Mom Burnout: We've all been there, but we can move through it

It's real and it's brutal: Mom Burnout. It creeps up on us a little bit at a time and, before we know it, we are consumed by it. We enter motherhood with an idealized vision of what life will be like, and in many ways motherhood is more beautiful and more amazing than we ever could have imagined. But in many ways it is more challenging and draining, more exhausting and depleting, than we ever could have imagined. After sleepless nights, the demands around the house, and day after day of constantly nurturing everyone else except ourselves, we find ourselves at the end of our ropes. This is Mom Burnout.

When mom is burnt out, everyone feels it: the words are harsher, the sighs are louder, the smiles are fewer. Suddenly everything in the home feels stressful and nothing runs smoothly. Mothers are pivotal, we are an anchor for the house and the family. When this anchor starts to lose its grip, the entire ship begins to drift away.

But these demands aren't going anywhere. Babies may sleep and they may not. Toddlers may wake up happy and they may not. Children may agreeably eat their dinner and they may not. So how do we notice the signs of Mom Burnout before we are consumed, before we are completely depleted? There are things we can do, things that can help us dig our anchor in just a bit deeper.

1. Speak up. Ask for help. Do not hold it in. Ask your spouse, your family, your friends, your neighbor. Reach out to support groups. Remember that it takes an entire tribe, a whole village, the community to raise a child. Reach out and connect. Help is a beautiful thing. Don't be afraid of it.

2. Release the pressure. Stop comparing. Our society has created this idea of a mother who has it all under control, every single day, without any help: a clean house, smart and obedient children, organic meals made from scratch, a never-fading smile, a sweet and gentle voice, and she showered, brushed her teeth and put on heels today. I haven't met this mother yet, not the one who pulls this off every day and on her own. The pressure to become this mother is heavy, so just release it. Stop comparing yourself to other moms. We all have our own challenges and mountains to climb. Let's climb together instead of trying to reach the top first. (Hint: There is no top.)

3. Take breaths, deep breaths, and root down in the moment. Motherhood is constant and it keeps us on our toes. So breathe, take moments to be where you are, exactly where you are. Be present in motherhood, even throughout the challenges. The inhale and the exhale will carry us through the struggles and allow us to experience what motherhood is handing us. We hold so much more strength than we ever could have imagined. And thank goodness for that!

4. Nourish yourself, really and truly. Schedule time. Make time. Demand a morning, a day, a weekend. Motherhood will empty your cup, and filling up your own cup will only give you more to offer those around you. So make it a priority. Make YOU a priority. One of the best things we can do for our kids is to take care of ourselves. Don't spend so much time and energy on everyone else that you forget yourself. You are important.

mom and baby yoga mom burnout

The 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood: The Mama Niyamas

As we continue to climb through the 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood, we move on from the first limb, the Mama Yamas, to the second limb, the Mama Niyamas. While the Mama Yamas focus on motherhood’s social guidelines and ethical practices, the Mama Niyamas hone in on personal behavior and observances. They speak directly to self-discipline and the daily practices of motherhood.

