In search of: a new map of motherhood

There are not many (any?) maps of motherhood that trace out the way I want to be living it.

It’s just after 9pm on a Sunday. It’s been a good night. My kitchen is clean and well-stocked for the week to come (a loaf of spelt bread made for my daughter who can’t tolerate wheat, porridge oats soaking overnight for the baby, a grocery delivery has left us with full cupboards and fridge, and overflowing fruit bowl). The children’s clothes are washed and ready for morning. Toys are tidied away. I *think* homework has been done. And most importantly all four are asleep in bed.

On a bad or even average night, none of this would happen…and just so you know there’s no superiority here and I’m savouring every moment of this and feeling infinitely blessed. (AND my baby woke up about ten minutes after I wrote this bit so I’ve been comforting him back to sleep…but he nursed down again quickly, so it’s still a good night sleep-wise thus far).

When people talk about hitting rock bottom and rising, it’s a narrative that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  It’s too simple, too linear, too unreal for me in terms of lived experience. My experience of the bottom, and yes, bottom it is, is that I’ve been skating along it for a number of years now…that bottom for me could be summed up as the underside of motherhood in so many ways. The shape of the landscape changes. My head is mostly facing up. But how do you know, really know, it’s ‘rock bottom’ when there are blind drops and hidden edges waiting.

It’s taken me about a year and more, of betrayals, disappointments, and failures, to accept and really deeply understand that in this most recent manifestation I’m not just a separated or single mother, (after many years on the cusp of legal divorce), but a sole parent which is an entirely different thing.  (I do have some shared support from my older children’s father, my soon to be ex-husband, but with the father of my youngest we have at present no contact, through his choice and action.)

I’ve had to accept that the shape of what *is* is not and never will be one of equal partnership in parenting. That’s okay, in the sense that the current arrangements are what is healthiest and happiest for the children under the circumstances – but it has also meant the very real re-writing of my understanding and expectations about what it means to be a mother outside of this model.

And it means that the past months and year really have been hitting up against every cliche of divorced / single motherhood:

*changes in visitation that have left me stranded for work (and ultimately requiring me to change my work patterns entirely)

*late and then unpaid child maintenance, that leaves us in real danger of not eating (thankfully resolved a few times over with help in various ways)

*the irony of being told condescendingly by my husband’s solicitor that ‘now I can learn to stand on my own two feet’ financially, even as previous arrangements for sharing responsibilities for our children were eroded

*the sheer exhaustion of what’s required in terms of looking after a home and four children, one still a breastfeeding baby, the stress of not being physically able to meet their needs and my own.

What this means for me now is that there are pieces of my life which will not make sense to many – and that places which once would have provided me solace simply don’t as my experience is too different now from what it once was. It probably also means that my mere existance is hard for some who don’t want to see this side of motherhood. I never expected to be here either.

I could easily eat up every moment of every day ‘just’ being a mother, that I could drive myself mad trying to ‘earn a living’ in the old school way alongside that, it means that in recent months I’ve spent a fair number of days of utter despair at the impossibility of what is needed from me and the lack of freedom inherent in my current existence.

It also means for me right now that I’m feeling a call to reinvent what motherhood looks like for me and how I live it. I know what I want it to feel like, at least the rough sketch of what I’d like to to feel like – free, powerful, sacred, loving, creative, nurturing, protective, honest, restful, kind. Something that makes me more, not less. I know the old maps for my situation won’t give me that (though I am certain many women have quietly walked that way and successfully before me, some visibly so). I’m willing to wait in the space of visioning until I can start to trace the path that will.

I know my allies as I begin are in the presence I bring to my own life, in the things that strengthen that presence, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I know they are in the connection with others – other women, other mothers, other men and families – but only where these connections are grounded in respect and kindness.

I have no tolerance left for meanness, hypocrisy, gossip, dishonesty. I don’t take those things personally anymore because I know now so clearly that when people approach relationship in these ways that a) they are not for me and b) it’s not about me. I also will not hesitate to protect myself from these things in whatever ways I must because these things are pernicious and cause harm far beyond what is commonly acknowledged.

I have every space in my heart and my life for the connections that are vital, full of integrity and shared purpose, and most of all truth, compassion, respect, and genuine love and kindness. These things too have the capacity to ripple outwards and deserve to be nurtured in every way.

