Aliveness lives in Choice-Sabbath Learnings

There is always a little bit of apprehension and nervousness on my part on Saturday evening as I get ready to turn off my devices and launch into the unknown of not being constantly entertained or able to check out from the reality of my life.

There is also the thought that crosses my mind more than once, what if we get bored or run out of things to play, or decide we really hate what we’re doing and miss out on something really cool because we didn’t watch TV or play on our phones.

We had no plans for yesterday except church and napping. It was a rainy day in Houston and so we knew we wouldn’t be able to go to the park and play. Is it possible to have no plans and still enjoy the day?

Then I remembered this new lifestyle was all a CHOICE. Not something that somebody was forcing on me, or something that was happening out of default or poor planning. This was the way I was designing my time. And through that I felt instant relief. Our day was lovely and perfect.

When I look back on my life and see all the moments where I’ve been uncomfortable, or antsy with my time, I realize it’s because I wasn’t in choice around what I was creating or doing. Being in choice and reminding myself (and you reminding yourself) that choice is there, and that if something isn’t working to choose to change it. Then aliveness will reappear.

Where do you need to make a new choice, or remind yourself that you have choice?

*featured pic of two amazing women I know Laura and Jessica 🙂

The Most Important Work

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”–C.S. Lewis

There seems to be a disconnect from this ideal and the way it seems like the world deals with children. It seems like we are still stuck in an age of “children should be seen and not heard.”

What if they became our most important work? Even the ones that don’t belong to us.

I sometimes find myself irritated or frustrated with the consistent energy that Lincoln has, especially being more tired now than usual. What I find works when I notice my frustration, is I turn all of my attention to him, I put down whatever it is I’m doing, and snuggle and kiss on him. He’s still little and doesn’t have the language or understanding to tell me to pay attention to him. Whatever other work I’m doing can wait-he is the most important thing I have to put my attention on. It’s only my adult brain that says other things need to be done immediately.

It’s easy to forget to children, while in the same design as us, aren’t always equipped to keep up with our continuous schedules and our plans for our day. They need to be loved, not for a to-do list to get completed. They are curious and once they can talk, they will have lots and lots of questions. Answer them. If you don’t know the answer, tell them that, and then discover the answer together.

The opportunity that we have as adults to teach, love, and grow children is absolutely tremendous and if we don’t, no one will.

Taking Care of the Basics: Part 1

Becoming a mama can feel like a whirlwind: new emotions, new responsibilities, new relationships (with your body, spouse, family, the world), and a new schedule.

One thing I experienced before and after Lincoln’s birth, was this weird feeling like I had to do it all or have it all together as a mom right away. This was an absolutely ridiculous expectation although it was a completely valid feeling. No new parent has it all together. I would even say that few seasoned parents have it all together. The phases of your child’s development are always shifting and growing and with that comes new challenges.

This blog is about something that it’s taken me 3 years to realize. Being a parent is probably going to suck unless you’re taking care of some of the basics: sleep, food,  connection, and movement. In this 4-part post series we’ll cover each one.

When I was pregnant with Lincoln, people warned me to get rest while I could because I was never going to sleep again. The smugness with which they said this was just as infuriating as was the advice. I don’t always get good sleep, even now that he’s 3, and I have found pockets of time in which to sleep. Sleep when you can-even if it’s during the day. Leave your laundry, dishes, and other projects so that you can sleep. There are very few things more important than getting sleep. Without sleep, you’ll increase your risk of getting sick, slowing your recovery (if we’re talking right after birth) and losing your mind. Having an upset parent won’t help the upset baby. Your baby doesn’t care if house is clean-he needs your care. Ask a friend or family member to come over and hold your baby so you can nap. From what I’ve found, people who love you are almost always willing to come hold your new baby. If there isn’t anybody near by, hire somebody. It will be worth it.

I’ve noticed in this pregnancy that I feel tired earlier at night, and while my circumstances are completely different now, (I have a 3 year old to keep up with), I know that it’s vital for me to be getting as much rest as possible. This is different than the first time, when I wanted to pretend that nothing was different, and I was the same person, capable of doing the same things, and often times pushed myself past limits and made myself sick. (I think I probably had 6 colds during my first pregnancy).

Shifting this in my life has resulted in me not being able to do everything I want to do all the time, like exercise, spend time with all the people I would like to be able to, and turn other social engagements down. And for now that’s ok. Being able to feel good day to day is worth the time spent in rest.

Is this one of the basics you need to work on? Even if you aren’t a parent or pregnant, giving yourself  the time and the space to rest is vital in restoring all the systems of your body.