Again, we have 5, so let’s jump right in…

  1. Saucha: cleanliness, purification. With motherhood comes a whole new definition of cleanliness. On one hand, we want to feed our baby the cleanest food, use the purest detergents and soaps to wash their clothes, keep germs and dirt away from them. But on the other hand, keeping a clean house becomes more challenging, finding time to cook meals from scratch can seem impossible, clutter seems to pile up in all corners. The things we welcomed into our lives to purify our own bodies and minds (massages, meditation, sleep, exercise), even these are bumped low on the priority list. The practices and standards we had before motherhood are challenged in every way once we take on this new role in life. But it is so important, both for our families and ourselves, that we incorporate Saucha into our daily lives. We must consider how our daily practices are affecting our family. Is the home clean (not spotless of course!) so that it’s a safe and healthy environment for our children? Are we eating healthy food that will nourish and fuel our bodies? Are we minimizing pesticides and parabens and unhealthy, unnatural additives? Find what is important to you and your family. Figure out what your standards are and where your boundaries lie.
  2. Santosha: contentment. This one sounds so easy, and it can be. But it can also be hard. Before we were mothers, we had goals. We had dreams and aspirations. And then we became mothers and our priorities may have shifted. Our goals may have taken a back seat, perhaps temporarily. Our dreams and aspirations stood to the side while we battled sleepless nights and struggled to find the time to eat a proper meal, ideally sitting down but usually not. And this reality can be jarring and it can be hard. Or maybe we had an idea of how motherhood would roll out. We saw ourselves moving through it with ease and grace, but the reality was something less flowery. Parts of ourselves are put on hold as we navigate this journey. And the journey in itself comes with highs and lows, often times unexpected ones. But this is where Santosha comes in. Santosha is the daily practice of reminding yourself that you are enough, that you are not lacking, that you don’t need to be someone else. It’s embracing contentment and gratitude and turning away from resentment and jealousy. Instead of looking at other mothers and feeling inadequate, Santosha welcomes in presence and peace with your own motherhood journey.
  3. Tapas: discipline. Ah yes, discipline! Just as Santosha teaches us to seek contentment in the present moment in motherhood, Tapas asks us to find the discipline to move towards our goals. Who are we and who are we becoming? What are we creating and how are we building? It often seems that motherhood leaves little time for this, but the opportunities are there. We must have the discipline to find them and the discipline to pursue them. So whether this pertains to goals you are pursing for your family or goals you are pursuing for yourself, it comes down to discipline. Discipline isn’t easy, but it is so important.
  4. Svadhyaya: self-study. The glory of self-study. It’s scary. It’s raw and it’s so revelatory. We find the most truth when we take the time to truly study ourselves in this motherhood journey. How are we responding and how are we reacting to the circumstances of our day? And is this aligned with the intentions we carry into motherhood? It is so easy to stray and to be distracted from the morals and ideals we believe are so important. Motherhood gets busy and messy and stressful. But each day, at the end of the day, we have the chance to revisit our choices and contemplate our actions as mothers. This is self-study and it does not always come easy, but it is very important.
  5. Isvarapranidhana: self-surrender to a higher being or purpose. This one is so personal, it’s so specific to you. But there’s a constant, there’s something we have in common here: We must have courage. We must be brave and understand that there are pieces that are out of our control, and that is ok. In fact, there’s a lot of power and beauty behind this, but it can be hard to embrace. The power comes when we are able to release the idea that we must have complete control, when we are able to lift up our arms and let go of the need to own it all. Motherhood is the epitome of this. We bring life into the world, we nourish and cherish it, and then we watch it go off and become its own glorious thing. It is surrender at its highest point. So let go mama, let go.

How do the Mama Niyamas speak to your motherhood journey and how can this framework encourage you to approach motherhood more consciously? Where is there room to grow and to expand as a mother? Stay tuned for more...

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5 Ways to Practice Ahimsa in Motherhood

We recently took a deep dive into the Mama Yamas, which make up the first limb, the foundation of the 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood. There are 5 of them, so it was a lot of information to digest. But now that you have the high-level view of the Mama Yamas, we are going to spend the next week focusing on incorporating them into our lives, working them into motherhood one at a time. Because talking (or reading) about guidelines and practices is only part of the process, now it’s time to build these into our days as we move towards a more mindful approach to motherhood.

Beginning with the first Mama Yama, Ahimsa, which means non-harming and non-violence, here are 5 ways to weave this into your day and hopefully, eventually your life.

  1. Harm and violence manifest in many ways in our daily lives, and so often this is directed at ourselves. So often the most painful dialogue takes place within our own minds, directed inwardly. But before we can truly make mindful shifts in life, we first need to be aware of what we are shifting. So this week, be aware. Just be aware. Listen to the words you are speaking to yourself. Hear what it is that you say when you look in the mirror, when you make a mistake, when you feel like you fall short of your expectations. Just listen. Tune in. Be aware.
  2. And this internal dialogue also flows out to those around us. So this week, also be mindful of the words you speak. Be mindful of the intentions behind those words. Be aware of the negativity, the passive aggression, the hurt that likes to creep into our messages. Negativity spreads so quickly, but so does positivity. Spread positivity. Spread love. Begin with your words.
  3. Mothers so often harm themselves, completely unintentionally. In our quest to love those around us, to provide for them any and everything, we often neglect to do the same for ourselves. And this happens over and over, day after day. And then this becomes a habit. And then this becomes the norm. And then our entire self is being poured into those around us and nothing is coming back to fill us up again. Soon the well runs dry. This week, allow yourself to make yourself a priority. Start with something simple. Demand 10 minutes a day to do what you want. Read. Write. Walk. Sit in silence. Fill yourself back up again. Soon this will become a habit. Then it becomes the norm. Then you are filling yourself up, over and over again, and you have so much more to give.
  4. Every time we choose to eat, we are making a decision regarding Ahimsa, but rarely do we even notice it. Every time we buy food at the grocery store or cook dinner, we have an opportunity to practice non-harming. Food is the fuel that we live off of. As mothers, we are often so involved in this decision for our families. What are we eating? What are we feeding them? How is this nourishing us? How is this harming us? Be aware. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but at least begin to be aware of the decisions you are making here. So much of this can become auto pilot, bring awareness back into this. Make these decisions consciously. As you choose food this week, be aware. Notice your habits here. Notice how and why you are making the decisions you are.
  5. Find movement. This body is miraculous. It carries us through our days and provides for us in ways we don’t even notice. But it was made to move. These muscles want to reach and stretch. These joints want to bend. These bones don’t want to sit in stillness for too long. Bring movement back into your life in a way that nourishes your body. And move with your little ones. Let their little bodies stretch and roll and twist and move. If we make this a part of our days and then our lives, it becomes a part of theirs too. This week find 5 minutes each day to move with your little one. Dance to a song, run down the sidewalk, do yoga, play at the park, crawl through the grass. Anything, but do it once a day.

