When was the last time you sat down and listed everything you’ve accomplished or experienced in the last year or five years? A few weeks ago I did just that and I was shocked. Take a peek at what happened when I decided to write it all down and consider what might happen if you did the same.
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Have you ever looked at the pathway ahead of you and felt overwhelmed? I haven’t written for publication in a long while. I was afraid and let my fears hold me back. Anyone else have that problem? Well here’s how I’m overcoming those fears.
For months I’ve been telling Josh, “I need a vacation.” A respite from the everyday... The kind of vacation where you travel with your best friend, explore, get lost, and soak up your surroundings. The kind where you get to step away from your “real” life and reset.
So we planned a trip to Portland, Oregon, and as the plane pushed away in the dark this morning, tears streamed down my checks. I knew I needed a vacation, but I had no idea just how much. It took a few moments, as my breath returned, before I could literally feel the tension in my shoulders let go.
There is something magical about gazing out an airplane window knowing a break from “real life” is about to begin, to feel like you're leaving the weight of the world behind.
For just a moment, a single week of time, I get to escape the sadness, the pain, the appointments, the meetings, the laundry, the bills… everything. I get to put it all on the back burner and enjoy life, unhindered by the mundane.
Sometimes it’s hard to recognize when we need time away.
We get caught up in the distractions of daily life and miss the signs. Here are just a few of the signs I experienced. Please take them as a reminder to take care of yourselves, my friends. I know not everyone can jump on a plane, so find something that works for you. Find time to take care of yourselves.
1. The idea of doing another load of laundry feels like climbing Mount Everest.
Do regular everyday chores feel like they might send you over the edge? Josh and I try to keep it light in our house by laughing when we hit our edge, raising our hands and making a declaration: “I’m losin’ it!” It’s our little signal to each other that we’re at our max and can’t handle much more. It's been two years since we lost Adeline and we still experience these moments frequently. And then your Word-a-Day calendar literally tells you to take a respite...
2. You wake up thinking, “How many more days until the weekend?”
I’m sure many of us look forward to our weekends, and Mondays always seem to come along a little too quickly. Are you one of those people who dread waking up Monday morning? Must you drag yourself out of bed everyday? Do you feel like you're forcing something that just feels off? Ask yourself, “Do I need some self-care time?” Would that help you face future Mondays? Would you find a little peace in knowing you took time for yourself and provided your heart and soul with the replenishment it needs?
3. Staying in bed all day sounds like a mighty fine idea!
We’ve all have days when nothing goes right and you wish you could crawl back into bed and just hide for a while. Sleep has always been my “getaway” of choice, a place where I could go to stop the voices in my head, to ignore the emotions, and to hide from it all. Give yourself a little grace. There will be days when sleep/rest is exactly what you need, but when you find yourself constantly thinking, “I just can’t wait to go to sleep,” it might be time for a vacation.
4. Tomorrow feels more like a burden than a gift.
On the surface you might be a highly-functioning, responsible person who’s getting it all done, but as you close your eyes each night you wonder how you’ll make it through tomorrow. You struggle with whether or not you can do it all over again. So you find ways to cope: you meditate, do yoga, go for walks, take weekend trips, etc. all in an effort to find a little respite. All in an effort to breathe, unencumbered by life's daily demands.
You find yourself exhausted, worn out, beat down, and no one else would know your little secret unless you told them.
When we lose our sense of gratitude for the gift of tomorrow, it’s probably a good indicator it’s time for a good bit of self-care.
5. The explorer within you knows there is more to discover.
Many feel a pull to get out of their comfort zones because they know when they do it opens their eyes to new possibilities. If you feel the need to leave the mundane life behind, even if for just moment, it may be a sign to allow your creative mind the space to breathe. Sometimes, all it takes is a little change of scenery to remind yourself about what really matters most to you. Along the way you might just discover true joy again.
If you’re willing to listen to your heart, my friend, I believe it will tell you what you truly need.
Mine needed a big break from reality and so for the next seven days you’ll find me dipping my toes in the waters off the Oregon coastline, writing in quaint coffee shops, hiking under the pines and firs, and climbing to the top of mountains. We’re off on an adventure to refill our souls and to replenish our hearts.
Happy trails, my friends.
Feel free to tag along on my adventures this week by following me on my social media feeds. I promise not to spam you with my vacation photos too much. :)
When an instant changes everything about your life, there is the before and the after.
Before the stillbirth of my daughter, I was an active, energetic thirty-five-year-old woman who trusted the relationship between my mind and my body. I had a sense of knowing that if I asked my body to do something, to perform, it would.
