Self-Care Mondays #1o: Let Time Be on Your Side

(I apologize for my absence lately! Between heading back to the US for a visit with family and getting Mentoring 4 Moms started things have  been busy!)

This week my husband and I got some disappointing news. It wasn’t anything very serious but I was pretty upset initially. I didn’t want to be around anyone or talk about it. I was angry, upset, sad, and anxious. I felt like taking it out on others and got myself pretty worked up. But then I decided to take a step back and remember that time has so much power. I knew deep down that time would help me cope with these emotions, see the situation from different perspectives, and heal in my own way. Wanting to hold onto those feelings would only lead me to more frustration. I decided to focus on other things and come back to the situation later when I felt more in control. In a couple days I started seeing things from a different perspective and feel much better about our situation now.

In the moment we can feel so overwhelmed with various emotions- anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration. It leads to us to want to act impulsively- by yelling, taking it out on others, acting before thinking things through. But if we can remember that time will help us and that giving ourselves time to ride the roller coaster or emotions or ride the wave of those strong feelings we can remember that eventually the wave will die down, the roller coaster will come back down and we can be more settled and in control of how we think and respond to situation. Unfortunately we can’t run away from a wave or get off the roller coaster before it goes over that hill….we just have to wait it out.

Take time with your feelings and model this for your children as well. One tool I often would tell parents to use when they felt that initial anger with their children is to tell their child “I’m feeling pretty upset right now. I need some time to calm down. When I am calm we can talk about this and figure out what’s next.” In that message you are also communicating to your child that we should allow ourselves time to deal with feelings before reacting to them, an essential life skill for childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

When you feel the wave come crashing down upon you find a mantra that’s helpful like “this will pass” or “time will heal.” Take a deep breath and let it flow.That’s the great thin about feelings- they don’t last forever.

So next time you’re overwhelmed with a feeling decide to ride the wave and wait it out. Let time do it’s thing and help you heal. When the wave dies down you can then figure out what to do next because you’ve got the control back.

The Mom Who Won’t Stop

In the movement of encouraging moms to realize that they are enough and they do enough I believe myself to be an advocate. I’m tired of all the competition and the pettiness among moms. Whether you stay at home or work you’re accomplishing something. Whether or not you decide to join the PTA doesn’t indicate who you are as mom or establish you as a “better” member of the community. But…

….sometimes I feel like a hypocrite speaking out to moms about this because even though I try to believe I am enough I can never seem to stop. Stop signing up for things. Stop making plans. Stop finding projects. Stop thinking I always need to do more.

I’ve always been the person who signs up for everything. I like my hand to be in many pots at the same time.  A lot of the times I spread myself too thin. Even my past employee evaluations would note that at times I can “bite off more than she can chew.” Sometimes I  come across as the overachiever. While sometimes my overextension habits have lead me to a nervous breakdown or two they have also brought me out of really dark times. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that some of the the time I’m getting involved in too many things for not the right reasons- to please others, to be admired, to increase my self-worth because of the recognition and not because it just made me feel good. But I’ve also come to realize that I’m just that person who can’t stop because I like the pace of a thousand miles per hour. When motherhood came along I went to snail’s pace in life. I wasn’t working and wasn’t sure what to do with my energy. So I started looking for and creating as many opportunities as I could to exert my energy.  In the 2 years since my son was born I started my own parent’s meetup group, ran support groups for new moms, worked a part time job, started a blog, moved across the world, and started an  online mentoring program for moms. I join as many moms groups as I can. I reach out to other moms new to the city I live in now. I find as many programs that my son and I can attend together as I can.

Some might think it’s a problem to be this way. To not be able to slow down and just be present.  I get that and I know that’s something I need to work on. I try to work on the balance while also respecting what is just genuinely me.

But I can’t stop. I won’t stop.

I’ll probably be the mom in the PTA, a den mom in Boy Scouts, managing moms groups and playdates left and right. But please don’t peg me as “that mom.” Because I’m not
“that mom.” I don’t try to control, or judge, or look better than other moms. I just really like connecting to people, giving back, and most importantly, getting this nervous energy out of me. If you’ve got work/life balance down pat or prefer the quieter life I totally respect you. In fact, I’m a little jealous.

I think a lot. I say a lot. I do a lot. But here’s the thing. It’s not to show you up. It’s not to believe I’m better. It’s because I can’t stop. I won’t stop. See I have this belief that looms over me every single day and it says “You’ve only got so much time” So yea I think a lot, I say a lot, I do a lot. But it’s only because I’ve got this one life and I want to say I said a lot, I gave a lot, and I lived a lot.

So I tread on striving to believe that I am enough even if I stop. But I can’t stop. I won’t stop. Because I’ve got so much to do.

Self-Care Mondays #9: Enjoy the Sound of Silence

I’ve always been a person with a mind that races at a million miles a minute. It’s hard for me to stop the plethora of ideas and worries and to-do list items from popping into my mind that motivate me to take immediate action and do something. I put pressure on myself to do something all the time. The thoughts continue to race all the way up to me closing my eyes and I realize that I never get to experience the quiet mind.

And even if you’re not like me we live lives that are full of input. Requests from our children, noise from TV and cell phones, information from articles and Facebook groups, opinions of our families and friends, demands from our daily to-do lists and jobs. Everything’s coming in and if we never have time to sit and sort it out in the silence we can easily feel defeated and overwhelmed.

Silence is not something to always be filled but our society and culture seems to make us believe that. Many people I meet say they feel awkward when there is silence in a conversation. I utilized silence in my therapy sessions with clients often. If they became uncomfortable I encouraged them to take a deep breath and sit with their thoughts before continuing or before I would have my reply. It’s perfectly okay to say to anyone in your life, “Do you mind if it’s quiet for a second, I need some time to think.” This is a profound tool you can use with your children when it comes to discipline. Often if we feel pressure to make a decision and act in the moment we don’t have time to organize our thoughts and feelings and can act rashly or in ways we didn’t intend to.

Silence in itself can be a gift. It’s a gift that is full of time to sit with our thoughts, be with them, and sort through them without having to get up and do something. But we have to do to the work to first create the opportunity for it and then let it be.

So for this post I let myself sit in silence for 5 minutes. I tried to work on mindfulness techniques which I will elaborate later but found myself just wanting to focus on being comfortable with the silence and stillness instead of focusing on my thoughts. You have to be comfortable with the silence and the stillness before you can work on how to really be mindful and meditate. I let myself organize my thoughts and sit with ideas. The one thing I wouldn’t allow myself to do it get up and take action. I had to wait and sit still until those 5 minutes were over. For people like me, this is really really hard. But I was able to form a better action plan for the day, take some time to be gentle with myself about previous judgments, and be inspired for the remainder of the day. I sorted with all that input and feel that things are filed away where they should and I can truly focus on the moment.

So try sitting in silence for 5 minutes each day. Take notice of your thoughts and instincts within those 5 minutes. What did you learn about yourself and your thoughts that you may have not if you were doing something else?