Yesterday morning I was out running. It was the quintessential autumn morning. The air was crisp and the smell of leaves and wood fires wafted on the breeze. In the distance, I could hear the announcer of an early morning football game. I was running on uneven cobblestones lined with homes any 1950's American family would have been proud to have. (Actually, there are a couple I would really like to have.) As I rounded the corner, I saw families hurrying into the football game with blankets and bench seats.
It was at that moment I had one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. It was at that moment I realized I was living the life of my dreams. Even better, a life that was better than I had dreamed. And I never thought I would. Amazing.
You see, before I had children I was a very different person. I was stressed. I was overweight. I was exhausted. Truthfully, I was neither a very nice nor a very fun person. I had myself firmly ensconced in the rat race of corporate America and I HATED it but I had no clue there was another way. I really didn't.
There was no miraculous moment. This has been an amalgamation of small, seemingly disconnected baby steps that finally came together to form this life, my life. I quit work when we had children and truthfully, we really couldn't afford it. After many missteps and some hugely lucky breaks, we were on track to doing okay with the finances. Then the hard work began.
Okay, see here is the thing. I knew that I would be the biggest influence on my children. I knew the words I saturated their waking days would some day be the internal dialogue that would replay in their heads. This scared the hell out of me. I didn't like who I was. I didn't like what came out of my mouth. I didn't like what I spent my time on. Ack!! I was going to ruin them. Then I took a deep breath and started the long process of change.
Here is the weird thing, I wasn't as much change who I was as I was peeling off the layers I had put on in order to fit into society's expectations. I was wearing so many masks, I didn't really know how I was anymore. That is who I wanted to be. That is who I wanted to mother my babies.
Here is a quick run down of what I did:
I started saying NO...a lot. Not to myself or my immediate family but everyone else. Whether they mean to or not, people will run you ragged if you let them. I grabbed our social calendar and started gutting it. At first it was to give me time to think and figure out who I was. Later, I just like the freedom and ability to spend time with just the family.
I started eating really healthy. It started out small but now I eat things like chia and drink green smoothies. I eat whole foods and leave the processed junk alone. This step is just huge. I cannot tell you how huge it is. Point blank, you eat crap, you are going to feel like crap. It is that simple. Learn what healthy food is.
I really reduced the stress in my life. You may know I love yoga and meditation but it is more than that. I don't do drama at all. I don't care if is a friend or family, ain't no drama queens allowed up in here. I just walk away. It is simply not worth the price you have to pay.
In relation to the above, I strive to really live in this moment. I don't fret over the past and I don't really worry about the future. It is here and now. I retrained my brain by constantly and gently bringing it back to the moment.
I exercise, I love it. This is another huge stress reliever and it makes you look great. Now that, of course, is not supposed to matter. (yeah, right) but I guarantee you will feel better when you look at your workout self in the mirror. Also, I love feeling how strong I am now. It was quite a lovely surprise.
I no longer multi-task. I focus on the task at hand and give it my full concentration. Yes, this is damn hard with young children but I work at it and I succeed most of the time. If you are so busy you cannot do this then perhaps you need to let things go. You cannot do everything.
I no longer care what "everyone else" thinks. I don't care if you agree with how I parent, what my house looks like, if I mop often enough to suit your sensibilities, if I wear nice enough clothes, none of it. I really don't. Caring about all of that was just layering other masks upon me that were suffocating me. I will have none of that. I like who I am too much to sacrifice myself.
We have made our home a sanctuary. We are extremely picky with whom we allow in our home. Argumentative or divisive people need not apply. I want our home to be a place of warmth, laughter, love, and safety for those who live here and for those we invite to share it. It is our refuge when the world starts turning to fast and crazy.
That is really just a mishmash of stuff that happened in starts and stops. It wasn't smooth and there were bumps and dead ends along the way. But I think in the end what truly makes me happy is that I am choosing this life of mine. I am not allowing any group or organization to decide my priorities are. I choose my priorities. They don't look very much like the norm and I am perfectly okay with that.