I SURRENDER.

Control is a funny thing. It masquerades as something that it’s not, allowing us to feign safety in an unpredictable world… but what if we surrendered to each moment? How would we feel? How would our lives change? If you didn’t get anxious about the things that could happen, would they escalate or evaporate? If you didn’t try to step into each situation but instead leaned in, would your world crumble?

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I could tell you to step off, but that would be classic pot callin’ the kettle. I’m not one to have text book anxiety, but I like to be a bossy pants. Leaning in is not among my special gifts. I step in with my actions and my mouth, on the regular. I’m mama-bearing everyone in direct vicinity because my level of faith in others to do it quickly, efficiently, and cutely is slim. And, I know a lot of really weird shit that other people aren’t/shouldn’t be interested in but sometimes comes in handy. Having said that, I’ve been making major efforts in this department for a year or two. It’s finally starting to surface in my behavior and not just my head (that takes time, right?!). My unsolicited advice has nose-dived and my internal motto is “not my circus, not my monkeys.” If it isn’t done quickly or cutely or even at all, it’ll be okay. I’m saving my energies for those who mirror them, but that’s the next blog…


I recently finished “The Surrender Experiment” by Michael Singer. He’s also the genius behind “The Untethered Soul.” In a very teenie tiny nutshell, he essentially vowed to take his cues from the universe. He didn’t actively make too many decisions, other than those based on intuition, and more or less said yes to every opportunity that came his way, even when it sounded utterly unappealing to him. This wasn’t saying yes doormat style, he wasn’t giving his neighbors daily foot rubs. This is the type of “yes man” attitude that has to do with life opportunities. He didn’t actively decide anything that he wanted, he just followed the path laid before him by God, the Universe, whatever… whomever. He followed each road to fruition with diligence and integrity, putting his all into what presented.


And you know what happened?


He got more than he ever could’ve dreamed… everything he thought he wanted and then some. Not that money is the measure of content, but he happened to become a billionaire to boot. And all he thought he desired to do was meditate in a one room, windowless cabin in the middle of the forest. Alone. Forever.


He got his meditation, err cake, and to eat it too. Read the book. It’ll come together. The story is too amazing for me to do it any shred of justice in a mere paragraph.


So, the moral of his story, the one I’m trying to incorporate, is that God, Jesus, the Universe, the flow, is a miracle worker. It made you, right? It made trees, oceans, flowers, puppies… and we’re questioning its ability to guide us? That’s tomfoolery in its highest form right there. We’re doubting that God has a plan for us? Phooey. God has a plan for pine cones. She has a plan for you. If you think you can do better, fine… but when’s the last time you made a puppy… or a pine cone? When’s the last time you orchestrated a thunderstorm or a snow fall… If you’re a mama, you managed to grow a baby or two just by eating and sleeping. Straight up miracle.


So give it up… to God, Mother Nature, whomever. Stop worrying about Trump. Stop worrying about the clunky noise your car is making (me). Stop worrying about your weirdo relative. Stop worrying about your bank account (me again). Stop worrying about your kids when they aren’t in your arms. Just stop all of it and breathe. You were never meant to take it on. It’s not for you.


Your job is to listen. To observe. To respond… with faith in the intricate flow of your life.


So, today, I’m not going to scour Craigslist for a car I don’t have the funds to buy or try to strong-arm my husband into any of my hairbrained schemes for becoming a traveling family or Airbnb hosts (dreams, people). I’m going to believe that Sean will join my bandwagon if and when the time is right, and that the car or the money or the Uber will arrive exactly when and how it should because the stars aren’t currently aligning, and it’s not my job to step in and rearrange them. They’re perfect and beautiful just as they are, lighting the sky when it’s too dark for us to see… but maybe we aren’t supposed to anyway.


-Angi


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ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis. 

 

SEX, SHAME, AND THE FEMALE ORGASM.

Over the last few years, I’ve let myself get a little uncomfortable when talking with girlfriends. I’ve broached a subject that we usually don’t touch on much- sex (pun intended). Sure, we’ll allude to it or crack a put-upon wife joke, but details are generally omitted.

