Embrace the discomfort

Hey there,

After we moved to Rhode Island seven months ago, there were days when I could not stop sobbing (and if you’ve been reading these letters for a bit, you know how hard this move has been for me). Sure, I would find moments of joy staring out into Narragansett Bay and watching Bodhi throw seashells into the water. But, I was surprised to feel supreme sadness about the move. I didn’t feel like I was moving towards something, but rather away from so much that I loved in central Pennsylvania (and, wow, I never thought I would say that!).

I was scared that Bodhi would pick up on my emotions. So, I hid them. I would cry behind closed doors, shielding my tears from him and my husband until I couldn’t hide anymore and then would explode with sobbing all over again. I would try and validate how “great” this place is (the beaches! the food! New England!), which was actually invalidating where I was/am at right now, which is sometimes pretty sad. And, that’s not what I want my son to learn to do.

I want him to feel his emotions wherever he is.
I want him to know that feelings and emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are.
I want him to know that he does not need to guard his feelings to protect those around him.
I want him to get curious with his feelings, to give them space.
I want him to know that even though he feels something, that doesn’t mean he IS that thing.

art by @robertbubel via @the.madrona

art by @robertbubel via @the.madrona

I’ve been getting curious with how I’m feeling as a result of this big move in my life, including the transition of selling/closing my studio to focus on yoga therapy (to support mamas and families like yours!). I’m learning to question when I stopped giving my emotions space for fear that those feelings would “harm” or make others feel uncomfortable. So now I say, feel what you feel. Write it down. Move it out of your body in a yoga practice or long walk. Talk about it with a friend or trusted therapist (talk, yoga, etc.). Meditate to get still and allow those feelings to show up. [Also side note: JUST because you are sad, that does not mean a) you are depressed or b) that you cannot also experience joy. However, if you think you may have depression, please see a trusted care provider].

And, at first that is SCARY. It’s scary to acknowledge where you are, especially if it’s a hard place. For example, if your birth was traumatic, then embrace where you are, what you feel. Try not to think, “but I’m healthy or my baby is healthy.” If you’re not sleeping at night, try not to say “but at least she’s nursing so well.” If you’re having a tough time in the transition to working motherhood and you ache for days with your child, don’t say “but at least I have a job.” It’s okay to sit with your emotions, even better to embrace the discomfort for a bit.

Why? First, experiencing a feeling in the moment is crucial towards actually finding your way back to a more peaceful place. Feel it now, rather than bottle it up and explode later. My very favorite acupuncturists, therapist, and yoga teacher all share this thought.

Second, when you validate your own feelings and emotions, you allow your baby or toddler to do the same. You let them cry when they need to, have tantrums when they need to, be held when they need to. They learn to embrace their emotions rather than label them as “good” or “bad.” And, babies and toddlers do this so naturally - Bodhi would wail for hours in my arms at night before finally sleeping. That was him processing his day the only way he knew how, and the crying wasn’t “bad.” He has tantrums when I don’t give into a “cereal cup,” which is a real treat in our house. He explodes with joy and yelling when he runs in circles outside. That’s fine. Feel it, move it out, embrace it all.

I realize that this letter is super deep, and could write so much more on the topic. In fact, I probably will because this process of leaning into feelings and seeing how they show up as emotions has largely informed my work so far in yoga therapy and sleep consulting. And, at first there is discomfort when something shows up that isn’t so shiny. It’s okay. You’re still okay. You’re still amazing.

I would love to hear your thoughts. First, take a moment to ask if you allow yourself to feel the whole range of emotions. What comes up there? What are you feeling right now? Second, how do you react to your baby or toddler’s stronger emotions? Does an emotion trigger something in you? What do you say? There is no right or wrong or judgement here, just continuing awareness. Promise.

How can you give your feelings and emotions some attention and curiosity? Is that uncomfortable? Write to me! I’d love to hear from you.