There are a lot of things I haven’t figured out yet, like how the time for looking after all the things that require looking after will happen. I trust that there are ways that will start to open when I take time to sit in stillness and listen. I trust that following the heart of my own work and renewal and the pace it comes at will in all cases bring me to a better place of resolution than denying the very real work and responsibilities I carry day to day would do – and by that I mean, I hold responsibility to my children, myself and my home, as much as I do to ‘earning a living’ or fulfilling a calling.

These last two are not separate for me, and the calling is as essential to me as eating and breathing…but what I’m coming to in a round about manner is that I’m looking to live these things in ways that are no longer at odds with my self-sustaining, child-nurturing, home-creating which are equally and even more important, and which take REAL WORK, real time, real energy to keep going.

I don’t know how to get there yet. But I’m burning the old maps, the ones that won’t work. I’m giving myself permission to take the time I need to vision and to heal. I want this to come with ease, with joy, with freedom. I feel it can be done, though I don’t yet know how. But that feeling, that conviction, and sitting down to write it, is my starting point.

 

MuTu Monday Week 3: When things start to fall apart

I don’t know about for you, but often for me when I’m engaging with a programme it’s between week 2 and week 3 that things start to get tough. This week I hit that edge.

If you can’t see this week’s video above, you can watch it here.

I find about a week to 10 days in is the place where many of us drop the ball, give up, and go back to old habits as the initial momentum and excitement hits up against everyday ordinary reality. Humans are creatures of habit! It takes time to change old patterns.

If you’ve hit that place, if you’ve missed a walk (or two!) or a day of core exercises, or cheated a bit with food know you’re not alone. What we’re doing is changing overall patterns and habits – these are BIG changes and it’s normal and human to stumble sometimes along the way.

The important thing when we do stumble is to allow ourselves to come back again, to hold to the bigger picture. Forgive yourself, and start again from where you left off.  (And this is where community support and the momentum of group connection shines – even if we stumble, we can be held by the group. Pop me a message if you’d like to know more about connecting locally.)

And take heart! Week 3 brings a new influx of that beginning momentum as we pick up intensives this week! I’m excited as I LOVE the energy and challenge of these.

Also, as Wendy says, have you changed your shoes yet?! I needed that nudge first time around as I was afraid barefoot would be waaay out of my price range and I was almost afraid to look. It is worth looking though as I found my first pair (in 2015) for about £30. These were well-loved for over a year before I needed to replace them.

My current shoes were more of an investment but worth it as I now know I love them. (My barefoot shoes are constantly being ‘borrowed’ by my children.) 

Have you hit that wall? Comment below and share what’s happening for you…and any tips of things that have worked for you to overcome the barrier. 

Also, shoes! Snap a pic and show us yours! See you next week! 

Not joined MuTu yet? You can find out more about the programme and/or sign up here (this is my affiliate link that gets you a discount 😊). Need more personal connection and motivation? Pop me a message and ask about the local group that’s going to be starting soon. 

‘Fed is best’: the band-aid covering the gaping wound of women’s trauma

I woke up this morning to a pro-woman’s choice post from a FB friend, supporting a woman’s right to choose how she feeds her baby, and if she chooses to breastfeed, how long she does so, stating that this is a question of bodily integrity and sovereignty.

I absolutely agree.

But what I see, and what so many of us who have supported new mothers through pregnancy, birth and early parenthood can see, is that this ‘choice’ comes at the cross-roads of conflicting and contested lines of power: power over women at a juncture where power is very much at issue, power over babies and a primary care-giver’s connection to them.

Motherhood is one of the places where our female bodies are most subject to outside control – whether this is through the direct policing of the medical establishment, the seductive images of the advertising industry, or the cohersion to comply with the choices that are socially acceptable as ‘right’ and ‘safe’.

The default for women in pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood is NOT one of sovereignty but one of deep control exerted over us, our bodies, and our choices…one that is so engrained in us we for the most part don’t even notice it. Too many of us fall into motherhood unsuspecting and unprepared for what awaits us.

This is evident nowhere more than in the phrase ‘fed is best’.

“Fed is best.” On the surface of it, who can argue with that? Of course, ‘fed is best’ – our babies rely on us to feed them, they need to be fed to survive. No guilt, mamas! Get the job done!  

