One morning, I woke up, drove into the parking lot of my then job, and didn’t want to get out of the car. This happened, morning after morning, until I realized I was unhappy, and didn’t know what that meant. What does being unhappy mean as an adult? I also felt selfish thinking “I’m unhappy.” I had a really great life, filled with an awesome husband, two fantastic children, a family I loved, and a job that felt pretty ok. What was wrong? and why now? I had this feeling every day when I woke up, and couldn’t really put my finger on what it was. I knew I was tired, I knew I had gained weight and wasn’t exercising, and I knew despite my beautiful family, I felt sad and angry. I just didn’t know why, and that felt scary and out of control. I also felt hypocritical; I am working to send a message to my clients, my children, be present, be connected, and when you feel something, communicate to get what you need. I was doing none of it.
I had been asked by my employer to put together a presentation on “mindfulness in the workplace and with those we serve.” I thought to myself, UGH! one more thing I am being “asked” to do, but really being “told.” One more thing, I was going to have to fit in to complete during an already busy day, one more thing I was going to have to take home, one more thing that was taking away from me being a mom, wife, and being me. And it gave me that feeling again. What is that feeling?!? I left work that day, picking my kids up late from their after school program, late getting to over scheduled activities, and feeling like, “Why do I, we have no choices!” and why am I so unhappy! Yes, I was having an adult temper tantrum, internally, feeling tight in my chest, hot, and raising my voice at things, people who also didn’t know why I was feeling “that way.”
That night I was so frustrated, thinking about the presentation I needed to put together. Thinking about notes I had to write, and assessments to complete. My husband offered to put the kids to bed, and I snapped at him, “No! Its the only thing I like doing in a day!” When I walked in my kids room, my son said, “Mama, don’t be mad, but we want dad to put us to bed tonight, he reads slower.” There was that feeling again! And for this moment, it hurt, but also felt clear. My 6 year old had enough, and he was the only one brave enough to say it out loud. My son wanted a small part of his night to slow down. I was scheduling every minute of every hour of everyday of my life, our life. I was angry with my job, activities I scheduled for my kids and our family because nothing was simple, nothing. In that moment, I ached for the days my kids were toddlers, and we came home from daycare by 4 pm to just be home. Nothing else. Life felt slower, calmer, more simple. I listened to my 6 year old that night, passed the baton to my husband, and for once in many months, allowed my children to read a book, slowly, without the feeling we were ALL having. That feeling!! I also created the presentation that night, working to connect to what I would want to hear from my employer, from anyone for that matter.Real talk.
Mindfulness is not about meditation on a beach. Well, yes it is, but not for everyone. It was not something I needed to commit hours too, and it didn’t need to be silent. I realized, you are not going to “do it right” everyday. There are things I needed let go, and not every minute of every day was supposed to be scheduled. I will not be able to participate in everything, and not everyone will be happy with me! Or even like me for that matter. Being mindful, meant being present, being connected in the moments, and not working to schedule every fringe second with an activity, task, or venture. Being mindful was about reading to my kids, asking questions, and not having my phone in the room as well, so that I could multitask emails while we took turns reading. It was about being real, and being okay with how things were getting done, even if it didn’t feel complete and efficient. Mindfulness and self care is truly about being present, engaged, saying no, and being aware of what your physical self is screaming to your emotional self…..breath, connect, simplify.