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. 

 

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


 

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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. 

 

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 

EXPECTATIONS AND LET DOWNS- Allowing for Personal Growth in Marriage.

Over a decade ago, I stumbled upon a life-changing article in Oprah magazine (still killin’ it to this day, Opes). I nervously tore it out, knowing it would necessitate repetitive reading and slipped it into my purse when no one was looking. I then waited for the nurse to open the door and beckon me in, feeling every bit a criminal. I'm soooo bad. Alas, I still have the paper, likely folded and stowed away into a tiny corner of a drawer or bin somewhere, but four moves later, I wouldn’t know where to begin looking, so you’ll have to bear with my memory. It’s subpar at best.

The article was written by a woman who became a therapist later in life, after a failed marriage to a man and a subsequent successful marriage as a lesbian. It happens, right.

It’s an article I think of often, because it’s wisdom is indispensable to growth and understanding in long-term relationships, not just with a husband but family and friends as well.

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She was treating a couple and assigned them a special task. They were to take turns not speaking for one day. In other words, the husband could speak for 24 hours but his wife was not allowed to talk or respond to him at all and vice versa.

For the husband’s go around, his wife felt extremely insecure without the presence of his commentary, causing her to create her own version of what she thought he’d say to her in each moment. All day she narrated her behavior with things like “I just know what you’re thinking…” and then would assert what she assumed to be his judgment of her. When the sun went down, and the husband was freed from his vow of silence, he was able to share that all of her assumptions were completely inaccurate. He’d thought none of the things she’d put in his mouth, and the negativity she’d ascribed to him was also flawed.

The moral of the story is that over time we all evolve, inevitably learning and metamorphosing. But, often in marriage or within families, we remember who a person was when they were younger or when we first met. We don’t mentally allow for the growth that has eventuated, thus parents talking to adult children like they haven’t aged a day since moving out, forgetting their worldly experiences beyond the walls of their childhood homes, or wives saying to their husbands “you'll always” and “you'll never.”

Within each of us, an often invisible transformation is constantly unfolding. When I say to my husband “you’re not confident enough to…” I call forth a man who no longer exists, and in doing so inadvertently shame the man who is, effectively nullifying years of personal work towards progression.

When my husband avoids subjects that may incite conflict, because he thinks I’ll impulsively lose it, he doesn’t honor the massive efforts I’ve put into controlling my visceral reactions.

And, I so desperately want to be better for him.

We are dynamic creatures, and internal renovation is a constant. It’s happening within each of us right now. Something is shifting, and it may not yet be apparent to anyone but us.

For a long time, only I was privy to my desire to gain control over my hot-headed temper and biting tongue. That appetite for growth was the first step towards change. But, my husband couldn’t see my mental shift. His awareness was limited to what his eyes perceived.

Slowly, I’ve been able to confront that agenda and manipulate my behavior to match my desires. But, the part of me that was ashamed of my temper, the part that my husband knew well, had difficulty letting go. Knowing what he assumed about me, what reaction he expected, made it all the more challenging. I can’t fault him for this. We interpret our lives through what we’ve learned to be true via past interactions.

We can’t start over with different partners every time we want to make ourselves anew. And, we also can’t forget the past. But, we can bite our tongues and assume a position of optimism. When we verbally remind one another of all the ways we fall short, we invoke more of the same. Believing in our partner's ability and desire to always be more, to constantly be better, gives them the space to begin that most difficult separation from those undesirable behaviors. Labeling one another only creates an injustice, a war not worth waging, because the improved version of you won’t ever be seen if you’re invariably living in the shadow of she who was.

So, I try to remind myself that my husband, my family, my friends are full of love, for themselves and others. And that love propels an internal battle, an aspiration to step out of the shadows of ineffective behaviors. We walk that path together, and if we can quietly assume the best of one another, gently setting aside previous expectations, knowing our earthly challenges coupled with the fervor of our souls' desires to advance, we give one another wings, empowering an instinctive and beautiful expansion.

-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. 

 

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL- Changing Bodies, Aging, and Motherhood.

The morning after giving birth to my first son, I slowly made my way to the bathroom, waddling through the tenderness between my legs. Mostly unclothed from nursing, I knew the mirror was soon to confront me and tell truths I might not be ready to hear. I'd consciously avoided it's stares thus far. Inspecting the changes in my body elicited apprehension laced with terror. After a deep breath and internal pep talk, I let my gaze slowly shift toward the floor. My belly appeared to be stretch mark free and only slightly swollen. A wave of relief swept through, after months of horror stories and worry. Then the weigh-in. The scale granted more relief; I was 12 pounds heavier than I’d been pre-pregnancy, having gone to great lengths to ensure minimal necessary weight gain. I could manage 12 pounds. I’d put on 25 and run three miles daily, until the final month, stopping only to avoid the inferno that was August. I then sentenced my awkward body to 30 minutes of the elliptical machine for the remainder of the pregnancy. Hell-bent on giving my baby as healthy a start as I had control over and keeping myself in prime condition for a smooth home birth, I ate well throughout, only succumbing to cravings for pizza in the first trimester, when literally everything else sounded like a recipe for barfing. And, of course, I still wanted to look good postpartum, to retain my non-mommy body, clinging to the idea that I could and should exist as both, separately and simultaneously. Read on, lest you think me a fool.