 

No Pictures-Sabbath #3 Discoveries

There were so many picture perfect moments yesterday: our cozy breakfast in our little nook by the window, the picnic we had in the park, Brandon and Lincoln playing soccer at the park, Linc’s and my yoga session last night.

And my phone was tucked safely away, turned off, and there were no pictures taken because it’s not about capturing memories for the whole world to see, it’s about creating memories and relationships for the people who are there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love instagram and social media and connecting with people, and in the past, it’s taken me away from actually connecting with the people right in front of me.

I know that my children will remember me for different things and one thing that I don’t want them to remember me for is always having my face in my phone.

This will be work for my and future generations as technology doesn’t seem to be going away or getting less interesting. Whether you have kids or not, or your kids are grown up, it takes a different level of skill to be fully present with other people.

Try it the next time you’re at a coffee or lunch with a friend. Keep your phone in your bag, or pocket, and get present to the number of times you reach for it to look at it. Even if you’re just checking time, do you really need to check the time often when you’re with a friend? When your friend gets up to order or use the bathroom, is your first instinct to pull out your phone to check your messages or instagram? I know mine is. Don’t forget the world will keep spinning without you looking at your phone.

One of my dear friends sometimes asks when he seems particularly sassy, “Why should I want to get present?” It’s a valid question and he knows the answer (because he’s also really smart), and it’s because your life is only happening right in front of you. Your life will not happen through instagram or snapchat or email. Where ever you are, there is your life. When we check out of life, time doesn’t stand still, it keeps going and you and I just miss it.

Teaching on Accident

As parents we are constantly teaching our children something. Sometimes it’s on purpose and deliberate, like teaching letters and numbers, and how to read. The rest of the time we teach through our actions, non-actions, the way we prioritize, and spend our time.

I think sometimes it’s easier to disown the fact that we are constantly teaching, than take responsibility for it.

For example, one thing that we could teach our children is self responsibility. We teach them how to pick up their toys, take baths, and brush their teeth. We teach those things deliberately. The way that we could accidentally negate our own teachings is through not taking responsibility for ourselves in our leadership as parents. If you child hears you in conversation blaming other people for things not going well, how will you reinforce the self responsibility lesson really?

How are we reinforcing or negating the teaching that children are unique and that the world is available to them to create and do anything they set their minds to doing, if the school system we put them into can only educate them in one way? Does that not negate everything that we say, and only prove what it is that we are in action about?

Actions and non-actions will always speak much greater volumes than most of the things that we say. Especially when those actions or non-actions are continued over time. When our actions and words don’t add up, we become less credible to them, and negate ourselves as leaders and teachers in their lives.

Freedom

I’m sitting in the Sacramento Airport, ready to head back home after a really incredibly powerful weekend doing what I love most: connecting with people, sharing my love of yoga, and my passion for creating a different world for children.

One of the most important things that we can do as adults and human beings for ourselves and the state of the world is to fully own the responsibility we each have to full lead our lives. It is an incorrect belief that we carry with us from childhood that others are responsible for our lives and what happens to us. Freedom lies in fully owning that I have the ability to create, to be responsible for my actions, words, and thoughts. Suppression is in giving that all away to another entity, and possibly an entity that hasn’t asked for it.

There are plenty of things that happen in the world, government, community, and relationships that I have that I don’t like or agree with. And in being responsible for my actions and words (whether spoken out loud or not) give me access to being free. If I had to wait for everyone to get themselves together and behave according to what I say is right or best in order to do the things I want to do or create something worthwhile, I could be dead before anything happens.

You and I are both capable of shifting conversations, making requests, and owning up to where we haven’t fulfilled on commitments. When we do this, then the pathway becomes clear to actually LIVE.

*note: this picture was taken this morning at the Folsom Prison in Folsom California, made famous by Johnny Cash.

The antithesis of Luxury

Busyness.

Endlessly filling time and space with plans, tasks, a full calendar, and calling that luxury. Calling that worth. It isn’t. Where is the luxury in being called to fill time with menial tasks or relationships, at being at the beck and call of so many people?

I have found that through my life, I have given my identity in an incorrect belief that busyness was what gave me value and justified my time, my money, and my life. I could even justify a bad mood, poor eating habits, and even anger. My explanation of busyness took up time and therefore I had less time for things. My relationships became hurried, trying to fit as many things and people in a day, to prove my value or whatever it was that I was trying to prove. Then I can take pictures to post on Instagram to prove to the rest of the world who I am, what I’m capable of.

