Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Present
Staying Alive..whether you’re a mother or whether you're a lover you’re staying alive. I’m going nowhere…somebody help me there…
The Bee Gees.
Weren’t they just dreamy? Those of us nearly too young to really know the Beatles, hung on the love songs by Barry, Robin and Maurice. Those outrageous leisure suits and stacked heels (nothing my CPA dad nor friends would ever sport) were fetching! I remember hearing these lyrics and thinking that my mother really didn’t go anywhere when we were gone to school.
How funny is that?
Can you imagine your kids thinking you’re just sitting around at home while they are off at school? As in, on the couch eating bon-bons and watching Netflix? (Hey - and if you ARE doing that - no judgment, just more power to ya, sister!)
Parenthood by default means juggling work, kids, and that sliver of a personal life. We all question what we are doing and we all see the joy and love and the frustration and struggle. Maybe you're going this parenting route alone or you're often alone. I know what it’s like. When my kids were adolescents, there were months my husband was gone 10, 12, sometimes even 20 days a month. It. Was. Insane.
I was a little insane.
I didn’t have family locally, I was teaching full time, and I wanted to be everything to my kids until I was too dang tired to be anything for my kids. Then I was crabby, stressed and generally, a hot mess. Luckily for me, my kids were and ARE awesome, and they rolled with things. We made our own fun “Brinner! Breakfast-dinner,” did homework and lesson planning together and we often did all sleep together during those long stretches when dad was gone.
I didn’t have any idea how to take care of myself. I eventually started to get up way before the crack of dawn to have coffee, walk the dog and dabble in prayer and meditation. Ultimately, that morphed into my writing time because I just struggled so much with keeping my mind focused. For me, writing became a way for me to be mindful and my meditation took another form, in other places.
One of the unexpected places I found mindfulness bubbling up was in school and with my kids. In my preschool class, three and four-year-olds are often game to try anything for a hot minute. With a cache of Beanie Babies or a rubber duck, we’d all find our own space on the rug and practice belly breathing, or we’d slide some cushions to the hallway to practice legs up the wall. What these tiny yogis didn’t know is that they were learning and practicing self-calming and self-regulation techniques.
Later on, in middle school, I offered a class called “Yikes to Ommmm” where students came to chill from the daily stress of adolescence. They not only shared and journaled about their worries, but practiced mindfulness techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, visualization, and guided meditation. They learned that in stressful moments, a few slow deep breaths slow down their nervous system and gives them the opportunity to think more clearly, feel their emotions or physical sensations and let go of just a bit of their stress. As I work providing professional development with teachers, one of the things I routinely hear is how stressed they are - stress from school, personal life, their own kids, the kids they hold in their hearts as their own, and then, of course, their own well being. No matter what the topic of our professional work, we do a bit of mindfulness. I’ve seen shoulders soften, jaws release and smiles emerge from very dedicated teachers who just don’t have permission to pause during their hectic days.
The same can be said for so many working parents or those in caregiving roles. Giving so much to others means you absolutely have to refill your own cup, even if that means just a few minutes at a time.
One of the practices I love to reset and restore my energy - or to help me fall asleep on those nights my brain is whirling like a fast hard drive, is yoga nidra. Ifyou're local, I invite you to come to my gentle vinyasa/yoga nidra class Mondays at 5:30 at One. Physical Therapy and Wellness..
You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter which comes out the last Thursday of the month. When you reply to the email confirmation, you'll get a complimentary guided meditation and be in the loop for other offerings around parenting/education, inspired and clean living and finding your life's purpose. I’ll have some yoga nidra meditations coming soon!
Finally, can I ask you a favor? If you know other parents, teachers or folks who are interested in the sweet spot where work and life overlap and where we can harness our strengths to move forward int he direction we really, really want to go, would you forward this to them and ask them to sign up for my monthly news, Id’ be ever so grateful.
So whether you’re a mother or not, I know you’re staying alive. I hope you practice staying alive and more mindful with me and that you find a few minutes to take care of yourself this week!