, even knowing that too will change as the years flow.

Right now, my daughter has come upstairs and is sitting in the chaos of our lived in living room, playing with those legos she had abandoned yesterday; wanting to share space with me and giving me space to write, to express, to observe.

Tonight I will hold space for families who have lost a parent, a spouse. It is work I am called to do and am grateful for. This weekend I will begin holding space for the women who are ready for their being and becoming work and play, keeping that space safe throughout our fall season together. Right now, and always, I am holding space for my family: giving love and gratitude, taking in the beauty and truth and reality of our life together.

And I hold space for myself. Allowing my own sadness to ebb and flow, letting its lesson of gratitude for the now be heard and internalized. Grieving the yesterdays lost and celebrating the tomorrows to come.  Finding my own true north, right where I am.

A close up of a section of my Being & Becoming vision board. Won't you come join us as we each find our own true north right where we are?

A close up of a section of my Being & Becoming vision board. Won’t you come join us as we each find our own true north right where we are?

 

 

Posted in A Mama's Life, Becoming, becoming 43, Being, Being & Becoming Circle, Gratitude, Mamahood, Mindfulness, Nourishment, Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

A mama’s life: the inbetween spaces

It’s sometime between six and seven a.m. and my son starts to root for his early morning snack. I groggily roll over, find his little mouth and feed him milk. As I nurse him, I slowly start to come full awake, taking inventory of my body, allowing my mind to take the slow process it needs to come into being in the world fully.

When the little one finishes nursing, I change his diaper as he sleeps and tuck him in close to his papa. I go to our office and pump a bottle of milk for him, as I start to check into my online world on my phone. Once the bottle of milk is hand-delivered to my husband’s nightstand, I go back to the office and come more into my body through some basic yoga and breathing. Next coffee is to be made as the laptop and wireless warm up.

Coffee in hand, I sit down to the laptop and start to work. Shortly after my daughter wakes and I stop my work to give her snuggles and then set her up to watch some videos on the other computer in our office. I settle back into work for a while and then it is time to feed her, start some dishes, feed myself. And eventually we both make our way back to the office.

I read or write as she giggles at what she is watching. I don’t know what is making her laugh, she wears headphones to try to not disturb my thoughts and process. Her giggles and bursts of laughter seem loud however in contrast to the whispering hum of the computers and each time I need to stop and smile and regroup a bit, biting back that initial response to tell her to quiet down, to shush; instead allowing her to enjoy her moments and thereby allowing myself to enjoy them too, watching her without her knowing, wondering at her beauty (outer and inner) and being amazed that we have journeyed almost eight years together, starting with her conception, and that she is such a gorgeous person after being on this journey of motherhood, despite my stumbles and falls and failings along the way.

I hear the baby crying and wait to go to him, allowing him and his father to create their own relationship of trust, of caring. Sometimes I go and “help” and other times I wait, giving them space to learn more of each other. It is a practice in letting go of the notion that I need to do it all, that it is always my job to fix things. It is knowing in my core that whether I go and help or not, everyone will be okay.

This journey as a creative, as a guide, as a mama and wife and friend and sister, can be hard. Finding time to write or read or work or play inbetween the needs of family life is a practice in patience, perseverance and passion. Creating the space to do all that I love is no easy feat some days and others it flows naturally and makes me question what makes the hard days so hard.

And of course, just as I think I have it all figured out, something comes along to change things.

This is the ebb and flow of life, isn’t it? Once we think we know something, the Universe shakes things up for us, to show us that we don’t really  know much of anything beyond the fact that we don’t really know much of anything.

I’ve been coming into this quiet acceptance of this knowing there is so much that I don’t know. Beyond the acceptance I am finding a peace in it, in the not knowing. There is comfort in being in the here and now and releasing the need to know or expectations of the future. It is where I am in my own being and becoming.

Fall is settling into our lives now. The weather and light are shifting and our classes and fall routines are starting to taking root. As the chaos of summer drifts away I find myself feeling cozy and grateful for the more predictable pace of fall. I wonder how our little guy will shake that up for us, and I don’t worry about and allow it to happen in its own time.

I am preparing to guide a beautiful circle of women through the fall season, creating space for each of them to excavate, unearth, release, unfold. I look forward to the journey and wonder how those who are returning will go deeper and how those who are joining us for the first time will add to our circle; how we will guide each other into this new iteration of our own being and becoming.

