Don’t Be The White Rabbit – You’re Not The Only One With Problems!

“Why does everything always happen to me?” Do you ever think that you are the ONLY person in the whole world who has bad luck? The ONLY one with problems? The ONLY person who doesn’t have it all figured out? Yeah, me too.

Especially at moments like:

  • When my youngest projectile vomits all over the place when we’re sitting in the audience at my oldest’s performance of Alice in Wonderland… twice.
  • When my middle daughter inexplicably puts her teeth through her lip while playing in the gravel area at the farm store leaving us both covered in blood (we just wanted to get some plants for goodness sake!)
  • When my husband’s away on a business trip at the baby wakes us all up all night screaming and then we finally fall asleep at 6:30am and sleep through the bus and then I still have to make lunches and don’t get the trash outside in time for pick up and everyone is late for school, daycare, work…

And that was just the last 4 days. Whew!

It would be easy for me to get caught up in the narrative that I have bad luck. I’m the ONLY one things like this happen to. I am busier and more stressed out that anyone else I know. I’m the only one with problems, right? But is that really true?

There’s no denying that we live in a society that is based around busy-ness and drama. Who is the busiest, the most stressed out? Sometimes conversations about this topic can start to feel like a little bit of a competition.

Oh, your daughter broke 2 bones last year? Well, my son broke THREE.

You guys had the flu last week? Well WE had the stomach bug.

Conversations about drama, trials, and tribulations, especially between parents, can start to feel like they are glorifying all this drama. And that everyone thinks they have it worse than everyone else.

It’s like we have to one-up each other to prove that we have the most dramatic life. We have to keep feeding the narrative in our heads that we are the only one that this kind of stuff happens to.

Well, guess what? We’re not.

Life, especially with little kids, is hard! There is no shortage of drama. But I bet if we take a moment to stop feeding our inner narrative about how hard our lives are, we might notice that there are other people around us who are struggling too.

We don’t want to be like the White Rabbit in my daughter’s musical and totally focus on ourselves and what we have going on.

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye! I”m late, I’m late, I’m late!

The White Rabbit is so worried about being late that he keeps running from thing to thing like a chicken with his head cut off. He’s panicked about his own problems and won’t even stop and talk to Alice. Instead of only focusing on our own issues and our own narrative, let’s save a little energy for compassion and for paying attention!

You never know what the person next to you is going through. So maybe instead of just minding your own “busy-ness”, save a little attention for what’s going on for other people too. The more you pay attention, instead of just keeping your head down and focusing on being the only one with problems, the more you’ll start to realize that you’re not alone! We’re all in this together!

Hey, that’s yoga…

“I Have To” vs. “I Choose To” – Changing Up Your Thinking For a More Joyful Life

Think about the last week: how many times have you described something you are about to do as “I HAVE to do XYZ”? 1? 100? 1000?

“Today, I have to go to the store”

“I’m sorry, I can’t go to yoga, I have to go to an appointment”

“I won’t have time to go for a walk today because I have to vacuum”

“I won’t be able to meet my friend for coffee because I have to run errands”

Even, “I have to go to my friend’s birthday party… or my child’s play…”

Etc. etc. etc. …. We use this phrase from everything from pleasant outings to mundane errands to the harrowing task of clipping our kids’ fingernails.

Language is a powerful thing. Yes, there are always things that we should prioritize and things that do truly need to get done. But, in reality, do we HAVE to do most of the things we use this phrase to describe? NO!

What if instead of saying we HAVE to do something – we say that we are CHOOSING to do it?

When we speak truth to the fact that (almost everything) we use our time for is a choice, we empower ourselves to give our energy to things that we value. And, we give ourselves the opportunity to view our choices in a more positive light.

Think about it: “I am choosing to pick the kids up early and take my daughter to her rehearsal this afternoon” feels a lot better than: “I HAVE to pick the little kids up early from daycare, and then I HAVE to rush to the school and pick up my oldest and then I HAVE to take her to her rehearsal”.

And, if you really think about it, the first phrase is true. I am choosing to do this.