So how is it possible that ‘fed is best’ is swiftly becoming the anti-breastfeeding slogan that no one can argue with? Breastfeeding is after all the biological and physiological norm for humans, but ‘fed is best’ – it’s just about ditching the guilt, right?

“Best” is a slogan that touches the cords of guilt and shame and powerlessness that run deep through women’s experiences of motherhood. It shouts, “you’re not enough (and you never will be), because you are far too imperfectly human.”

Fed is not ‘best’. Fed is what we do to keep our babies alive.

All babies must be fed in order to survive, there is no ‘best’ about it. Babies not being fed adquately – babies suffering from hunger and dehydration – these are serious points of shame and trauma to us all and flat out should not be happening in wealthy western countries, let alone the rest of the world. “Fed is best”, the heart-rending stories and thin, malnourished babies, shows us this is happening, now, today. We cannot look away from that. We must not look away. 


We need to know that skilled infant feeding support will never involve shaming or pressuring mothers, forcing babies to feed in a particular way, waiting until baby is hungry enough to be ‘broken’, or any other such harmful and cohersive nonsense. Skilled infant feeding support involves: listening, assessing the real needs of mother and baby, responding with gentleness, compassion and skill to the situation at hand.

How we feed our babies will come at the cross-roads of many factors: our own family histories, our experience of pregnancy and birth, what happens in the early hours and days after birth, our expectations of motherhood, who we have around us in the early hours, days and weeks of motherhood, our personal resources, the pressures of our lives, and how we personally respond to these.

“Fed is best” is a phrase I’ve seen used in a few specific situations:

*To reassure a breastfeeding mother who’s baby genuinely needs supplementation that it is okay to offer this supplement (whether this comes in the form of the mother’s own expressed milk, donor milk, or infant formula) either short-term or longer-term for the health and well-being of mother and/or baby.

*To pressure a mother who wants to breastfeed into supplementing regardless of whether this was a genuine need for the baby, but because the medical professional was under-informed about breastfeeding science, normal infant patterns and growth, or to conform with the protocol and/or expectations of a specific individual (not the mother) or institutional environment.

*To express deep anger, disappointment and trauma around the mismanaged pressure to breastfeed at all costs combined with inadequate or non-existent support, where mother and baby are both traumatised (and their health, safety, and lives put at risk) due to the lack of information, experience and skill of those ‘supporting’ them. Often this is seen as breastfeeding advocates putting lives at risk over an ideal. The guilt / blame / shame  that is heaped on women who bear this trauma turns (rightfully) to anger and the ‘fed is best’ movement takes form.

But ‘fed is best’ isn’t sovereignty and it isn’t powerful. It’s a band-aid covering over the very real traumas of mothers and babies. The wound beneath remains. As long was we hold up that slogan as a shield we’re missing the point.

We need to reclaim ‘best’ when it comes to motherhood. Best is:

*Best is respect for women’s intelligence, resources, capacity to choose. 



*Best is listening first as helpers (and honouring our own experiences as mothers by speaking the truth of these to those helping us).

*Best is asking what a mother needs right now, what her struggles are, and her goals and wishes over the longer term – and considering how the ways we respond to her will impact all of these things.

*Best is providing every mother and baby with the optimal choices and support for pregnancy and childbirth (suited to her circumstances), knowing that how we give birth impacts our experience of infant feeding and parenthood.



*Best is making sure that all health care professionals have adequate training in breastfeeding establishment and support, in both normal and more challenging situations – and where they do not have this, ensuring mothers and babies can a) know the limits of those supporting them, b) access other knowledgeable support.

*Best is communicating with mothers that formula is not the only alternative to breastfeeding, and that there is a spectrum of infant feeding choices and practices available to them – that what they choose or need to access can change over time.

*Best is offering women accurate and up to date information about the full range of choice and the impact of each choice in the shorter and longer term for herself and her child, without pressuring her into a particular course

*Best is listening to what a woman herself is saying about her personal needs, wishes, and experience and responding to these with compassion and respect.

*Best is respecting mother’s and babies needs and wishes, even when they deviate from our own choices or from what we think is ‘best’.