My teens were awkward, at best. I carried extra weight after moving to a rural town in Wisconsin. I mean, it’s the cheese state, and the school cafeteria served unlimited homemade cinnamon bread at lunch. Sugar was a just reward for enduring teenage years at a new school with people who didn’t seem to want me there. Heaping bowls of Cheerios right before bed became a regular thing, cus it was fat-free, so why not? High school came to a close (praise effing be), and I sported minimal self-confidence with a Rachel cut gone terribly wrong. Think A-line bob with a long tail attached to it, seemingly from nowhere, because the 50-year-old hairstylist at the generic version of small-town Supercuts had obviously lied through her teeth when I asked her if she knew who Rachel from Friends was. I should have intuited that from the vapid stare she possessed after my description. Needless to say, attractive was not a quality I assigned to myself.

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We moved back to California shortly after my rat tail was cut off, leaving me with a chubby, pale face framed by a not so flattering bob. My friends were all away at college, and I was alone. This led to mild depression, the shitty poetry phase, as I've mentally coined it. The melancholy halted my appetite and leaned me out. My hair grew. My pasty skin got a bit of California tan, I traded in my over-sized farm girl attire for feminine vintage finds and... started to get noticed. Late to the party, but nonetheless in attendance, I finally began dating.

That attention gifted a high like no other, something other girls had probably gotten in their early teens and were well over by 20. But, I needed it still, to build self-worth, to know that I held value to the opposite sex. I wasn’t just the “smart girl” anymore. My still malleable identity accidentally got intertwined with being stylish and thin. I had other attributes I was proud of as well, but it was all a jumbled up mess and remained that way beyond the birth of my first son.

And beyond the birth of my second.

Then came Indigo. A move. And 40. And no job. And no second income. And another body to tend to that wasn’t my own.

I had to skip workouts regularly because, Life. And because I didn’t want to throw myself back into adrenal fatigue from pushing too hard or pulling myself out of bed before the sun, sacrificing much needed rest in the name of fitness. Energy trumped skinny out of pure survival.

Botox wasn’t in the budget.

Cute clothes weren’t either. I was a stay at home mom for the first time ever, dressing up would certainly be lost on my toddler. And, I’d moved to a notoriously casual town. Think Patagonia- a puffer jacket, jeans, and tennis shoes, with a greasy bun on it. It sure helped that these new moms I was sharing a city with weren’t prioritizing the aesthetic either. My new local trendy was fleece paired with “don’t give a shit,” and the timing couldn’t have been more kismet. Don’t mistake this for self-neglect. These chicks get things done. It’s really just a shift in priority commingled with a more action-oriented definition of being a woman. I needed that.

For most, this epiphany doesn’t require three children. It took that many for me to officially lose the emotional space to give any fucks about going out into the world and being noticed. There was no conscious choice made. It was forced upon me by the requirement of caretaking. Cus, ain’t nobody got time for that (that referring to anything/everything and anybody referring to mothers).

Untangling the value of beauty and youth from motherhood, from womanhood, from personhood, was less angsty than I’d anticipated. I’d watched my mother come to terms with aging, often seeing a woman far less beautiful than was there, and I worried how I’d manage, what the mirror would reflect back to me, unwittingly imprinting upon my self-worth.

But, I see the grey hairs springing forth from my scalp for the first time this year, like tiny radars tuning in to a higher frequency as I level up, and I smile, not rushing to cover them with dye. I earned each one with colicky babies, years of late nights spent snuggling and nursing instead of sleeping, with the endurance of one temper tantrum after another, the hysterical refusals of eating seemingly benign dinners, three children crying in unison while my husband and I exchanged vacant stares, taking mental leave for survival, and brother’s turning on one another at a moment's notice, screaming in the backseat because someone’s unwelcome fingertip is resting upon their forearm.

I earned this shift in perspective. I’ve never worked harder for anything, and I deserve the new brand of beautiful bestowed upon me.

Now, the smiles on my children’s faces act as the most important mirror of all, reflecting a worth that is predicated upon the joy they experience, the fullness of their bellies, the love held in each beat of their hearts. Of course, there is so much more to me than motherhood, and I welcome any and all “nice butt” comments my husband has to offer, but the way I look and how others perceive the wrapping of my soul is of little consequence in comparison to my role as “Mommy.”

-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.