Men don’t seem to take issue with chatting about it, so why do we? It’s something we know all of us are doing but our veil of silence surrounding sex keeps us “pure.” Even the most progressive of us have subconscious associations about our sexuality- negativity, dirtiness, lack of control. We have several words signifying that a woman is promiscuous and basically one for a man who gets around- “player,” and it's relatively new. Whore, slut, tramp, nympho, and floozie have stood the test of time. This isn’t a politically oriented blog. I’m not going to blame the vernacular or hushed quality of feminine intimacy on men or delve into origins of female shame. As is human nature, people do what we allow. This is 2018, modern day business, we’re in charge of the dialogues we choose to have or not have, of desensitizing this commonplace issue.

What do we stand to gain?

Increased pleasure and decreased shame.

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I’m going to get super personal here. I didn’t have an orgasm until I was over 30. You know what else I didn’t do until I was over 30? Masturbate. Those two are directly correlated to one another. (Yes, I just went there, and it’s going to feel really weird for all of us but mostly me.) Don’t worry, I figured it out at 31… and my quality of life increased for having done so. But guess what it took? An older friend who about lost her shit when I told her, and she had the courage to drop her veil and give me specific details on what to do. She told me that the female orgasm is something you need to figure out on your own and quickly directed me to the appropriate website to buy myself a toy. My life changed that day when she chose to get uncomfortable and speak up about something women just don’t talk about.

Growing up, the idea of masturbation evoked shame. Like any teenage girl, I was curious but too embarrassed to do anything about it (unlike teenage boys who manage to get past this without issue). Those physical sensations also didn’t come easily for me, so experimenting on my own would’ve taken a lot more work than my mortified self could’ve mustered. Some women feel that arousal with a crossing of the legs or mild stimulation, even as children (imagine the shame of repeatedly being told to stop touching yourself as a three-year-old). All of our bodies are different, a fact teenage girls aren’t aware of, aside from comparisons in the size of our thighs and breasts. I have several friends who can have orgasms from intercourse alone. They comprise a few of the 25% who can. 10-15% of us will never climax under any circumstance, and then there’s the rest, who can do it but it takes effort (I fit into this category and probably would’ve stayed in the previous category if I hadn’t overcome shame). Here’s some information that will blow your mind… and would be the answer to crossword puzzle clues if it was a male issue. The distance between your clitoris and your vagina determines your ability to orgasm during intercourse. The closer they are, the easier it is. Makes logistical sense in terms of friction, right? Get out your mirror and tape measurer, Y'all. Your friends who can come during sex are not doing anything special you haven’t figured out yet, they’re just genetically predisposed. The mental space we're in plays a huge role too, but some of it is just plain old anatomy.

So there was the teenage masturbation shame that carried into adulthood, coupled with the decision I’d erroneously made that my body wasn’t for me- men would show me how to feel good, teach me what I liked. I’d taken pride in my sexual openness and willingness to experiment but none of that was really for me, that was about me being whomever I thought a man would find appealing, stuff I’d learned from movies, smutty romance novels, and life observations. Of course, sex is a two-way street and exciting your partner is part of it, but my pleasure and experience are now tantamount to playing the role of society’s version of “sexy.”

I sometimes still feel embarrassed to be verbally specific with my husband about my desires because of the shame programmed in by the world. It’s an ongoing process of weakening those engrained defaults. But, in a sexual way, I feel more me and more fulfilled than ever, and that’s only going to increase with time and openness.

I don’t want my daughter to miss out on years of pleasure because the world silences us into submission. In due time, I plan to talk to her about sex and orgasms, to inform her that her satisfaction is just as important as her partners and that there is no shame in taking the reins of exploring what works on her own. It’s a conversation that may cause both of us to squirm, but my silence would propagate the stigma that she undoubtedly will encounter all around her. As mothers, and as fellow women, we can influence that by slowly whittling away at stereotypical shame, one daughter at a time.

-Angi

I encourage mothers of daughters to pick up the book, “Your Daughter’s Bedroom” by Joyce T. McFadden. If I haven’t convinced you, hopefully she will.





 

2 Comments

ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis. 

 

SELF HELP ME.