And then on that day, when my body wasn’t able to deliver our daughter safely, all bets were off. My mind no longer believed my body could do even the simplest of tasks.
I noticed this change during a retreat a few months after Adeline Grace was stillborn. We spent days immersed in the healing embrace of nature, taking deep breaths, attempting to fill our souls with fresh air.
Somewhere along the way, I began to notice a storm raging within me. My legs burned; my feet hurt; my lungs struggled to take in air; my frustrations grew. What I had once known to be easy was now hard. Really hard.
I kept telling myself to “just keep going,” that all would be fine.
However, sometimes our bodies know things that we do not.
They tell us stories and send us messages, and mine was screaming at me to slow down. I did not want to slow down because I knew slowing down meant having to face the sadness, the pain, the hurt, the emotions of not only the loss of my daughter but also the broken bridge between my body and mind.
I didn't know how to mend that bridge. I really thought I just needed to get physically stronger and everything would be ok.
So I started with what I knew. I forced myself out of bed and into running shoes. I tried all the things I used to do before, but nothing helped. I had very little energy and developed plantar fasciitis in both of my feet.
My body was literally rejecting everything I did.
For all of my good intentions and effort, there seemed to be so much resistance.
I realized what had worked in the before would not work in the after.
I had to find another way, a different way, a way that worked for this new me.
Follow Your Intuition
With that in mind, I made attempts to slow down and to listen to what my body needed.
I was having difficulty falling asleep at night, so I considered what might help me relax before bed. After several google searches, I found Bedtime Yoga by Yoga with Adriene (who is awesome and I now love her videos). Within that simple and subtle practice, I found a way to start connecting with what I had lost, to slow down, to feel my own body, and to acknowledge not only what my physical self needed but also what my broken emotional self needed too.
It felt natural and comfortable. I was at home, safe in my own space. There were no commitments. There were no preconceived notions. It was just me and my mat (and sometimes pillows to cradle and to support… or to soak up the tears).
As nature would have it, once you start doing something that feels good you start to crave more. I soon added a short morning practice to help connect with my intentions for the day ahead.
Listen to Your Heart
It’s amazing how our bodies hold onto and remember the pain of trauma. Any time I attempted to “push myself” physically, I was immediately reminded of the physical stresses of labor and the emotional pain of our loss. With those memories came the flood of emotions.
If I wanted to get strong, I was going to have to find a way to acknowledge my heart, as I integrated movement. Yoga encouraged me to explore my physical boundaries and yet allowed me to honor my emotional limits at the same time. There’s an acceptance around doing what feels right for you, not exactly what someone’s instructing you to do. It allows for exploration in a manner that feels right for you.
Cultivating Patience and Acceptance
No relationship is built in a day; it takes time. The relationship between my body and mind has been complicated by the loss of my daughter. I have this desire for everything “to go back to normal” as quickly as possible, as if returning to “normal” would make it hurt a little less.
There is the before, and there is the after.
No sense of normal will ever make the longing for her go away, yet my heart desires the simplicity of my former life. Yoga reminds me to breathe, to accept, and to acknowledge where I am now and what I’ve been through. No judgement or expectations, only an acceptance where you are right now.
That, my friends, is a precious gift, especially for someone who now lives in a state of longing for something she will never have.
I’ve been able to take this practice off the mat as I learn to live in my new normal. I’m able to use these practices to heal not only my mind/body relationship but also my heart. There are so many way yoga can serve you, don't believe me, check out this list of 18 Amazing Benefits of Yoga, from JennReviews.com.
When you’re hurting, try noticing your intuition. What is it guiding you towards? Try something different. Explore. Listen to your heart. What does it need most? Be kind to yourself by finding patience and acceptance. Give yourself a little grace.
Yoga has been instrumental in helping me do just that. I’m a long way from bridging the gap, but I feel like I’m on my way.
Life gets busy and we end up not being able to accomplish all the things we intended. Has that ever happened to you? Here's how to return to the things you love, even if it's been years since you did them.
To all the women out there who've ever thought "I should be....
...doing more for the community.
...a better mom.
...as skinny as I used to be.
Whatever it is you've been telling yourself lately. Today I say. Give yourself a little GRACE.
About four months after Adeline passed away, I felt an overwhelming desire to create a vision board. I found myself in desperate need of a visual reminder that the future could look different than my current reality. I needed to be reminded me that someday life wouldn't hurt this much.