The anger we need to be feeling is not at breastfeeding endangering our children.  The anger we need to be feeling is about the ways that women are pressured and let down by those we most trust at the time of our deepest vulnerability, and how our babies are being harmed every day by these betrayals.

Because to my mind, this isn’t really about feeding – it’s about control, guilt, shame, and the damage that’s still being done to women (women’s sovereignty, women’s capacity to choose) in birth and early motherhood. 

After many years of mothering and working with mothers and babies, I am convinced that the ONLY was through to change is through mothers taking back our own power and choices. It requires stark truth telling. It requires tears and rage against what is being taken from us so that we can claim back what is rightfully ours – sovereignty and power in motherhood.

And this means for those of us who have been there and passed through, owning full spectrum of our experiences, including the wounds and the pain of of these: seeing these things for what they actually are, accepting the choices we have made, where we bear responsibility for these choices and where we have hit up against forces that have taken away our capacity to choose.

 We don’t have to be ‘best’. We have to be real. We have to tell the truth about what’s happening out there and inside ourselves.

When we do so, we can use our experiences as a bridge to greater compassion and greater capacity for connection with and in support for those who are struggling. We can share the truths that are the ground for genuine choice. We can share the acceptance – that motherhood is hard, and the odds are stacked against us, but even so, we are doing it, and doing it better with the support of other mothers.

“Fed is best” as an inadequate cover for women’s very real pain and struggle. It’s time to pull the plaster off, and tend to the wound. Motherhood isn’t about breast or bottle, it’s about human love and connection.

MuTu Monday Week 2: My baby loves squats!

Hello everyone! Bran and I are checking in following our first completed week of MuTu. Bran’s favourite MuTu exercise is…SQUATS. I keep him entertained by doing them when he’s in the bath.

Can’t see the video above? You can watch it here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bS7lJiKIGNk

My best tip for busy mamas this week is…be flexible! Learning the exercises (and printing out the cheat sheet) has meant that if my toddler is not feeling cooperative I can do the exercises in small chunks throughout the day. He may love squats, but he seriously dislikes anything where my head is on the ground so I have to pick my moments.

We’ve done pretty well with our walking, though snow this week has meant a slower pace and Bran in the sling (I use a long woven wrap which gives adequate support to my back and shoulders whilst carrying – this week I was using my Firespiral slings wool blend that is ultra supportive and warm under a babywearing coat). He snuggled right in to sleep.



One other big change for me in the first week is engaging with the MuTu Food
 – this week I’ve focused on eating breakfast with protein, which can be challenging when you’re a busy mother of four. My top breakfasts for this week have been:

*yogurt with chia seeds and the Linwood flaxseed, almond, walnut, Brazil nut, enzyme Q-10 blend (very quick and packed with nutrients).

*vegetable omelette with cheese (this was a special treat on one of my baby’s nursery mornings)

*when I’ve really no time a handful of nuts (almonds or hazelnuts) and a piece of fruit.


While my diet overall is fairly okay now that I’m tracking again (and showing a little self-restraint!), I’m admittedly a bit of a caffeine fiend…definitely a crutch! Week 2 is asking for two food changes so I’m thinking about bringing my caffeine consumption into the MuTu food limits and replacing my excess tea and coffee habit with my home herbal tea mix of nourishing oatstraw, nettle and red raspberry leaf (a mix that is nutrient-rich and mood balancing…I’m sure my children will thank me for that! 😉).


If you’re following the programme I’d love to hear how you’re getting on, so do share in the comments. Not started yet? You can find out more about MuTu System and sign up here (and my affiliate link will get you a 20% discount!)

Full Moon Meditations January: Ancestors

One of my projects for 2017 is to record a healing meditation for each moon cycle, Full Moon Meditations, each of these are a gift for our Rebalancing Woman community.  The first one, for January, brings us the gift of connecting with the strength and blessings of our own ancestral lines.

Full Moon Meditations January 2017 AncestorsFor many of us, our family histories are not easy ones. I know this is the case for me, and much of my own healing and parenting path has revolved around saying ‘stop’ to patterns of anger, fear, addiction, (self-)hatred, and violence.

These patterns are difficult to change because they become part of us on a deep level even before we develop the capacity for speech and reasoned thought. How many of us have sworn, “I’ll never say that to my kids”? and yet suddenly found the very words and voice of a parent or other adult ‘speaking’ through us those exact words, tone, wounding before we even notice it happening.

