Caring For Yourself, Happy Family, Happy Habits, Limiting Beliefs

Meditating Like A Mother

So I want to pick up on my Mindfulness Made Easy post from last week, and talk about the same concept as it relates to meditation. As much I want to meditate, I struggle to fit meditation in. As a work-from-home mom with a preschooler and toddler around, there just isn’t a good and quiet time to block off for meditation.

Or so I tell myself. I have this belief (excuse) about meditation that’s difficult to shake — like mindfulness, I have to do it “right” or there is no point. I have a perfect meditation scenario in my mind — a silent chunk of time with my oil diffuser making soothing water drip sounds as a calming scent wafts over me. And I tell myself it has to be exactly this or I can’t do it. Sound familiar?

I have this belief (excuse) about meditation that's difficult to shake -- like mindfulness, I have to do it
Photo by Lisa Zoe on Unsplash

But why have I decided that meditation has to be perfect or nothing? Because I’m looking for an excuse not to practice? A limiting belief regarding how much peace I’m allowed to feel? I’m not sure. But this “there is no perfect time for meditation” excuse is a big one for me.

Meditation for some is the practice of noticing what bubbles up into the mind and letting it go by concentrating on breaths or a sound. This is the essential piece in my own practice. And once I realized that I could do the same with little people bubbling up into my meditations space — acknowledge them and let go of the loss of my “perfect” meditation environment — suddenly I had more space in my calendar for practicing meditation.
I wanted to share a video I took this week. My purpose for filming my mediation was to share a few deep breaths on Instagram Stories as a sort of calm motivation. But what happened while I was taking the video is so much more what meditating like a mother often looks like for me. Enjoy!
If you are interested in meditation, but never find yourself getting around to it, what excuses do you make to avoid practicing? Are they real barriers or limits and constraints you have made up? Meditate on that for a bit!

If meditating is something you are interested in, what excuses to you make to avoid practicing? Are they real barriers or limits and constraints you have made up?

Caring For Yourself, Happy Habits

Mindfulness Made Easy

Mindfulness is a big buzz word right now and everyone wants to be more mindful, including me, but it feels like this HUGE thing. Right?

What do you think of when someone starts talking about mindfulness or being mindful? I first imagine meditating in a dark room for 30 minutes — a goal I have set for myself so many times, but never get around to it.

When people start talking about mindfulness it makes me imagine somehow plugging into the world or the energy of the world in a way I don’t usually.

Mindfulness makes me think of mental exercise. Mental exercise makes me think of exhaustion. And then I think, well I already have enough EXHAUSTION (thank you very much) and I keep scrolling.

Mindfulness-2

But What If The Hype Of Being Mindful Is Distracting From The Ease Of Being Mindful?

What if we removed mindfulness from the hype and pomp and all the extra? What if we separated mindfulness from that gorgeous photo of that impossible yoga pose on the beach? What if we removed mindfulness from the 30-day Instagram challenges? What if we approached mindfulness from its core?

The most simple definition of mindful is:

mind·ful   (adjective)   conscious or aware of something.

Mindfulness is then simply a state of being conscious or aware of something.

Did your head just explode too? Yes, It’s just that easy.

You Can Be Mindful Anywhere!

You can switch in and out of mindfulness all day long! And, yes, that’s doing it right! Our brains help us plan, and contemplate, and sense danger, and feel joy just as much as they can help us move in and out of mindfulness.

It’s not an Instagram challenge! It’s not a 30-minute meditation. It isn’t impossibly difficult mental gymnastics.

Mindfulness Is…

  1. Being aware of the temperature of the water when you wash your hands. Noticing the smell of the water. The sound the water makes as it exits the spout and hits your hands and the sink below.
  2. Mindfulness is taking a minute to watch the rain fall outside. Watching the drops splat on your wood deck or form tiny puddles on the concrete. Smelling the rain. Feeling the dampness in the air. Being conscious of the size of the rain drops and the air pressure.
  3. Mindfulness is taking a moment to be conscious of the water falling on your head and over your body in the shower, how your sheets feel — crisp, heavy — when you wake in the morning, the smell of your morning commute, the sound of “quiet” when your kids are all at school — the fridge rumbling, the tinkle of the dishwasher as a glass rattles, the hum of the air conditioning. It’s coloring with your kids and noting the way the wax spreads across the area you’re filling in.
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Being Mindful

Mindfulness Is Simple

It is also rooting, grounding, connecting, heightening, a place from which to draw gratefulness, peace, and strength. It is all of those HUGE things, but it is also so simple.