And all this will happen between the dishes and the breastfeeding. Between the making of meals and folding of laundry. In the hours my husband is home from work and the moments when neither child needs my focus. It will happen because it is my love: to write, to guide, to dig deep, to explore.

Our lives ebb and flow and there are smaller waves within the larger ones. This wave of motherhood will last until my ending day, however what it looks like and how my other waves of being will be influenced by it will change and transform and become something different. I won’t always have office mates who are under the age of ten. I won’t always need to stop writing mid-sentence, mid-thought to feed a child. It won’t always be fall; winter will come, followed by spring and then summer and eventually in it’s time fall will come again.

So for now I work in the between spaces, allowing myself to feel my frustrations with this truth and then letting it drop away like the changing leaves on the trees outside our window. Finding pleasure and joy in moments of distraction, allowing them to feed me instead of starve me. Allowing for the truth, that whether I will it or not, this moment too shall pass.

As posted on IG: My office mate this morning. #gelamarie woke up earlier than normal and wanted to watch videos as I work. Another lesson from my children to go with ebb and flow, to shift my (unrealistic?) expectations and allow the what is to be. #becoming43 #myheart #officemates #raimondisummer2014

Posted in Mindfulness | Comments Off

Resistance, Transformation, Acceptance: A Confession

A little over three months ago our son was born. We had struggled to bring him into the world for over four years. Four plus years of health issues and struggles with infertility. Four plus years of hopes and heartbreaks, of tears and frustration. And then when we got that positive pregnancy test we still held our breath. We’d been there before to only have sadness and disappointment enter our lives weeks later.

We wanted our son. So desperately. I wanted our son. I wanted him in our family in a way that words cannot express. We all did. I had started to accept that maybe we were destined to be a family of three and then, as if by magic (but not really), he started to grow in my womb.

To be honest I didn’t enjoy the pregnancy. It wasn’t horrible, it could have been much worse I know, but I’m not one of those women who enjoys that physical transformation, that loss of self that comes with pregnancy, the shift from being one to being two, always, every moment for nine-ish months.

And then he was born. Our sweet beautiful boy enter our arms, our lives in a real and concrete way.

And I fought it.

I was angry. Frustrated. Sleep deprived. I hated that he had horrible colic. I hated how hard breast-feeding was. I hated that he would refuse bottles. I hated his screaming. I hated how little he slept. I hated his demands.

I was frustrated with losing my personal time to write. To think. To sleep. I was frustrated with trying to figure out his needs. I was frustrated with not getting time with my girl, or my husband or my friends or my communities.

I was resentful of losing my body. How painful breastfeeding was for those first six weeks. How much my whole body ached with afterbirth pains for over a month. I was resentful of not being able to bounce back like I did seven years ago with our daughter. Of not having time for yoga or meditation or even to eat in a way that nourished my body. Or really to eat at all. I was resentful of my body being on demand by a little tyrant who couldn’t care less that I was starving, or sore, or exhausted beyond words.

I was deep in denial and resistance. Denial that our life would have to be different. Denial that this is part of life with a newborn. Denial of acceptance that our little guy could be so very different from our girl. Denial that this is part of the ebb and flow of life. Denial of the lesson from our son that I was the one who needed to change, to shift, to transform.

We’re three months out now. And I’m finally getting it. Perhaps it’s that I’m getting decent sleep, quality and quantity, at night now. Perhaps it’s that we seem to be over the worst of it with our little guy’s tummy issues. Perhaps it’s the shifting of the light and the temperatures from summer to fall. Perhaps it’s the shift of routine now that I’m starting my regular internship and class schedule. Maybe it is the repetition of having this lesson drilled into me multiple times a day.  Or maybe this is simply the ebb and flow of life.

Einstein is attributed with the saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. I agree and would add that insanity is also resisting the reality of what is. Resistance is futile, as they say. Life will ebb and flow, and be and become, and shift and transform, whether we will it to or not. And we have the choice to accept and move with the tide or to resist and struggle.

In realizing that it was me who needed to change a huge shift happened. I had been so frustrated with not having time to me to create, to connect, to be and yet I was unwilling to try a new way of doing things to allow for that space. Finally, this past week I released that frustration and anger and resistance and started getting up earlier. This may seem like such a simple thing, but for me getting up early carries so much baggage with it. I was able to let it go, as an experiment, and here we are on day five. I’m getting into the groove of having time to write, to read, to do yoga, make coffee, breathe, have silence. And it’s amazing.