More than a few times I’ve shared my affinity for self-help books. They adorn every corner of the house and have guided me through a journey within that has grown me in countless ways. I’m able to truly revert my gaze inward when having any sort of emotional dilemma. It might take me a minute, but I now get there each time without fail. Before, I’d have admonished whoever was crossing my path, or the world at large, rather than ascribe blame to self. It’s a trip that’s far from over, but this ability to separate my soul from my ego enough to be introspective and detached (which didn’t come painlessly) is a gift I’d never part with. Responsibility delivers power.

We spend a lot of time trying to change those around us, but the only metamorphosis we can exact is our own.

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This inner focus might seem self-absorbed, but I’d like to posit that every Earthly problem would be moot if we could each take a long hard look at ourselves instead of everyone and everything around us. If it’s not self- serving, internally progressive, there’s not really any service happening at all. The advancement of humanity happens with one soul at a time and right now, yours is all you’ve got.

Identify your deep down fears and how you camouflage them. Did you sign up for a marriage that is drama laden, that helps you avoid you? Are you fighting other people’s battles so you can avoid fighting the battle teeming within you? Are you surrounding yourself with friends who can’t get their shit together so you can invest in them instead of you? Did you make babies so you could take care of anyone but you? Are you pouring yourself into your career to keep from exploring the inner workings of you? There are noble causes galore to hurl ourselves into, but are these also functioning as distractions from the fundamental and often painful business that needs to happen inside?

We arrive here, circumnavigate specific childhoods, catered to the growth of our soul’s desires, and then do everything in our power to bury our wounds instead of mend them. Today, it’s easier than ever. There are a steadily growing number of distractions. Soul work usually doesn’t come about unless we’re maneuvering through unexpected tragedy, like death, divorce, or mental illness, when it’s forced upon us because we literally can’t function or fake it anymore. But, it doesn’t have to be birthed from that. It’s not intended to be… this is just a construct of our busy- worshipping world. Put a band-aid on and get moving.

So, how do you begin this inner journey of accountability and questioning?

You make time to go within.

You look at everything and everyone important in your life and ask yourself what the hell the point is. I don't mean that to sound callous or trivial, but everything is serving some underlying need within, whether positive or negative. You delve into each aspect of your day that you devote time to and say why. What’s in it for you? What are you learning that your soul needs… or what are you avoiding? You could be doing some really beautiful stuff that is functioning as total avoidance of your soul work. You strip yourself of all that you think (or everyone else thinks) is good or special about you and you look at the raw person in the mirror and find the pain. Every time you feel something unpleasant, you ask yourself what about you is creating that. Every time you invite someone or something into your life, you ask what little girl you is looking for in this? If you feel angry, you ask yourself what about you is breeding that. Each time you feel compelled to throw yourself into something, you ask what internal inadequacy that is feeding or distracting from. When you say/think something negative or judgmental about someone or something, you ask yourself what you don’t love about you that is building animosity or resentment towards another. What quality do they possess that you aren't owning or wish you were? You break it down and then you rebuild it.

Observe, analyze, and seek understanding. This doesn’t have to lead to a systemic failure or overhaul. The goal is detachment from the self, from ego, to see yourself through an unfiltered lens. It should ultimately feel casual after some practice and be without a hint of self-judgment. You aren’t berating yourself, you’re knowing yourself and gently dismissing the parts of you that aren’t soul-serving. I’ve been self-helping for a decade now and just this year have begun banishing self-judgment and shame over my ego-driven feelings. I can now identify the driving force of non-progressive choices or words and have an internal laugh over their ineffectiveness. My mantra has become “oh well, I’ll try to do better next time,” because my current best is all I’ve got, and in spite of my efforts, often times my ego wins out.

Do the world the ultimate favor and self-help yourself. Fulfillment lies on the other side of fear.

-Angi

Comment

ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis. 

 

SHOWING UP- Moving Beyond Judgment, Pain, and Fear.

This past year, although not rife with tangible metamorphosis, has been one of great internal change. Almost two years ago, we moved out of state and I began my journey into stay at home motherhood. That was a year of transition and acclimation. This year has been about personal exploration. It began with feelings of self-assurance that slowly devolved into self-doubt and insecurity.