I believe many of us are called to healing our family patterns and lines at this time. We do this work for ourselves and for our children, but it also echoes up the lines – all healing is ancestral healing.

It is great work, and hard work, but we are supported in it.

January’s Full Moon Meditation is one such support. The focus is on helping us to sort through the tangled mix of threads we have inherited, to connecting clearly with the strength and gifts that are also a part of our personal histories, so we can bring these through, deeply present, into our own lives.

You can listen to this month’s meditation here:

If you can’t see access the meditation above, you can access it here: https://soundcloud.com/rebalancingwoman/full-moon-meditation-ancestors-january-2017

Want to be the first to receive the Full Moon Meditations month by month? You can join my email list by adding your email here:



MuTu Monday! Week One: I am determined

Hello everyone! I went back and forth about sharing this journey but in the end, here I am. This week, and the next 12 weeks, I’ll be mapping my progress as I re-start the MuTu Intensive programme.

Can’t see the video? You can access it here: https://youtu.be/jrtz9w9zwfo

I absolutely love MuTu. I discovered MuTu and its founder Wendy Powell just after I’d given birth to my fourth baby and was suffering from what felt like pretty severe diastasis recti. I was a little hesitant about it as I am wary of overly aggressive fitness regimes for newly postpartum women. I am a firm believer that new mamas need nurturing and rest!! But I was in pain and I needed a real solution, so I took the plunge. I was pleasantly surprised as I sat watching the introductory videos.

You know what I love most about it?

*One, it approaches body care through the lens of NURTURE and LOVE (and hey, ‘Love’ is my word for 2017! if you haven’t found yours yet, here’s a little something for you <3).

*Two, Wendy Powell has a real understanding and respect for mothers and the pace of motherhood (I share more about this in the intro video above).

*Three, Wendy knows what she’s talking about – her programme is mama-friendly, holistic, effective and do-able.

With some determination, of course.

The fact is, when you are a mother, everything is different.

Before motherhood, the main obstacle to me setting and accomplishing a goal was me just doing it (or not). Effort, yes. But pretty much human effort.

With motherhood, It’s not the same kind of life at all. I’m on my own with 4 children and I can vouch for the fact that the pace, the rhythms of motherhood are simply other. When evening rolls around and the house becomes quiet, I can sigh with relief and finally finally finally stretch my arms and body so simply in the way that’s been calling to me since morning, whilst the kettle boils, and as my body just begins to relax and release it comes – the wail of my baby waking up, looking for milk and companionship.

Or the other night, I think ‘just do it’. My children are awake, but you know, we can do it anyway, right? Same intention for stretching, and the baby grabs my hair to lift my head and lunges at me for milk.

As a mama, I know you’ve got to pick your moments….and these moments vary day to day, sometimes even hour to hour. And it very likely takes about 20x longer for you to accomplish anything (it does me! and sometimes that is a good day).

“I am determined.” Those are the words that came to me Saturday afternoon as it took me about 45 minutes to get out the door for a 30 minute walk. I am determined.

I have solid reasons for wanting to do this work – being fully present and healthy for my children now and in years to come (this has become even more urgent for me when my littlest was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome – I am a sole parent to him, and it’s put me in a position of much greater responsibility than before as I know he needs me for the longer term), and also just coping with the day to day responsibilities of being a single, working mother to four. I find that just plain tiring, even without any extras (illness, appointments, therapy for the little one).

I know that building my core strength and fitness is one of the key parts to thriving for me as a mama and as a woman. When my core and root are strong and my body aligned, I am strong and able to nurture and care for myself, my children, my home, my clients, my life.

Each week, I’m also going to share a tip or two or three for success for busy mamas – because I know it is really not the same embarking on a health or exercise programme with little ones about. Here they are for this week:

If you can’t see the video above, you can access it here: https://youtu.be/yvb5Qr2ADgI

Here are this week’s tips summed up –

*Know your why – more than know it, write it down, post it up, look at it, remember it, everyday.
*Track it! I’ve got a FitBit which really helps with the ease of this. Inside the MuTu programme there are some fab tracking tools as well.
*It’s okay to be where you are (now and always)

The path is never really a line, and for me, I’m circling back to MuTu after taking a few months off. But those times off (of ‘failure’ in a sense!) are also useful for reminding us why we are here doing this thing – it’s helped me to get clear and realign with my motivation and values. This is necessity for me, and I know it.