Instead of trying to be mindful today, I ask that you notice the times you are mindful today. I guess I’m asking you to be mindful of being mindful. All those mindful moments are a practice. There is no right way. There is no set amount of time. There is no trying to be mindful.

You Are Mindful Already.

Caring For Yourself, Real Talk

Moving Beyond The Meme

Had I had more sleep, that incident in the library last week could have looked very different. I would have still left feeling Other, Outcast, Less-Than. All those moments leading up to that conversation in the library would have still hit me like a ton o’ bricks, but I would have pushed them away as I usually do, made a joke to my husband or had a chuckle with a friend that evening, and kept moving.

Because I can’t react the way I did last week each time I’m reminded what my skin color means to others. I would be exhausted and pissed all day long, as I was, actually, until Tuesday of this week.

And humor in the face of adversity is a great healer and release from tension. A joke, memes, a good dose of cynicism has it’s place. As a former positive psychologist who researched humor (“humor researcher,” if we’re being causal), I can say that humor is absolutely helpful in maintaining well-being in the face of stressors. But your responses to my post last week were a reminder that we need to move beyond humor, now more than ever. Even if it is exhausting and tiresome and extra work.

This blog and community was born from my desire to move beyond the tired mom meme of “wine-o-clock” that I see constantly on social media. The joke is funny and it has that “we’re in this together, friend” quality. But as I talked about in one of my early posts (You Need To Stop Treating Yo’ Self), after you have a laugh and pour that wine, you need to take another step to address that exhaustion. Make changes to break the cycle of kids/life leaves you exhausted and stressed so you’re waiting for wine time. Go to bed earlier, set some boundaries, workout, meditate, eat better. Treat yourself, yes! I had two PopTarts for breakfast yesterday. And a glass of wine with pizza delivery the night before. But care for yourself too. I also ran 2 miles, ate a bowl of broccoli and rice for lunch, and read myself to sleep.

Treat Yo Self
Proof author believes in treating yo’ self

So I did the extra work last week. In reality, I did it because I didn’t have the humor in me to fortify me and move me forward. I wrote about some of my experiences present and past — trying to leave out buzzwords that are divisive — to help people see what it is like to be in my shoes. And that extra work was met with more readers in one day than this little blog has ever had in a month!

And more importantly, my post resonated with you. And boy was I flooded with your responses! I spent a good part of Friday last week responding to your messages on social media. You showed me empathy. You showed me sympathy. You told me you will rethink how you approach POC with curious and well-meaning questions. You told me that you knew someone who needed to read that post — your friend, your son. And I was blown away.

One of the many replies that really hit me straight in the heart — in a good way — was from a truly well-meaning, curious-about-the-world woman and friend of mine. She returned my post with a vulnerable and honest response of her own. You can read it in the comments section of my last post, It Isn’t Even About That Conversation At The Library. It was a gift to see someone truly hear me, rethink, and share her thought process in such an open way. And gifts like that come from doing the work. They come from moving beyond the meme, the joke, the headline, the troll responses. They come from sharing our stories.

So thank you for reading and sharing and responding to my post last week. As someone who overthinks how to respond to troubling situations to the point of not responding at all, every single one of your thoughtful replies meant the world to me. You did the work too by reaching out back to me. And if even for a brief moment, it changed our thinking, made us feel connected, and that is real positive change. That is breaking a cycle.

Caring For Yourself, Happy Family, Q+A

Q+A: Dropping Mom-Guilt

It’s our second Q+A video and this one is about mom-guilt. And I had been thinking… what do I have to say NO to, in order to drop mom-guilt. I talk about that here!

Hope you enjoyed our second video Q+A video! These videos will be quick, informal, straight-to-the-point, and delivered in 3-ish minutes. Easily digestible answers to your important questions, one at a time!

Have a question about parenting, self-care, finding more happiness in your life? Follow me on Instagram @thathappymom and stay tuned for the next question roundup!

Dropping Mom-Guilt

Caring For Yourself, Happy Family, Q+A

Q+A: How To Be An Introvert and A Mom

Thank goodness for this freeze-frame! Haha! Our first Q+A is here as promised!

Hope you enjoyed our very first video Q+A video! These videos will be quick, informal, straight-to-the-point, and delivered in 3 minutes or less. Easily digestible answers to your important questions, one at a time!