With love,

P.S. I’ll be taking a pause for the next month to really honor the many recent happenings - leading a teacher training and its graduation, selling/closing the studio, and finally settling in a little more to Rhode Island (I’m not sure I’m embracing it yet, but I’ll give it a go wink wink). I also want to get clearer on how Yoga Dear Mama is shaping, informing, and growing, and I’m really excited to share that with you. There are so many thoughts up in my head begging to be jotted down and considered. Talk to you soon. <3

In between two worlds [on working motherhood part 2]

Hey there,

Photo by  Nathan Dumlao  on  Unsplash

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my very real feelings about working motherhood that followed the birth of my son. The outpouring of emails, comments, and texts really hit me and shows that we’re 100% not alone in our motherhood journey. Please keep ‘em coming.

I talked about how I often feel less than feminist for not wanting a “corner office” anymore, and for wanting to build something that works for me and my family instead. I talked about wanting to be home to nurse my baby in the early morning and to do bathtime in the evening (as a yoga teacher, these are often the busiest hours). I talked about feeling the urge to pivot in my work. What I didn’t talk about was feeling like I’m constantly in between two worlds - work and mothering - and how I feel an ever-present pressure to be amazing at both. All. The. Time.

Please tell me there is a mama out there who feels the same.

Dearest friends, if you know me, you know that I am not interested in doing anything halfway. Not anything. If I’m going to take a course in sleep consulting (which I’m studying right now), then I’m going to focus & finish within two months. If I decide I want to open a business, then I write a 30 page business plan. If I want to make my own baby food [which I actually loved], then I buy a cookbook, set aside time on a Sunday to prep, and start mixing. When I commit, I commit.

But, if I’m being honest here…I’ve had a hard time giving my all in work + mothering lately. Yes, yes, I know we just moved. I know we don’t have childcare yet (so as I write to you it’s 6:00 a.m. on a Monday morning so I can work before Bodhi gets up). Perhaps I should give myself a break. But, instead, I research this topic. I find an article about mothering and work based on the Myers-Briggs assessment. I am an ENFJ. And, I read that mothers with this personality type seriously struggle because they want to be the best mother AND because they are hyper-ambitious with their work. Check. Check.

Cue groans from me. It’s nice to read validating words, but what gives? Living in that constant limbo isn’t sustainable. Living with these feelings actually isn’t healthy for me or my child.

In these moments of stress and struggle, I’m continuously urged to practice yoga. Here are some principles I’ve turned to that I hope helps you, too:

  • Acceptance: I can learn to accept and acknowledge my feelings, but to know that I am NOT what I feel. I am not inadequate. I am not scattered. I am loving. I am enough. I do my very best. Speaking these words of truth is a practice of ahimsa in yoga, practicing non-violence and peace towards the Self, which radiates outwards, especially to our children.

  • Presence: When I start to feel in between two worlds, I can recognize that I’m not in the moment. I’m not embracing it and finding contentment with what is. I’m attaching myself to where I want to be, what I ‘should’ be doing. And, that is a cause of suffering, a klesha. To find presence, be with your kiddo when you’re with him. Just zoom trucks on the floor. You can write that article later.

  • Focus: Focus on what’s important. This will require some work up front for sure. It’s okay to love your baby AND love your work. BUT, priorities will need to shift to accommodate both. I’ve made an effort to sit with my deepest desires and focus in on what matters most - to be home at bathtime/bedtime, to emotionally support my child, to get outside every day, to meditate, to write, to get very clear on what’s working in business and focus my efforts there. You can do this, too.

In the most challenging moments of life, it’s easiest to give up your practice. I hear this from mothers all the time (and, I definitely said it, too). But, when you practice yoga, you learn how to practice acceptance, presence, and focus each time you step on the mat. Even if you can’t get to a studio, set aside time - even just 10 minutes - to breathe, to stretch, to do a few Sun Salutations. Let yoga ground, calm, center, and comfort you. Let it be the first thing you turn to when mothering or working or both get really, really hard. And, if you get stuck, send me a message because I’m here to help.

With love,

P.S. If you know a mama who would benefit from reading this, please forward this message along. Now that we’re in Rhode Island and getting more settled, I want you to know that we have something special to unveil so soon! Stay tuned, and thank you for reading. <3 And, if you love what you read, please sign up to be a part of the Yoga Dear Community here.