So today I begin! I’m going to get my start pictures sorted, download my checklists and exercise cheat-sheet. If you’d like to join me, I’d absolutely love that.  You can get access to MuTu instantly through this link – it (and the other links to the programme) is my affiliate link that also gives you a 20% discount on the digital programmes.

Local mamas! I‘m planning to run some local MuTu inspired classes starting from March – if you thrive with in person contact and accountability (I know I do!), this is just a heads up. But don’t let this put you off purchasing the digital programme and getting started now if you’re feeling drawn. I’ll be offering discounts to mamas who have enrolled through my link when the first round of the in person programme starts up in Spring.

And for anyone who really wants to see, here’s my unfiltered, unedited ‘before’ pictures. I definitely have the ‘mummy tummy’!

Finding your word of power for 2017 (free audio)

It’s that time again, winter upon us, long dark nights…and I know many will, like me, after a *very* hard year, be looking forward to the dawning of something fresh in 2017. It’s honestly hard to hold that vision at present, with the world in crisis in so many places, as well as the challenges we all are facing in our ordinarly personal lives, but it is even more critical that we do so.

It’s been a tradition for me, the past few years, to choose a word for myself for the year – a personal word of power, one that guides the personal learnings, my commitment to myself and the world, and what’s in store for the year to come. Sometimes it’s easy and obvious – other times less so.

For 2017, I *knew* it already on some level, but I kept doubting, questioning, and generally resisting and squirming around it until I sat down with my drum and gave myself some space. It was a much more powerful experience than I was expecting. I’m convinced now! And challenged in equal measure. But I received some beautiful words around it, and a sense of rightness that I can return to and treasure.

This week, I’m sharing over on Soundcloud a drumming track to support that connecting with a personal word for 2017. If you’ve already got your word, you can use it to receive some teachings and guidance about what’s to come – or, if you’ve been struggling, I hope it will bring some clarity to the process for you!

You can access the file for free – no email needed – by clicking on this link, or on the image.

Also, I have a couple of very special year end offers for you! It is the time to dig deep and strengthen ourselves over this winter.

The Soul Purpose Sessions are now on offer for £47 through 31 December 2016. These normally are priced at £147 so it is an incredible opportunity to connect more deeply and feel supported in your soul purpose and calling through this year end. You can find out more about what’s included here: The Soul Purpose Sessions.

Last year at year’s end, I offered some really popular Power + Clarity sessions – I’m happy to say these are back, and I’m thinking I’ll likely make an annual tradition of it, as I love doing it so much. The sessions include a reading for the year ahead (working with Runes and/or Tarot or Oracle cards) plus a shamanic healing session that includes a power or soul retrieval.

These sessions are done over Skype/Distance so are open to all, however, there are very limited spaces as my time for 1:1 work is limited. I’m opening 8 spaces for these sessions, which last approximately one hour and a half. You’ll receive:

*a LIVE 1:1 session with me over Skype for a full-length reading with guidance to support you through 2017

*a video recording of the Skype session

*a 45-minute distance energy healing session complete with power or soul retrieval (as is most appropriate for you at this time)

*a write up of the healing explaining the work that was done, what was restored, and guidance for how to best integrate the power and/or soul parts that have been restored to you.

The cost for these sessions is £90. I’ll also be open to a doing half of these as readings only if you prefer (£45 for the session).

“😃 yay! Honestly my one last year was so spot on month to month. Really kept me going at times 💗💗💗.” -Shakti Tracy, Diamond Heart Network

To book, just click the link below indicating which option you’re going for (full session or just reading) – once I’ve received your payment, I’ll contact you to schedule time for your session (these can be booked for either December or early January). Offer is limited to 8 and closes 31 December 2016.


 

7 Ways to Cultivate Resilience When Life is Tough

7 Ways to Cultivate Resilience When Life is Tough

On the heels of four weeks of illness in my house, there’s not a lot left of me.

I won’t lie: it hasn’t been a pretty time here.

