On Losing Ourselves

It happens slowly, at least I think it usually does. Maybe it begins with less sleep, the exhaustion slowly consuming us. Maybe it begins with an abrupt change, shifting and even shattering our routines and disciplines. Or maybe it begins with a restless feeling, a darkness that crawls over us and gradually consumes the light.

We cut corners. We begin to lose our grasp on the pieces of ourselves that refresh us and bring happiness. As the heaviness sets in and the dull feeling takes over, we feel like a poor version of ourselves, a shell of the person we really are.

But that’s how it starts.

Then the excuses are ushered in. There’s not enough time. There’s not enough energy. Everything else is demanding our attention and we forget to demand our own attention. We don’t see where we’ve gone and we don’t pull ourselves back.

Next, the things in our lives that don’t usually bother us, they start to feel heavy. The people around us, even the ones we love, we turn away, even close down or withdraw. Everything we come across is exhausting and exasperating.

But this isn’t the truth. These are not the people and the things draining us. They are not weighing heavy.

The beautiful thing about life is that we can change our course quickly. If we can open up, embrace our power, embrace our responsibility, we can shift our perspective, change our direction, respond differently. If we can see the darkness that has surrounded us, we can release it and bring the light back. After all, the light is so much better. We can release and relax and receive again.

It can take days and weeks and months for the darkness to build up, but just one moment for the light  to come back in. We have to choose it. We have to open up to it. We have to welcome it in and stay true to it.

It’s work. It’s intentional and consistent. But we are responsible for this and it is so beautiful.

Being a mom

This cycle we repeat and repeat and repeat

Your life is fast. My life is fast. We have work and children and activities and obligations and cooking and cleaning. We go to the gym. We go to work. We drive. We wave to our neighbor. We unpack from the day behind us and prepare for the day ahead of us. And at night we collapse into our bed in exhaustion, only to be awakened by an alarm buzzing in our ear. The cycle continues. We do it all again.

We are working to better ourselves, to improve our lives. We want to work out more, cook more meals at home, spend more time with our loved ones. We want to save more, earn more, vacation more. But we’re in this cycle and this cycle is fast. We try to pull these pieces into our routines, into our lives, into these cycles that we live through. But suddenly the days become weeks and the weeks roll into months and into years. Suddenly ten years have passed and then more. And where did they go? When do we take moments to pause, to reflect, to dig deeper and understand, or to step outside of ourselves and look back at the person we have become.

We wake up today the same person we were yesterday because of these routines, these habits, these cycles. We are so firmly associated to the person we were yesterday and the day before and the day before and the month before and the year before. The idea of any change is scary and daunting. It may be a place we don’t want to visit because it can be complex, and we don’t have energy for more complexities in life. It requires us to step back and look at ourselves, to dig into our motives and understand our values and the chatter happening within our minds.

So instead of tuning in to what’s going on inside, we reach for our phone. We open up our computer. We browse the web and jump on Facebook or Instagram or whatever version of crack we choose. Because while many of these things are used to connect, to inform, to enlighten and expand, so many of us turn to them without realizing that they are quieting the inner voice. They dampen our connection to ourselves. We reach for something outside of us, something often times empty. The truth is that we have become strangers to ourselves.

So today, step away, tune in, sit in silence. And when the silence gets hard and you have to stop, keep going. The goal is not to have major epiphanies or life-altering moments, though you may have those. The goal is to clear out the corners of your mind, to feel the spaces you haven’t felt in a while. Do it today and do it tomorrow.

This isn’t the end. This is the first step.

Do you even like being a mom?

A woman told me a story. It was about a mother who was having a tough day, like we all do. She yelled a bit more than she wanted to. There were more time-outs and fewer snuggles, more frustration and fewer smiles. You know those days. They're the ones filled with stress and tension and exasperation. At the end of those days, we collapse onto our beds and wonder what we could have done differently. We feel sad, perhaps confused, maybe a little guilty. And on that day, that mother's son turned to her and asked, "Do you even like being a mom?" He asked it matter-of-factly. He was serious. He wanted to know.

Oh man. Of course she does. Of course. Right? It's just that in that moment, on that day, it wasn't easy. It was so very hard and sometimes it feels like too much to handle. If we stop and think about it, we know it will pass and the good moments are around the corner. But our little ones can't always see that. They can't always understand that life comes with ups and life comes with downs, and motherhood is no different. The dark moments make the bright ones shine even brighter. But we have to realize that sometimes our darkness feels too dark for them. There are so many lessons we can teach our children on these tough days. There's so much they can learn about life, about love and emotions.

But it means we have to take a breath, then another. We have to pull ourselves out of the fury and let the anger dissolve a bit. It's through example that we help our children learn to navigate the ups and downs of life. When we are honest about our emotions and our struggles, we help them to understand that there are ways to move through the darkness toward the light. It's hard. We get wrapped up in the darkness and sometimes it feels like that's all that there is.

That's not all there is.

So soften just a bit and talk about the challenging moments. Tell them when things aren't easy. Let them know. They're perceptive. They probably already know, but let them hear it from you. And then find a way to move through that darkness together. They will surprise you.

Here's a picture from a darker day when I thought my children were literally going to break my back..

My hiatus.

I took a break from blogging. I had a baby. My family moved. I took trips. I started a business. I taught yoga. I taught meditation. I took on more clients. And I made up stories in my head about why I couldn't write.

My writing felt indulgent. I wasn't doing it with the intention of making money. It wasn't directly contributing in my quest to raise healthy and happy children. It wasn't moving us closer to our family goals. It felt like something that I was doing completely for myself, and with a growing family, I decided I had to give more to my children and less to myself. But that's silly, and I know it. Yet still, every time I sat down to write, I thought about the work that needed to be done around the house, or the work that needed to be done in my business, or the work that needed to be done for my clients, and I quickly talked myself out of writing. It's so easy to do that.

Luckily my creative energy persisted, even through my attempts to suppress it. (Why would you EVER suppress creative energy?! Oh, Melissa.) So I started outlines and I made notes. I recorded audios to myself. I kicked around ideas in my head. I woke up in the middle of the night, not because my baby was crying, but because I had a great brainstorm. I have these things saved on my phone, my computer, in my notebook, everywhere. But I never let myself write.

During this break from writing, I began to see even more deeply why the world needs to slow down, to come to terms with this idea and embrace a slower cadence. There's so much power in it. But I also began to understand more and more why this is so hard for people. It's scary. It's unknown. It's not the direction society pushes us in, so it's not the direction we move in. Society is strong and we have to be stronger or we are consumed.

And then I went to the beach with a friend and she told me to get going. She told me, "When you have something amazing inside of you, you have to push it out." And, naturally, I thought of childbirth. When you're pregnant, you can't even begin to imagine what that little being will be like once you give birth. But you can be sure of one thing: once you "push it out", you will be in awe. So you have faith, you release your need for certainty, and you move forward. And that's what I'm doing. I'm digging through my notes, listening to my audios, opening up my notebook filled with late night chicken scratch and dumping it all here. On this blog. And then, polished or not, I'm hitting that PUBLISH button.