As you begin to weave this into your days, notice any changes, any shifts. Moving away from harm and violence into a life of Ahimsa requires effort. It means we have to shift our routines and change our habits. It means we have to find different ways to view the world and those around us. But it also means that we become a channel of love and peace, and that, after all, is such an important piece of navigating through motherhood consciously and mindfully.

Ahimsa in Motherhood

The 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood: The Mama Yamas

As we begin our journey into the 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood, we have to start at the beginning, the foundation, the first limb, the Yamas. The what? Yes, the Yamas, or what I call: The Mama Yamas.

The Mama Yamas are all about your integrity, your social guidelines, your ethical practices in motherhood.The Mama Yamas show up in your day before you even step on the mat. They sit with you while you move through your practice. And they leave the mat with you, journeying through the rest of your day right by your side. They are real and raw and bring you back to the basic fundamentals of humanity, the heart of who we are and how we navigate this life as mothers.

There are 5 of them, so grab a cup of tea (or perhaps that 9th cup of coffee if your baby didn’t sleep last night) and let’s get started…

  1. Ahimsa: non-harming. There are obvious ways that this applies to motherhood: not harming your child and providing all of the amazing care and compassion and love that you’re capable of giving your little one. But non-harming is bigger than this in motherhood. As mothers, as women, we are hardest on ourselves. We are the first to be deprived of something so that we can provide for those we love. And now, with a little baby asking for every ounce of our energy, we often find ourselves deprived. So Ahimsa also means non-harming towards ourselves, because we can only love our best when we are at our best. So go easy on yourself. Ask for help. Take a nap while someone watches your baby. Allow friends and family to cook for you. Tell yourself that it’s ok if your house isn’t spotless. You may find throw-up in your hair. That’s ok. And give your body some love. It may not look or act like it did before you were pregnant, but this amazing body of yours has grown a human being and is now supporting that life. That’s remarkable and deserves love. It’s not about lowering your standards in any way, it’s about finding a healthy balance in life as it is right now.
  2. Satya: non-lying. I believe the beauty of Satya in motherhood relates to our honesty with ourselves and the decisions we are making every day. It’s about living a life aligned with your values, one where you are completely honest in thought, speech and action. You say things are fine. Are they? Or do you actually need to ask for help? You say you want your children to be kind humans. Are you showing them what that looks like? You tell your children to speak nicely? Are you speaking nicely? You say you want your child to grow up to be a confident, independent and adventurous. Are you leaving space for this in their lives today? Oh man, this one can be a bit challenging at times. It is a chance to reflect on who you are and how you are moving through this life. Are they aligned? Are you being truthful to yourself?
  3. Asteya: non-stealing. We have so many distractions in our lives, so many things asking for our attention, demanding our attention. It’s a constant battle. Are we stealing away the best of ourselves from those who deserve it most? The truth is that there will always be something out there for us to like, to watch, to follow, to comment on. There’s always more. And then more still. But every moment we disconnect from what’s real, from what’s happening around us, is a moment we are stealing from those in our presence. And it all comes down to exactly that, presence. Are we present? Are we truly there, engaged and involved in the moment? These children are. It’s all they know. But sometimes the moment gets lonely for them. The find themselves right by our sides, but completely alone. So disconnect to connect. Stop stealing these precious moments, this presence, from the ones who need it most.
  4. Brahacharya: how we use our energy, both the ways we conserve it and the ways we expend it. The demands on mothers are endless, but our energy is not. We have a limited amount of ourselves that we can give to the rest of the world, to our families and friends and communities. We must be mindful in how we direct this energy. We must also find ways to protect this energy, taking time to restore and recharge. The word “no” is not an easy one for many of us to say. We like to please, we like to help, we like to take on more and more so that we can contribute to those around us. But there comes a point, and it sneaks up on us, when giving more results in giving less across the board. So be mindful of your energy. Be conscious of where you are directing it. Take inventory of your obligations and your commitments, and be sure that they are meaningful and purposeful. And, of course, do not forget to slow down and recharge. The world moves fast and motherhood is demanding. Protecting your energy is your responsibility. Never forget this.
  5. Aparigraha: non-greediness, non-possessiveness. As a mother you may feel like you are constantly giving and sacrificing. That’s what mothers do. But in what ways are you being greedy and possessive as it relates to your goals in motherhood? If you look closely, you may be surprised. We want to desperately to protect our little ones from the world, but deep down we know that is not possible. They will know loneliness and fear and sadness. They will feel isolated at times and hopeless at other times. These feelings are a part of life and we cannot shield them from the shadows, as much as we may want to. It is in living through these moments that our children will come out stronger on the other side. So instead of trying to own their path, to direct and control, it is our jobs to equip them with the tools they need so that when these moments arise, they can confidently navigate them. And then, at some point, we have to release them and let them move forward. Our children are ours, but also they are not.