Last week when my littlest went off to nursery on Wednesday morning, and I stepped back into the house after dropping him off, I nearly collapsed. The joy with which I went to FINALLY have a bath and not be worried about children was HOLY.

And then it came – the call to come collect him as he was feverish. Of course I went – giving great thanks that I’d had that bath versus did anything else, because, you know, occasional hygiene is nice when you’re a mama!!

I’ve been mothering for thirteen and a half years now, most of that on my own, so I’m really really good at cutting away non-essentials. But I know I’ve exceeded my limits when I start reaching for the coffee, wine, chocolate and treats, constantly browsing FB on my phone, browsing the sling boards and generally feeling crappy about myself because everyone else looks like they’ve totally got it together and are progressing with life while I’m caught in a loop and descent, bank accounts overdrawn, bills coming in. And I physically cannot do more right now so there’s a healthy portion of guilt attached as well…essentially I caught myself giving up all my good habits just to cope, even when I *know* it’s not helpful.

I had to catch myself because as a sole parent there’s not a lot of room for backsliding. Or there is,  I suppose, on some level, but I *really* don’t want to go there. I have a lot of hopes that we can live better and more happily in this coming year, and I want to be able to show up for myself and my kids. Plus I love my work and I want to get back to it – but I need to be healthy and present for that to happen.

Life, and particularly motherhood, isn’t about that linear path to the prize and it’s done. It’s a much deeper journey, one that requires us to circle round and round again, facing old demons until we can make a friend of them. So for me, this month is about cultivating RESILIENCE. 

I sat down and re-committed to these seven steps:

(1) Declutter: I’m decluttering the crap out of everything to the extent that I am able at present. It’s an ongoing project, really, but we’re getting there! This also helps with any temptation to bring in excess over the holidays…we are keeping it simple and holding to our clutter-free dream. Energy flows totally differently through a decluttered space. It means there’s room to cook, create, move and just be in ways that feel good.

(2) Get off the phone/FB! This is a hard one for me. When I’m lying down in the dark nursing a poorly baby, scrolling through FB is so so tempting. But it isn’t good for me, energetically it’s an addiction and a power loss that drains me, so I am committing to putting that phone down and using that time to think or meditate or rest instead…and to accessing social media more mindfully.

(3) Drinking enough water. Confession – I love coffee, I love wine, I don’t really love water or herbal teas in the same way, however good for me they are. Lately I’ve been reaching for the coffee and the wine…but water is making a return and I notice a huge difference in how I feel. I was tracking it for a while, and I will again, but for now easing in is what feels possible and right.

(4) Sleep and rest, getting enough of it is hard to impossible with poorly little ones, especially if I’ve got that phone in my hand in the middle of the night (I have a baby pretty nearly attached to the boob all night long, which is good for him as he’s only just coming back to food again, but it’s not exactly quality sleep for me). I’m recommitting to tracking sleep, making it a priority over screen time, and to clearing the bedroom to make it more amenable to rest and sleep.

(5) Walk, run, dance, move, exercise. I let my non-negotiable practice slide. Easing back into it, with forgiveness for myself, making the changes I need to make around what this looks like and the timings (colder weather, poorly little one impacts what’s possible for me). Just being kind to my body, walking, stretching, basic strengthening is a start.

(6) Forgiveness. Oh my goodness, this one is huge. How many stories are locked up – old, old stories – power loss and resistance to change in them. Forgiveness is a process and a practice. I’m working with it all the time now, multiple times a day. Forgiving myself is the hardest and biggest part of that.

(7) Gratitude. This is another one that’s helping me shift my unhelpful patterns and thoughts and beliefs, seeing the richness and kindness and beauty that already exists in my everyday life. That there are so many things that are already okay now, and that I want more of those things, for myself and for the planet. I don’t have a gratitude journal, (maybe I’ll get there one day!), I just do it in my head in opportune moments.

7-ways-to

It’s way too easy to fall into worry and anxiety about money and the future (small and large scale) and the planet. These things are real and need to acted on as they are seen! But the point of power for change doesn’t lie in that worry or fear. It lies in our own strength, our own building of resources, our resilience in times of challenge and change. Until we’ve go that in place, we can’t really sustain our action for others.