For five hours (five hours!!!!!) this morning I have had time to do the things beyond motherhood that are important to me. Yes, I was interrupted by our girl who woke and needed breakfast. Yes, I was interrupted by our boy who was once again refusing his bottle and needing to be fed. Yet I as able to take these interruptions with a sense of grace and flow. No resentment. No anger. No resistance.

Motherhood is challenging, for all of us. Trying to find enough time for ourselves, to nurture and replenish our bodies and souls is one of the most challenging pieces of motherhood in my opinion. It leads to resentment of these beautiful creatures we invited (and let me be clear, if we brought these children into our families either through birth or adoption, we invited them) into our world. It leads to ugliness and unhappiness. When I was able to let go and move with the new flow of our lives, once again acknowledging it is not all about me, and that I am the one who needs to bend with the breeze and gales in this phase of our life, our whole family seems to breathe easier.

It is all part of my own being & becoming. Learning this new way of bending, of being. Of allowing more ease and peace and grace into my life, into our family’s life. Learning to make me a priority without penalizing those I hold most dear. It’s a lesson for all of us really, with or without children, to learn to have our own needs met without harming others.

As I take another step towards 43, I breathe in this truth, this peace. I am finding more calm again. I am allowing my children to be my guides, teachers, mentors. And together we are finding our way in this world of ours, ever single day.

As posted on IG: I haven't showered yet this morning but I have accomplished so much. Getting caught up in my classes. Catching up in my groups. Writing a blog post. Yoga. Breakfast for me and my girl. Coffee. Baby snuggles. Diaper laundry. Connecting with friends. Connecting with my hubby. This whole getting up before the kids thing just may work for  me after all.

As posted on IG: I haven’t showered yet this morning but I have accomplished so much. Getting caught up in my classes. Catching up in my groups. Writing a blog post. Yoga. Breakfast for me and my girl. Coffee. Baby snuggles. Diaper laundry. Connecting with friends. Connecting with my hubby. This whole getting up before the kids thing just may work for me after all.

 

Posted in Mindfulness | Comments Off

Becoming 43

Tomorrow I will start the 43-day journey to my 43rd birthday. I feel so calm about turning 43, peaceful. A year ago as I approached 42 I was giddy with anticipation of the year to come. I knew, simply knew in my core, that the year would be full of transformation for me. And it was. This past year I have shed more layers and come into a deeper knowing of myself. It has been beautiful and amazing.  I have cried many tears and had deep belly laughs. I have found friendship and connection in places I didn’t expect. I have fallen in love with my life all over again, and had moments of deeply hating where I am at.

As I approach 43 I know the journey continues, but what it will look like is a mystery. There is a peaceful knowing that I don’t know it all, that life is full of unexpected surprises and while I can have my plans, they may or may not come to fruition. Focusing on the now, enjoying each moment as it comes, or acknowledging that this moment right now pretty much sucks, but knowing it will pass, has been a huge shift into my being.

In many ways I feel settled now, like all the sands have shifted into to place and here, now, I am the person I was always meant to be. And I know this too will change, that more metamorphosis is to come.

I  know I will continue to transform, find new ways of being that fit me better with each passing year. I will follow new interests and revisit old ones. I will reinvent the wheel of motherhood, as our girl and boy grow and we find new ways to be as a family. I will write. I will paint. I will connect and disconnect with my body over and over.

A year from now I will have my associate therapist license. I will have graduated with my masters degree. I will have an eight year old girl, moving into preteen-hood and a 1 year old boy moving into toddlerhood. I will have my husband by my side through it all.

These are the things I know of the year to come. Or at least think I know.

The rest, the details of what that will all look like, the births and deaths of loved ones, of friendships, of connections, the daily events, big and small, will all be a surprise, a gift I get to open every day, every moment, as life moves on, as I continue to shift and change and grow.

As I count down the days to the 43rd anniversary of my birth I am giving myself little challenges to do along the way, to guide me back into my daily practices, to create new ones and to revisit some lost loves. You can follow along with me on Instagram and Facebook if you like, looking for the hashtag #becoming43.

I look forward to sharing this coming year with you, to connecting, to finding our loves and passions and exploring who we are right now and who we dream of becoming tomorrow.

becoming 43

Posted in Mindfulness | Comments Off

Being & Becoming Our Truth

A year and a half ago I wrote this piece about writing and why I write. In it I write about my nervousness in sharing my words with the world, and how yet I am drawn to share “my truth” which really is my experience, with others.