In what other ways do the Mama Yamas relate to your own motherhood journey? How can this foundation, this first limb, help to shape your approach to motherhood?

We are never perfect, and we are always evolving in this life. Leave room for this in motherhood as well. Practice mindful mothering. Move forward with intention. Begin with a solid foundation: The Mama Yamas.

Stay tuned for the next post…the Mama Niyamas!

Mama Yamas 8 Limbs of Yoga in Motherhood

Releasing Perfection in the Motherhood Journey

It’s a new year and everything is filled with the promise of a “new you”: a new diet, a new workout regimen, a new commitment, a new routine, a new anything and everything, as if "new" and "better" and "more" is precisely what we need. And as moms we judge ourselves harder than most, because our decisions, our choices spread beyond ourselves and truly impact the little ones in our lives. We hold ourselves to such high standards, we strive for perfection and take on more and more while our plates are already full. Often times we develop an idea of perfection and we reach for it, we reach high. And every day we are faced with so many challenges, and so many chances to overcome these challenges with grace or to be overcome by them. At the end of the day, we may wonder if we moved any closer to that idea of perfection. Did we cover any ground? Will we ever get there?

But where is this idea of perfection coming from? And is anyone really ever achieving it? We live in a world of airbrushing and filters. We see lives portrayed on social media and we think that is life, that is real, that is what we are reaching for. But is it? This world is filled with struggle, and motherhood can be one of the greatest. To step into the identity of a mother and to expect ourselves to walk this journey in perfection, it is perhaps one of the greatest injustices we can do to ourselves.

So release this. Release the idea of perfection. Open up to the mother you are, the mother you are always becoming, and embrace this identity. We can always hope to walk through the journey of motherhood with a little more grace, a little more patience, a little more ease. But we cannot ask ourselves to walk through this journey with perfection. We cannot expect ourselves to match those airbrushed versions of womanhood, those staged and filtered versions of motherhood. The curated images are not the real journey.

There is the Dark and the Light, in Motherhood too

My two year old daughter has recently become fascinated with light. She loves flashlights and the lights on our Christmas tree. She especially loves those little battery operated candles that you can switch on and off. The other morning she grabbed one of these candles and switched it on. When it didn't shine brightly she looked at me and said "this one isn't working". I explained to her that it was working if you look closely but that we can really see the light of the candles when it is dark. 

As we approach the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, we are enveloped in more darkness than usual. The earth reminds us of the need for dark, of shadow, waiting, and stillness. 

While the earth is darker, we adorn our homes with light. Whether it is with lights on our Christmas tree, candles on the Hanukkah menorah, or the light of a fire we gather around. This season is full of dark and light. 

And so it is with our souls and our hearts. Especially as mothers, we daily experience dark and light. There are the sleepless nights, the fears and the complete frustration. And then there is the purest joy, love and sweetness. We are made of shadow and light. Our lives are made of dark and light. They both hold lessons and gifts for us and our children. 

