“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful, inner resources for light, transformation, and healing.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
Photo Credit: Janey Cooper Photography, Sunset, Texas
Let me start by telling you what mindfulness is NOT. Let me also provide a disclaimer, MINDFULNESS for me is a practice. This is not something I have mastered or can claim total mastery over. I can tell you a series of moments that made me realize the importance of implementing new practices, new habits, and creating a new normal for me and mine. I had written down (with sincere intention) “try meditating,” “slow down,” “breathe,” “get your shit together,” etc. You get the idea…I wanted to take control of my time, my mind, and my emotions. I just needed to find the right motivation and the right tools.
One Sunday morning, I found myself filled with fatigue, stressed to the max, and feeling incredibly nauseated — the kind of nausea and anxiety that would appropriately follow a night of drunken debauchery. That was NOT what Saturday looked like for me , though . Not that I can recall with exact detail, but I am quite sure it was a Saturday night full of cartoons, s ippy cup re-fills and trips to the potty . My most valiant attempt at sneaking in some REM sleep between my two sweet, perfect, and rest resistant children with whom I PROUDLY co-sleep failed. It only took me about 5 minutes of considering the potential causes for this not-so- newish feeling and about 5 seconds of checking my boobs for tenderness to realize….”Oh…here we go again.”
Quick background: We were already blessed with our oldest , beautiful girl, Lennon Hadlee (now 6) and our little, heartbreaking , wild man, Radly Dale (now 3) and had NO intentions of having a 3rd kiddo . In fact, if I could have talked myself into taking the necessary time off of work , I would have gone through with a hysterectomy approximately one month prior to conception. My husband and I used natural family planning and obviously had no freaking clue what we were doing.
So here I am…30 and slapped right in the face with how much I did not have control over. I am fighting a lifelong battle teetering between perfectionism and flat – out rebellion. You can imagine how laughable it is to hope for any moments of perfection or true rebellion when growing the third tiny and totally reliant human in my, seemingly, very capable and fertile uterus . And, in hindsight, I would not change a thing because our exquisitely happy and loving Maya Rowan (now 10 months old) was exactly what our family needed.
This loss of control did not only come from the news of expecting again . It came from the mounting stress of trying to breathe life into our family business. It also came from trying to keep my career in focus and explore opportunities for growth and expansion in my skill-set and practice as a social worker and mental health professional. It came from the difficulty of juggling the many hats I w ear and the strain of trying to be all things to all people.
T he raw and vulnerable emotion I was struck with over the next couple of months were certainly the makings of a “face down moment,” as Dr. Brene Brown describes in her must read, Rising Strong. – Now , please, do not take offense to my emotional reaction to my third pregnancy. I have faced loss in life; however, loss related to pregnancy is not a journey I have faced. As a l abor and de livery social worker, I held hands of mothers, nurses, and doctors who faced this devastating los s, but the gift of life and children was breathed into me without tragedy. I never — for one second –have taken this gift for granted. But I d o (and did) have to face the reality of my life going off my planned course. I had to rumble (another Brene Brown term) with what this meant for me, my marriage, my career, and my family in general. The next couple of months led to isolation in various forms . As a true INFP the introverted part of. my personality was clinging to any opportunity to regain energy and get through the days that were otherwise filled with exhaustion, vomiting, and thoughtfulness. I knew I needed to make self – care a priority and develop new coping skills , but I was also exhausted .
During this time, I also started my journey to become a LCSW and began equipping myself with an expanded skill – set in order to offer clients that I would eventually see as an Employee Assistance Provider Solid counseling services. I found Mindfulness Based Stress Recovery to be a practical and straight forward approach to the mediation and togetherness for which I had been yearning. The simple practice of allowing myself the space to be present with my body and have moments of checking – in without judgment or expectation was and is freeing. It helps me escape the many ties that bound me and allo ws me to proceed into new possibilities with peace and clarity of mind.
I know enough now to realize that being completely out of tune with my body, feeling stressed & anxious 24/7, and having a fuse shorter than I’d care to admit were pretty obvious signs that I was in desperate need of a mindfulness practice. So here I , 32 and continuing to lead a life full of surprises — ups and downs. The key difference now is that I feel like I can truly ride th e highs and flow with the lows because I am no longer clinging on for DEAR LIFE to hang-ups that do not serve me. I experience counter productive and laughable days full give me more energy and more peace. I am so excited to create a forum for authentic moments of expression . I hope that you will enjoy this journey with me. Thank you for readi ng; come back soon.
Peace, love, and laughter,
Photo Credit: Janey Cooper Photography, Sunset, Texas