Now, a year and a half plus later I feel like such a different person. I have found my voice and no longer feel sad or frustrated or small when my writing style may be criticized. I’m on the other side of my graduate school education, in my final year and know more about the work I want to do both as a therapist and as a women’s guide than I even had dreamed of back then. I have settled  into my skin and found a new confidence that even a short year and a half ago I didn’t quite have this fully yet.

I wonder what I will think when I look back on these words in a year or two or more.  What will that future self think of this current present self. How will this present self become a past self to guide me in dark times tomorrow?

A year ago I cleaned out a footlocker I have that contains all my high school memorabilia. In it are journals and short stories, reports and notes to and from friends. I read through much of that writing and while some of it was definitely cringe worthy, some of it I still found to be good, even twenty-plus years later. All of the writing held my experience and oozed of who I was at that time in my life. And perhaps that is what made me cringe more than the poor writing of some of the pieces, that young woman revealing (or not) who she truly was through her words. Those pieces of my past self that I don’t really want to claim, and yet they are a part of me, and always will be.

This doesn’t mean I am the same person I was at fifteen. It means that fifteen year old still lives inside of me, her fears and dreams, her vulnerability and bravado. She has lessons for me still, just as my twenty year old self does, just as my eight year old self does, just as my thirty-seven year old self does. Yes, there are pieces of those women and girls I am glad I no longer am, and yet each offers a lesson in strength and resilience, a lesson in joy and abundance, that are still good for me to review and soak in every now and then.

Dwelling in the past is not helpful, certainly. Wishing for things to be like they used to be or how we used to be blocks us from enjoying our present and future. However checking in on our past selves, and seeing them with our new eyes, and allowing them to guide us through their strengths into our future can be so revealing and freeing.  It can allow us to see how some of those personal myths that hold us back originated and aid us in shedding those myths and moving forward. It can help us write a new story of who we are.

So every now and again I look back. Sometimes back to my college years, sometimes to my high school years, sometimes to my thirties or even my first couple years into my forties. I look at photos and read what I wrote and I look into my past self’s eyes and deep into her soul. I smile and laugh and cringe and learn. I take in the lessons I see and allow my current transforming self to do what it will.

This is part of all our Being and Becoming. Understanding who we were and seeing our past selves with new eyes. In the fall circle we will spend about three weeks with our past selves, exploring who we were through visualizations, meditations, collage, blackout poetry and of course, mindful stream of conscious writing. We will explore those strengths we think we have lost, those stories about who we were and are that hold us back and we will start to shed the layers that stop our own glow from radiating out.

Join us in this journey. It will be amazing.

a daily transformation

Posted in Mindfulness | Comments Off

The dark times

Our son was born almost three months ago. He’s so different from his sister and our experience as parents of a newborn has been so different from what we remember it was like seven years ago. He’s more sensitive than she was and more demanding than we remember. I’m physically and emotionally more drained at the end of the day now than I was with our girl. He screams and cries louder than we remember his sister doing. And he fully expects all eyes to be on him at all hours of the day.

It’s been a very hard adjustment for me. I’ve questioned my competency as a mother; I’ve questioned if having a second child was really a very good idea; I’ve questioned my sanity. I’ve cried countless tears and had more moments than I care to admit where I just want to scream and walk away. I’ve tackled postpartum depression; dealt with sleep deprivation and struggled through figuring out breastfeeding, which included literal blood, sweat and tears.

These first three months, in a brief phrase, have sucked.

But now, now. Now my sweet boy seems to be over his colic; now he is starting to laugh; he’s beginning to roll and trying so hard to sit up. He “talks” to us almost nonstop and smiles. Oh that smile. And yes, he’s still sensitive and tells us (loudly) when he is displeased and yet it doesn’t seem as hard as it was even a few weeks ago. I feel like I can breathe again, I can see how quickly it all passes and am starting to appreciate these early months. I can repeat the mantra “This too shall pass” during those trying moments and remember the same in the sweet ones.

When we’re in the trenches, the dark times, we can feel like they will never ever pass. In those times when the world feels like it’s caving in on us, it’s hard to imagine life could be any other way, ever. When we are feeling our moments of deepest despair, the thought of ever laughing or smiling or enjoying life seems impossible. And yet, this too passes.

When my mom died six years ago, grief overtook me in many ways. I felt so raw. If a person even mentioned my mother I would burst into uncontrollable tears. I was angry and sad and wanted to lash out but wasn’t sure how. I felt lost and desolate.