 

How can we lean into darkness and see its hidden gifts? How can we approach the shadows without fear, knowing they also reveal the light? This season offers us an invitation into this mystery.  

Releasing Expectations and Embracing Gratitude

We have expectations, expectations of ourselves, our spouses, our children, those around us. We expect that the day will unfold a certain way. We plan and prepare as best we can so that everything will get done, everyone will accomplish what they need to accomplish and things will go the way we expect.

Expectations can be good. They usually move us in the direction we want to go in. They may bring about certainty and edge us toward sanity.

But expectations can be the thief of gratitude. When we cling to these things, when we hold to them so tightly and allow ourselves to be disappointed when they are not met, we lose the opportunity to be grateful for the way things unfold in our world. We miss out on the chance to experience unexpected beauty. Things rarely go exactly as planned, no matter how much we prepare. And especially walking through this world with little ones in tow, this is even more true. And it's ok. It's perfectly ok.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be disappointed when life doesn’t roll out in front of us the way we expect, instead of feeling like something is lost, is there a way to shift our perspective? Can we instead ask what the gift is in the situation? Can we embrace gratitude for what is and look a bit deeper for the beauty?  Can we release the hold we have on our expectations and allow the universe to unfold with its own plans, letting go of how we think things should be so that we can embrace the wonder in how life actually is.

The Truth About Gratitude in Motherhood

We are told to be so grateful, to cherish every moment, to love every single inch of motherhood. Babies don’t keep, and soon they will be walking. The toddler years fly by. Suddenly they will be off to school and driving and staying out late and heading off to college. We are told they will be all grown up in a blink. In some moments, this sounds like great news. But mostly we just feel it looming over us, like a scary, unfamiliar event that is about to happen, one that we know is coming but can’t begin to prepare for.

So we try to cherish it all, every moment. And then milk gets spilled on the new couch, we find marker on the wall and we realize we’ve been walking around all day with spit-up in our hair. We showered yesterday and probably weren’t going to get another one in today, so this is very bad news.

None of these are the moments we would like to cherish. And the ability to find gratitude here may completely lost on us. We are perfectly ok with these moments flying by.

But there is something very important to remember about gratitude in motherhood: this is a journey, and without the downs, we wouldn’t fully appreciate the ups. And these little ones who are on this ride with us, they are figuring it all out for the first time. They are looking to us for guidance to help them shape their lens of the world. How will they react to situations? How will they see others? How will the respond when life gets hard? How will the celebrate the beautiful moments? We are helping them to shape this in everything we do.

So celebrate the happy moments, cherish those times when motherhood is easy and beautiful. Then breathe deeply and embrace the hard times too. Find the learnings in them, find the chance to show your child something new, something important. Teach your child how to navigate both sides of this world with grace and gratitude. What an amazing gift to give them.

Gratitude: An uncomplicated, life-changing practice

It’s proven yet so many of us neglect it, disregard it, ignore it. It will make you happier and sleep better. You will become more resilient and forgive easier. You will experience less anxiety, less depression. It is good for your children, good for their teachers, good for their schools. And the effects on your body are just as impressive: stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, reduced symptoms of illness, and more. 

It is simple. It is GRATITUDE.

Yet so many of us overlook this important thing in life, we breeze past it and say we are too busy.

This simple word, this uncomplicated idea is life-changing, and it is such a powerful tool that we need to welcome into our lives and the lives of our little ones. We work so hard to prepare them for the world, to give them the tools they need to grow and thrive. We research and analyze and second guess so many decisions that we make for them. This is an easy one, and this is a powerful one.

So over the next 2 weeks we will be digging into gratitude. We will be diving deep and giving you some amazing tools to use in your life, in your home, in your busy days to come. Stay tuned mama!

10 Self Care Quotes for Motherhood

Self care can feel a bit selfish, sound a bit indulgent and easily become a low priority, especially for mothers. While moms are busy changing diapers, making meals, cleaning up messes, working, chauffeuring and trying to maintain a basic sense of balance and order in their family's life, their own self care takes a back seat. Actually, not just a back seat, self care is often times dropped off at the curb and forgotten about entirely. It's time to pick self care back up again and make it a priority. Clear off that front seat mamas, self care is back.

Remember: A mother is the backbone of the family. She is the trunk of this beautiful family tree. But if the trunk is not thriving, nourished, strong and grounded, how will the limbs of the tree thrive? How will they grow and blossom and reach their full potential? Do not take your own self care for granted. Do not disregard and neglect it. The strength of your family depends on it.