The inception of Mindful + Mama started on a higher note, with support from friends in the form of verbal positive reinforcement. That eventually waned even though readership did not. If I were advising anyone else sharing my thoughts and insecurities, I’d tell them that this is of no consequence. Fanfare for a blog is destined to become old news. That’s a natural phenomenon for anything. It doesn’t relate to whether or not it’s successful, being read, or appreciated. After one year of writing, we’re a fixture, expected.

I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t writing for accolades, but it turns out that was a bit of a lie. Endeavor as I may to separate from ego, I was failing. Not knowing how people felt about each blog was riddling me with doubt and insecurity. When I took my month of “soul-solitude,” I found massive relief in not being up on the chopping block I imagined myself. I’m incredibly vulnerable and personal in my writing because it’s so important to me that we remember we aren’t ever alone, a feeling I’d wrongly clung to in earlier years. We all struggle with different versions of the same challenges. But that level of vulnerability, without any feedback, was eating away at belief in myself. The little girl in me was questioning if she was good enough.

I decided to give up.

I conjured lots of personally acceptable reasons to do so, things that didn’t leave me questioning my insecurity surrounding the decision. It was effective enough to remove my desire to put pen to paper.

Simultaneous to all of this unfolding, I was having personal struggle with friendships, feeling in subtle ways as though I wasn’t important to or understood by people I cared for, women I thought I was close to who had been in my life for years. It seemed as though all but a few friendships crumbled away in the span of months, for reasons unbeknownst to me and in a variety of manners- a situation I was unfamiliar with. Already a relative newbie to town, I couldn’t emotionally afford those losses. The deluge of self-doubt I incurred, experiencing the onslaught at once, really shook me. I’m a giver by nature, it’s how I show my love and appreciation, and I innately close in on myself when things aren’t reciprocated or I'm misunderstood. More questioning, more looming inadequacy. The desire to protect my heart via inaction was greater than ever. Sharing myself with others wasn't an option.

Feeling alone, judged, hurt, unworthy, and insecure does not a confident writer make.

 

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But I don’t have to be perfect to share my feelings, my lessons, my strife. Today, I opened “Light is the New Black” by Rebecca Campbell, to the chapter entitled “Show Up and Shine.” All of this blog business had been heavy on my mind and this book has been a special gift lately, an oracle of sorts. I only pick it up when compelled and the words that pour forth are exactly what I need in the moment, every time. The Universe shows up for you when you promise to have faith, when you vow to look for the lesson, when you choose progress and responsibility in the midst of pain. Here’s what it said:

          “The thing with you is that you are waiting for some kind of permission to share your message. You’re waiting to be invited to               some invisible table, to some imaginary club. There is no table, there is no club. The only approval you need to seek is your                 own. Don’t assume your message isn’t relevant until someone else says it is. Don’t assume your message isn’t relevant until                 someone else deems it to be. It is relevant. It needs to be told. Stop holding yourself back.”

         “Tears began streaming down my face as I realized that I had been holding myself back, waiting for some kind of external p                  permission before I shared my gifts. I was seeking approval from an external force that didn’t even exist… I made a pact with                myself. I would stop focusing on getting published and instead focus on showing up to my writing every day.”

         “After all, I love writing; it’s what lights me up – why would I wait to do what lights me up? I vowed not to give a f**k what other              people thought of my creations. If they didn’t like it, well, I’m not for them and they’re not for me. So I committed to allowing my            message to flow through me as it always had without knowing where it would lead. Regardless of the fear. Especially because            of the fear.”

         “So I’ve decided that it’s none of my business who reads my writing, only that I show up and write… All I know is that if I don’t                show up and write, I will feel uncomfortable in my skin, and the niggling feeling and the ache will never let up.”

         “Writing is how I unravel my thoughts. It’s none of my business if it’s a bestseller, or if only one person reads it. Only that I show            up and shine my light. And so, now my affirmation… has changed to ‘I show up and shine my light as far as God sees fit.”