Six years later I still miss her. I still cry sometimes. There are moments of anger about her passing, but mostly I’m sad. I look at my little boy and acknowledge he will never know the feeling of sitting on my mom’s lap. I look at our girl and mourn the relationship she and my mom will never have.

Yes there is still sadness, but it’s not all consuming. I don’t feel so raw and exposed. I can see how life just goes on and while I mourn the missed relationships of my children with her, the reality is, they know no different.

And so it goes. The ebb and flow of life. When we are deep in it there can certainly seem to be no way out. Yet, life marches on, and this too passes, and one day we find we are able to breathe again. Not right now, perhaps not tomorrow, but one day. We start to see the lightness and beauty in our lives, with new eyes, and learn to appreciate it in new ways. And eventually, eventually, we even start to look back fondly on the dark times, seeing our transformation and strength from the other side.

My heart reaches out to those who are struggling, in their dark times right now. Those who have recently lost a loved one. Those in the throes of their own depression. Those who can’t see the light in this moment. I ask you take a moment, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, and allow whatever needs to come out, to do so: be that tears or screams or a deep sign. And then, feel your heart, feel how strong it is, how strong you are, and know that while you are in the depths of darkness at this moment, the light will come.

 

This post was inspired not only by my own struggles, but also by a beautiful woman I have had the privilege have become my friend through Facebook. Last weekend her husband completed suicide. She has set up a memorial fund through the Black Dog Institute, whose mission is “to advance the understanding, diagnosis and management of the mood disorders by continuously raising clinical, research, education and training standards. In so doing, the Institute aims to improve the lives of those affected – and in turn – the lives of their families and friends.” Please consider donating to the Dan McAuliffe fund by clicking here

 

Posted in Mindfulness | Comments Off

Always Begin with Breath

I slowly take in a deep breath and hold it for just a moment, allowing the air to fill my entire torso, from pelvis up to my throat. I feel the expansion within me and as I release the breath I also release the anxiety, the overwhelm, and a sense of calm settles into me.

I’ve been taking more and more of these breaths lately. My daughter and I are struggling as she learns to share her parents and I learn to juggle the needs of two (very different) children. I am struggling also as I work through the ebb and flow of focus on  my internship, classes, business, time with my husband and oh, yes, time for me. I have moments, really hours, sometimes full days, of feeling so thin, so raw. And then there are the moments, hours, even days of feeling like I’ve got this, I can do it.

I have been going back to my lifetime practices again and again since our son was born almost three months ago. I am oh so slowly getting back to doing yoga daily; sometimes with the baby in front of me playing on his playmat while his sister plays with him or plays on her own; sometimes not until after they have both gone to sleep for the night. Slowly finding my way back to my body, back into my center. Slowly finding ground and calm again.

I have slowly started to nourish my body again with healthy foods, reducing my sugar and caffeine, going back to a mostly paleo/primal way of eating that seems to work best for my body.

Slowly, so slowly, getting back to writing regularly, to creating art, to meditating. Not every day. Not even every other day. But more and more often, slowly building back my practices, the one’s that help me through my days, that keep me sane.

And always, always, I start with my breath, with remembering to breathe. Setting alarms on my clock to stop right where I am and take in a deep breath and find focus. Tuning into my body and becoming aware of the anxiety and overwhelm sooner and sooner, taking in the breath and releasing before the buildup becomes volatile.

It’s easy to step away from my practices. I have a long list of excuses as to why I don’t have time just like anyone else. My practices ebb and flow as does the rest of my life, sometimes I’m very consistent, in-love with the ritual of it all, and others, well, not so much.

When I finally accepted that these things I do are lifetime practices, not just something I can do for a little while and then never need to do again, I became more forgiving of myself when I didn’t get to them, when I went through my lulls of not doing them, for whatever reasons. Knowing that I have my full life to continue the practice means it’s not the end of the world if I didn’t do it today or yesterday. It means I can let go of the shoulds and have-tos of having a practice and simply allow it to be, as it needs to, in its own time and space.

I know when I need my practices. When those times come it can be a struggle to get back to them, life can fill those quiet, seemingly empty spaces quickly. Yet, gently, slowly I come back to them, over and over, back to me, always, always, starting with my breath.