Will the sky fall if I don’t choose to have her participate in this activity or attend this particular rehearsal? Maybe I’d like to think I’m that important, but the reality is that no, it will not.

Our society puts a lot of emphasis on being busy, and on obligation. It seems that young parents are especially vulnerable to this plague. We are “supposed to” keep up with the Joneses. It seems like we are expected to put each of our kids in 17 different weekly activities. Then, we “have to” shuttle them all from place to place with begrudging devotion. Powering through, while painting ourselves as martyrs for doing it.

Well, I’m calling BS! I carefully weigh the options and CHOOSE what activities I put my kids in and what things I do myself. I choose the things that I think are valuable and important. I choose to prioritize spending time with my family, doula work, and teaching the boomer yoga class because these things are important to me. Almost everything else comes next – after these obligations… I mean CHOICES.

Yes, it’s easier to turn something down when painting another commitment as non-optional. But the reality is that pretty much everything we do is a choice. OWN it! Now, off to pick everyone up early and head over to that rehearsal!

The best gift I ever gave my children.

In 1999 I still thought I had to be perfect: I was a full-time over-achieving graduate student. Almost entirely by myself, I managed a household and parented three children ages 6, 8 and 10.  I volunteered at the elementary school. My house was immaculate. And the list could go on.

As a preacher’s kid from a small farming community in Wisconsin, I lived constantly with the idea that people were watching and judging me. And I thought hat I needed to live up to their expectations. I wasn’t hooked into following conventions that didn’t make sense to me (for example, I didn’t have a t.v. in the house for many years​), however, everything I did do had to be perfect.

Not surprisingly,  I did not find joy in my life.

Everything seemed grey to me. I needed to take painkillers most nights in order to sleep because my hips hurt almost all the time. My back would spasm so badly sometimes that I couldn’t get off the floor. I felt guilt or some other negative emotion the instant I woke up in the morning. I was unreasonably irritable and angry with my children. My marriage had been completely devoid of physical contact for 6 years. I was depressed.

I lived with the assumption that there was really nothing I could do to change any of these things. My hips must hurt because arthritis runs in my family I was bound to get it. Back pain must be inevitable in tall people.  I believed I really was a horrible mother so, of course, I should live with feeling guilty and bad all the time.  And, certainly, it followed from this that I didn’t deserve to be touched or loved. It simply didn’t occur to me that there was anything I could do to change any of these things.

Somewhere inside me, however, I must have known there could be more to life

because when an acquaintance mentioned a new yoga studio she’d been going to, I decided to try it out.  I had been doing some yoga poses on my own for more than ten years at that point, but I had never really considered going to a class. What I found at the group class at this studio was something completely different than what I had been doing on my own. The first class I went to happened to be an intermediate level power yoga class that completely kicked my butt. For that whole class time, my mind was only on those postures. Nothing hurt, I didn’t feel guilty or inadequate. When the rest came at the end of class, I felt a miraculous sense of well being. I was hooked.

I kept going back to classes. When I couldn’t manage to find classes that fit into my schedule while the kids were in school, I took them with me and sat them in the waiting room with some books​. ​

Little by little, my body and mind started to change.

I felt that I was physically and mentally becoming more myself. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy were pushed back to a dull roar.  My hips stopped hurting all the time. My back didn’t go out anymore. I was much more the loving and patient parent I wanted to be. The transformation I experienced was so  pronounced that  the kids would announce, “You need to go to yoga today, Mom.” ​whenever I started to go back to my old cranky ways.

These changes inspired me to do even more things to care for myself.  I started getting massage and talk therapy.  These worked together with practicing yoga to help me see that I did not have to live in a world that felt gray all the time. By the time I separated from my husband and began a long and difficult divorce in 2002, I had the tools to be able to be act with some compassion and mindfulness​.