So here are 10 self care quotes to remind you to take take care of yourself, to nourish and nurture yourself. These self care quotes will inspire you to carve out time for the things in life that feed your soul and refresh your mind. When life gets too busy and the days are too full, when everyone needs something from you and you are holding up the world on your shoulders, remember to pause and reflect. What is it that you need? What is it that will ground you, strengthen you, feed you? Every single day, find your own way to focus on self care.

2. Self Care for Moms Be kind. Be patient.png

Be kind. Be patient. Be generous. Be accepting. Be all of these things to yourself. That is where it begins.

9. Self Care for Moms Surround yourself with those who reflect your own beauty (3).png

Surround yourself with those who reflect your own beauty and brilliance back into your heart.

0. Self Care for Moms Find time to nourish yourself with the pieces of this world that feed your soul..png

Find time to nourish yourself with the pieces of the world that feed your soul.

Turn off the world and go within. Rejuvenate & refresh. Open your eyes and begin again.

If you are to be a light for those you love, you must find ways to nourish yourself, to feed your fire & keep it burning.

Self-care is not a luxury. Indeed not. It allows us to show up in this tumultuous world as the best versions of ourselves.

This is your life and you are the curator. Be intentional. Be selective with what you let in.

Breathe deeply and allow yourself to let go. If you were able to let it into your world, you are able to let it go.

In moments of stress, a cup of tea & a deep breath go a long way.

A walk. A deep breath. A stretch. A moment of silence. A smile. You deserve all of these.

Om Namaste to Start your Day

"Sometimes a break in routine is the very thing you need."  
 -Unknown 

I honor the light within you and in all things.

Before reaching for your coffee or the phone take a pause to honor your light. When we say "namaste"  we acknowledge that the light within us is the same light found in all living things. We honor our interconnectedness -- our oneness. 

Have you ever wanted to learn an instrument but didn't know where to start? Do you find that you sing way more, now that you're a mom? Music is the language of love. Sing loud. 

Try using 'Om Namaste' as a grounding practice before you start your day and a reminder that we are all connected (whether we like it or not).  

Take a few deep breaths to ground your day. Chant om a few times or as long as you'd like.  It's perfectly great to chant or sing while you're breastfeeding, too. Babies love it. 

Dust off your musical skills or that old guitar in your closet and learn how to play!  Learning activates new parts of your brain and keeps us young.  Notice how singing can reduce tension in your jaw and clear the mind.  

If you have older kiddos, get them involved. If you don't have instruments in your house, bust out the kitchen spoons or buckets for drums. Music is everywhere, and creating it will shift whatever energy is happening in that moment. 

Save this post for later when you are in need of a routine switch-a-roo.  Have fun.

Download MP3 "Om Namaste" by visiting our website: www.seedandsong.com

Download Ukulele chords & lyrics

 

The Importance of Self-care: What are you missing?

We care for others. That’s what we do as mothers. We care and care, but not always enough for ourselves. If we do not take care of ourselves, who will? And if we are not cared for, who can care for those we love? Self-care is not a selfish act, no, indeed it is a selfless one. But why do we run from it? Why do we prioritize everything else in front of it? Why is it so hard to embrace, to cultivate, to put into practice?

It’s not about massages and facials (though there’s nothing wrong with those). It’s not about yoga class and new clothes (though these things may be a part of it). Self care is about saying "no" often, and mindfully, consciously saying "yes". It’s about listening to yourself and understanding what it is that you truly need. Self care is about speaking kindly to yourself, it’s about giving yourself opportunities to grow and also to rest. It’s about sitting with yourself and listening to what it is that you have to say, what it is that you need to make known.

So often we as mothers put our health, our nutrition, our sleep, our creativity, our rejuvenation and our growth last. But no, no we cannot. If we do not make ourselves a priority, if we do not stand up for ourselves and understand the value of self care, then who will?

So, mama, sit with yourself. Find space and time to dial in. Tune in. Find your center and dig deep. What are you lacking? What are you needing? What are you missing in this life? Listen. And then listen some more. You are strong and resilient and so amazing. But even a fire that shines so brightly needs to be tended. If you are to be a light for those you love, you must find ways to feed yourself. So begin. This is important.

Our greatest challenges, our greatest teachers

Every day, every single day, we face challenges. We face people and places and things that feel confrontational, confusing, hard, maybe even impossible. And some of our greatest challenges come from our greatest loves. Our children push us and pull us and demand and refuse. They stand firm and then fall apart. And we are there. We catch them. But just as we’re helping them to their feet, just as we’re dusting them off, they start to push us and pull us again.