There is no longer luxury for me in living non-stop. There is nothing glamorous about saying yes to everything, because then it means nothing. My busyness and overextension leaves me with nothing left to give to anybody, and my quality of life diminishes, and what is the value in that?

Complaining

We seemed to have inherited the tradition of complaining and it seems to be a unifier among people. We bond over complaining about the weather, the traffic, the government, our families, and any number of things besides. It is a mistaken belief that complaining connects us because in reality, it actually creates dissonance in our brains. (dissonance is the lack of harmony or the combination of unsuitable elements).

Anytime you complain about something or someone, you are creating separation from that thing. The ability to create change and cause something new to happen will come through connection to that thing.

Take for example a marriage or parent relationship. If you complain about your partner or your child regularly, you create small fragments of separation. While complaining once might not do that, the continuous tradition of complaining to other people about your (fill in the blank with your favorite topic) will in fact solve, shift, or change that thing. Complaining causes erosion to the union of people.

If you want to make a shift in a relationship, or in a life situation, I can guarantee the complaining will get you no where. What will start to get you somewhere is either: 1) to stop-seriously stop complaining especially if it’s not something you actually care about, like whether or not your husband folds his laundry in a timely way-do you really care about that? Do you really want your life to be for that? -or- 2) Get clear on what it is that has you complain. Is it a commitment to something else? Or is it possibly something you need to clean up in that relationship or take responsibility for?

I’ve noticed that sometimes my complaints actually come from me having something incomplete in my relationship with another person, like that I didn’t do something or take responsibility for something, and therefore I blame them as a way to avoid that responsibility.

Where do you see in your life that you could either stop complaining or grow up, be an adult and do something about your situation at hand?

You can’t pop bubbles if you’re playing on your phone (Sabbath #2 Learnings)

Yesterday was our second sabbath day. We spent the day together-just the three of us, without the distraction of TV’s or phones (Brandon did pull out his phone to look at boy names as we are expecting the arrival of our second!) It feels like living in a dream, in the sense that dreams are so privately your own, even when you recount the details to another person, they’re still yours.

There is something dreamy about spending the day with my boys without distraction and without agenda.

Yesterday we went to the park, and one of Lincoln’s favorite things to do it to chase bubbles and pop them, so we always take bubbles so he can get in a good run. Popping bubbles takes quite a bit of focus and concentration. It’s one of the ways that I like to teach toddlers how to have focus (or drishti) in their yoga class.

While we were playing with bubbles yesterday, I was struck with the realization of the limited span of focus we have as humans. I can’t pop bubbles with Lincoln if I’m playing on my phone. Simple, no?

How many times in my life I have tried to pretend that I can do so many things all at the same time, and all of them turn out great. If I play on my phone while trying to pop bubbles, I’ll really only be able to pop a few of them, maybe even by accident if the bubbles blow into my outstretched finger.

Time spent on one activity, whether full attention is there or not, is time not spent on another activity. 5 minutes spent on something that isn’t valuable is 5 minutes that I can’t spend on something that is.

What will your time be used for? What is most important to you, and what will you have to do away with to keep your commitment focused?

Self Care Myth

We have a pretty big responsibility to take care of ourselves once we are independently able to. It’s been an observation of mine (through social media and conversations) that we have been incorrectly using the phrase “self care” to justify maintaining bad habits until our bodies or energy levels give out and we are forced to do something differently.

Self care is not doing a juice cleanse after binging on food or alcohol for a week. Self care is not overworking, not getting sleep, and then ordering chicken soup in when a cold hits and I can’t manage to get out of the house. This is more like self restoration.

Self care is actually the long term actions that you take or don’t take that contribute to your life long health, longevity, and vitality. Self care is taking daily actions to take care of yourself, not getting your nails done (this would be more like pampering, also important and not the same).

Taking care of yourself has to be a balanced process if it’s going to be sustainable. Let yourself eat a donut or cookie if you want it, and know that there is a difference in eating one and eating the whole box. Take actions daily to create a sustainable self care regime, like you do with your teeth or your bathing habits (provided you’re doing both of things daily).

Check in and see, are you justifying bad habits through occasional acts of “self care”?

10 Self care actions I’m working on taking:
1. Saving money
2. Sabbath Day rest
3. Reading more books to feed my spirit and vocabulary
4. Turning off my phone at night
5. having more sex with my husband (you’re welcome)
6. making meals at home
7. seeking out time with friends
8. exercise and breathing
9. Meditation
10. Seeing a chiropractor to keep my pelvis aligned for pregnancy and birth

What actions are you committed to creating? Where in your life do you need to add in more self care, and remove self sabotage?