         “This small shift has changed everything. Since then the writing process has been the most fulfilling experience of my life. I                  cannot wait to wake up every day, fire up my Mac, and let my soul sing.”

         “It doesn’t matter how far our light shines, only that we shine it.”

         -Excerpt from “Light is the New Black,” Rebecca Campbell

You can show up and shine at whatever makes your heart sing.

And so, here I am, showing up. For myself. For my love of words and the growth they gift me, whether read or not.

As far as bygone friendships go, it's still a bit of a mystery, but I recognize that I’m leveling up and making space for women who can show up from the place that I do, with offerings that will feed my soul. I open my arms to the pain of loss and the glory of possibility, because I know each closed door beckons another to open.

-Angi


 

2 Comments

ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis. 

 

A MESSAGE FROM ONE STAY AT HOME MOTHER TO ANOTHER.

Scrolling through various inspiring mommy blogs the other day, I stumbled across this beautiful website, mindfulandmama.com and I'm honored to do a guest post. I'm Zoe, and I'm a stay at home mama. I have a blog called ThinkBaby.org, in which I write about the excitement of parenting three little ones, from flying diapers and beyond! 

Glancing this beautiful website, I saw so many incredible topics and work that these women put into every piece of their blog, but there was one post that stood out to me: Stay At Home Motherhood: Resisting The Urge To Be Shut-In, by Angi. Reading it, I could relate to a lot of what Angi was going through and feeling, as I too am a stay at home mother. I'd like to do a bit of an add-on post to hers and talk about some of the things I've learned and gone through as a stay-at-home mama and how to overcome the slump that often follows!

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Since the day my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, he took on the role of being the partner working outside of the home. We were able to sustain this for a little while but by the second pregnancy we required a second income. At that point, I had fallen into quite a bit of disaster with several aspects of my life because I'd been home for so long. The first year was hard. Being a stay-at-home mom often sounds like a dream come true. You get to spend endless amounts of time with your babies, never missing a second of their growing up. In that regard, it definitely is! But with the aspects of friends, family, social life, freedom, and mental health, there can be deleterious effects.

From a mom that learned the hard way- it's extremely important to find a way to balance these facets of your life and make time for yourself, otherwise it can mentally and physically drain you. Because of my seclusion at home for so many years, when the time came for me to get another job, I was so antisocial that I developed social anxiety, a fear of going out and finding a job, and of being around people (and that's not like me at all). I eventually ended up working from home as a writer, which is how I started my blog (you can read more about how that came to be here). But I also lost a lot of opportunities, a lot of experiences, and a lot of friends. Overall, this whole 'mothering thing' wasn't turning out to be exactly the 'dream' I expected, and no one needs to feel that.

It's taken me a long time to learn and adapt to this lifestyle, but there are so many simple ways we can incorporate balance into our lives, ultimately benefiting ourselves and our health.

One tool my husband and I use is childcare sharing. Everyday, when he gets home, he takes care of the baby and spends time with her while I relax, draw a bath for myself,  and do things I enjoy for a few hours. This may not sound like much, but if you're an overwhelmed and overworked mama, it can serve as a mini getaway.

Making time for yourself while the baby sleeps is another important step. You don't have to monitor them or hold them if you need respite. Make use of those moments when your glass needs refilling. It can be your time to catch up on work or have a silent cup of coffee. I started doing this everyday, and a huge weight of stress has been lifted. If you're still not sure about it, jot down some ideas in a journal, during a spare moment, to help you transition towards it. Doing it this way helped me to adapt over the course of a few months to 100% guilt-free personal time (if you'd like more ideas about self-care, you can read my post about it here).

I admire the women at Mindful + Mama for being so open about the struggles inherent to Motherhood, as I've been in this place as well. I still don't like to go out, I'm still not the most social girl in the world, but I make time for the things I enjoy.

Even though you have a baby in your life, you needn't forget about the things you enjoyed before your little one came along. Life truly is about balance, and if we don't have balance, we're likely to have a rough go of it. No mother wants to look back upon memories with their children and remember the frustration, just the beautiful journey, so please take care of yourself, Mama! You deserve it more than anyone. One simple step at a time, and you'll be there before you know it.

-Zoe