Breathe deeply mamas. These little loves of ours, these little beings, sifting through their internal world while learning to navigate the external world. It’s hard work for them. And it’s hard work for us too. On the days when they feel like our greatest challenges, know that they are also our greatest teachers.

Where else were we given a second chance to experience childhood so closely? Who else has asked us to dig down deep, oh so deep, to see what we are really made of and to show us a depth to ourselves that we never knew? And how would we ever have a chance to feel such unconditional love while being tested endlessly? Where else would we be given the opportunity to practice patience and kindness and generosity every single day? It is through practicing these things over and over that we become them.

We matter in their world. We are pivotal. And they matter so much in our world too, in more ways than we may realize. Just as the good moments fill us with love and happiness, the challenging moments fill us with growth, the chance to learn and evolve into a space we may not have seen before.

So embrace the challenges, embrace the new space these challenges open up to us. Dig deep and grow. These little teachers of ours, they are relentless and they are powerful. And even in the moments that don’t pass with ease, know that they are our greatest teachers.

Greatest Teacher

Passing in a Blink: A reminder to find presence in parenting

How sad it would be to realize one day that we were not awake, aware, alive for these years, these days and these moments. We hear they pass in a blink. We hear it over and over. But these moments can feel heavy and days can drag on. Sometimes this “blink” we hear of seems ridiculous. But sometimes it does not. As we teach our children to walk and as we pack away their baby clothes, they begin the journey into independence. It’s what we intended all along. It’s what babies do. It’s what we did.

So while babies are small, while toddlers toddle, find depth and presence, even in the chaos. Connect truly and act consciously as you parent. Enrich, enliven, engage. Build a foundation of strength and love, of honesty and acceptance. Invest in these moments, even the challenging ones. And as our babies begin to walk, to ride, to journey and take flight, we will know that even though it was a blink, even though it passed quickly, we were there. We were awake, aware and alive, and they will feel it too.

Remember to find depth and presence, even in the chaos.

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The word is “No” mama, say it with me.

The word is “No”. It’s not “Yes” or “Maybe” or “I’ll try” or “I think I can” or “Let me figure it out” or “Let me squeeze it in”. It’s “No”. Do not be afraid of it. Embrace this small, simple, strong word. So many of us are spread thin and feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Your are a mother; your time is valuable and your energy is valuable. The world will take as much as you will give and then ask for a bit more. And after every inch you give, it will ask for a bit more. Just a bit. Just one more thing. And then another.

There comes a time when the answer has to be “No” and there’s nothing wrong with that. Do not be afraid of it. Do not feel guilt. Use this word to guard what you have to give. Motherhood will ask so much of you, and truly it is one of the most amazing jobs in the world. And everything else will ask so much of you too. There is only so much to give, only so much to draw upon and to spread out to those around you. Guard that precious energy. Save it for the parts of life that count, the things that count, the moments that count, the ones who count.

Be intentional. Do not be afraid. The word is “No”.

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The Primal Fears of Motherhood

The human condition is part of our journey. Our ability to recognize fear in our body, mind, and intuition is rooted in our DNA. Our ability to respond to fear is optional. Fears can show up wearing different masks but can generally be reduced to three primal fears. Which of the following show up for you?

Fear of not being loved (community and connectedness)

Also known as fear of rejection or being judged. Feeling connected is a primal need. Take other mammals and even our ancestors as an example; traveling together is safer. We are stronger together. We have more skills, strengths, and support when we belong to something greater. That is, when we can negotiate through conflict and disagreements. Fear in this area can surface when our sense of belonging is threatened. For mothers, this might show up as judgement from communities, family members, other mothers.

Fear of lack of purpose (profession and higher purpose)

Bringing life into the world illumines the primal sense of purpose in a whole light.  As mothers there is a new sense of responsibility when your little one depends on you for everything. Fear of not fulfilling your divine life’s purpose for new mothers can translate to fear of your professional identity on hold. Your higher purpose may shift during the transition into motherhood. In general, with transition brings fear of the unknown.

Fear of dying (baby is thriving, survival needs met)

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, our most basic survival-based needs must be met in order to ascend to higher goals and aspirations. If we are concerned with where we live, eat, sleep, or if our safety is compromised we cannot act, speak, or think from a place of love. It’s stressful being an adult responsible for the needs of your children. The stress of sustaining life and providing clean, safe space might look different in modern day world than in primordial times.

