Myself

“Find your Tribe, and Love them Hard.”

“Find your tribe and love them hard.”  I am so connected to this saying, and likely more as I age.  I hit 40, and have begun to ask myself, “what’s more important quality or quantity?”  Be that circumstances, events, invites, people, or things.  I always come back to  quality, and this has once again become my zone of comfort and grounding.   I am an extrovert by nature, love having fun, and connecting to new people, new things, and taking risks!  I am also impulsive, and when something feels like too much change is occurring, or I don’t have a grasp on it, I commit harder.  Network larger, and end up in a place of “oh my what did I get myself into.”

I used to get a bit of a high out of racing from one event to the next, looking at my calendar, strategizing, and thinking, “I’m not sure how that is all going to happen, on that timeline, but I know I’ll do it,”  and I did.  I also got good at filling in, every minute of every day, because I didn’t want to say no and disappoint anyone.   And then later giving my husband, mom, or kids a play by play of  “ALL,” I did.   It was always met with , why did you schedule so much stuff.  and because I never had a good answer why, my response was filled with defense.

I have started to realize, that “high,”  was  often followed by an overwhelming knot in  my chest, irritability and frustration, and an end product that was filled with a quantity of connections and expectations, but limited quality connections or emotion.  I look back at pictures, and see a smile that was flat, and think, “wow, did others see that too, or was I moving too fast, no one really connected.” I also left with the nag of resentment, lots of resentment towards not only myself, but others when they didn’t understand why we (or I) would have to leave one thing an hour after arrival, to get to the next thing I had scheduled.  What I also realized is that resentment was a defense, defense that I was often “killing two birds with one stone,” and not fully invested in the people or event that I was attending, and others were beginning to notice. What were my intentions grounded in, and what was my investment in needing to have so much to navigate, and so many people to please.  When all of this was coming to a head, I decided to resign from my job at the time, open a private practice, so I could be more available to my kids and family, and leave space to “just be.”

What actually happened?  I took on another day at my practice, said yes to everything asked of me, signed up for a yoga teachers training, and committed to every job offered to me that first year plus. Because in my brain, I was being a risk taker, redefining my self, and bringing experience and income to my family.  And in my brain I was doing it really well from the outside, while inside I was struggling to keep my head above water.  All things that on paper look amazing, but in real life lacked quality and oozed an inauthentic quantity.

As the years have gone on, I have felt a shift, a shift that I felt very conflicted about for a long time, trying to force that shift to stay put.  But the shift was happening for a reason, and that reason, I have come to find out, was  to create balance, redefinition, and an awareness of what I cherish most.  Quality.

The simplicity and comfort of having a limited amount of things to do, having a history with someone that feels easy, and a structure to the week that is tolerable is something I now need.  I put as a priority.   A familiarity, and quality of connection, not only to others but to my time, my family, my friends, and myself.   And only In the last few months, have I learned to give in to that shift in myself, realizing that the things that provided me with  “I’m going to tolerate that,” have become intolerable.  Schedules that feel overwhelming, and hard, are not “I’ll push through moments,” anymore, and people that feel difficult to be around, I can’t justify my investment anymore.  I’m not saying, I need everything to be easy and familiar, or not busy and smooth.  I’m saying that as I age, I realize connections that I let drift away have started to reconnect which means I have started to reconnect to what is most important to me.  I have scaled back on my commitments, given up jobs, and realized in all,  I had begun to lose track of the solace, simplicity and familiarity time brought to me. I had begun to lose track of my tribe, the quality people, who loved me hard, accepted me in every way, and waited patiently for me figure it out.  And in the end they just wanted my smile to be authentic, and my commitments to be quality.

Myself

What is this feeling?

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.