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.

Giving time and space to death

My father died recently. He was 90 years old, and I’m certain it was utterly the right way and time for him, but it still came suddenly, and the waves of rippling change are just beginning to be felt.

I find that I want to give this space. Space for honouring him and his life. Space for acknowledging the changes in me that result from this shift in what I think of as a generational barrier between me and what’s beyond. That’s half-gone. And it changes things.

There’s not a lot I want to say right now. I’m going to be taking most of the summer to focus on my children and this transition, to give space to thinking and feeling and to my own body and soul weaving and healing.

But the things I do want to share now are these – these things that stand out for me on this cusp of change.

*Death, like birth, requires a sacred container for holding experience. This is true for the person passing, but also for those close, and it’s not just about the moment of passing, but about the moments around it, extending into time, before and after. It’s important that we give this to ourselves and our families.

*It’s good to acknowledge death. Even if you’re uncomfortable with it, say something to the family. We notice. We see who shows up. We appreciate the effort at connection and the expressions of love and sympathy.

*I wish I had gone to see my Dad in California before he died – I wish I had found a way to get there, no matter what, for any one of those moments of quiet life and celebration that I missed. That’s the only thing I regret, that I didn’t find a way to do that, and it changes my priorities significantly.

*Family photos are always a gift and a great thing to be taking time for, regularly, formally and in formally. I’ll be doing a lot more of that.

Family

My father gifted me with so many things, he was a primary care-giver for me throughout my childhood and into adulthood, in a way that few fathers are. He made certain that I had every advantage he could give me – thanks to him, I made my way to Smith College (I was one of the rare students to have a father who was a graduate – he had attended the School for Social Work), and then onward to New York University. He taught me a lot about spirituality and religion, and about living in harmony with the land. From my childhood, I remember his organic gardens, his morning yoga, his Saturday morning blueberry pancakes, his photography and his gifting me my first camera when I was about 4 or 5, chopping and hauling in wood for winter, tapping the trees to make Maple syrup in early spring, and so many other things.  His life and death have been a gift to me as his daughter.  For anyone who would like to read more about him and his life, there is a beautiful collection of words and photos here.

 


 

I’ll be writing and sharing here on the blog over summer, and back to normal in September in terms of classes and clients and such. There will be some great new things coming as in June I was so fortunate to be part of the very first MuTu Pro training in Orlando – I’m looking forward to sharing locally the core healing that this system brings for pre- and post-natal mamas.  We’ll be starting up some FREE walks locally (walking daily is a key part of the MuTu system), so if you’re interested in joining best way is to contact me on Facebook on the Rebalancing Woman page.

(Current clients and students not to worry as we’ll still be carrying on as usual and I will be in touch very soon, just landing from my time away and little people settling too).

Massive love and thanks to all those who have been so supportive in this time, and who have expressed their love and connection in various ways.

Why I don’t give unsolicited advice on FB (or anywhere)

Has it happened to you? Recently, a few times over, I’ve posted on social media – not a question, mind you, not asking for help – and the wisdom poured in, “This is the way to do it.”

Of course, if you’re a pregnant woman, or a mother with a new baby, even better, all you need to do is step outside your door…so as a mother of four I’m already an expert in the nod and smile technique.

But truth? I’m fed up. There are few things more irritating to me than unsolicited advice, on social media or IRL. You know why it really bugs me, and why I never, never, never give my opinion unless asked (and even then, I may hesitate)?  Because it presumes the person on the receiving end is less. Because it is an attempt at control over something that quite frankly has nothing to do the kind advisor.

Now I know people mean well, they really do. (If you’ve done this to me, I love you, and I don’t hold a grudge. But equally, please stop.) I know you’re wanting to be helpful, to share your experiences. This is a great thing. If you’re a friend of mine, you very likely have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share. I really welcome that sharing when you frame it as your own experience, not as unsolicited advice.

Because seriously, we need to knock this nonsense on its head. If you are in the helping professions, please understand, no one is going to listen to unsolicited advice (least of all me). Giving advice where it’s not been asked for will be, at best, an irritation. At worst can be devastating to someone in a tough place who is already doing the best they can.

Please, please, please if you are knowledgeable and want to share that knowledge, offer it up in the right way, as the gift it is, where it’s welcome – when someone has asked you for it.

In all cases, let’s start by acknowledging the people we meet as whole human beings, with stories and complex life experiences of their own, and with full responsibility for their own lives and well being. Whether or not we understand them, or whether or not we know what these are.

One of the most powerful teachings I’ve been given as a healer is that we’re not here to make people better. We’re here to see from the beginning the wholeness that is already there. (What this means for you if you come to work with me is, I’ll never look down on you. I’ll never pretend I know more than you about your life, your struggles, or your path. I will honour what you bring, and be your number one ally and supporter. And *if* you ask my opinion, I’ll offer it so that *you* can decide what’s right for you.)

When we begin from a place of wholeness and respect, giving space to the experiences of others and their capacity to handle them, we can create much more genuine interactions with powerful positive impact.

But telling me what to do when I’ve not asked you? It’s disrespectful, and a turn off. Please knock it off.