So, what’s the antidote for fear?

Connect to the love you have for yourself and your baby.  Share your fears and bring them out of the shadows. Fear itself serves a purpose. It can teach us about ourselves and help us to grow. When we expose our deepest fears they no longer have the power to control our thoughts and actions. Use your tools. Whether it be meditation, yoga, dancing, breathing, singing, painting... The more we create with wild abandon, the less room fear has to occupy our subconscious.  

Fighting Fear and Finding Joy

I am the mother of a human child. This is really very complicated at times. It is so heartbreakingly beautiful and difficult in the same moment. On top of this, she is changing ALL THE TIME. She is impossible to organize and keep clean. She follows the rules and then breaks them all every day. 

Living with this little human child means that there are moments of such joy that I can hardly believe I am this lucky to be her mother. She holds my face when I sing to her and we laugh and kiss each other. Time stands still and it is perfect. The thing is, there is this voice of fear that creeps up inside too often during these moments. It says things like, "what if something ever happens to her?" Darn you fear! This was a perfectly golden moment until you poked your little head into it. 

I used to think this is just what it means to be a mother, that one can hardly enjoy a perfect moment with your child without being completely gripped by fear. But recently I heard some beautiful and challenging words from the researcher and storyteller, Dr. Brené Brown. She said that in all her years of intensive research, gathering stories of people's lives and listening to them in their most vulnerable truth-telling, she has found that JOY is the single most difficult emotion to experience. She talks about this very human tendency, that as soon as joy creeps in, we are sabotaged by fear. She believes that it takes the utmost courage to show up in our lives and practice joy. 

Whoa! What?!? This completely floored me and also made total sense. The experience of true joy is so absolutely vulnerable and so out of my own control. It is a call to utmost presence in the moment. I realized that too often I let fear pull me right out of the joy. I do not want this kind of fear in my life. 

What if the greatest gift we can give our child is our joy? What if our total presence and delight in them at any given moment is the thing that will help them feel known, safe and give them courage to expand and grow? I know that for me, I would like to choose more joy than fear.

I guess raising a human child requires a human mother. There's nothing more human than being vulnerable, letting myself be alive and truly experience joy.  

What yoga teaches us about duality and the importance of AND.

It’s inevitable. Duality shows up our lives through our emotions, nature, circumstance, energy and thoughts. Bringing a child into this world is both challenging and incredible, exhausting and euphoric. Stepping into motherhood is no different. In fact, parenting might be the most intense reflection of the highest highs and lowest lows.

Yoga is not the practice for maintaining the high, but rather oscillating between the two with grace and compassion. Practicing yoga does not make you a better mother, but rather gives you the tools to trust yourself.  

You need not choose between anything. You are a living, breathing, human caring for another living breathing human. There is an AND.  AND gives us permission to experience the [emotion, circumstance, environment, condition]. In the same moment you might be grateful for this little being AND frustrated that they don’t sleep, blessed with the gift of life AND stressed from daily demands, totally in love with your baby AND mourning your former freedom. These feelings carry information, offering awareness and opportunities for acceptance.  Damage happens when we deny our experience. You are not alone.

Power thoughts for coping with duality:

  1. This [emotion, circumstance, environment, condition] is temporary.

  2. Like nature, I am always changing, growing and molting. I give myself permission to release old identities to create way for new ones.

  3. I honor my spectrum of emotions as an emblem of being alive.

  4. I am not alone

Share about a time when you experienced an ‘AND’ in your life.  

The Emotions of Motherhood: the highs AND the lows

Some things you cannot go around or over. You must go through. Some things you must let wash over you so you can truly release them. Let yourself feel all of the feels. In fact, embrace them, don’t run from them. Sit with your tears and let them turn to sobs if they need to. Feel your disappointment and don’t talk yourself out of it. It’s ok. Look at your fears. Turn them over in your mind and sift through them. What are they really? Go deeper. Sadness and grief, without them how would we truly understand the gift of the good times. Feel the opposites. Allow yourself to experience the highs and lows, soak in the moments in between.

It’s so easy to shut out the bad and to turn away from struggle. But as much as the happy times in motherhood make up our lives, as much as the joys become our defining moments, the hard times do as well. Don’t run, don’t hide, don’t ignore or shut out. These are real. And this is living.

This week allow yourself to feel emotions as they come up, the hard ones too. Let them be real. Let them wash over you so you can truly let them go.