Surrendering and Resilience

Surrender and resilience are both words that come up frequently in my line of work. As a social worker, mental health professional, and employee assistance provider the meaning of resilience and the art of fostering resilience is woven into so many of my days. At first thought, resilience is about strength, hardiness, steadiness, ability to withstand pressure. During an exquisite Yin Yoga session, the concept of surrendering flooded my mind as the instructor urged us to settle into the pose, surrender to gravity, and allow your body to go where it needs to be.

Breathe. Surrender. Breathe. Let go. Breathe. Surrender.

The concept of elasticity is important to the definition of resilience. Elasticity is the ability to return to previous form, the ability to bounce back.  Elasticity allows you to bend without breaking.

Have you ever seen the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall?” It makes for a great laugh. The goal of the protagonist, Peter, is to travel to Hawaii to get his mind off of his adulterous ex-girlfriend. In one scene, he takes a surfing lesson. Chuck, his surfing instructor, keeps encouraging him to “do less.” “The more you do, the less you do.”  This guy is hilarious and has all the chill. While his methods are questionable, I think what he is aiming to get Peter to accomplish is the art of release. Peter needs to surrender to the flow of the waves. He needs to release his grip on his heartbreak, fears, failure, regrets, questions, and whatever else holds him back from being in sync with the ocean and, more importantly, with himself.

I think we can all relate to the moments of life where we insist on holding on with white knuckles to control, expertise, success, being right, being seen as we wish, and the other traps that comparison and the need for power can lead to. Right? Have you been there? Holding so hard to something? Being too rigid in your thought process? Building a wall between you and moving forward in life and relationships because of your need for control or perfection or avoidance of vulnerability?

When we white knuckle life, we can miss out on the moments or perspectives that help us bounce back after heartbreak, failure, or trauma.  In Yin Yoga, the more you are able to surrender to the pose, the more your body benefits from the stretch. This practice not only begs for physical surrender, but emotional and spiritual as well. In this case, the less you do…the more you do. Surrendering your thoughts and preoccupations creates a meditative experience that is truly rejuvenating. Letting gravity and breath carry you through the extended posture hold creates a necessary release of toxins and emotions.  When you face resistance, breathe through the discomfort and allow time for your body to release into the position you are seeking.

These lessons must carry over into our day to day lives to be optimally beneficial. We must learn to release our expectations, judgement, resentment, and fears. We must learn to breathe through the uncomfortable and trying times. We must grow comfortable with the idea of letting go of control when we know we do not truly have any real control from the start. We cannot continue to white knuckle time, money, and power and also hope to experience true joy, gratitude, and love.

In pursuit of resilience in the face of critical stress, trauma, grief, loss, and work/life balance we must aim for elasticity. It is possible to hold on to values and convictions while also taking pause to see the world through the lenses of others. It is possible to be ambitious and motivated while also making self-care a priority and releasing the binds of perfectionism. It is possible to speak your truth, but walk in grace and empathy to allow others to find and proclaim their truth. It is possible to be vulnerable, and brave, and steadfast, and flexible all at once.

I encourage you to take a moment to surrender the thoughts, fears, regrets, shame, etc. that hold you back. What creates tension in your body, mind, and soul? Close your eyes imagine the heavy weight taking form, floating to the sky, and leaving your sight. Surrender the parts of your life that make you feel powerless; holding tighter will only make you grow tired. Practice the art of surrender. I hope that letting releasing whatever binds you today help you to bounce back to your intended path.

Find a Yin Yoga class near you to help you manifest the practice of surrendering in your life.

 

Peace, Love, and Laughter,

Megan

 

 

Being a Mindful Mom: The Total Truth

I have not written as much this past week, my life has been jam packed. Saturday in particular was crazy busy. Softball, birthday parties, wedding. Each event too far from the previous for any level of convenience. Early to the softball game, late to literally everything else. Food on the run. Changing clothes on the run. Making plans for childcare on the run. We hustled through almost every step of the day. We forgot to get a gift ahead of time and thanks to the late ball game…I had my kid hand the newly 4 year old cash for his present, nope not even a card. I had to make the struggle filled choice of being an additional 10 minutes late or settling for no card, no gift, and a mere 35 minutes late. Yup, not my finest moment. My kids made it to the super cute zoo party and got to feed the goats and eat the monster cupcakes. Half of Maya’s cupcake landed right above my left boob, and it was black icing so you could barely see it right?! Between the cash, the icing, and the half hour late arrival…I am pretty sure people are envious of how much our family of five has it together. Like who wouldn’t want to be us? But…we laughed, we explored, and we made memories. We may have seemed like a mess but we showed up to enjoy the moments and we showed up for the sweet family that invited us.