My process of transformation is ongoing.  The tools I’ve learned through yoga continue to help me be more present in each moment. They help me to set appropriate boundaries for myself. It’s much easier to remember that I have a lot to be grateful for. Yoga postures help me feel better in my body. I’m much quicker to forgive myself when I screw up.  And my life is no longer grey most of the time.  I am grateful to have loving and respectful relationships with my children and grandchildren and husband.​

I think my children would all agree: The best gift I ever gave them was to take care of myself.

Self Care: Why Studio Owners Need To Do Yoga Too

Wondering why you are seeing me in class more lately? Me too (…kidding). I’ve been making a huge effort to commit to self care over the past few weeks.

And you may (or may not) have noticed that one of the ways I’m doing this is by making an effort to get back on my mat.

When I’m having a bad day (or week, or month), getting on my mat and sharing a yoga practice with other like-minded individuals is one of the few things that helps me stop feeling disconnected. There’s nothing quite like sharing breath and energy with a room full of people doing yoga to alleviate loneliness.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with a little back story:

As a yoga studio owner, people often assume I’m in great shape. I’m a yoga teacher, so I must spend a lot of time doing yoga. I (supposedly) do a lot of yoga so I must be really healthy and fit. Some of these things may be true some of the time.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I really struggle to take good care of myself.

Lately, I’ve been feeling stressed out, anxious, and depressed. I’ve noticed that I have been spending a lot of time zoning out on my phone using social media. I’m not eating as well as I should be. I’ve had a shorter temper with my kids and husband. I have been getting frequent headaches. And I have been feeling very stagnant.

Here’s my excuse: I have 3 young children. In fact, I have spent all except about a year (total) of the last 7+ years pregnant, breastfeeding, or both. One (or more) of my kiddos has slept in my bed every night for the last 6 years. “Me time” is non-existent. As a small business owner, the primary caregiver of my children, and partner to someone who travels frequently for work, I have a LOT going on.

And I’m a typical mom, taking care of ME is often my very last priority.

But guess what? When I fail to take care of myself, every around me suffers. Whether it’s because I have a short temper, or I zone out looking at my phone instead of playing, or I avoid going out because I don’t feel like getting dressed, my kids are impacted when I’m not feeling like myself. Furthermore, I am not setting a good example of self-care for them.

For many reasons, my partner and I are both making an effort to re-commit to taking some time for ourselves. We are both working to support each other in doing things together and alone that do not involve the kids. We are reminding each other that our self care needs to be a priority in order for us to provide the best possible care for each other and our children.

Here’s what I’m doing to improve my self care:

Reading instead of looking at my phone.

I’m committing to read a minimum of 50 books this year. I love to read and can’t wait to exceed this goal! Plus I am setting a great example for my kids and showing them my priorities.

Moving my body every day.

Even if it’s a 5 minute walk or maybe even sometimes I count steam mopping as exercise. Exercise and fresh air are so important for self care and happiness.

Making healthy eating choices most of the time.

Maybe you do this too? If I eat lousy in the morning, sometimes I decide the whole day is crap and why even bother trying to eat right for the rest of the day. I’m working to make healthy choices most of the time and not let one bad eating choice ruin the rest of my day. Sometimes I eat coffee for breakfast and those “snacking chocolates” from the target check-out line for lunch. But that doesn’t mean I can’t eat a healthy dinner. Good decisions add up!

Seeking out meaningful social connections.

If you know me, you might know I’m a little… antisocial. I almost always choose stay home over go out. But making meaningful social connections is very important to long-term happiness. I’m taking baby steps on this one and making an effort to meet a friend for coffee every couple weeks. And I’m working with Whitney to start up a Mindful Parents Meetup group at Yoga in ME. We’ll be meeting once a month. You can find more information about our first meeting here!

Getting back on my mat.

I hope to practice at least 3 times a week. I know that sometimes things will get in the way and this won’t happen. But I’m going to keep trying anyway. Not only is this important for my self-care, health, and family, it is also important for the studio. How can I honestly and authentically share this practice if I’m not practicing what I preach? I have seen students be positively impacted by this practice time and time again. I know that it works. So all I need to do is set a good example and DO IT!

What’s your favorite self-care practice? Tell us in the comments!

See you in class!