Have a question about parenting, self-care, finding more happiness in your life? Follow me on Instagram @thathappymom and stay tuned for the next question roundup!

Caring For Yourself, Happy Family

Go Away Big Hairy Guilt Monster

There has been a lot of talk about guilt in my conversations with you via email, messages, Instagram, and Facebook. And the only thing I absolutely know about guilt is that we feel it ALL THE TIME!

We feel guilty about screen time, snack choices, lack of sleep, taking a look at our phones for 5 minutes while our toddler plays in front of us, taking a little time for ourselves, not taking a little time for ourselves, being cranky that one time, that time we let our kid test her boundaries on the wall and she fell off, that time we helicoptered in and didn’t let him manage that social interaction on his own. So much guilt is paired with our mom-choices.

Go Away Big Hairy Guilt Monster

But what’s with all the guilt? Why are we constantly being chased by guilt and simultaneously feeding it? What if we just stop feeding the guilt monster? Will it stop chasing us looking for food?

I say we stand our ground and tell this guilt monster to go away!

It isn’t serving us. Is it? Well maybe a little bit. The guilt I felt immediately after I shouted at my kid a month ago did serve me. I should have felt guilty. That was a totally crappy way to react to a crying 5 year-old. But now a month later? What is that guilt still doing here now? I apologized and explained that I was absolutely wrong. We talked it out. She moved on. But that guilt whispers in my ear, “Remember that time you shouted?

I don’t need guilt to stand guard. I don’t need guilt to keep me from shouting at my kids. I work hard every single day to keep from shouting because I don’t like people shouting at me, I’m not a shouty person, and it just feels wrong and nonsensical to me. So what is the guilt still doing here?

I’m not sure just yet. But it’s got to go.

Not over to you! Just down a long road to nowhere else. Because I don’t need guilt in my life. And I suspect neither do you! I’m trying my best, I’m busting my bottom for my kids’ happiness, health, wellbeing. I’m doing the best I can plus a little bit more. And that HAS to be enough because it is all I have. And there is just no more room for guilt.

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Caring For Yourself, Happy Family

I Can’t Do Everything Right

I didn’t realize that when my first baby was sort of pushed and pulled from out of me, and I held her in my arms — from that moment on — I was expected to do everything right. I had to be perfect. Because only perfection would keep this baby safe, happy, on the “right” developmental pace, and healthy. Everyone was suddenly expecting me to do it all right all the time.

That was the unwritten contract I had unknowingly signed when they said, “she’s a girl!” And my fat jaundiced baby who wouldn’t nurse for the first few days because I wasn’t doing it right already, needed a perfect mom who did everything right.

My first didn’t sleep through the night until she stopped nursing at 11 months. Because I wasn’t doing naps and bedtime right. And obviously she stopped nursing “early,” because I wasn’t doing that right either. She was late to walk and talk too. I took her to all the baby movement and singing classes and countless baby playdates, but I just wasn’t doing it quite right.

Then my second baby came. This time I knew what was expected of me. Right! She nursed right away! Yessss! But she nursed too often because I wasn’t doing it right in a different way. And then she slept with me (and not even once in her crib) because I couldn’t get sleeping right again. And I didn’t read to her as often as I did with my first, because I didn’t have time to do that right either.

I'm Not Doing Everything Right

And I can go on and on about all the ways I have done it wrong. And I can tell you about the days, weeks, and years of tears and frustration while trying to figure it out — that right way to do things. But I have a feeling you’ve already been there.

And maybe you’ve known this for a while, and I’m arriving to the party late as usual, but I’ve been wasting all this time looking for something that doesn’t exist. Doing it right isn’t a real thing. It’s just not real!

What is real and doable is our way — the way that works for our family of four. And I’m pretty certain our way could be more clear to me if I could just shut out all the regurgitated and tired advice shoveled my way via social media, blogs, articles, and the lady at the grocery store who couldn’t wait to tell me the better way to do that one thing.

And I’m out. I’m done! I’m not going to try to to do it right anymore. I’m going to follow my own intuition about parenting, not the Seven Things I Need to Change Today to Have More Grateful Children.

My children will see how to be imperfect and kind and silly. Instead of a mom trying to figure out how to do it right, they will see one who can grow, change course, and apologize when doing it wrong means doing someone wrong. I will be someone who gets it right sometimes and sometimes gets it wrong too. Just like everyone else, whether they’re a mom or not.

Everything Right