I have zero doubt that as the kiddos get older, our lives will become increasingly insane. More games, more parties, more jam-packed weekends. More moments that may or may not make people question my competency or ability to plan ahead or just my overall presentation. My daughter will not always have a bow on her head; my son may WILLINGLY and with my consent wear 2 un-matched shoes; my house will not always be pristine; and there will be some weeks where fast food or cheesy tortillas happen more than once, or twice, or however many times is necessary for us to survive that particular moment of life. I may not be the most organized and I may continue to pile up things in the garage waiting for a free weekend with the right weather to have a garage sale. My kids may get to school right before the bell rings 90% of the time. But I will show up for them, love them deeply, and try my best to teach them about joy in the present moment which is hard to do in the current world of distraction and constant stimulation.

Becoming a parent brought a great deal of self-criticism to the surface. Sometimes I add more to my plate than I should. Sometimes our schedules seem ridiculous, but I want to show up.  I want to create fun memories with my babies and teach them how to show up for people. I have this fear that writing a blog focused on mindfulness will send the false image that I am always at peace, always in control, and that I have mastered the art of being a mindful mommy 24-7. This is so stinking far from my reality. I may or may not drop the F bomb in front of my children and I lose all the chill from time to time. I have a temper and I get overwhelmed and I get tired and I do not take care of everything I need to each day. I think my husband may have courageously uttered the words, “Where is your mindfulness now?” the other day.  These are all the reasons why mindfulness has been so necessary for me, why self-care has been so meaningful for me, and why the willingness to be authentic has been so refreshing and freeing for me. I do not want to feel shame for the many ways in which I fall short on a day to day basis. I want to pour into my children and husband, but also been incredibly honest about MY needs. I want to walk alongside other mothers, fathers, women, and men that recognize the need for more truth in our lives and less judgment. I want to empower my children to love themselves and release the need for perfectionism. I want to achieve the balance between building meaningful connections and people pleasing. Seeking joy, experiencing moments of peace, spreading love and kindness, and honoring the worth that each and every one of us bring to the table has encouraged me to share my thoughts in this forum.

Being a Mindful Mommy is, perhaps, the opposite of achieving perfection. It is about recognizing your limits, being authentic and speaking truth about your needs and desires, and taking moments to dive into self-care. To adequately achieve these things, we must be in connection with ourselves. We must quiet the noise and check in with our bodies, hearts, and minds.  We need to risk being 5 minutes late to let our kids LITERALLY smell the roses and we should totally join them. We need to breathe in our surroundings and stop missing out on the beauty of each passing moment. The gluttony of busyness can be all consuming and I am so personally guilty of this sin, but I have recognized that missing out on the beauty of BEING PRESENT is not worth being 100% consumed with tasks, duties, and distractions. It is necessary to collide with the reality of the numbing nature of busyness. Perhaps we are running from shame, fears of inadequacy, lack of intimacy in our relationships, depression, etc. Filling our days with to do lists provides distraction from the battles we genuinely need to face and conquer. Brené Brown says “When you numb your pain, you also numb your joy.” This is a tough truth to face, but the healing that can emerge from confronting the dark parts of your story that you insist on running from can lead to exquisite joy and refreshing peace.

I am not sure that I will ever have a moment in which my plate is completely empty…but that is exactly what makes my ability to seek out the quiet moments to allow myself to be still even for just a few moments each day so valuable. I have challenged myself to breathe in my surroundings, relish in joy as it happens, and call a time out when I feel myself becoming overwhelmed. Each of these challenges looks different for each of our unique lives, but I ask you to join me. Be present. Be mindful. Be authentic. Confront your fears. Release the expectations of perfectionism, release the desire to people please, release the belief that you need to be all things to all people…be present and enjoy what is immediately around you before this moment is gone.

Peace, Love, and Laughter,

Megan 🙂

What is Mindfulness?

“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

14691913_10102972191156983_4053140346840941566_oPhoto 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,

Megan

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27752289_10104143337300723_7195242945544797387_nPhoto Credit: Janey Cooper Photography, Sunset, Texas