HOW TO FIND YOUR ZEN IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS.

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We've welcomed four sets of house guests this month. Tomorrow the children and I are off to bunk with my mother in law, while my husband hosts his father for his 60th birthday. The crew and I return, post father son shenanigans, and one day later we have an international flight to Bali with all three children. It's 35 hours people. Thirty. Five. Hours. Three. Children. 

July has been an amazing month, brimming with friends and family, but it's seriously testing my mindfulness. I'm excited, to the point of combustion, about our upcoming trip, but my Type A headspace is overwhelmed by all of the past activity and anxiety is mounting that I'm not preparing adequately. Then there's the obvious panic that we are complete lunatics for taking an 20 month old on a 35 hour journey. That last part is a fact. Let's be real. We cray. Every parent reading this knows it and is nodding, but you're also kinda envious of our bravery, right? Not enough to book your flights, but sorta giving me props? Maybe perusing Airbnb, just to fantasize? Be careful, that's how these kind of things start. You should see my Airbnb wishlists. Prolific. 

My third baby was a surprise. These sorts of things happen when you Google the rhythm method. Lesson learned, not the first time, but the last time. Snip snip. Anyway, right before I had my first child, surprise number one, rhythm method blip number one, I'd resolved to start traveling. I'd been tethered to my home and life, and circumstances had shifted. It was time to get a move on it, see the world and have some straight up enriching experiences. Enter unforeseen pregnancy and push pause on the travel plans. In hindsight, we should've jumped on a plane and got jet setting with the first kid, but everything seemed so daunting with that initial go around of parenting, and your threshold for stress is still ridiculously low. If I knew then what I know now... words uttered by literally every parent.

Baby number two was planned. I planned him right after my third rum and coke the evening of his conception. I was ovulating and I knew it. At least I'd managed to figure that part of my body out since the first kid. My son had been spending way too much time longingly watching the neighbor children through a hole in our backyard fence. He had that same look on his face that I do when I flip through a West Elm catalogue. Fruitless yearning. There were no cousins in his future. He needed a friend stat, and Captain Morgan agreed. Nine months later, done. Prisoners in our home, again. Check.

By the time the second kid was two, my husband and I started consistently talking about our impending freedom, with a wildness in our eyes. Everyone knows that three is the magic number when it comes to re-entering the world and not having to chase your kid around like they're a wild animal. We could taste the liberation. It was as good as ours. Then aunt flow was late. Rhythm method for the win. Again. I'm not gonna lie. This one hurt. Normalcy was within our grasp, and we lost it. I know, I know, children are a blessing, but so is eating at a restaurant and having the opportunity to chew your food. 

So, here we are with an 20 month old sugar plum. She's sweet as hell. I love her like crazy. But I'm ready to break outta jail. I can't wait until she's three to make good on  delayed travel dreams. This is a desire so powerful that it feels like it burns my insides if I ruminate on it too long. Parenthood has honed our skills. Our standards are super low as to what we find enjoyable. Our thresholds for stress are top notch. We've been training for this since the first kid arrived eight years ago. Like, I could find my zen place in the middle of a Walmart on Black Friday. That's how good I am. 

But, that said, here I am feeling anxious about the unknown and the possibility of said toddler running up and down the aisles of the plane. If I really slow my mental roll, I can identify two voices. One is freaking the hell out, incessantly voicing a stream of what ifs. The other is breathing steadily, whispering "shhhh, all will be well". They're always present, both of them. One represents the personality, and the other aligns with the soul. You have them too. The personality operates from fear. The soul is the inner zen on Black Friday. It's Morgan Freeman narrarating any commercial. It knows that no matter what, you are whole, you are love, and all will be well. The tricky part is remembering which one to listen to. The personality is noisy. It's like that anxious friend that feels uncomfortable with silence, the one that requires a nap and a glass of wine just to gear up for. Your soul is Mr. Miyagi, quietly observing and waiting for you to slow down and breath, to feel the zen, Daniel-san. I read a book a few years ago, The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. The content is about quieting the chatter. Do yourself a favor and read it. You need it. We all do. To hush the incessant internal dialogue, you first must notice and recognize it. It's there, constantly preaching negativity. "You're not good enough", "Why did you eat that cupcake, you know you're trying to lose 5 pounds," "Your thighs are entirely too big for skinny jeans", "Your flight is going to straight up blow. You have no business taking this trip....there are way too many kids to pull this off", and on and on. 

Just stop, breathe slowly, listen, and separate the ego driven, fear mongering personality from your all-knowing soul. Hear the two independent voices. Which one feels good? Which one feels like love, like a warm blanket and a hot drink? Which one brings you strength?

I'm breathing deeply today, listening really hard, and gently smiling because I know that everything will be okay. Even if my baby runs up and down the aisles for 14 hours, zen is mine, and all will be well.

-Angi

 

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.