It is my process of being and becoming. My practices help guide me through each transition, allowing more ease and calm into my life. The more I allow them back in, the better I feel, the more energy I have and of course the more I then want to practice. And then there are the time of chaos, like these first few months after the birth of our son, when while I know the practices would help, even the thought of doing them overwhelms me. It is the ebb and flow of life, of having lifetime practices.

Slowly coming back into my body, starting with my breath. Adding in yoga. Some writing. A bit of artwork. Moving towards eating in ways that support my body again. Slowly the practices build again; soon enough I will be doing them every day. And then when I am in my groove, life will happen and the practices will be put aside and again at some point I will slowly come back to them.

No judgement, no “I shoulds” or shaming. It is simply how my own being and becoming ebbs and flows. It has taken time for me to be accepting of this, for me not to beat myself up when I eat foods that make my body ill, or don’t do yoga for several days in a row, or find myself in a state of total overwhelm and stress because I didn’t take a few moments to breathe. It has taken time to accept that I am human, and that this is simply part of my human experience, moving away from and then coming back to my practices. Knowing that when I am ready, they are there for me and my body always welcomes them back.

 

We will be spending the first two weeks of our time together in the Being & Becoming Circle focusing on building back lifetime practices of self care, nourishment, replenishment and love. Guiding our bodies and minds to a place of calm and peace so we can do the work of excavating who we were, who we are and who we dream of becoming. We have a beautiful tribe coming together already, come join us: click Being & Becoming Circle Fall 2014 for more details and to register. 

being & becoming circle Fall 2014 link

 

Posted in Mindfulness | Comments Off

Privilege, Depression, Writing

It’s been a hell of a couple weeks. My heart is heavy with grieving on so many levels and my body is tired and heavy. There are all the events outside my little bubble bringing me sadness—the conflict in Gaza, the shooting in Ferguson, Robin Williams’s suicide— that I have been trying to process, while living in our own little bubble of frustration as our baby goes through another developmental leap (super sensitive, refuses to be set down or left alone for a moment, not getting enough sleep or eating much, many tears all around) and our daughter starts to (finally??) act out her own frustrations of not getting enough focused attention from her parents.

This morning I sat in tears on the floor, holding my crying son, begging him to let me set him down so I could eat “breakfast” at 11am. My frustration with not feeling able to participate in the many discussions about depression and white privilege because even if I could form a coherent thought, my hands are literally filled with children almost every moment of the day. Feeling frustrated that after promising myself I would #writeeverydamnday it hasn’t happened—the moment I wake to get out of the bed to write the baby wakes and by the time he is down for the night I am too exhausted to do much more than stare at a screen.

This too, shall pass, I know, all too quickly. There may come a time when I look back longingly on this time of their desperate need for me. Right now however, I’m in the thick of it, in the trenches, and at moments I feel myself drowning.

This drowning feeling isn’t helped by the events and chaos of the outside world. As innocent children are murdered, both here in the United States and across the world; as brilliant spirits decide to end their own lives instead of going forward one more day, my own pain and frustration seems trivial. Both of my children are healthy and safe, it is unlikely either of them will ever be the brunt of violence as seen in Gaza or Ferguson. And while they may have a predisposition for depression and anxiety, they will grow up receiving far more support than I did, which hopefully will help keep some of the worst demons at bay.

But we never know do we? We never know what paths our children will walk down or what dangers lie in wait for them.  I know I feel safer in my community than others do, I know I feel safer in my part of the world than others do. I know I don’t need to live in the darkness of certain fears. It is my luck, it is part of my white privilege and as such it is part of my responsibility to take these moments to write these words.

I don’t know what I can do to end all pain, all suffering. I don’t know what I can do create a world where all others feel safe. I know I can act in my little bubble though. I can do my best to raise my children to be compassionate, empathic, aware. I can offer smiles and hellos and kindness to the people I meet out in the world, at the grocery, the library, the park. I can write here that while I don’t understand what it means to be African American or an immigrant in this country, I am fully aware that I don’t understand. I can state that I too have suffered from depression and anxiety and while I haven’t completed suicide I don’t fault those who do and have deepest empathy for their survivors.

My words here in the blogosphere and my actions in my little bubble are all I have to try and bring some peace and justice to the world. My work in guiding women and working with families, I hope, also brings about more peace as the ripple effects of each action spread out across the universe.

No, I can’t change the facts of injustice in our world. I can’t waive a magic wand and make all mental illness disappear. But I can do my best in my little bubble, I can keep myself aware, and I can write, and write, and write.

Posted in Mindfulness | Comments Off