My baby is back at nursery today, yay! (No judgement, mamas, he loves it there and I love him having another safe place to be besides home with me. I admit with my first I did not feel this way about paid group childcare for babies, but that’s a story for another time.) I’m not sure if he’s really fully well enough or will make it through the full week, but we’re getting there, and regardless he and I are spending this time feeding that resilience.

While I’m taking December slowly, I’m going to be running the LIVE 9-day rebalance again in early January 2017 – our theme will be ‘New Beginnings / Fresh Start’. If you’d like to join us, you can add your email here and/or you can request to join our FB group here.

Start from the centre

When I returned from California following my father’s memorial, the words I heard echoing, the one thread placed down, ‘Begin from the centre.’

But coming to that centre – even glimpsing it – requires unlayering. I’ve spent so much time being things to others (mother, wife, friend, lover, student,teacher, mentor, guide, doula, counsellor), and the obligations and the failures in particular add up and fill the space with a weight and a clutter if one isn’t careful, and I’ve not been careful.

And so the unlayering, the cutting old ties, the calling back of power and self, the gradual glimpsing of that centre.

Begin from the centre. As everything is falling to pieces, it’s surfacing. It’s a start.

Non-negotiable practice

It’s summer now, and being at home with 4 children, including a 13 month old who’s breastfeeding in that way only a 13 month old can, my days could easily be (and often are) consumed by the needs of others. There’s been a lot of upheaval lately that results in an intensifying of their need-level, and an unfortunate corresponding reduction in my capacity to meet those needs as my own space and time is so easily eroded.

There’s always a reason for not having the time – the floors need cleaning, the dishes need washing, the baby needs feeding or changing…even when we skip the floors as much as possible, the rest really needs addressing fairly regularly.

I’ve really noticed the impact of the erosion of the small spaces and routines I’d carved out for myself, kind of like the avalanche of small but utterly necessary tasks has gotten to a tipping point. There’s no room for mama, and that’s not healthy or good. (If you are some awesome super-organised and super-fit mama, please don’t judge us ordinary mortals! But I’m pretty sure I’m not totally alone on this one.)

Walking – real walking (sometimes interspersed with a bit of running) that makes me sweat – is a key non-negotiable practice for me and I’ve let that slide more than I’d like.

I walk every day anyway, but I walk with children, with a dog, with a baby tied to my back or my front. That means I’m outside (yay!), but I’m not sweating (boo!).

This week I’ve taken time to notice what that does to me:

*My stress and anxiety levels increase.
*My patience levels decrease.
*I end up angry and frustrated more often.
*I feel my body chemistry is off.
*I don’t sleep as well.
*I spend more time hiding out on the world of social media.
*I eat more crap to compensate for the crappy feelings in my body.

I’ve been in this space before, many times. I know, however much I’d love it, no ‘giving mama time’ fairy is going to swoop in and make things easier for me. I know that the more my energy erodes, the harder it gets, the more things fall apart. So I’m returning to non-negotiable practice.

What this looks like for me, to start, is that I get out there with the baby in the buggy, on my own so I can walk fast, no matter what. Even if I don’t have enough time. Even if my house is dirty or the bigger kids have to wait.  Luckily for me my baby loves getting out there too. Luckily my baby generally loves my non-negotiable practice too

These are my anchor points, the foundation for the kind of life I want to be living, the choice to be living now as the kind of woman and mother I want to be. And I know from experience what feeds me, will feeds the rest as I become more patient, more present, more in control of the choices I’m making (vs. making reactive ones).

There’s so much that doesn’t get done on a daily basis. Even more the case when there are children about. What’s important to me is living each day as I want to be living, even in the midst of chaos around me.  At the end of the day, whether I’ve been out for my walk or not, those things will still be there…or not.

I’m committing now to 40 days to start. I’m keeping it simple. It’s part of my personal MuTu® System reboot (I’ll share more about that very soon) – but it is regardless my commitment to my family and myself, my non-negotiable practice.

What’s your non-negotiable practice? Please share in the comments below so we can inspire each other to keep going…and if you’d like to join me for the next 40 days, please do!

You can find me and others doing this over on Facebook – not a big formal thing, just a bunch of women supporting each other in carving out space – just pop on and let us know your personal non-negotiable practice, and you can use the hashtags #rebalancingwoman #40days and to keep us posted out you’re getting on.